Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures
Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures
Top Billed Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas
IMDb Rating: 7.4
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 1 Oscar:
Best Writing (Adapted) - Victor Heerman and Sarah Y. Mason
Nominated for 2 more:
Best Director - George Cukor
Plot: Four sisters do life during the Civil War days.
Reading up on this, it is hard to see why Steiner's score is not mentioned more in others' assessment of the film. The score adds so much to the plot. Music has finally arrived in the narrative of filmmaking. The same theme is used over and over again, but is put in minor keys when a melancholy situation arises, or speeds up and sounds happy when a joyous occasion happens. Katharine Hepburn also shines in the movie. She is somewhat irksome at first, but this only adds to how dynamic her character is. We learn to like her over time and Hepburn's performance helps us on that path. It is interesting to see all of the excellent costumes and set pieces, even though most of the film takes place in one house. Everything appears historically accurate and it is neat to travel back to that time.
Although the movie appeared to come in second place this year to Cavalcade (1933), I wouldn't even put it in my top three. Joan Bennett's acting is atrocious for one. Her lines seemed very forced and it is awkward to see such a natural actress in Hepburn play opposite such a weak one in Bennett. The dull plot for the first two acts of the film make it seem episodic, much like a sitcom. Neighbors fall in love a little too easily and liberties are taken to speed things up in the characters' lives. It is not until the third act, when Hepburn really takes over, that the story is remotely interesting. The length of the movie is also troublesome when there is not much going on story-wise. I normally don't mind lengthier films, but the minutes seem to tick by slower when there isn't a lot to engage in.
Overall, Steiner's score, Cukor's directing, and Hepburn's acting make this precursor to Gone With the Wind worthy of that distinction. However, the length and simplistic plot make it difficult to fully dive in.
My Score: 6/10