In transmuting the Hervey Allen bestseller to the screen the producers were faced with the unusual problem of too much material. They have maneuvered a straightforward and comparatively logical story. It’s a bit choppy and it’s a bit long-winded, but it is a direct line and easy to follow.
Writer Sheridan Gibney managed to hew a straight course through the 1,200 pages of Allen’s writing by concentrating on his titular character and avoiding the danger of skirting off and away. Thus he clips off the entire last portion of the book, for instance, and plenty of juicy matter in between.
Fredric March as Adverse is an ace choice, playing the role to the hilt. Much less theatrical than he occasionally becomes, March is convincing through a varied series of moods and portrayals.
Olivia de Havilland has, perhaps, the next important role as Adverse’s wife, Angela. She handles it acceptably, especially in the emotional scenes. In the opera sequences she uncovers a lovely singing voice. In the supporting cast, Edmund Gwenn makes the past of John Bonyweather stand out. Claude Rains does a splendid job as Don Luis.
Pleasant, rather than exciting, is Eric Wolfang Korngold’s musical accompaniment.
1936: Best Supp. Actress (Gale Sondergaard), Cinematography, Score, Editing
Nominations: Best Picture, Art Direction, Assistant Director (William Cannon)