Review: ‘Major Barbara’

Major Barbara is the second film from the partnership of George Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal. Adapted from an old Shaw play, circa 1905, it still carries the lightning thrusts of Shavian caustic satire at any and all levels of society.

Major Barbara is the second film from the partnership of George Bernard Shaw and Gabriel Pascal. Adapted from an old Shaw play, circa 1905, it still carries the lightning thrusts of Shavian caustic satire at any and all levels of society.

The script, prepared by Shaw, closely follows his original. Wendy Hiller, daughter of a multi-millionaire sincerely works to save souls as the Salvation Army major in the Limehouse slums. Pecunious Rex Harrison, Greek scholar, falls in love at first sight.

Hiller is suddenly disillusioned in the Army soul-saving when heavy financial aid is gladly accepted from her munitions-making father and a rich distiller. It’s then that the father takes his odd family and stranger menage through his factories, demonstrating he is doing more to improve conditions of his workers than could be accomplished in Limehouse.

Hiller, lead in Pygmalion, delivers an excellent and personable performance throughout, and does much to carry the story along through some rather dull and weighty passages. Harrison does well as the Greek scholar but secondary acting honors are shared by Robert Morley, as the father, and Robert Newton, a tough limey whose soul is finally saved.

Major Barbara

UK

Production

Pascal. Director Gabriel Pascal, [Harold French, David Lean]; Producer Gabriel Pascal; Screenplay George Bernard Shaw; Camera Ronald Neame, [Freddie Young]; Editor Charles Frend, David Lean; Music William Walton; Art Director Vincent Korda

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1941. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Wendy Hiller Rex Harrison Robert Morley Robert Newton Emlyn Williams Deborah Kerr
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