Diamond Jim (1935) Poster

(1935)

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Another Arnold Triumph
theowinthrop8 November 2004
James Buchanan Brady made a fortune in the development of American Railroads - the cutting edge of 19th Century technology (as the internet is today). Brady, unlike Vanderbilt, Gould, Fisk, Drew, Harriman, and Hill, did not build up a vast system of railroad lines like the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Grand Central Railroad, or the Baltimore and Ohio System. Instead he sold the Railroads equiptment they needed, in particular the rolling stock (i.e. the railways car). But he was a man who enjoyed life. He weighed over three hundred pounds by his eating the largest meals imaginable (a typical meal for Brady would have five main courses, and end with a box of candy - oddly enough he never drank: his favorite drink was orange juice). He romanced the leading entertainer of the day, Ms Lillian Russell. An advanced psychological thinker, Brady wore different sets of expensive jewelry with his different suits - to advertise his success, and impress railway executives to use him to get the materials that they needed.

He never was married (Ms Russell loved him dearly, but did not want to marry him). He died in 1917 of urinary problems due to his diet. His fortune was used to fund an important foundation at Johns Hopkins for the study of urology.

The script for this 1935 film was by Preston Sturgis, and was one of his best films (sans his own directed ones). Arnold does very well in it, playing the good natured, clever Brady as a sharp but decent person (which he was), who despite his great financial and social success never achieved his happiness. He dies when he sees that there is no point in pursuing the stringent diet that would prolong his lonely life, so after burning I.O.U.s from his friend, he insists he have the "normal" meal he enjoys. Arnold is last seen heading for the meal that will help kill him. He will eat himself to death. A really bizaare film conclusion - but with Sturgis's script and Arnold's acting it is successfully pulled off.
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8/10
Edward Arnold Excellent
drednm15 June 2012
In maybe his most famous role, Edward Arnold stars as Diamond Jim Brady, the outsized financier in the late 19th century who builds a fortune in the expanding American railroads. Brady was also a famous social figure along Broadway and was famous as Lillian Russell's friend and famous for his immense appetite for fine foods.

Lucky in business but not in love, Brady comes off as a shrewd but genial man, one who values his friendships even with the women he may have been in love with.

Arnold is just sensational as the blustery but jovial man who helps make Lillian Russell (Binnie Barnes) a star. He's perfectly believable as the ambitious baggage handler, the smooth-talking salesman, and the generous millionaire who likes to wear diamond jewelry Barnes is solid as Russell, the most famous singer of her day.

Jean Arthur plays the vapid Southern girl, Brady first proposes to and a lookalike girl from New York he later meets and tries to marry. Cesar Romero plays the guy she's in love with, but he's dating Russell.

Co-stars include George Sidney as the pawnbroker, Eric Blore as the inventor, Hugh O'Connell plays the businessman who gives Brady his big start, and William Demarest plays the waiter.

Edward Arnold was so famous for playing Diamond Jim that he repeated in the role in 1940 in LILLIAN RUSSELL, which starred Alice Faye, Henry Fonda, and Don Ameche.

This film is worth watching for Arnold's performance and for its look at America, when it was growing fast and prospering.
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8/10
A great movie!
lewandd21 December 2008
I haven't seen this movie for several years. If anyone can tell me where I may purchase it on DVD, I would greatly appreciate it. The acting of Edward Arnold as Diamond Jim was superb. Edward Arnold was always one of my favorite character actors and in this movie he shined.

His characterization of Diamond Jim as a boisterous railroad tycoon showed a love of life. His portrayal also showed a sympathetic and humane side of the real Diamond Jim.

Edward Arnold could always play larger than life characters with great ease and ability. Although this movie was made 73 years ago in 1935, the ease and naturalness of the acting still holds up today.

Someone please tell me where I may purchase this movie.
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5/10
Part episodic, part history lesson, all Edward Arnold.
mark.waltz2 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The character of Diamond Jim Brady was certainly larger than life, and so was the actor who played him in two different movies - Edward Arnold. This large girthed man was one of the great character actors of the golden age of cinema, playing wealthy patriarchs, opportunists who made it good, and evil industrialists who thought to destroy those who stood in his way with morality as their defense. With his role of Diamond Jim Brady in this film and later on in the 20th Century Fox musical lily and Russell, he left a piece of himself in the immortality of on screen biographies, and while this film is certainly very enjoyable, it takes half the film for it to truly get off the ground.

The first half of the movie focuses on the two different women in his life - Binnie Barnes as Lillian Russell and Jean Arthur as two different women who came in and out of his life. As seen with Alice Faye in the musical of Lillian Russell, he stood by her even though his love was returned, but her loyalty towards him never ceased. That is pretty much the same thing here, but the film insinuates that she loved him just as much as he loved her, but for some reason obstacles kept them from being together. Binnie Barnes does get to sing briefly as Lillian Russell, and has a much higher voice than Alice Faye. If there are any surviving recordings of the actual Lillian Russell singing it would be difficult to tell because of sound recording issues as to who she really sounded like. Cesar Romero appears in one of his early roles as Arnold's rival for Arthur. There is also a brief appearance of real life fighter John L. Sullivan whose individual story would be made into a movie on its own.

However, the romance is not the interesting part of the story line. That explodes when the stock market crash causes Arnold to give a speech as to the importance of keeping the economy alive, and even though he has lost all his money, he takes a gamble and wins. I don't think that it was as easy as all that, because history has shown that massive financial losses do not just return overnight, and even with our Great Depression, it took several years into the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to fix the economy.

There is also a rather disturbing scene where two trains are heading towards each other at breakneck speed, one of them having both Arthur and Arnold on the train, and when the two collide, both trains fly into the air, but the injuries on both survivors of the train are minimal. The film does go into detail about Arnold's voracious appetite, and when he orders a table filled with oysters, lobsters and a large guinea hen, it is almost a disgusting meal to imagine. For Arnold's strong and entertaining performance, this is definitely worth seeing but the larger-than-life appetite for both life and food makes Arnold and Jim Brady a character that I would not want to have over for dinner. it is also ironic that a prologue at the beginning of the film says that the running time could never hope to present all of Diamond Jim Brady entire life, but what is really interesting doesn't appear until much later in the films. That makes it pretty much episodic from the beginning, with a twist in the middle. Is a total different structure than what the audience had gotten initially.
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10/10
Diamond Jim (1935)
jearly-28 April 2005
I saw this movie a couple of days ago at Film Forum, one of a double feature with another Sturgis film, If I Were King. Almost missed Diamond Jim because had never heard about it before, and only wanted to see the other film. After coming in a few minutes late, I found it fascinating also because of actor Edward Arnold, who played Diamond Jim more as a sympathetic, rather than, e.g. a pathetic, man. Aghast at his eating habits, I thought it morbid and indicative of depression. When I later read his biography on the Internet, I immediately thought that his dining habits might be a substitution for not drinking alcohol. Certainly a Type-A personality, and an Alpha-male. Big in every way, his largeness of appetite(s) was endearing and sad, in equal measures. Likely he could not have become what he became without the morbid appetite! Or he would have become an alcoholic or a drug addict -- the latter maybe less likely in his time and place. Definitely glad to have seen it, I recommend the movie. The movie was perhaps a forerunner of Leonardo DeCaprio's Howard Hughes in The Aviator.
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10/10
Surprisingly moving story about legendary 19th Century Super Salesman, Glutton & Tycoon. Possibly Mr. Edward Arnold's finest characterization & performance in Film career.
redryan6430 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
THIS TITLE IS representative of those that were originally released to Television around, say circa 1955. As such, it was viewed in our household and introduced this writer to the real life and legendary man of America's Gilded Age, James Buchanan "Diamond Jim" Brady. Our folks were familiar with Mr. Edward Arnold's portrayal; as they had seen it at a local Movie House right here in Chicago; being the old Emmett Theatre on Wentworth Avenue.

SO THE YEARS they have passed and Ma & Dad have gone to their Eternal Rewards; having probably met up with the Real Diamond Jim & Lillian Russell. That leaves us here in the position of being "the Older Generation"; relating to the "Kids" of seeing this years ago.*

WATCHING IT THE other night was seemingly a new experience; for very little remained in the recall and replay portion of the old memory cells.

FIRST OF ALL, it held up well. It is as lavish a production as we remember; doing a fine job of recreating the NYC of the 1890's. It's obvious that no expense was spared in costuming, sets, trains, street-cars, carriages, etc. The illusion of being Manhattan Island was completed with the creation of a constant sense of overcrowding; being a sort of cinematic claustrophobia of the first order.

THE CASTING WAS excellent what with Edward Arnold heading up a fine troupe of performers with what is essentially his finest and most sympathetic characterization in his film career; ranking right next to his Barney Glasgaw in COME AND GET IT (Howard Productions presents/Samuel Goldwyn Company/United Artists,1936). His full range of interpretive powers and emotions are clearly in evidence.

THE INCLUSION of such luminaries of the 1930's "Talkies" included lovely and somewhat enigmatic Jean Arthur; who brought her lovely, screechy-toned voice to two different look-alike ladies in Diamond Jim's love life. She first appears as the young lady,Emma,who marries another man than he and later as Jane Matthews, who also gets away. Binnie Barnes makes a beautiful Lillian Russell, a protégé of his; who goes from saloon singer to top box office attraction under his tutelage.

A VERY YOUNG and handsome & dashing Ceasar Romero as Jerry Richardson ads a character who is both friend and rival to the great Brady's love affairs, with Ceasar winning out in the end; although we won't say who he winds up with.

THE STORY STARTS off at a fast pace and wastes no time in moving the narration along. We go from a victory parade in 1856 for President Elect James Buchanan; whose name gave Diamond Jim his Given and Middle Names. We move to Brady as a young baggage & cartage clerk/handler with some big ideas and an even bigger dose of ambition. He is traced in a rise to top salesman and influence peddler; which leads to NYC & Wall Street.

THE SUPER VORACIOUS "Diamond Jim" Brady appetite is portrayed and celebrated as being as super-human; which, of course, really was at least as huge and legendary as it is shown on the screen. The scene in which Diamond Jim engages the waiter in the fancy, Broadway restaurant and orders 7 or 8 meat items on the menu as his dinner order; adding pheasant and a plate of oysters (or something like that). He tells the waiter to remember dessert. When asked what he would drink, he replies that it would be his usual pitcher of fresh orange juice.**

THE RUNNING TIME of the film is listed at 88 minutes; at which length there is no wasted time. The storyline touches all of the basic human motivators of self preservation, love, sex, recognition,power and wealth($$$). The scenario takes through the world of the mid to late 19th century and up to the Gay 90's in the USA. It may well be considered a sort of Historical Docudrama.

STRADDLIG ALL OF the events and aspects of the story is the most basic themes of all; that being a portrait of a man's life. No matter how far afield our cinematic journey takes us, in the end we have a very human story; in which we will learn to be very sympathetic, understanding and even admiring of this Legendary Patron Saint of American Capitalism & Free Enterprise through the Globe.

FINALLY, WE ODDLY enough find that there may well be some elements of the film's story that might well have been literately ancestral to Orson Welles & Joseph L. Mankiewicz's screenplay for CITIZRN KANE (Mercury Production/RKO Radio, 1941).

WHAT WAS THAT, you say!!?? We mean the element of the love-deprived Alpha Male channeling his frustration in other areas; in this case using the consumption of huge, mega doses of meat, poultry and fish dishes to essentially "drown his sorrows." Wow, that's my kinda guy!!

NOTE * Alas it's true that we all must get older or consider the alternative. We're simply trying to stress the importance of our being there to help the young assimilate and understand the historical events and Popular Fictions of the previous generations.

NOTE ** We recall a magazine article some years ago by the late Cleveland Amory that was all about Diamond Jim. In it Mr. Amory related that Brady's physician warned him to radically modify his dietary habits; as his stomach was stretched to 7 or 8 times normal size. Brady refused; his only saving grace was the obligatory huge beaker of fresh squeezed orange juice taken with each huge meal.
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10/10
Edward Arnold's signature role.
dcmiller-31 August 2000
Folks, this is the finest movie I've ever seen. It stars my all-time favorite actor, Edward Arnold. I'm 53. I saw it just once. I was 20. I cried at the end (and I'm a guy!) It's disappeared. If anyone can tell me how to get a copy of it, I'll send them a lollipop.

This flick shoes Edward Arnold at his height. He is extremely underrated these days because he is so little known. A onetime president of the Screen Actors Guild (so was Ronald Reagan)but old Eddie was a president first. Additionally, Arnold once had top billing over Cary Grant (The Toast of New York.)

Anyway, if anyone can help me find this flick, I would be most grateful. Then there are other flicks after this.

Thank you,
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10/10
Diamond Jim, the Irish-American Prince
bugsmoran294 January 2017
I really enjoyed this biopic of "Diamond" Jim Brady, who was a celebrity in his native New York City at the end of the 19th century. A bigger-than-life man about town, Jim made his fortune in the railroad industry, and he spent his fortune on diamonds (hence his nickname), fancy clothes and huge meals. A powerful eating man was Jim! He loved his oysters and lobsters: he drank buckets of orange juice. He also showered his fortune upon two women he loved but who didn't love him in turn. Edward Arnold was an ideal actor to play the part of the easy- going Brady. A young Cesar Romero is along as the romantic male lead.This movie has it sad parts.
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