Enchantment (1948) Poster

(1948)

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7/10
Handsome, tastefully produced romance with a warm glow...
Doylenf21 August 2006
The 1940s seemed to be the decade of the romantic "women's films" featuring stars like Bette Davis, Merle Oberon, Olivia de Havilland and others. And Samuel Goldwyn had the good taste to hire the best script writers, the best cinematographers, the best musicians, and the best available actors to play in all of his films.

None was more romantic than ENCHANTMENT and it has a warm glow about it, despite being a tale of unrequited love whereby an elderly man (DAVID NIVEN in convincing age make-up) recalls his younger days and his sweetheart (TERESA WRIGHT) who leaves him because of a misunderstanding caused by his neurotic sister (JAYNE MEADOWS).

When a young woman ambulance driver (EVELYN KEYES), who happens to be his niece, comes to stay in the grand old house during the London blitz of World War II, he advises her not to make the same mistake he did in following his true love. Result: a happy ending for Keyes and her pilot lover FARLEY GRANGER when she goes rushing after him during an air raid.

The tale is told in a clever use of flashbacks from one generation to the other, and all of it is photographed in crisp B&W splendor by Gregg Toland with a quietly effective musical score by Hugo Friedhofer. It's a handsomely mounted production, tastefully done without overdoing the sentimentality of the tale. LEO G. CARROLL is excellent as Niven's servant, realistically aged for the part of the tale that takes place in the present.

Highly recommended as a quality picture of its kind.

It's also a sad reminder of the fact that after leaving Samuel Goldwyn under the contract system, TERESA WRIGHT's screen career floundered and she soon found that she had to work for lesser salaries in films not worthy of her presence. She became a free agent but admitted that it turned out to be a huge mistake.
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A wonderful film!
caja090829 March 2002
"Enchantment" seems to be one of those movies which has fallen through the cracks in terms of being appreciated. The story is told in a very unique way which keeps you totally involved. The cast, headed by David Niven and Teresa Wright is great. And Jayne Meadows is excellent! I would highly commend this movie and a good bag of popcorn. If you have the chance to buy the film...do it!!
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8/10
beautiful and touching
MartinHafer26 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a lovely tale set in England during the blitz. An American servicewoman (Evelyn Keyes) stops by the house of her elderly uncle (David Niven). At first the uncle is pretty grumpy but he relents and lets her stay in his home. A little later, his nephew (Farley Granger) from Canada also stops by and much of the rest of the film is spent going back and forth in flashbacks telling the story of Niven and his step-sister, Lark (Teresa Wright), and their abortive plans to marry. Their plans are marred by the exceptionally nasty older sister of Niven, played with gusto by Jayne Meadows. In the end, the story becomes a wistful tale of what might have been. At the same time, a romance blooms between Granger and Keyes, but Keyes is hesitant. But then Niven intervenes to illustrate how his regrets in love have haunted him and convinces Keyes to literally chase after Granger in the film's emotional conclusion.

The film works so well for many reasons. First, the makeup is great--the stars really were aged well and you'd have almost thought that Niven and his butler, Leo G. Carroll were really old men when the movie was made. Second, the acting was terrific--especially the wonderful job done by young Gigi Perreau as Lark as a child. Her expression was amazing and she handled the job well. Third, the music, cinematography and direction were beautifully and lovingly done. A first-class job all the way.
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Extremely Original Storytelling Technique
aimless-4629 April 2007
58 years before "Monster House" - a film about a neighborhood terrorized by a house - there was "Enchantment" (1948); a film narrated by a house. I'm not kidding; the house provides a brief bookend voice-over commentary; introducing the story and then wrapping things up at the conclusion.

Fortunately this house is much better behaved than its 2006 successor because 95% of the film takes place under its roof. The modest set means that second-to-none cinematographer Gregg Toland's expertise is somewhat wasted. There wasn't much for him to apply himself to here other than some interesting lighting and a series of interesting match cut transitions (more about these later).

"Enchantment" is a romance, more precisely two romances as the film tells the story of wartime romances in a London family during both the WWI and WWII. Set in 1944, the film opens with retired General Roland (Rollo) Dane (a convincingly aged David Nivin) pining away over his lost opportunity for true love. Upon the death of his sister Selina he moved back into his boyhood home because it contains memories of his lost love Lark (Teresa Wright). Lark was an orphan his family adopted when she was eight. Rollo and Lark fell in love when they grew up but shrewish sister Selina managed to derail the romance. Lark marries someone else and Rollo pursues a career in the Army. They never see each other again.

Enter niece Grizel (Evelyn Keyes-Scarlett O'Hara's little sister) who comes to wartime London from America. Grizel is an ambulance driver who moves in with her great uncle Rollo. Grizel begins a romance with a wounded Canadian officer named Pax (Farley Granger), who turns out to be Lark's nephew.

Now this may not sound very promising, but "Enchantment" transcends ordinary romantic melodrama by the way in which it tells its tale (and I'm not talking about the talking house). The story is told by cutting back and forth between two parallel romantic story lines taking place in the same house; Rollo and Lark during WWI and Grizel and Pax during WWII. This device works quite well and is worth watching just to see the match cut transitions that move the film back and forth between the two romances. There are ten of these transitions. The camera holds on the door inside Selina's bedroom as the story flashbacks to the same spot 25+ years earlier. Then a place-setting at the dinner table takes the story forward. The transitions continue; using a chandelier, a mantle clock, the fireplace, the sidewalk, and the staircase. But this is more than just a slick editing trick. Each match cut is designed to draw attention to parallels between Grizel and her predecessors in the house. Which is why she is given Selina's old room. The climatic transition does not use the match cut technique, presumably to indicate that the later romance will have a more upbeat outcome than the earlier one.

The final match cut involves a set of house "keys"; probably not a deliberate play on a certain actresses' surname but a symbolic reference (i.e. the key to happiness). The sidewalk transition is the best one as Niven actually morphs into Granger at the same exact point on the sidewalk. This was a dolly tracking shot and the row houses in the background had to line up perfectly (remember this was before digital effects).

For pretty much everyone who has seen"Enchantment", the most memorable images involve eight-year old Lark and ten-year old Rollo; played by real life brother and sister Peter Miles and Gigi Perreau. Gigi totally hijacks the film at this point leaving viewers wishing she had more scenes. Peter (in appearance and style) may remind you of Freddie Highmore ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Finding Neverland").

In fairness to Selina (nicely played by Jayne Meadows), her resentment of the cute little waif is somewhat understandable. Lark immediately brings out the protective instincts of Selina's father and two brothers. Basically supplanting Selina and stealing her destiny.

Niven, Wright, and Keyes are quite good although Keyes never quite sells her shrewish side nor her attraction to Pax. I felt this was mostly due to Granger who was one creepy guy. Hitchcock cast him for his lead in "Rope" for this very quality and while it was an asset in that role it works to everyone's detriment here.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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10/10
"Chick Flick" - But I LOVED it!!
juikfred27 October 2007
A melancholy love story that is a work of art. Flashbacks are often misused in movies but they are subtle and flow easily in "Enchantment", intertwining two stories. This tear-jerker flows from beginning to end - a masterpiece in every way. David Niven shows his acting skills both as a dashing young officer and as the retired general (makeup is FANTASTIC!!) still carrying a torch. His facial expressions tell his portion of the story even better than the well-written lines given to his character. Jayne Meadows is the older sister you'll love to hate. Teresa Wright is a sweet unintentional heart-breaker with a voice to match. As wonderful as the acting is, the photography and lighting make this movie as magical as it is "Enchanting".
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8/10
beautiful story and film
blanche-220 August 2006
What a wonderful movie! I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was. It's a lost treasure, it seems.

"Enchantment" is the story of two generations, and a very special love. The narrator is the house they lived in at various times. When the movie begins, David Niven is an old man, Rollo, during World War II, and he is living alone in the house with the man-servant with whom he grew up, Leo G. Carroll. His niece, in the service, comes to stay with him and soon meets a wounded soldier (Farley Granger) who has a connection to the house.

Rollo's story, and the story of his sister, brother, and the little girl that came to live with them, Lark, is told in flashbacks throughout the film as they grow up and Rollo and Lark fall in love. After a flashback, the camera focuses on the fireplace, or some other object, and we are brought back into the present, with the fire still burning or the book still in the bookshelf, and we are back with Rollo and his niece in the present day. It is a seamless way to tell the story and very poignant.

David Niven is wonderful as Rollo but the surprise performance for me was by Jayne Meadows as his selfish, sharp-tongued sister Selina, who always resented Lark. She is excellent. Farley Granger and Evelyn Keyes are the present day young loves, and they give very sweet performances. Gigi Perreau as the small child Lark is heartbreaking.

The ending of the film is very striking. My only criticism would be that it seemed as if the character of Rollo aged 50 years instead of about 30.

Don't miss this marvelous film.
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7/10
Bitter Sweet and Charming
gdalwin4 March 2007
I saw this movie while home sick from school many years ago and found it to be magical and sweet. The writer (Rumer Godden, who also penned 'Black Narcissus') created a wonderful weave of time and characters -- 'Enchantment' is based on her novel, 'Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time,' which tells one a bit more about how she intended the story to work.

Not a top-flight movie by any means, just a wonderful watch. Looking at other reviews I suppose one warning would be that it might be experienced as being too sentimental -- and, perhaps therefore, too transparent. But if the intended magic works for you I think you will enjoy the film immensely.
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10/10
This is the most wonderful love story that stays with you always.
florriebbc17 June 2001
I saw the movie Enchantment in 1948 when I was 11 years old. I was so moved by the story, when I returned home I wrote down the complete story, so I would never forget. I have seen the movie 5 times in the last 50 years and if I owned the movie I would watch it every week.
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Truly is enchanting.
lexingtone13 July 2003
One of the most memorable and beautiful love stories I have ever seen - and I've seen a few! It follows the life and loves of Lark, a girl who loses her parents quite young and is sent to live with a new family. She quickly befriends brothers Pehlum and Rollo while fights to gain the approval of her new sister. As she ages, she and Rollo fall in love... And that's all I shall reveal!

Don't be deturred by the fact it's in black and white. The acting is first rate, the story truly unique and captivating. Catch it if you have the chance but be prepared to have some tissues handy; especially at the end! :)
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7/10
Entertaining, Slightly Frustrating Two-fer Costume Drama
krdement25 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is possibly David Niven's very best performance. It took several scenes before I realized that it was actually a heavily made-up Niven who was portraying the elderly Rollo. Even Niven's voice is different for the elder Rollo - about an octave lower - than for the younger Rollo! He portrays the younger Rollo, with his usual charm, panache and sympathy. Niven's performance is worth the effort to see this movie; I gained much respect for him as an actor.

Likewise, Teresa Wright is perfect as Lark. While I regard her more as cute (possibly "pretty"), rather than beautiful, she always radiates a glow. Her eyes are extremely expressive; they sparkle with soulfulness. Little Gigi Pereau, as the young Lark, initially steals our hearts, and it would have been great to see more of her. However, as the older Lark, Teresa Wright, is no less effective in her "larceny" than her young counterpart. We embrace her and root for her through the entire film. She is excellent.

The best performance, however, is given by Jayne Meadows as Selena. Selena is a more complex character, and Meadows delivers a nuanced performance. From the moment of her arrival, little Lark arouses feelings of jealousy and insecurity in young Selena (who has also lost her own mother). These feelings mold the character portrayed by Meadows, yet so do the feelings of love and responsibility she feels toward her brothers - especially Rollo. Meadows' Selena never comes across as a mere evil step-sister. Her affection and concern for Rollo (however misdirected) always come across as genuine. Although we do not like Selena, we understand her. She is never one-dimensional.

Another commentator has provided great insight into the scene transitions. They are masterful and set the story-telling apart. This film is a technical treat - in any age. The costumes, sets, props - everything is first-rate.

BUT, this is not a love story. It is two stories told simultaneously, much like the more recent "French Lieutenant's Woman." Each informs the other. ONE of the stories is a love story, but the other is a story of UNFULFILLED love. Rollo, having missed out on the love of his life, becomes intent on seeing his niece, Grizel, and her Canadian beau, Pax, avoid the same mistake he made. In the end, it seems that he succeeds with them where he failed in his own life.

The failure of Lark and Rollo to get together is due more to the common (and annoying) plot device of miscommunication (or more precisely, total lack of communication) between the two sweethearts than to Selena's machinations. That lack of communication between people who are supposedly in love is very frustrating for me to watch. Consequently I found Lark and Rollo's love story more frustrating than romantic - as I do the plethora of films that rely on this overused device. Thus, while the latter love story between Grizel and Pax ends happily, the earlier love story between Lark and Rollo does not. So if you like stories about love's being fulfilled, this movie may not satisfy you: half of it ends unhappily.
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8/10
Different type of Romance
wisewebwoman6 September 2000
and superb acting in this wartime story. Jayne Meadows as the cold, manipulative sister is terrific as is Gigi Perreau in a small but very effective role as a child. David Niven is a delight and more intense than he usually is. Great yarn, good acting, delightful music and highly atmospheric. Glad I caught it.
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7/10
Lark should have trusted Rollo
howardmorley17 January 2009
Krdement's user comment I concur with when it made the point about the fatal lack of communication between Lark and Rollo.A girl in love would always listen to her beau face to face, rather than believe the spiteful talk of sister Selena.Why then oh why did not Lark await Rollo's return instead of running away out of the house, while Rollo tried to delay his trip to Afganistan with his regiment; so he and Lark could be married first?This was the basic weakness of the story, otherwise I rated the story excellent.Both my wife and I enjoyed it as 63 and 61 year olds.I always know when she is enjoying a film when she violently tells me to "shush" if I dare to speak and she misses some of the dialogue! It was fascinating following the parallel stories of the different generations in the same rooms over 70 years."A room is never empty".I rated it 7/10.
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good filming of a touching story.
che-2929 July 2001
'Enchantment' is a wonderful-odd-unknown film. Or maybe to me at least it is unknown. I am a fan of Rumer Godden novels.I have seen two other excellent films of them--'The River' and too 'Black Narcissus'. 'Enchantment' is like those also in the fact that it deals with awakenings or things which awaken us. It is about an unrequited love affair OR nearly. The sister and wicked head-of-the-family tries to keep David Niven and his step sister(by circumstance)from being together.Niven plays a soldier on- leave during WW2, most of it is told from his memory. He remembers when he is visited by the daughter of the Girl he could of had as his love--He warns her to not make the same mistake that he did. A great movie about Love!
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Technically Superior
filmguy20581 November 2011
....What a wonderful film......Technically superior.

.........The slow dissolves from past to present.....done so slowly was refreshing to see especially when compared to the rapid jerky crap that we see today.

.........and the narrowing of the spot on the key being held by Jayne Meadows....indicating the compression of her character into the key in the door being opened by Evelyn Keyes indicating the opening of the relationship between Keyes and Farley Granger was SPECTACULAR!!!!

What a wonderful way to express character and story.

Wish we could see techniques like this today.....

Gigi Perreau's scene in which she makes her lower chin quiver when brought into her new home at the beginning of the film was very moving........have only seen Hepburn, Brabara Rush and Marisa Haggarty of CSI Special Victims able to do this on the screen....an incredible acting accomplishment.......
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8/10
Similar Excellence
trvr_hffmn27 October 2011
I just saw this movie this morning at 4 am, and found it like many other oldies to be a goodie. A well told story, with complexity and sentiment woven together like a fine tapestry. Not a particular David Niven fan, but like Cary Grant, he possessed a kind of boyish sincerity and vulnerability that was probably a big part of his appeal.

But...if you enjoyed this movie and seek something similar, and especially if you are a Niven fan, then look for "A Matter of Life and Death," AKA "Stairway to Heaven." This film is equal to "Enchantment," and that is a high compliment.

Good luck in finding it, and enjoy.
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5/10
It's not a nice romantic story after all.
webmaster_ana-117 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Please, be warned, it contains spoilers!!! . . I love David Niven, so, naturally, I wanted to see this movie. He's charming (as always),and the film was, indeed very well done. The music, the flashbacks, the characters are pretty well portrayed. So, that's why I've voted this movie a "5". Because, the other "5" points that it needs it's the story itself!

Come on! They tell you this is "Just About the Most Wonderful Love Story Ever Filmed!" Yeah, sure. They put David Niven and Teresa Wright on the cover, smiling... so you believe it. But it's not a nice little love story. Everyone ends up alone, sad, and dead. Well, the "new generation", I mean the American ambulance driver and the Canadian pilot, gets to survive, and you can tell that they do survive and can get together because of Niven's advice... but that's not enough for me. In a love story... I want love! There's a lack of fulfillment in this movie that I can't take it. Let's face it, I like happy endings. But isn't that what they sell to you when they add that tagline?!

If you are a fan of David Niven, go and watch it, If you like sad movies, when you end up with a tear or two, go and watch it.

But don't expect a happy "lived together ever after" ending. There's a lot of sadness in that house. You just want to enter the movie and punch Selina (Niven's sister, who is the jerk that put them apart).
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8/10
Good Story but No Tears!
vitaleralphlouis14 August 2008
When TRANS-LUX Theaters decided in 1948 to abandon their policy of showing programs of news and short subjects in favor of the more conventional idea of showing feature movies like everyone else, ENCHANTMENT was the first picture they booked --- with great success. It was a solid good picture, very well promoted, and ran for multiple weeks. Because the picture has no outlaws, sheriffs, cattle, et cetera, I skipped it in 1948 but we saw it tonight -- after 60 years -- on DVD.

The verdict is mixed. While I score it 8/10 truthfully I was expecting a more deeply emotional movie (partly based on reviews on this site) but while I appreciated and enjoyed the movie I was expecting to be heart-struck and was not. So, OK, this was better drama than any of the trash released by Hollywood's current cocaine crowd in 2007-2008, so please take my opinion as a very mild disappointment. An 8/10 ain't bad.
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9/10
One of the greatest classic romances of all time
HotToastyRag15 February 2018
David Niven, aged up with white hair and wrinkles, returns to his childhood home. He's alone and has clearly lived a life of sadness and regret. While wallowing in his memories, he learns of a blooming romance between his niece, Evelyn Keyes, and his former love's nephew, Farley Granger. As the young lovers face their obstacles, Niven recounts his love affair with Teresa Wright.

This is an incredibly beautiful film, with a love story that should be remembered and ranked up with the greatest classics, like Gone with the Wind and Casablanca. Unfortunately, this film has mostly gone unremembered through the years, and I can't understand why. With Hugo Friedhofer's beautiful score, a sensitive screenplay adaptation by John Patrick-writer of The Hasty Heart, Some Came Running, and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing-and fantastic performances by Niven and Wright, this should be a go-to classic on anyone's list. After a role like this, it's a wonder David Niven didn't play continuous romantic leads the remainder of his career. He and Teresa have a wonderful chemistry together, and with the infinite sadness in his eyes, it's a wonder I didn't bawl my way through the entire movie.

The preview is a great representation without giving anything away, a rare treat in old movie previews. If it tugs at your heart, rent the movie. You might bump it to the top of your list of cinematic romances. Bring your Kleenexes, though. Enchantment is a tearjerker.
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7/10
Mixed feelings, but mostly positive
vincentlynch-moonoi23 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I have mixed feelings about this film.

There are some aspects of the film I really like. For example, the acting is quite solid. Teresa Wright was a fine actress, and my favorite film of hers for me is "Shadow Of A Doubt" by Hitchcock. She doesn't disappoint here, either. I'm generally rather neutral on David Niven, but I thought he did very well here, particularly in heavy makeup as the old Rolo. Evelyn Keys, of "GWTW" fame, always did rather nicely, although I always think of her being in "The Jolson Story". Farley Granger does well as the young love interest. A surprisingly strong performance is turned in by Jane Meadows, although you're unlikely to like her role. Phillip Friend was quite good; I would have liked his role as Niven's brother to be a little more extensive. Leo G. Carroll is a welcome addition to any film. Beyond the acting, the production values here are quite strong.

On the other hand, the ending is disappointing and seems to come out of nowhere. Did they simply run out of time or money? A happy ending wasn't in the cards, but a more fulfilling ending could have been developed.

A very interesting scene, right near the end of the pic, is the bombing raid over London. It's well done and, I thought, showed the fear that must have been ever-present in those situations.

I'll give this film a strong "7", but with the hype TCM was giving it, I was expecting an "8".
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7/10
Three siblings and the outsider
bkoganbing14 January 2015
Bearing no small resemblance to Maytime and Smiling Through without the other worldly visits, Enchantment is a delightful film about two generations of romance in an English family. David Niven as one of three siblings and the family butler Leo G. Carroll both play young and later on are heavily made up for old age which in this film is during World War II.

At that time the only occupants of the old family estate are Niven and Carroll when a niece from America arrives in the person of Evelyn Keyes. She has made a promise to her father who is Philip Friend now deceased to look up her uncle, the last of that generation. A rather crotchety Niven bereft of his usual charm in old age reluctantly takes her in. Soon enough she takes herself a fella in flier Farley Granger who is a nephew of Niven's lost love.

Back to those days before World War I and the children who grow up to be David Niven, Philip Friend, and Jayne Meadows are told that they are taking in an orphan girl who is the daughter of their father's friend who with his wife was recently killed in a train wreck.

The boys are agreeable enough, in fact as adults they're most interested in the girl who grows up to be Teresa Wright. But Cinderella's stepsisters never treated Wright the way Meadows does. She never misses a chance to demean her and when the boys especially Niven show any interest she schemes like mad to keep them apart.

Meadows who as I write this is the last survivor of the adult cast members is one cool, calculating and incredibly evil woman. Sam Goldwyn who produced Enchantment should have pushed for a Best Supporting Oscar for her. This may be her career role.

If you know what happens in Maytime and in Smiling Through you have some idea how all this ends. But don't skip Enchantment and its message of when true love comes along only trust your heart.
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2/10
A High Toned Mess
Handlinghandel3 July 2006
First a house talks to us. Then we meet an elderly man. A young woman comes to the house, which is, or was, his. (The exact tense of this is never clear.) He tells her a little about his childhood. Back to her. He and the others are no longer children. She is now falling in love with Farley Granger (in an unbecoming mustache.) Back and forth it goes, with short scenes, like theatrical blackouts. And never do we get to care about the people.

It is one stereotype after another. Someone comes into a room, for example. A woman is holding a handkerchief to her eyes. "You've been crying, my dear, " he observes.

The only character of interest is the evil Selina, played by Jayne Meadows. Even she, though, is two-dimensional. She is Alexis Carrington in period dress.

And speaking of dress, somehow this movie makes the lovely Theresa Wright look homely. I wanted to like her character, named Lark. But I didn't believe her.

This comes across as an idea that started to go badly and got more and more out of hand. Then, (it seems, though of course this didn't happen) someone dropped the film and it was hastily reassembled into a vaguely coherent whole.

Very few A-pictures of its period are such miserable failures as this movie is. And I have no grudge against it. I'd never heard of it till today. There must be a reason that, despite its starry cast and its beautiful cinematography by Gregg Toland, it is relatively little known. I posit that the reason is it's trite and not even believable.

I love fugues. But this is about as far from Bach as ever anything could be.
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