2 January 2008 | sunlily
Underrated King Vidor Early Sound Film
Recently I was finally able to see this early sound classic with Ronald Colman and Kay Francis. I haven't seen many movies with the latter, and her understated beauty suits Colman perfectly.
Colman looking elegant in his perfectly tailored suits, plays a conservative and happily married (to Kay, as Clemency) barrister whose life is turned upside down by a chance affair with a shop girl played sensitively by an unknown at the time, Phyllis Barry. King Vidor, the director, took a chance in casting her, but his faith in her ability paid off. She brings just the right touch of pathos and desperation to the role of Doris. (And just happens to resemble Kay more than just a little.) In David Shepard's book on King Vidor several effects within the movie are discussed, such as the movie within a movie scene with Charlie playing the little tramp when they all go to the flickers the night he and Tring (character actor Henry Stephenson in a salty role.) meet the girls, and the fade out scenes of Colman tearing up the paper with the girls address to a scene of Clemency in Venice with her sister and the scraps of paper have dissolved into pigeons in flight.
I would say that this was a different type of role for Colman. Yet even though he plays an adulterous husband, his kindness and tenderness toward Doris is always there, and all parties suffer because of the infidelity. Even in a precode, no one gets away from the consequences of their actions! I highly recommend this movie for Colman and Francis fans and as a fine example of an early Vidor sound movie. I enjoyed it more than Street Scene as the sound quality was better by this time, and the story flowed more smoothly.