18 February 2016 | GManfred
That might be the headline of a tabloid feature about the hero in question. Played by Richard Barthelmess, 'hero' is an inapt description of author Louis Bromfield's character, since he is neither modern nor a hero. 'Modern' depends on your point of view, but Pierre Radier is more opportunist and con man than hero. There are great similarities and a slight physical resemblance to Tyrone Power's character in "Nightmare Alley", as Radier uses people and their money to improve his social status. Ultimately, his reach exceeds his grasp but his end is better than Power's Stan Carlisle.
"A Modern Hero" is a simple, straightforward story and plays like an Aesop's fable. It is well done and is an absorbing cautionary tale about the evils of money and the pursuit of power. Barthelmess is good, but I thought the best part of the film was the casting of the women supporting him. Jean Muir was lovely as always and Veree Teasdale was even better, with the supercilious air of a female George Sanders. Best of all was Florence Eldridge as a vulnerable widow who falls for the caddish Radier. Her portrayal and her sad, expressive eyes stay with you after her part is finished. Marjorie Rambeau has perhaps her best role as Radier's alcoholic, regretful mother.
"A Modern Hero" is well worth the time and is easy to take at only 70 minutes. I also feel the website rating is somewhat low. It was shown recently on old reliable TCM.