|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.