For Reel

One More River (1934)
February 4, 2012, 2:06 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Whale

Just before going into production on his masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein, director James Whale adapted John Galsworthy’s novel One More River into a feature tailor-made for the British market. Diana Wynyard, coming off of an Academy Award nomination for her performance in 1934’s Best Picture winner Cavalcade, plays a victim of domestic abuse who falls in love with a boyish charmer on a cruise back to England. Though the film would seem to have little in common with Frankenstein, Whale’s use of shadow and space is very similar. Like Tod Browning, a fellow horror director at Universal, he seems overwhelmed by the sheer scale of his sets – when Wynyard returns home to greet her mother, he doesn’t cut to a close up, but instead lets the mother and daughter embrace in a long shot that frames them within the windows of the cavernous residence. Just as Whale enlivens the material with his visual sense, each scene with Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who plays Wynyard’s aunt, is delightful. A predecessor of Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest, she pompously barks such absurdities as, “I don’t know whether it’s flatulence or the hand of God!”

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