For Reel


Dramatic School (1938)
December 2, 2011, 8:22 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert B. Sinclair

Luise Rainer, the Austrian-born beauty, is miscast in MGM’s 1938 adaptation of Dramatic School. Garbo-esque with her deep, soulful voice and impenetrable glances, she hardly fits the part of a girl wrought to possess youthful naivete. It must also be mentioned that the film concludes with Rainer cast in a production of Joan of Arc, and the supposed show-stopper is laughable. There is an entertaining performance by Gale Sondergaard, however, in the familiar role of the aging drama instructor who still craves the spotlight. She finds the delicate balance between intentionally overplaying certain sequences for a comedic effect and also maintaining an authenticity and even dignity. Though disposable, the film may be of some interest for those examining feminism in Code-era Hollywood. Unlike many women’s pictures of the period, Rainer isn’t made to suffer relentlessly throughout the film and sacrifice everything for her success. In the end, she atypically dismisses even a man in order to fully commit to her prolonged independence.


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