"CHRISTOPHER BEAN" -- University
You mustn't hold it against "Christopher Bean" if the Hollywood press-agents have assaulted your ears with its praises, tricked up in their own inimitable surprise packages. It is a good picture. Lionel Barrymore, in the part of a country doctor who once cared for Chris Bean before his death, and who now possesses several of his pictures, is superb. His part is a difficult one, for he is required to portray a character not like the rest of humankind, and yet not strange enough to be got over with a bit of heavy "character acting," Dr. Haggett, finding that Chris' pictures are immensely valuable just after he has given them away to a crook, is in a rather difficult position; when he finds further that his maid Abby has one more of the pictures, and sells it for twenty-five thousand, only to have her refuse to part with it, he is in a still more trying spot; and when he learns that Abby has seventeen of the pictures which he had thought burnt, things are undeniably stirred up. Through all this, Barrymore is solid in the shoes of his character, and subtle as well; he gives his audiences everything from fine, little touches of comedy, to non-sentimental sentimental scenes. By all means see him.
Marie Dressler, in the part of Abby, is adequate; she is not the actress that Barrymore is actor, but there are a few high spots. Beulah Bondi, in the straight character role of a withered New England wife, gives one of the best performances of its kind that has been seen in some time. The picture, for all this fine individual work, is a coordinated whole, a tragi-comic performance which will entertain the audience from beginning to end, and remain in the memory.
"Ever in My Heart," the other picture, is a tear-jerker if ever there was one. It is worth sitting through just to listen to the chorus of snorts, sobs, and snufflings which practically shakes the female part of the audience to its foundations.