The Crimson Playgoer
Acting of Ina Claire and Frederic March is Reason for Success of film at University
The "Royal Family Of Broadway", the screen version of the play by Edna Ferber and George Kaufman, is not so much a motion picture as it is a photograph of a play. Being written for the legitimate stage, the Hollywood director has done nothing to adapt the original script to the peculiarities of the camera. The result is satisfactory in as much as it fulfills the purpose of the authors as they wrote for the stage, but all of the possibilities of a picture were not realized.
The real reason for the success of this movie is in the acting of Ina Claire and Frederic March. Miss Claire, presented with the no small problem of portraying Ethel Barrymore, reached the heights of artistry in her mimicry. All of the peculiar gestures, intonations, and hand claspings of the original were so thoroughly mastered by her that what might have been blunt burlesque became highly subtle comedy. As for Frederic March, he gave a caricature of John Barrymore that was so high-spirited and frankly satirical that he practically swept the play off its feet every time he made his appearance; all of which was a considerable help to a limping plot. The hero of the love element, fortunately not very important, was best characterized by a remark of a young lady in the audience who remarked in a loud tone as he first appeared on the screen, "Wait until she sees him!" The surprise could not have been over-whelmingly pleasant.
There were several other persons in the cast who were for the most part not too obnoxious. Henrietta Crosman, who certainly should have known better, carried on the spirit of the Cavendishes (Barrymores) with a vengeance until the last act when she vociferously succumbed to the hand of death. As she was tottering on the precipice so long, it was almost a relief to see her put out of her misery. Of course the other members of the family caught up the torch and the movie ends smiling through tears in the last act of "The Merry Wives Of Winsor."
There is another opus entitled "Sit Tight" with Winnie Lightner and Joe E. Brown. The advice of this reviewer is, don't.