Production Company: Paramount
Top Billed Actors: Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone, Richard Cromwell
IMDb Rating: 7.4
*Best Picture Nominee*
Won 1 Oscar:
Best Assistant Director - Clem Beauchamp and Paul Wing
Nominated for 6 more:
Best Director - Henry Hathaway
Best Writing (Adapted) - Achmed Abdullah, John L. Balderston, Grover Jones, William Slavens McNutt and Waldemar Young
Best Art Direction - Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson
Best Sound - Franklin Hansen
Best Film Editing - Ellsworth Hoagland
Plot: A colonel has to decide what is best for his son and what is best for the regiment while his insubordinate lieutenant blows himself up.
Although the acting in this film is often dated, the aforementioned Tone steals the show. It is easy to see why he was nominated for Best Actor during this year, even though it is not for this performance. Cooper racks up the accolades later in his career, but the excellent delivery of Tone's sly and taunting lines make it bearable to keep following the story. The two older men, Guy Standing and C. Aubrey Smith are also outstanding. The viewer can tell they are seasoned acting veterans and their scenes are flawless. There are a couple of fun moments between Tone and Cooper as well. Their constant betting and friendly competition give the adventure aspect of the film a fun reprieve.
However, the acting isn't so great all around. Cooper doesn't live up to expectations and Richard Cromwell doesn't impress either. Perhaps it isn't their fault, though, as their characters are downright dull. All we know of Cooper is that he is a tab insubordinate and likes to speak his mind. The way he looks out for Cromwell is somewhat likeable but he does it in a way that is overly protective. It is almost annoying at how much Cooper wants to help the younger soldier. The plot also takes a long time to get in full gear. It isn't until Cromwell gets taken prisoner over an hour into the film that the story is enjoyable and flows well. Beforehand, it is a lot of setting up between Cromwell and his relationship with his father, the Colonel (Standing). These scenes have their moments but a slow moving plot with no music makes the experience quite a drag.
Overall, Tone sets the tone for his first out of three films he appears in for the films I am watching for 1935. The slow start, lack of music, and less-than-riveting characters brings the score down a tad.
My Score: 6/10