For Reel

The Great Garrick (1937)
February 6, 2012, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Whale

After director James Whale had a fall out with the post-Laemmle management at Universal in 1936, he temporarily divorced himself from the studio that he had helped brand in the thirties with his horror pictures. The Great Garrick, a comedy produced for Warner Brothers, was a box office flop, despite critical respect and admirable charm. Brian Aherne plays David Garrick, a real-life English actor widely regarded as one of the best to ever take the stage, who is invited to work at the Comédie-Française in Paris. A rumor spreads that Garrick condescendingly suggested that he would teach the Parisians how to act, and therefore the proud French actors begin an elaborate stunt that involves them taking over the inn that Garrick will be staying at with the intentions of startling and embarrassing him. Garrick figures out the game, although he wrongfully assumes that a beautiful wayward countess, played by Olivia de Havilland, is part of the rouse. The film has its share of laughs – many of them from the great Edward Everett Horton, most known for his character work in the Astaire and Rogers musicals – and, while it would be excessive to call a picture as safe as this edgy, Whale does bring a level of sexuality that was nearly absent from, for example, his 1934 effort One More River. In one romantic scene, Aherne and de Havilland exchange dialogue while a bed is framed between them in the background.

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