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In "Lloyd's of London," the producers took what seemed to be a singularly unromantic subject and whipped into shape one of the best motion pictures of the year. The scope of the film embraces a period of about thirty-five years that period which saw Lloyd's grow from a Coffee House meet place for underwriting syndicates to the largest insurance mart in the world.
The story is primarily that of two men, Horatio Nelson and Jonathan Blake, who form a boyhood compact to stand by each other, come what may. Blake becomes a power at Lloyd's, and Nelson receives command of the British navy. When the French break through nelson's blocade, the directors at Lloyd's decide to put pressure on the admiralty to reduce Nelson's command and put part of the fleet into services as a merchant convoy. Realizing Nelson's need of every available ship. Blake pleads for his old comrade. Finally, in desperation, he flashes a false message across the channel from Calais reporting a decisive victory for Nelson. Feeling that the sea is again safe for shipping, the admiralty countermands its order to Nelson; luckily a decisive battle is won at Trafalgar before irreparable damage is done.
Interwoven with this history of Lloyd's and Jonathan Blake is the tragic story of Blake's love for a woman he once rescued in France, and who later turned out to be the wife of a complete fop. In the end, there is implication that Blake at last wins her.
Excellent photography, direction, and acting contribute to the general merit of the picture. In its moving panorama, such figures as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson, and a certain Mr. Boswell all occupy the stage for one brief moment. The action, it must be admitted, is slow, but never does interest lag. Only two defects can be noticed--a drawn out conclusion tending toward anti-climax, and the uncertain Margaret Mitchell ending.
Freddie Bartholomew is precise-dictioned and a little more human than usual during the few moments he is on the screen; from then on Tyrone Power (Freddie grown up) continues the adventures of Jonathan Blake. Power is adequate to the part but exhibits a slight inclination toward striking poses. Had it not been for careful directing, he might have carried this tendency too far. Madeleine Carroll makes a lovely, sympathetic heroine.
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