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Norman Z. McLeod
John Carteret has long been depressed and lonely, because, at his wedding years ago, his bride, Moonyean, was murdered. He accepts into his house Kathleen, the 5 year old orphaned niece of Moonyean, and she quickly grows up to look just like her aunt. Kathleen meets and falls in love with a mysterious stranger from America, Kenneth Wayne. When John hears of this he is furious, and we learn that it was Kenneth's father, Jeremy, who had killed Moonyean years before. John carries his grudge against Jeremy to the new generation, and threatens to ruin his niece's happiness, but he softens in the end.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Jeanette ain't no Norma and Gene ain't no Fredric!
I must first say I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the 1932 version of this film. Norma Shearer and Fredric March were perfect, the filming was perfect, the sets were perfect, the costumes were perfect, the story was perfect. It is a film I could watch over and over and never tire of! So why did I watch this remake? Well, I wanted to see for myself what it was like, even though I knew beforehand that noone could top Fredric and Norma.
I was correct. There was absolutely no reason to do this remake. It was wrong to be in color. The color was just distracting. Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond had no chemistry whatsover. All through the film I kept saying, " You're not saying it as though you MEAN it!" They just seemed to parrot the lines back and forth to each other. And these 2 were husband and wife in real life??? Fredric March and Norma Shearer had so much more sincerity in their performance in the 1932 version. You could FEEL their love, their joy, their desperation...those 2 really knew how to act. They WERE Ken and Kathleen. Jeanette and Gene were not. Gene Raymond didn't even know how to hand a lady a handkerchief in the right way!
Brian Aherne was totally non convincing as a man who was obsessed with the memory of his murdered beloved and his hatred of her murderer. You never FELT or BELIEVED that it meant much to him. Look at Leslie Howard's performance of John Carteret in the 1932 version. It was perfect. You could really see his borderline insanity from his obsession of wanting his Moonyean, and his hatred for her murderer, Jeremy Wayne.
The added songs in this version were only a distraction from the story. In the 1932 version, Norma did sing "Smilin Through", and it was appropriate for the scene. Here Jeanette sang too many songs and they didn't need to be there. I didn't care for her singing anyway.
This version had the classic scenes all wrong or even missing! Where Kathleen and Ken meet at the old Wayne house, well that was a beautiful scene with Fredric and Norma. The shadows were just right. Fredric comes into the room from the shadows. You see his beautiful, expressive eyes. The camera cuts to Norma. Her eyes tell you EXACTLY that this man is THE MAN who will have her heart. The picnic scenes in this version were nothing compared to Fredric and Norma having their teas at Mrs. Crouch's. Fredric and Norma had a lot more going on between them than eating! Why they cut out the homecoming scene at the train station, where Norma's Kathleen in the 32 version waits expectedly for Ken, but sees only Willie, and later we see her standing there alone, hoping to the very last moment that Ken will come, is beyond me. It was a beautiful scene. Norma was radiant in her white suit, ready for her beloved's return. In this one, Ken hears Kathleen singing in church. It just didn't have the impact of the train station scene. I could go on and on about scenes that were just all wrong!!
I am sure a Jeanette MacDonald fan will love this film. But if you want to see THE CLASSIC, THE BEST, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL version of this film, watch the 1932 one with Fredric March and Norma Shearer. You won't be disappointed.
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