Cinema: The New Pictures: Jan. 16, 1933

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Cavalcade (Fox). On New Year's Eve, 1899, Robert Marryot (Clive Brook) and his wife (Diana Wynyard) are drinking a toast to the new century. Below stairs their butler, Bridges, is finding fault with the parlormaid, Mrs. Bridges.

In the nursery, two small Marryots, Edward and Joe, are feebly pretending to be asleep. A year later, Robert Marryot and Bridges are back from the Boer War. The children, gobbling cake, watch Queen Victoria's funeral from a balcony. By 1908, Bridges and his wife have acquired a pub. Butler Bridges has taken to drinking up the profits and his small daughter Fanny is dancing in the streets. In 1912, Edward Marryot and the daughter of his mother's oldest friend are honeymooning, on the Titanic. In 1914, Joe Marryot is just old enough to get into the War. He spends his leaves with Fanny Bridges (Ursula Jeans), by this time grown up into a cabaret entertainer. He gets killed just before the Armistice. On New Year's Eve, 1932, Sir Robert and Lady Marryot have the champagne brought up for another New Year's toast. Lady Marryot proposes it—"that this England, which we love so much, will some day find dignity, greatness and peace again. . . ."

If you have seen the ten best pictures of 1932 (see above), you would do well to see Cavalcade which is almost certain to be near the top of the list for 1933. It is an adaptation of a stage production by Noel Coward which played in London all last winter—an adaptation so ambitiously conceived and brilliantly executed that it is hard to imagine how the play could have been more than a preliminary outline. Cavalcade, which is essentially the history of one English family, becomes, by implication, a history, almost a definition, of England. Against its spacious background, the subsidiary stories in Cavalcade have a sharp and eloquent perspective which Director Frank Lloyd emphasized by using, not the fulsome rhetoric with which the cinema usually attempts the epic manner, but a sort of cinematic shorthand. The significance to England of Queen Victoria's death becomes apparent from an incident in the Marryots' kitchen; a shot of a life-preserver—lettered S. S. Titanic—ends, with an abrupt full-stop, the story of Edward Marryot and his bride. Of an adroit British cast which includes Herbert Mundin, Beryl Mercer, John Warburton, Frank Lawton and four child actors, Diana Wynyard gives the most noteworthy characterization.

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