For Reel

Another Language (1933)
August 22, 2012, 5:13 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edward H. Griffith

An optimistic newlywed is crushed to learn that her husband favors his exclusionary family over her in Another Language, an intelligent pre-Code drama that surpasses many “nasty in-law” pictures through the quietly devastating relationship that forms between star Helen Hayes and the nephew who comes to love her, played by John Beal. As the husband is the talented Robert Montgomery, a reliable asset who was fit for these rougher, harder-to-love roles (one of his great performances was as the world-weary Lt. Brickley in John Ford’s wartime masterpiece, They Were Expendable). Though the family is rendered almost entirely unsympathetically, what is interesting about them is how functional they are – they are merely passive-aggressive, with their meanness manifesting through seemingly loving teases, as when they push Beal too far. Herman J. Mankiewicz, adapting the material from Rose Franken’s play, is wise to never stray too far into making them grotesque caricatures. Hayes is good in her part as the wife whose morale is slowly draining having been stuck in a marriage with an unloving, increasingly cruel husband, and Margaret Hamilton, reprising her role from the play, appears as an aunt in her first screen performance (her most iconic role would be as the dastardly Wicked Witch of the West).

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