J. P. Marquand told the jammed house at Loew's State last night, after the picture had been shown, that if any of the lines in the movie were bad, the fault lies with director King, Vidor and Robert Young. If any of the lines are good, he added, it is because they are his. Mr. Marquand's concern is unnecessary, and he need not lose much sleep over the transfer of his subtle literary satire from paper to celluloid. It is an excellent film, well-acted and brilliantly directed, and Harvard graduates from Maine to Texas will rejoice in the gentle expose of the stuffiness that makes Boston unique in the world.
Recent graduates, however, and those familiar with the many Pulhams in New England and elsewhere, will feel that the choice of Robert Young for the title role was unwise. He never had a chance of putting it over completely. His acting is good, he obviously studied Pulham assiduously, but too many champagne and night club parts have branded him as a gay man-about-town and his manner sometimes typifies Park Avenue rather than Beacon Street. Furthermore, though his performance is as near-perfect as it could be under the circumstances, he suffers from the unfortunate handicap of not being a Harvard man.
To Hedy Lamarr goes every one of Winchell's inexhaustible supply of orchids. Her beauty is as breath-taking as ever, but the real surprise is her acting, (this is the first decent chance she has had), and equals anything done on the screen in recent years. In many people's minds rests the belief that Hedy Lamarr is the last person in the world who could be expected to play Marvin Myles. But whoever suggested her had a stroke of genius.
King Vidor's touch is evident everywhere, and it is essentially his work that makes the picture hang together and follow the book so carefully. Charles Coburn is closer to Harvard, as Harry Pulham's father, than any one else in the cast. The drawbacks of the movie are few, however, and although some Harvard graduates may wince once or twice, America will swallow it all and love it.