Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
Genre: Drama
Director: George Cukor
Starring: John Barrymore, Katharine Hepburn, Billie Burke, David Manners
Language: English
Duration: 70 min.
Rating: 6.0
Summary:
A man returns home after fifteen years in a mental asylum. However, he finds things are not the way they were when he left.
A Bill of Divorcement is a 1932 film directed by George Cukor for RKO, adapted from a play written by Clemence Dane. Though not the first, nor the last time this source material was adapted for screen (first in 1922, later in 1940), this version is notable for two reasons: it features the debut silver screen role for then stage actress, Katharine Hepburn; and it was the beginning of a career-long collaboration between Cukor and Hepburn. The pair would eventually shoot a total of ten films together over the next forty years.

The story follows the family of WWI veteran Hilary (John Barrymore), who returns home after 15 years in an asylum only to find that things are not what they used to be. Wife Margaret (Billie Burke), has filed for divorce in absentia and is preparing to marry current lover Gray (Paul Cavanagh). He also discovers that he has a grown daughter named Sydney (Katharine Hepburn), with whom he shares much in common.

As with many films from this era of Hollywood, the plot, presentation, and dramatic style all feel more than a touch dated. It's also limited by its stage origins, with the picture taking place almost entirely on a single set. However, the unusually short running time makes for a nicely compact story with no wasted scenes or red herrings to pad out the duration.

While the naturally talented Hepburn, is what makes it watchable. Even when acting on film for the first time, she displays that unique feisty presence and delivers a lovely performance that more than holds its own against those from her more accomplished (at the time) co-stars.
Bonjour Tristesse
A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
This post is a contribution to Margaret Perry's The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon.

6 comments:

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Great pictures. I love the sound of KH's voice in this film - it's almost as if the sound people hadn't yet learned how to record her! Thanks for your contribution!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Haven't seen this one--but how much fun to know her first film was in keeping with the others! Leah

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Woeful to admit that I've never seen this but I think your review has pushed this onto my watch-list. Cukor and Hepburn made such great movies together during the course of her career that it seems remiss to leave this one out.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks for hosting Margaret, it was fun!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Cheers Leah, thanks for stopping by!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Not a must see by any means, but it's definitely worth checking out to see how everything started.

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