For Reel

The Royal Bed (1931)
April 3, 2014, 12:16 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lowell Sherman
2.5 Stars
The Royal BedIn 1931, two plays by Robert E. Sherwood would be adapted for Hollywood screens: The Queen’s Husband (retitled The Royal Bed for the filmed adaptation) and Waterloo Bridge. While the latter is a masterpiece of the era, with haunting, sophisticated visuals and an unforgettable performance by Mae Clarke, the former is largely a dud, save for the costuming and the presence of scene-stealing Mary Astor. Director Lowell Sherman plays King Eric VIII, a carefree monarch who would rather play board games than deal with politics–a problem if there ever was one in a time when his court is threatened by revolutionaries and an ambitious general (Robert Warwick) seeks to overthrow his rule. His interest is much more focused on the romantic tribulations of his beloved daughter (Astor), who wishes to marry a man of low class (Anthony Bushell) while her mother (Nance O’Neill) insists on a political union to a dull prince (Hugh Trevor). Sherman has his moments here and there as a performer–the role is an affable one, with King Eric being quite the pacifist and, if anything, too gentle to be in a position of power. As a director, however, he is largely a dud. Most everything is shot in long-takes and very rarely does the scale move beyond a medium or long shot, attributing to a dreary sense of staginess. The only thing of visual interest are the costumes, particularly those given to Astor–one very masculine riding outfit is a spectacular fit, predicting the androgynous beauty of Dietrich’s iconic suit in Blonde Venus.

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