Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Gilbert-O-Rama #3: Gentleman's Fate (1931)
An MGM film that almost feels like a Poverty Row production, spare and dingy. Jack plays Jack Thomas, a man seemingly on top of the world - he has money, he has a lovely fiancee (Leila Hyams) - until one day he receives word that his father (he thought himself an orphan) is dying and wants to see him. Dad reveals on his deathbed that Jack is really Giacomo Tomasulo, part of a bootlegging family, and his brother Frank (a very good performance by Louis Wolheim, who sadly died before the film's release) wants him in the business. There is genuine pathos as Jack fights with the two selves he's forced to become - ironically, Gilbert's best scenes are the ones in which his character is intoxicated. Good acting all around, with a slight but pleasant performance by Anita Page (as the girlfriend of a key character) and some comic relief from the always adorable Marie Prevost (I wish they didn't make her eat all the time, though). It's one of Jack's lesser shown pictures, and at times it's a jumbled mess, but one that deserves more attention - for his emotional performance.
I give this one:
Note: You can find another great review of this film at Jenny the Nipper's terrific blog Cinema OCD.