An idealized film biography of the life of the famous painter. Story begins at the height of Rembrandt’s fame, during his lifetime, and carries on to his solitary, poverty-stricken old age. Despite a cast of two score principals, it is a one-part production, with but one scene in the entire film in which the star does not play the central character.
It was an inspiration to film many of the scenes with a suggestion of the lighting for which Rembrandt is famous in his paintings.
Forty principals were requisitioned from the best artists the British legitimate stage has to offer. If some of them, like Gertrude Lawrence and Elsa Lanchester, stand out from the others, it is only because they have more extensive and showier roles.
Despite all this artistic and technical assistance, Charles Laughton is far from satisfactory. According to the story, he is never interested in anything relating to finance or the ordinary rules of domestic economy. The only tragic things in his life are the deaths of his two wives. On neither occasion does Laughton express the overwhelming sorrow the story calls for.