Character Development: 3 stars
Cinematography: 2 stars
Plot Development: 3 stars
Costuming: 5 stars
Overall Rating: 3 stars
This picture presents a cavalcade of English life from New Year's Eve 1899 until New Years Day 1933. Based on a play by Noel Coward, we watch this cavalcade through the eyes of the wealthy Londoners Jane (Diana Wynward) and Robert (Clive Brook) Marryot, their children Joe (Frank Lawton) and Edward (John Warburton) and their servants Ellen (Una Connor), Alfred (Herbert Mundin) and their daughter Fanny (Ursula Jeans) Bridges. It tells the tale of how these two families deal with the tragedies of war, death, and loss. Amongst the events that touch their family are the Boer War, Queen Victoria's death, the sinking of the Titanic, and the Great War.
Although this movie won the Acadamy award for Best Picture, it is relatively unknown. But although it was hard to track down, I thought it was worth the effort. I watched this with my two friends, the Slickpigs, and they both enjoyed it as well. We thought that it portrayed a relatively accurate picture of how two families of different classes would interact and how they would deal with the various tragedies that come into their lives.
Adapted from Noel Coward's play, at times the dialogue felt too 'stagey' for film, but I disagree with the critics who said it didn't translate well to film. The viewer just needs to take the formality and artificiality of the film with a grain of salt.
It is tough to say whether or not the characters developed. The cast is made up of qualified actors portraying clearly defined characters who held my attention onscreen. When tragedy struck, they responded genuinely. But overall, they seemed too much the same at the beginning and end of the film.
That being said, I felt that the mothers (Diana Wynward and Una Connor) outshone their husbands in terms of acting performance. Although there were times when her performance was overdone, I thought that it was fitting that Diana Wynward was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Jane, a woman struggling to find the balance in saving her family, supporting her country, and keeping her dignity. The impact of war on family dynamics is summarized in Jane Marryot's famous line, "The march of time measured by a mother's heart!"
Likewise, I loved the older Fanny and her modern woman characteristics. As a former music student, I am a sucker for ladies who can really nail a performance! Her song, "Twentieth Century Blues," was the highlight of the film for me.
The costumes were terrific. Enough said.
Some of the plot was predictable (of COURSE the son and his new bride aren't left in the happiness of their puppy love - they board the Titanic for their honeymoon), and some of the characters were flat, but I would still recommend this movie. Although the characters faced tragedy, their loyalty to country and to each other was commendable and fun to watch. It is ironic that everyone is so hopeful at the end of the film because it ends right before the dawn of Hitler's reign and WWII.
- There weren't really any fun facts for this film because frankly, it has fallen into obscurity. But don't let that fool you into thinking it's not worth your time! I really enjoyed it -- and so did the Slickpigs!