THE DARK ANGEL (1935). Director: Sidney Franklin.
Kitty (Merle Oberon) adores the two boys who live nearby, Gerald (Herbert Marshall) and his cousin (who was adopted by Gerald's mother), Alan (Fredric March, pictured). During a brief return home from World War One, Oberon agrees to marry March but they can't find anyone to marry them -- they spend the night together anyway. Gerald thinks Alan has been with another woman and this leads to tragic misunderstandings that affect everyone's lives. The storyline is good, but the script (co-written by Lillian Hellman), acting, and direction conspire to make this a tedious failure with only a nice ending to redeem it. Although the lead actors all have some good moments, for the most part the acting is artificial and stilted. Oberon and March have zero chemistry as a couple, and sometimes March acts as if he still thinks he's in a silent movie. Franklin's insensitive direction muffs scenes that should have had more emphasis, and strips them of all dramatic value. There isn't enough music -- Alfred Newman did the score -- and what there is of it is mediocre. The best performances come not from the leads but from Cora Sue Collins, the adorable little girl who winningly plays Kitty as a child, and the uncredited actor who plays the agitated blind man that March tells to shut up.
Verdict: Disappointing and a bit tedious. **.