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  • And I've always been faithful to this film in my fashion. Rather ignored and almost completely forgotten, with such a simple but eternal storyline it remains an excellent watch. The acting and production is slightly stilted as with early talkies, but it's the other-world moralities displayed by both departments most people would find difficult to assimilate.

    The Fatal Attraction type plot has already been well outlined, this is one where the main characters definitely don't end smelling of roses. Henry Stephenson must have played kindly old gentlemen in dozens of films, here he's a kindly old cynical sleazebag - quite jarring it is! Also Colman for hoping to be impervious to female wiles, and Francis as his wife for childishly encouraging temptation - but she does get to say Divine! Halliwell Hobbes also froths too nastily as an outraged coroner.

    If you've got the patience it's an absorbing melodrama, one I've seen maybe a dozen times over the years now with no loss of enjoyment, and with a salutary lesson for both sexes that's well worth learning but won't be.
  • Sad pre-Code film about adultery and its effects on the people involved has Ronald Colman starring as a British barrister happily married to Kay Francis. She goes off to Italy to save her silly sister from getting involved with the wrong man. Ironically, that leaves Colman easy prey for a conniving shop girl (Phyllis Barry) he meets by chance.

    Although she knows he's married and nothing can come of their affair, she relentlessly pursues him and he falls for her. She loses her job and becomes totally dependent on him. He tries to break if off just as Francis returns from Italy but with tragic results.

    Colman is excellent as the intelligent man who falls prey to temptation. Francis is wonderful as the wounded wife, and Barry is good as the conniving Doris. Co-stars include Henry Stephenson as the randy friend who starts all the trouble, Florine McKinney as Garla the silly sister, Viva Tattersall as Millie, Paul Porcasi as the restaurant owner, Halliwell Hobbes as the official, and Elspeth Dudgeon as Mrs. Weeks.

    There's also a clip from a Charlie Chaplin movie.
  • 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.
  • Ronald Colman may never have been better than as the happily married barrister who foolishly embarks on an extramarital affair with a young shopgirl, (Phyllis Barry), in King Vidor's now totally forgotten "Cynara". Made pre-Hays Code this is one of Vidor's best and certainly least known films that treats the subject of adultery with surprising frankness as well as a considerable degree of tenderness. Excellent work, too, from that very fine and underrated actress Kay Francis as the wronged wife and Henry Stephenson as Colman's older friend who is largely responsible for driving Colman into the younger woman's arms. Seek this one out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The foundation of this film is really understood in the segment where Ronald Colman judges a beauty/swimming competition. As the organizer keeps saying to him -- there will be no class distinctions here today! And that's what this film is about -- an affair between a well known barrister and a common girl, and the disgrace it brings to the barrister. Without understanding that, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

    In Naples, the disgraced London barrister (Ronald Colman) is about to divorce his beloved wife Clemency (Kay Francis) and start anew in South Africa. But before parting she asks him to explain how the affair happened, which is done through a long flashback: When Francis goes to Venice with her sister, Colman meets a "shop girl" and has an affair. It appears that it is not platonic, and after all, this is 1932 England. Unfortunately, the woman he falls for is rather emotionally needy, and when the affair ends, she commits suicide. While Colman cannot be held legally responsible, at the inquest he is held morally responsible. After Colman and Francis separate, his friend who knew of the affair (and actually encouraged it), convinces Francis to think about what it would mean to her to never see him again...hinting at suicide. Francis surprises Colman by showing up on the boat to South Africa.

    This is a very "old" film...what I mean by that is that this is definitely 1932. Today's audience would find this a bit stodgy. However, it is one of Ronald Colman's great successes, and he is wonderful here. I often enjoy Kay Francis, but she seemed a bit stiff here...although maybe she's supposed to be; nevertheless, I would not find this one of her great film roles. Henry Stephenson plays the elder barrister who encourages the affair, and it is through him that we see the attitude toward class; although not a very sympathetic role, I always delight in his screen appearances.

    For buffs of old films, or fans of Ronald Colman (like me), I recommend this film.

    The flashback ends. After Jim leaves to board his ocean liner, Tring comes to talk to Clemency. While he accepts a share of the blame for what happened, he reminds Clemency that she may never see her husband again. She rushes to the ship to accompany Jim.
  • blanche-227 September 2008
    King Vidor directed "Cynara," an early talkie starring Ronald Colman and Kay Francis, in 1932. The title is based on a poem by Ernest Dowson that contains the line: "I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion." Colman plays a barrister who is faithful to his wife of 7 years, Clemency (Francis) but succumbs to the carnal temptation of a young girl (Phyllis Barry) while his wife and her sister are in Venice.

    As others commented, there are some lovely effects, including the film within a film, and a piece of paper that Colman rips up that dissolves into flying pigeons in Venice. And there are very good performances by Colman, Francis and Barry, who has the difficult role of the young girl who, because of a mistake, is not considered quite respectable, and falls for Colman.

    The problem I have with the story is that the Colman character is such a devoted husband in the beginning and so happy about being married 7 years. In practically the next scene, with the encouragement of his friend (Henry Stevenson) he has taken up with this girl. If some of that had been left out of the script, it would have been much more believable.

    At any rate, well worth seeing for the director, the precode aspects, and the stars.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's nothing really remarkable about this film - A normally respectable man has an affair when his wife is away and the worst possible outcome for everyone involved occurs. As always, of course, the devil is in the details.

    I actually felt rather bad for Jim (Ronald Colman), a respectable barrister with a good marriage whose wife (Kay Francis as Clemency) takes off for Venice for weeks on a lark just because her flighty sister needs to be saved from herself - she's in love with a parachute jumper! She leaves Jim in the clutches of someone much more dangerous than another woman. She leaves him in the company of a lecherous older man (Henry Stephenson as John Tring) who is insistent that he drag everyone down to his level of debauchery and cynicism - a level of debauchery which, at his age, and decades before the invention of that little blue pill, he can only enjoy vicariously through the acts of others. When John and Jim go out for dinner John invites two young girls over to join them - amidst much protest from Jim - and practically pushes one of them (Phyllis Barry as Doris) into Jim's arms. Nothing happens that night, but Doris has her cap set for Jim even knowing he's a married man. Once she finally gets Jim inside her flat weeks later, Doris nags the poor guy to the point that I'm sure he's willing to bed her just to shut her up. Doris would have made a great time share condo saleswoman had she lived in modern times.

    So the two have their affair with the understanding that it will end when Clemency returns. Doris has Jim's body but she'll never have his heart, so to speak. But then Clemency returns and Jim lives up to the agreement they've had all along and ends the relationship, though not without some pain of separation as he has grown to care for the girl. Doris poisons herself rather than live on without Jim. Now Jim should have seen this coming when Doris went all Ophelia on him when they were on one of their weekends in the country, with her crying about how the trees must be so sad when lovers never return to enjoy them??? The inquest goes hard on Jim, although I'm not sure why there even is one since Doris obviously poisoned herself according to the police and Jim was miles away at the time. Apparently, 80 years ago, it would have made a difference in public opinion - all important for a barrister - if Jim was not Doris' "first". Doris told him that he wasn't as part of her initial sales pitch, but he is just too much of a gentleman to say so in court when asked that very personal question. He is thus presumed to be the deflowerer of an innocent young shop girl and, although not criminally responsible, any hope for a career or even social acceptance is over.

    So this is where we started and this is where we leave off. Jim has been recounting the entire story to Clemency before he leaves for South Africa to start again where he is not known. Will she go with him or start over without him? And since up to now she has decided to leave Jim what or who - if anything - will change her mind? That much I'll leave for you to find out.

    Before you think me too hard on Doris let me just say that I am a woman, not a man, so I watched this from the sympathetic eye of a woman who was once a girl, been there, done that. Believe me, even young women can tell when a man is just unhappy versus unhappily married. The people to watch out for are the evil people in this world such as John Tring who want to drag everyone down to their level yet see themselves as civilized, the silly people like Clemency who will leave a treasure on the sidewalk and just assume it will be there when they get back, the even sillier people like Clemency's sister who is doomed to marry the wrong man - it's just a matter of time, and finally those who won't level with themselves like Doris. Put all of these people together and even a basically decent man like Jim is bound to succumb to his human weaknesses.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Women marry men they hope they can change, and men marry women whom they hope will never change". So says the wise, aging scoundrel played by Henry Stephenson, giving a terrific performance in this lavish looking Goldwyn film that features a story similar to Selznick's 1939 classic "Intermezzo", that of a decent man (Ronald Colman) who finds himself involved with another woman while married to a wonderful woman and separated from her. The separation comes because of the wife's (Kay Francis) silly younger sister (Florine McKinney), escorting her to Italy on a whim on the day before Colman and Francis's seventh anniversary. Stephenson takes Colman out to dinner where they meet two young women (Phyllis Barry and Viva Tattersall) and spend a night out on the town with them. Barry falls head over heels in love with Colman who warns her about his situation, but she cannot allow herself to go. Unlike Ingrid Bergman in "Intermezzo", Barry is emotionally immature, even if she's not an outwardly silly creature like McKinney, and the story indicates that nothing inappropriate occurs during the times Colman and Barry are together.

    As he would do in his string of independent films of the 1930's, Samuel Goldwyn (along with director King Vidor and their artistic team) creates a very lavish fantasy like setting, with sensational glamorous restaurants, beautiful parks with lush greenery and art decco houses and other locales. From the reviews I've read, this has been referred to as being greatly dated, but the only thing I find perhaps dated about it is the fact that all three people involved in the situation are incredibly nice, although Barry's final act shows her to be an already troubled girl who needed more maturing before entering into any kind of serious relationship regardless of the other person's marital status. Francis gives her usual professional performance, noble yet not long-suffering, understanding yet not shocked when the revelations come out. Stephenson's character reminds me of the lovable old coots that Charles Coburn would later become famous for, and he steals every scene he is in with wit, wisdom and a touch of an "I've been there, done that...several times" attitude.

    As for Barry, she instills her young character with a love of life in the zest of youth that is hiding an inner sadness, indicating that past affairs have not been fulfilling and that she's either doomed to end up alone...or simply just doomed. A surprising climax has the previously vivacious Tattersall confronting Colman over an acting towards Barry, showing a great loyalty and moral code that you didn't expect to come from her. While looking at gossip column reports on affairs today, this might seem a bit unrealistic, but this is a view of a different kind of affair, one where the outcome is about companionship and the avoidance of loneliness rather than one of strictly sexual pleasure. Today's audiences might laugh at such an operatic view of old school scandals, but there are many lessons here to be learned, from the art of personal grace to the meaning of what true love really is, and ultimately, what keeps a marriage together even beyond the worst of situations.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When Lubitsch ran over schedule on "Trouble in Paradise" Kay Francis was replaced by Bebe Daniels in "42nd Street", a movie that she thought could re-vitalise her career. Kay was understandably angry and to appease their star, Warners lent her to Samuel Goldwyn for his prestigious "Cynara" where all the actors came out winners. I thought Ronald Colman and Kay Francis had good chemistry as the contented couple who encounter the seven year itch.

    Jim Warlock (Colman) has the evening all planned - dinner at the Ritz, followed by a show with his beautiful wife Clemency (Francis) as it is their 7th wedding anniversary. He gets home to find Clemency leaving for Naples, all part of a scheme to get her flighty sister unentangled from yet another sticky engagement. His fun loving friend takes him out to a low restaurant where they pick up a couple of shop girls. Doris (Phyllis Barry) seems particularly taken with Jim but he doesn't give her a second thought, even tearing up her address as he declares there is only one woman for him - Clemency!! There was much fanfare when Phyllis Barry, an unknown, was chosen for the role of Doris, but, for me, she didn't seem to have any spark, being pretty colourless in the role. It wasn't surprising that within a couple of years her roles consisted of things like "party guest" and "brunette chambermaid" when she wasn't being put into Wheeler and Woolsley comedies.

    He encounters the intense young Doris again, at a beauty contest he is judging and of course she wins first prize. They begin meeting but Jim's steadfastness and integrity count for nothing when he finds himself at the mercy of the needy Doris. In only one scene in the movie, when Doris and Jim visit a cinema. Watching Charlie Chaplin in "A Dog's Life", Jim really lets his guard down and for a few minutes the viewer can see why he is drawn to the unpretentious Doris. Clemency returns and Jim hastily pens a "Dear John" letter to Doris not realising that it will push her over the brink. His friend dismisses Doris as someone who "didn't play the game fair" but because of his decency about not letting on that she wasn't quite pure when they met, Jim gets caught up in the whole sordid mess.

    Kay didn't have much to do in this drama of infidelity except look her usual ravishing self. Unfortunately even though by the end of 1932 she was one of the most "worshipped of stars" it proved to be the end of her prestigious years.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From the part where Henry Stepehnson's character says "Women hope marriage will change a man, men hope it won't, both are disappointed" to the inquest scene, this is a pre-coder

    this is a pre-coder with some good insights into the marriage game. The inquest scene I found rather over the top. If it was to be done, it should of been done as a dream sequence. Ronald Colman would of been ruined anyhow, due to his indiscretion. At the final scene, right before the re-emergence of Henry Stephenson, when it seems assured Ronald Colman, will leave, in disgrace, alone, my wife, yelled involuntarily at Kay Francis, "you fool".

    We watched this because I am a devout Kay Francis fan who is humoured. Though this really wasn't a real Kay movie, except for the suffering, it is well worth your time, keeping in mind that it has the virtues and warts of that time.

    Lastly, a movie inspired by one line of a Poem?
  • bkoganbing11 September 2008
    According to the Citadel Film Series book The Films of Ronald Colman, the movie-going public did not take to Colman in Cynara playing an adulterous husband. His image as the ultimate civilized man of the English speaking world did not jibe with infidelity. Still Colman does give a decent performance in a rather dated melodrama.

    Colman when we meet him is one happily married if somewhat bored man to Kay Francis. He's a successful barrister. But when Francis is on a girl's holiday, Colman rather casually drifts into an affair with young Phyllis Barry.

    Of course it ends in tragedy as these things do, especially back in the day. It does resolve in the best tradition of stiff upper lip English dignity which I think today's audience will not understand. But that would also be in the Ronald Colman tradition as well.

    King Vidor got good performances out of his cast. Kay Francis as the wronged wife has little to do here, but look martyred. A favorite character actor of mine Henry Stephenson lends his worldly wisdom to the proceedings. And there is a nice performance by Viva Tattersall as Barry's friend and Colman's accuser.

    Cynara is a nice, but terribly dated film. Audiences back then were put off by this digression from the Colman image. Audiences today will be thrown by all those rather silly romantic notions and the idea that we must preserve appearances at all costs.
  • I think what makes this rather unremarkable early talkie stand out is the role of the usually benevolent Henry Stephenson as "John Tring". This time his mellifluous, fireside tones have a distinctly disreputable quality and his character is positively sleazy! Ronald Colman ("Jim Warlock") is an happily married barrister who has a fling with Phyllis Barry ("Doris"). She pursues him and soon he has fallen in love, just as his wife (Kay Francis) returns from Italy where she had been trying to save her sister from a bad relationship. Told by way of a retrospective, King Vidor elicits a good effort from Colman, and the narrative that deals with adultery, tragedy and ambition is delivered in a gentle, but effective fashion - for 1932, anyway. Kay Francis features sparingly, but still manages to own the screen when she appears, and though his behaviour is despicable - it is quite difficult to loathe "Warlock" entirely. Sadly, however, it plods - the pace is rambling and the focus too blurred; the subject matter could have delivered more punch. As it is, it's watchable, but perhaps all just a bit too nice.
  • Despite the fact that the film stars the ever erudite Ronald Colman, there just isn't much to recommend this bizarre Pre-Code melodrama. Much of it is because the message is muddled, inconsistent and bizarre...and the characters are completely unlikable.

    Colman plays a very well-respected barrister who has every reason to be happy. And, he loves his wife and tells her and everyone else how lucky he is. Because of this, what follows really makes no sense. At the insistence of his 'friend' (Henry Stephenson in a VERY atypical sort of role for him), Colman takes one stupid step after another and is headed for an affair. Again and again, Colman says 'no'--and only seconds later, does exactly what this young lady wants. Now here is the weird part--although he spends time with the lady, tells her he loves her and kisses her, no sort of sexual relationship is even implied!! So, we are expected to believe he is now cheating on his wife BUT doesn't want to sleep with the lady! Huh?!? The young lady turns out to be a bit flaky. Although he insists repeatedly that he loves his wife and won't leave her, she persists in pushing him to do exactly this. Now considering that Colman plays a real wienie who always caves in, you can understand her expectations. But, when he continues to refuse to leave his wife, she responds by killing herself and the film tries very hard to make you feel sorry for Colman--who just seems like a giant idiot and an unlikable one at that.

    So what is the point of the film? Should you have lots of affairs ONLY just be certain the ladies involved are non-suicidal? Is adultery okay as long as you don't 'do the nasty'? Can the audience care about a man's predicament when he creates it himself, is awfully unlikable and a dope? All I know is that I just didn't give a rat's behind for him or the story. A weird combination of Pre-Code morality and prudishness. Clearly one of Colman's worst films.