Review: ‘Bitter Sweet’

Direction hampers Anna Neagle, a stunning blonde of compelling grace, but here restricted to an acting style. She is permitted no emotional range and her performance is flavorless except that she does manage to suggest that if she broke loose she might start something.

Direction hampers Anna Neagle, a stunning blonde of compelling grace, but here restricted to an acting style. She is permitted no emotional range and her performance is flavorless except that she does manage to suggest that if she broke loose she might start something.

Fernand Gravet is young, dark and a vital type, a vigorous personality. Chief support role here doesn’t bring out his engaging personality in full.

Clifford Heatherly does the Vienna cafe proprietor, Herr Schlick, contributing a splendidly flexible performance with a capital knack of legitimate comedy. Suggests something of the Charles Laughton technique in subtle villainy. Last of the quartet is Ivy St Helier, obviously French, who plays the soubrette role to the hilt.

Continuity takes many liberties with the operetta script [by Noel Coward], usually without improving it. Story progress is jerky. Whole episode of the singer’s second marriage is omitted, which is all right for economy of narrative though it does fog up the finish, which leaves the heroine rather indefinite. Love scenes are stretched out to great lengths.

Coward’s score, hailed at the time of the stage presentation as brilliant, is a part of the picture and helps its class tone. The leads handle several numbers agreeably.

Bitter Sweet

UK

Production

British & Dominions/United Artists. Director Herbert Wilcox; Producer Herbert Wilcox; Screenplay Herbert Wilcox, Lydia Hayward, Monckton Hoffe; Camera F. A. Young; Music Noel Coward; Art Director L. P. Williams

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1933. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Anna Neagle Fernand Gravet Esme Percy Clifford Heatherly Ivy St Helier Miles Mander

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