The Return of Peter Grimm (1935)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy


The Return of Peter Grimm (1935) Poster

The ghost of a recently deceased family patriarch tries to help his surviving relatives, in part by preventing a marriage that he knows will go wrong.

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14 August 2012 | wes-connors
8
| Flowers Along the Way
In upstate New York, wealthy Lionel Barrymore (as Peter Grimm) arranges for his beautiful ward Helen Mack (as Catherine) to marry his closest blood relation, nephew Allen Vincent (as Frederik "Fred" Grimm). Although she is in love with Mr. Barrymore's nice-guy secretary James Bush (as James), Ms. Mack promises to marry the sneaky-acting nephew. After expiring, Barrymore realizes his mistake and must make amends. That's the obvious story. Pay closer attention to the story unfolding within the boy, young George Breakston (as William Van Dam), who greets Mr. Vincent at the train station...

This is a fine version of David Belasco's excellent original story, made famous by the playwright with stage star David Warfield. No doubt familiar with the role, Barrymore went "on loan" from MGM to RKO in accepting the part. A notorious scene stealer, Barrymore employs his excessive body movements while on camera and is toned down for the film's noticeable "special effect". Initially, you may find yourself squinting at the blurred image. Also, some intriguing parts of the original work are omitted, unfortunately, but the remaining product still plays. It's flawed - but not fatally...

The screen keeps busy with Donald Meek and Ethel Griffies (as Everett and Martha Bartholomew) around. Edward Ellis (as Andrew Macpherson) and Lucien Littlefield (as Tom Lawton) provide balance. Barrymore and young Breakston "walk away" with the film. This type of story has been made numerous times, but this version is special because it seems to be about one plot, but is really about other things; and, the stories compliment each other perfectly. Someone should look into obtaining the rights to this film and attempt a re-make. "They don't make 'em like this anymore," but they could try.

******** The Return of Peter Grimm (9/13/35) George Nicholls Jr. ~ Lionel Barrymore, George Breakston, Edward Ellis, Helen Mack

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