"So long as I don't know his name perhaps I may still forget him, time will obliterate it, this picture."  All Quiet on the Western Front, p 224

“So long as I don’t know his name perhaps I may still forget him, time will obliterate it, this picture.” All Quiet on the Western Front, p 224

My Top 5:

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front
  2. Lucky Star
  3. Anna Christie
  4. Au Bonheur des Dames
  5. The Cocoanuts

Note:  Again, we only have a top 5.  It was originally more, but in re-watching some films, while I have found more to add in the acting categories, I have found more to subtract in the writing categories.  The Great Gabbo was here at one point, as was Hitchcock’s Blackmail and even Murnau’s City Girl but I ended up cutting all three of them.  This is what I am left with and it’s not an impressive top 5.  All Quiet would be a winner in most years but in a decent year, none of the others would even come close to my top 10, let alone earn actual nominations.

Oscar Nominees:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Disraeli
  • The Divorcee

Explanation:  Wait, you’re thinking.  Why are there only three nominees?  And why isn’t there a winner?  Well, because, like in 28-29, the Academy still had a combined category for Best Writing Achievement.  Two of the nominees, including the winner, The Big House, were actually screenplays that were written originally for the screen, and so they don’t really belong here.  That the rather trite and unconvincing script for The Big House won the Oscar over the precision of the adaptation of All Quiet is one of the more ridiculous choices that the Academy has ever made.  But that such a bad film with such an awful script like The Divorcee would even be among the nominees is almost as bad a mistake.  The final nominee was Street of Chance, which, since for record-keeping purposes, I consider this entire category as Best Adapted Screenplay, is the last film in this category to date that I have not seen, although it was actually an original script.  From here on out, with four exceptions (two in 1948, one in 1956 (WGA noms), and one in 1959 (BAFTA nom)), I will have seen every film I discuss, even if I have not read every source.  My apologies for the number of source books in this post I haven’t read.

allquietAll Quiet on the Western Front

The Film:

I have already reviewed the film once for the Best Picture project.  But I’ll stress what I stressed there – that even after 80 years this films still holds up as well as ever.

All_Quiet_on_the_Western_FrontThe Source:

Im Westen nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

After going back and reading the novel for the first time in probably 20 years, I realize that twice now (in the first Adapted Screenplay post when I wrote about The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and in the original review of the film in the Best Picture post) I have been unfairly hard on this novel.  The novel is not a great book.  But it is a very good book and it is one, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye, which seems less “literary” than it should because in all three cases, the authors do exactly what they set out to do and it is precisely that which prevents people from embracing the literary value of the works: they effectively write first person narratives creating original voices that perfectly suit the age and education of the narrators.  We should not expect modernism in the narrative supplied to us by Paul anymore than we should expect it in the one supplied to us by Scout.

The novel is a first-rate depiction of what happened during the war – not just to Germany, but to an entire generation across the whole of Europe.  And the things that happened – both at home (the spurring on of young men to get them to enlist that we see in the flashbacks) and in the foxholes (both the utter destruction of their lives, whether physically, psychologically or emotionally) and even in the humor.  In fact, there is humor where it can be supplied, just as it always was during war and this is one of the first books that finds it.  In the opening scene, we have the platoon explaining to the cook that they get the full meal that he has cooked.  It doesn’t matter that he has cooked it for 150 men and there are only 80 left to eat it.  It will be the first really full meal they have had in a good long time and they will take what they can get.

All Quiet, because it is a first-person narrative, will never have the kind of journalistic impression of war that The Red Badge of Courage gives us.  We can only see what poor young Paul can see before him, up until that final page which gives the appropriate coda for a generation of boys whose manhood was destroyed by the foolish decisions of their country’s leaders.  But the book provides a direct emotional impact that Crane’s book can’t, precisely because of that narrative.  We see that young boy and we see what he has seen to send him off to war and we see the swath of destruction laid before him: “I lie huddled in a large shell-hole, my legs in the water up to the belly.  When the attck starts I will let myself fall into the water, with my face as deep in the mud as I can keep it without suffocating.  I must pretend to be dead.”

All quotes from the translation by A. W. Wheen.

The Adaptation:

Think about what could have been.  Think of the famous request from the studio (possibly apocryphal) that Milestone give the film a happy ending (“I have your happy ending for you,” he reportedly said, “We’ll have the Germans win the war.”).  But, instead, they let the filmmakers film the book fairly straight forward.  For the sake of ease of story-telling, they did actually start with Paul still a student, and show the build-up to the war, and the rampant jingoism that would lead him and his friends to enlist, while the novel itself began with Paul already at war (and half his troop decimated) and only dealt with his home life before the war in flashbacks.  But the film followed the novel fairly faithfully (with a more poignant scene where Paul speaks out against the war on a return trip home that wasn’t in the book), right down to the famous ending (“He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping.  Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”).  In the book, we are simply told that Paul dies (in a report, as Paul has been narrating).  But here, we get that wonderful, beautiful scene of the hand reaching for the butterfly, then dropping dead of the sniper’s bullet.

The Credits:

Directed by Lewis Milestone.  Adaptation and dialogue by Maxwell Anderson.  Adaptation by Del Andrews.  Screen play by George Abbott.  C. Gardner Sullivan was the Supervising Story Chief.  Titles by Walter Anthony (for silent version).  Uncredited writing by Lewis Milestone.  Anderson, Andrews and Abbott were all nominated for the Oscar.

au_bonheur_des_damesAu bonheur des dames

The Film:

Made in 1930, as sound film was rapidly becoming dominant in the film industry all around the world, this is a very good silent film that doesn’t yet feel out of place.  In fact, this film, like Lucky Star, is perhaps all the better for being made silent – silent film had really found a magnificent sense of style by the late 1920’s, and though sound quickly pushed it away, many of the last silent films are among the best.

Just look at the film.  Look at the opening scenes, where the young girl comes to Paris from the country.  Look at the cars rushing by, look at the advertisements for the imposing department store, look at the magnificence of the European city.  It works so well precisely because there is no overwhelming sound to push it into the background.  We look closely at the scenes, see the shop with the same kind of awe that young Denise sees it, understand the kind of things that we might find in Paris but not out in the country.

This is a very good film in a year that isn’t filled with very many very good films (and only one great one).  It is well directed by Julien Duvivier, who make at least one more very good film (Pépé le Moko) in France before coming to the States, and like many European directors, made a string of fairly mediocre films.  It stars Dita Parlo, who doesn’t give the greatest performance, but is more than credible as the young attractive girl in over her head when she comes to work at her uncle’s store, ends up at the impressive department store across the street and ends up with the store-owner falling in love with her.

Most of all the film works because it is very well-filmed, with fantastic art direction and a script that follows well a very good book from one of the great writers that France ever produced.  In a normal year, that might be lucky to break into the Top 20 and wouldn’t make the Adapted Screenplay list.  But, well, in 1929-30, that’s good enough for spot #2.

aubonheurThe Source:

Au bonheur des dames by Émile Zola  (1883)

Zola is one of the great novelists of all-time and he doesn’t seem to be much read anymore, at least in the United States.  But in France, they are much more proud of their favorite son.  We may have lionized him a bit in The Life of Emile Zola, which won Best Picture back in 1937, but in France they focus less on his life (which was extraordinary) than on his monumental body of work (which was also extraordinary).  I am hard pressed to think of American made films based on Zola’s works – I am sure they exist, but they don’t come readily to mind (well, Fritz Lang made one, but he’s a German director).  But look at what can be found in the history of French film.  There is the excellent L’Argent, made by L’Herbier in 1928 (and covered in a previous post).  There is Au bonheur des dames, made by Julien Duvivier.  There was Nana, made in the Silent Era as one of the first feature-length films from the great Jean Renoir, who would also later make the very good La bête humaine (part of the same 20 volume series as the rest of those mentioned).  And then Marcel Carne made Thérèse Raquin (which was not part of the series) in the fifties.  There is Gervaise, directed by René Clément, from another novel in the series.  There is Germinal, one of the most well-known of Zola’s novels, and adapted into a very good film in 1993 by Claude Berri.  To them, Zola is not simply a name stumbled across in a literature class.  He is as vibrant, alive and relevant as ever.

And so we come to this novel.  It is still read in English, as evidenced by the fact that it is widely available in a Penguin Classics edition translated in 2002 (as opposed to L’Argent, which is much harder to find in English).  It is one of the most accesible of Zola’s novels, perhaps for reasons that Zola himself never could have imagined.  The specific type of store that he writes about in this novel has been disappearing over the course of my lifetime, but it has come to exist in other ways and the story works as well now as it did when it was filmed in 1930, when he wrote it in 1883 and when it takes place in 1864.

It is a two-fold story; first it is the story of a young girl who comes from the country to try her luck in the city and the struggles she encounters at the different world that she finds (“In her room with the door shut, her feet hurt so much that she flung herself down on the bed.  She stayed for a long time staring dully at the dressing-table, the wardrobe and all the bareness of the rented room around her.  So this is where she would live; and her first day burrowed into her brain, dreadful, endless.”); and secondly, it is the story of a store, of how it came to be, of what it would become, and the future that it holds for our very society (“The perspective made the whole complex seem endless to her, with its ground-floor displays and the spotless windows on the mezzanine behind which one could see all the inner life of the shop floor.”).

Zola wrote his 20 volume Rougon-Macquart series to show the natural social history of life during the Second Empire.  And through this novel, we get a look at that social history, both in terms of the girl and the store.  Zola’s impact with these novels was immense, influencing Hardy in England and Dreiser and Norris here in the States.  This is one of the best of the series and the one which seems to still work the best in terms of modern society.

All quotes are from the 2001 Robin Buss Penguin Classics translation (picture on the right).

The Adaptation:

While there was supposedly a fuss kicked up a year before, when the makers of L’Argent had decided to update the novel to present day for their film (which turned out to be eerily prophetic, a year before the collapse of the stock market), I know of no such similar complaints with this film.  But, though Zola had intended his books to be a social history of life during the Second Empire, they are all so well-done, that is easy to take many of them and simply move them forward in time.  Zola’s depiction of the department store and the effects it would have on society were so eerily on-target that updating the novel to the present day, with cars whipping by as men walk down the streets with advertisements for the store is even more on-target than it was in Zola’s original novel.

Aside from the move forward in time, the film does a fairly accurate job of translating the book into a film.  While making the necessary cuts to reduce the length to something manageable, most of those cuts are prose narrative and not actually cuts from the story.  And if you watch the end of the film and you read the final paragraph of the book, it’s easy to see how close they are:

A last rumble rose from Au Bonheur des Dames, the distant acclamation of the crowd.  Madame Hédouin’s portrait was still smiling with its painted lips.  Mouret had slumped onto the desk and was sitting amid the million which he no longer saw.  He would not let Denise go, but clasped her desperately to him, telling her that she could go now, that she would spend a month in Valognes – which would shut everybody up – and that he would then come to fetch her himself, to bring her back from there on his arm, all-powerful.

The Credits:

Directed by Julien Duvivier.  Adaptation by Noël Renard.

luckystarLucky Star

The Film:

Would we even have this film available to see were it not for the Murnau, Borzage and Fox box set that I mentioned in a previous Adapted Screenplay post?  While Borzage wasn’t a great director and much of his work isn’t particularly memorable, the box set did provide good DVD copies of all three of the films that he made with Janet Gaynor.  Gaynor, an immensely talented actress who won the first Academy Award and within ten years was just about done with film acting, didn’t make nearly enough films.  But many of the ones that she did make show her talent to its full extent, especially the three with Borzage (of which this is the third).

In all three of the films, Gaynor is mostly ignored, until she ends up with Charles Farrell.  In all three he ends up loving her deeply and fiercely, but in all three something stands in the way.  In the first, in which they end up married because he says they are married and he wants to keep her out of jail, he goes off to war and she believes he is dead (he is merely blinded).  In the second, she does end up headed off to jail for really no good reason and his painting of her becomes almost a religious relic.  Here, she is the bratty child at first, when he heads off to war.  But when he returns, crippled, and (as he believes) unworthy of her, she has grown into a woman and is being courted by a man who 1 – treated her awfully before the men left for war and 2 – is responsible for the wounds that Farrell bears because of his despicable actions during the war.

This film could easily be just a little cliche melodrama not worth the effort and I thought less of it the first time I watched it.  But Gaynor is such a good actress (watching it this time, while also re-watching Anna Christie, I have bumped her above Garbo and she takes home her second Nighthawk Award) and Borzage does such a good job with the scenes, with the dark cinematography, with the tragedy of their romance, that it becomes a sort of poetry and I find it ranking as the second best film in a fairly weak year.

The Source:

“Three Episodes in the Life of Timothy Osborn” by Tristram Tupper  (1927)

Argh, yet another short story that I didn’t have the time to track down before the writing of this post.  I’ll do better.

The Adaptation:

A five page story that becomes a feature-length film.  But, with only titles and no spoken dialogue, and a fairly simple plot to the story, it’s easy to imagine that they actually followed the story quite closely.

The Credits:

Directed by Frank Borzage.  Written by Sonya Levien.  Dialogue by John Hunter Booth.  Titles by H.H. Caldwell and Katherine Hilliker.

annachristieAnna Christie

The Film:

Garbo talks, we were promised (though not on any poster I found).  But, with two years of sound already behind us and one of the biggest stars around still not uttering a word on screen, the fear began to be that she might be driven from the screen like her lover John Gilbert once audiences actually heard her speak.  So, what exactly to do?  Well, how about give her a play from the greatest playwright the country had ever produced (with apologies to Miller and Williams).  Though Eugene O’Neill was still six years away from winning the Nobel Prize (still the only American playwright to ever do so) he had already won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one in 1922 for Anna Christie.  And Anna was a perfect role for Garbo – a young woman who had been born in Sweden and then brought up among relatives in Minnesota.  Her Swedish-accented English wouldn’t be out of place at all.  And so, the world was ready for Garbo to speak that now famous first line of Anna’s: “Gimme a whiskey – ginger ale on the side.  And don’t be stingy, baby.”

The film would earn Garbo what none of the films in her last two years in silents had not – an Academy Award nomination (she was also nominated for Romance, which shouldn’t even have been eligible until the next year).  It was also nominated for Director and Cinematography yet was passed over (for weaker films) in both Best Picture and Writing.  So, clearly Garbo’s performance was embraced, and embraced more than the film.

In the end, the film is a good film, but it isn’t great or even very good.  It is a solid *** film, a good adaptation of the original O’Neill play, anchored by a strong performance from Garbo and with a surprisingly great performance from Marie Dressler that embraces much of the style of the O’Neill play in scenes that didn’t actually come from the play (see below).  Maybe it’s the bleakness of the O’Neill drama that kept the awards fully at bay.  Writer Frances Marion in fact won the Oscar for Writing this year for a rather cliched script rather than the stronger work she does here with the play.  Maybe it’s that the stolid direction from Clarence Brown (how he got nominated for this film, or any of the numerous others he was nominated for in his career – he didn’t stage scenes very well, in this play, where he often doesn’t seem to know what to do with the actors, or in any of the other 5 films he was nominated for).  Either way, the film is a success but it’s not a great film and is in fact remembered for the wrong reason (for Garbo’s first talking on film rather than the impressive performance from Dressler).

ONeillAnnaJonesApe1937.bigThe Source:

Anna Christie by Eugene O’Neill  (1922)

Anna Christie is exactly what we would expect to get from Eugene O’Neill.  It creates very real human characters, characters who are often at the end of their wits, hanging on in desperation for anything that can bring them a shred of happiness.  And, as per usual O’Neill, there is actually potential happiness to be found there but it always seems to be just slipping away out of reach.  It’s a simple play – four acts, with not a whole lot of time in between, that chart the progress of a relationship between Anna, a woman who was raised by distant relatives in Minnesota and has come east to meet her father and escape a life of prostitution and, first, her father, then Matt, the stoker who they find in a storm and who quickly falls for Anna.

Though the play opens on a scene of drunks at a bar, it quickly moves towards the main characters.  In the first act, we begin with Anna’s father and Martha, the older, now retired whore, who he has been living with on his barge.  His letter from Anna telling him that she is coming to stay forces his hand on pushing Martha off the boat, though Martha and Anna have a poignant scene before she ever meets her father (more on that below).  The rest of the play focuses, first on Anna and her father, then on her relationship with Matt, after they meet.  In the end, there is an ending that can’t really be said to be a happy one, but contains fair less misery than we sometimes might expect from O’Neill.

The Adaptation:

As was noted in his piece on the performance by Marie Dressler as Martha, the Mythical Monkey points out that Martha in the film gets two major scenes and that the second wasn’t in the play at all – that it was added by writer Frances Marion to give a new scene for her friend Dressler and show what she could do.  What the Monkey doesn’t point out is that the first scenes in the film are also added.  The opening of the film is on the boat, with Martha talking to herself, drinking, waiting for Chris to come home.  Not only does this give us yet another added scene of Dressler (who, as I point out above, and as the Monkey notes, is fantastic in the film), but it was clearly designed to showcase her, in that the German version filmed on the same sets, also with Garbo, but with different actors in the other roles, doesn’t have the scene at all – the first shot of the German version is of Martha and Chris walking off the boat and heading towards the bar – it’s all a scene for Dressler, and like with her other two scenes, she nails it.

As mentioned above, the play itself actually begins in the bar, with the various men around the bar, drinking and talking.  It’s a typical beginning for a play that far pre-dates O’Neill, bringing us to the action with minor characters who won’t really factor into the rest of the play, rather than beginning with the primary characters (think of Romeo and Juliet, say, or Hamlet).  But the film isn’t messing around with that kind of opening – they dive straight into the characters, giving us the wonderful scene with Martha, drunk on the boat.  After that, for the most part the film follows the play, with, of course, the exception of the later scene where Martha encounters Anna again, this time on a date with Matt (this could never happen in the original play, because only the first Act occurs in New York – the rest is up in Massachusetts – whereas in the film, they come back to New York for the later scenes).  It’s a poignant scene that works well and shows that Marion could adapt the film well and keep it consistent with the rest of O’Neill’s play.

Aside from that, it’s basically a straight shot through the rest of the play, though, there is one major difference between the two.  In the play, Anna is very clear about what she has been doing in Minnesota and why she has come east: “The joint I was in out in St. Paul got raided.  That was the start.  The judge give all us girls thirty days.  The other didn’t seem to mind being in the cooler much.  Some of ’em was used to it.”  Those lines aren’t in the film, even though this before the enforcement of the Production Code.  That’s still more explicit than movies were going to go with.

The Credits:

Directed by Clarence Brown.  Adapted by Frances Marion.

cocoanuts_xlgThe Cocoanuts

The Film:

Groucho Marx once commented about the directors of this film “one of them didn’t understand English and the other one didn’t understand comedy.”  And watching the film, for the first time in a long time, I’m tempted to believe that neither one of them understood directing.  In the early part of the Sound Era, it was difficult to create an interesting looking film because of the limitations of the cameras and the microphones.  And this particular film was made early in the morning because they didn’t actually have a sound stage and so they needed it to be quiet.  But of all the films I own (I have the Marx Brothers box set) this is probably by far the one with the worst direction.

Granted, there were always going to be some problems with this film.  First, because it is both a Marx Brothers comedy (the first of many) and a musical, it is pulled in two different directions.  Every time the brothers seem to get their routine going, a song seems to be required, and since, unlike their later films, they aren’t singing those songs, it just pulls them away and the film gets dull again.  Also, the brothers needed to be reigned in a bit, like they would be in later films, the truly great comedies, with a director who had a better sense of how to control them and how to make use of them.  Here, they seem to have control of the screen until they are told to move offstage.  Then, there is also the problem of the other actors.  Well, there was Margaret Dumont, who, as Groucho said, never seemed to get the joke.  But, the bigger problem is Kay Francis.  Even if Francis had some direction, it still would have had to overcome her inability to actually give a credible performance.  I have, in other posts, ranted long and loud about Robert Taylor and his total lack of talent and my inability to understand how he ever became a star.  Well, Francis, who wasn’t particularly beautiful, had no sex appeal and who always seems to just stand around and either be boring or be a pain in the ass, is the female equivalent.  I will never understand how she ever became a star and every time she is in the film it almost stops dead.

All of that being said, the film succeeds because of those moments when the Marx Brothers are on-stage, when they can do their routine, as written for them on Broadway (they were still on Broadway – filming this is the early morning and then going on stage with Animal Crackers at night).  So, it barely scrapes the bottom of the points barrel, but it just barely eeks out a nod here in a very, very weak year.

The Source:

The Cocoanuts by George S. Kaufman (book) and Irving Berlin (lyrics)  (1925)

Surprisingly enough, the play, as written by Kaufman (the book) and Berlin (the songs) doesn’t appear to have ever been published.  It was the first full play that the Marx Brothers did on Broadway (their first had been a revue) and helped to establish them on the stage after they had trouble getting work in vaudeville.  There were a lot more songs in the original stage play than there were in the film, so I am forced to conclude that the stage play might have even worked less than the film.  But it at least wouldn’t have been so static.

The Adaptation:

So, with no script available to look at, how to know what was done to make it any different?  Well, probably not much.  Certainly this must have been how things worked on stage.  And the directors certainly didn’t do anything to make it feel any less like a play.  We do know for a fact that a number of songs that had been in the stage play weren’t used in the film.  And what is probably the funniest scene in the film – the “why a duck” argument between Groucho and Chico – is original for the film.  So, as stagy as it feels, as much as the musical numbers take us out of the rhythm, I can still only be forced to conclude that the film actually works better, at least as a comedy, than it did as a play.

The Credits:

Directed by Robert Florey and Joseph Santley.  Adapted by Morrie Ryskind.

disraeliDisraeli

The Film:

I have already reviewed this film once.  It is stodgy and stagy and gets quite boring at times.  Like the film below, it is only really saved by the Oscar-winning lead performance.

The Source:

Disraeli by Louis N. Parker  (1911)

I have read the book by Andre Maurois, but not this play that was the basis for three different films – twice in the Silent Era (including one in 1921 starring Arliss) and then this one.  It was written in 1911, before the Great War, so it can be forgiven a bit for engaging in such jingoistic imperialist tendencies – something that seems more out of place in the film versions, after the devastation wrought by the great desire for imperialism.  The play rather simplifies history, giving just a plump role for whoever is playing Disraeli.  That was usually Arliss himself, who commissioned the play from Parker as an ideal stage vehicle for himself and later bought the screen rights.

The Adaptation:

The script for Disraeli basically works just like a play.  This is probably more the fault of director Alfred E. Green rather than screenwriter Julien Josephson.  The film just never opens up and it feels like a play from the first minute and never gets any better.  So Arliss is allowed to come on stage and strut his stuff and gives us the history lesson, or the imperialist ideas disguised as a history lesson.

The Credits:

Directed by Alfred E. Green.  Screen play by Julien Josephson.  Titles by De Leon Anthony (uncredited).  The source novel was uncredited.

the-divorcee-norma-shearer-1930-everettThe Divorcee

The Film:

I have reviewed this film here as part of the Best Picture project.  I absolutely adore Norma Shearer, but there is no way I was going to sit through this film, the second worst film I have seen from 1929-30, yet again.

The Source:

Ex-Wife by Ursula Parrott  (1929)

I have never read the book, but I haven’t seen anything that indicates that the plot of the film differs particularly much from the novel.

The Adaptation:

Of course, one of the reasons I have never read the book is that the film is so badly written.  It’s really pretty appalling that it was nominated for its script.  All of the dialogue is trite and none of the characters are believable.  The performance from Shearer (which won the Oscar) is the only thing that even remotely saves the film.  Originally, apparently, Irving Thalberg was going to cast Joan Crawford.  This might have worked for a lot of people, but not me, as I think Shearer has both acting ability and sensuality whereas I personally find Crawford to be about as sensual as a cold shower.

The Credits:

Directed by Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited).  Treatment by Nick Grinde and Zelda Sears.  Continuity and dialogue by John Meehan.  Only Meehan was nominated for the Oscar.

Other Noteworthy Adaptations  (and by noteworthy, I don’t necessarily mean good):

  • The Great Gabbo  –  from the short story “The Rival Dummy” by Ben Hecht.  Bizarrely made into a musical that runs counter to all the scenes with von Stroheim as Gabbo.
  • The Unholy Three  –  ostensibly based on the novel by Clarence Robins, but really based more on the silent version of the film made in 1925.
  • The Love Parade  –  adapted from the play The Prince Consort, the script was just about the only thing not nominated.  I’m thankful for that because it’s quite ridiculous.
  • Moby Dick  –  the first sound version of the Melville novel.  Directed by future big name musical director Lloyd Bacon, it is slow and boring and quite bad.
  • The Taming of the Shrew  –  worse than Moby Dick, worse than The Divorcee, worse even than Coquette and the worst film I have seen from 1929-30.  It was notorious for the screen credit “and additional dialogue by Sam Taylor”, but that credit did not appear to be in the version I saw.  Since it is only the 1966 version recut under the direction of Mary Pickford that remains available, it is possible she had that hideous credit excised.  Based more on the Richard Garrick reduced version of the play than the original Shakespeare.
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