Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Free Soul (1931)

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him. [imdb]

Nominated for 3 Oscars:

Best Director: Clarence Brown
Best Actor: Lionel Barrymore (WINNER)
Best Actress: Norma Shearer

In a movieworld dominated by trailers and spoilers, it's nice to see a film you know so little about. I had little expectations while watching A Free Soul, but I quickly became involved in the story. While it's not a masterpiece, nor a very complex film, it sure tells an interesting story and the acting is quite good.

What also impressed me is the way some scenes were shot, and I'll give credit to the director for that. Norma is a delight and I can totally understand why Lionel Barrymore won his Oscar for this - it could easily be classified as more of an Honorary win, given he was a veteran actor; but there's plenty of good stuff in the performance. Where it does disappoint a bit is in the screenplay: the final scene especially is really out of nowhere, and also Leslie Howard is not giving his best.

My rating for the film: 7/10. Clark Gable creates a charistmatic bad boy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday (1930)

The story of two sisters and a young man who is torn between his free-thinking lifestyle and the tradition of his wealthy fiancée's family. [wiki]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actress: Ann Harding
Best Writing, Adaptation

This was the first film adaptation of the play written by Philip Barry, but not the best known one. Nowadays, there's seem to be a lot of passion for the 1938 version, with Katharine Hepburn & Cary Grant, a film I have yet to see. Almost nobody talks about this 1930 stagey film, as few have heard of an actress called Ann Harding.

And it's true: nothing groundbreaking about this film, but it's not bad either. Ann Harding has lots of charisma and energy, so I can understand why the nomination. But it was her bitchy sister played by Mary Astor (gorgeous!) that I would've wanted to know more about. The film itself moves along fine, never too boring, never demanding, but not a great thrill either.

My rating for the film: 6/10. And I will also watch the Hepburn version at one point.