Clemence Dane’s play, originally turned out by RKO [in 1932], skyrocketed Katharine Hepburn into prominence and marquee lights. Maureen O’Hara, a capable Irish actress imported by Erich Pommer and Charles Laughton, essays the Hepburn role in this remake with utmost confidence and ability.
Story is of a woman’s sacrifice of love, marriage, and an anticipated family in order to care for her demented father. Adolphe Menjou, escaping from an institution for the insane, returns to his English manor home on Xmas to find his wife has divorced him and is ready to remarry. His appearance upsets plans, including those of his young daughter (O’Hara) who is engaged to a young Australian.
O’Hara takes fullest advantage of a meaty role which is attention-arresting and rich in acting opportunity. Menjou provides an excellent characterization of the father (previously handled by John Barrymore). Fay Bainter delivers her usual warmful and sincere performance as the wife who falls in love with Herbert Marshall and gets a new start for happiness. May Whitty commands attention as the elderly Victorian aunt of the household.
Direction by John Farrow provides dramatic power in his handling of a delicate subject. Script by Dalton Trumbo is workmanlike, although here and there are found long dialog stretches that carry over from the stage technique of the original play.