2 April 2018 | HotToastyRag
One of the great classics of the silver screen
It's incredibly unfortunate that Robert Newton isn't a household name. He was an unbelievably talented, versatile British actor from the silver screen era, but while his name hasn't lasted through the decades, other, far less talented actors have remained household names, like Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, and Gary Cooper. If you have no idea who Robert Newton is, rent Hatter's Castle tonight.
Robert Newton plays the patriarch in A.J. Cronin's epic Hatter's Castle. He owns a hat shop, and we are treated to his hardened business persona as well as his cold demeanor at home. He's extremely strict with his innocent, frightened daughter, Deborah Kerr, and he's cruel and callous to his wife, Beatrice Varley. Beatrice slaves away as a homemaker, and her exhaustion is palpable through the screen. Deborah is very young and very sweet, and she's quickly torn between two potential lovers, the slimy Emlyn Williams and the handsome doctor James Mason.
But back to Robert Newton. It's his movie, after all, and his tour-de-force performance-which was not honored by a single award or nomination-that makes this movie one of the great classics from the silver screen. As he always does, he completely embodies his character. He doesn't care about making the audience hate him, and even though he made a career out of playing villains, this role is totally different from the other bad guys he's played. He's cold, selfish, and merciless, yet as the story unfolds, he compels the audience to care about what happens to him. Bobby has an incredibly expressive face, and his intense energy makes his performance worth remembering.
This is a very heavy story, so if you like Thomas Hardy stories, you'll find a new favorite in Hatter's Castle. If you don't think you can handle it-if you walked out of The Mayor of Casterbridge-I don't think you'll like it. Try Jamaica Inn instead for an introduction to Robert Newton.