Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Top Billed Actors: Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver
IMDb Rating: 7.8
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 0 Oscars
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Film Editing - Conrad A. Nervig
Plot: An alcoholic lawyer gets friend-zoned so hard. He deserves this as he keeps helping the husband of the woman he loves, despite his wish to be with her.
As you could tell, the trivia to the movie isn't all that exciting. The movie itself is pretty good, however. Colman is a fantastic Carton. He could be sober and romantic or drunk and brash, but he is always endearing. He totally dominates the scenes opposite Allan (and pretty much any other actor). I recall being so enthralled by Colman during Arrowsmith (1931) and he is officially on my list for movies to be excited for when his name appears as a top billed actor. Although Colman may overshadow everyone else in the movie, there are still some great moments overall. The final shot that pans to the sky is cinematically sound and the music, which contains a lot of classical pieces of music, is also fitting. The narrative is also crisp and very engaging, especially for someone who has never read the book (like me). The characters and scenarios in London and Paris are introduced throughout the first half of the movie, and when the plot really gets going, its easy to care about the fate of France and, ultimately, the fate of Carton.
As I allude to above, Colman outshines everyone else on screen. The acting from nearly everyone not named Colman is below average, even when comparing the performances to others during this time period. This was Blanche Yurka's first movie since the silent film era and it really shows. She is very demonstrative with her gestures in the courtroom scene and it plays very hammy. Her sidekick has the most annoying laugh in the history of cinema. I recognized the voice right away and when I confirmed my hunch of who she was, I felt kind of proud. I am of course talking about the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Her name was Lucille La Verne and she does the laugh of the Queen (after she transforms into the old witch) in every scene she is in. It makes absolutely no sense. There is also a lack of chemistry between Allan and her husband, Donald Woods. As I mentioned above, I have never read the book, but I would think there should be some conundrum for Allan to choose between both her suitors. As a viewer of this movie, I was just perplexed as to why Allan's character wanted to be with Woods' character when Colman was always there for her.
Overall, I'm glad to at least be acquainted with this classic narrative. Colman turns in an excellent performance amidst mostly poor ones, but there is enough momentum in the story to keep this going.
My Score: 7/10