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

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Simone Simon and Herbert Marshall

GIRLS' DORMITORY (1936). Irving Cummings.

"A boy who is graduating is just a boy, but a girl who is graduating stands before you a full-fledged woman."

Professor Anna Mathe (Ruth Chatterton) has been helping Dr. Stephen Dominik (Herbert Marshall), director of a girl's school, with a book project, and is secretly carrying a torch for him. She gets unexpected competition from Marie Claudel (Simone Simon), a pretty 19-year-old student at the school, who is also in love with the middle-aged Professor Dominik. When Professor Augusta Wimmer (Constance Collier, in a most unsympathetic role) finds a love letter Marie wrote to an unknown man in a waste basket, she convenes a council to determine if Marie should graduate. Wimmer and another male professor think her behavior -- they believe she had a rendezvous with this man -- is scandalous and brings disfavor to the school, while two other professors think they are making too much of a school girl's infatuation. As one of them puts it, "my mother was married and had two children at Marie's age." Anna and Stephen are both sympathetic to the girl. The simple story is okay, but it's the acting from all concerned, especially Simon [in her first American film] and Marshall, that put this over. [Not to give away the ending, but if this movie has a moral it's that men like 'em young.] Chatterton (Dodsworth) is not photographed at all flatteringly in this, but her warm, self-sacrificing character is not meant to be glamorous. Tyrone Power shows up very late in the picture as Marie's handsome cousin. John Qualen is a likable if rather outspoken hand around the school, and others in the cast include J. Edward Bromberg and Dixie Dunbar.

Verdict: So-so romance with good performances. **1/2.  

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