Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Kent Douglass (Douglass Montgomery) and Mae Clarke

WATERLOO BRIDGE (1931). Director: James Whale.

"You don't stay boyish very long in this war."

During an air raid by German zeppelins in London during WW 1 a prostitute, Myra (Mae Clarke) meets a soldier, Roy (Kent Douglass), home on leave and realizes somewhat to her dismay that this inexperienced 19-year-old is falling in love with her and has no idea of what or who she really is. This first film version of Robert E. Sherwood's play -- it was remade in 1940 -- is a very affecting and well-acted drama with well-drawn characters. Although it betrays its stage origins in many stage bound sequences, there are also successful attempts at "opening up" the story and the outdoor scenes are well-handled. Douglass, who later changed his name to "Douglass Montgomery," gives a natural, charming, completely convincing and sincere performance as the smitten, sensitive young soldier, and while Clarke is a little less natural, she is also excellent. The supporting cast includes Doris Lloyd as an older friend of Myra's; a snappy Ethel Griffies as her landlady; Frederic Kerr as Roy's father, the major; Enid Bennett as Roy's mother; and even Bette Davis in the small role of Roy's sister, Janet. [Davis is winning, although you wouldn't have imagined she'd become such a big star.] The uncompromising ending packs a wallop and is quite moving.

Verdict: Simply heart-breaking. ***1/2.

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