From a technical standpoint, picture is just about tops, gaining so much weight in beauty and serenity that it almost overbears the incredulity of the story. George du Maurier wrote this story two generations earlier. It followed on his already successful first novel Trilby and was an even greater success. [Script also draws on the play by John Nathaniel Raphael.] Wallace Reid made a click film of it in the silent days.
Casting is not of the happiest. Gary Cooper was never meant to be a dreamy love-sick boy. When he tells the Duchess of Towers that she can’t have things the way she wants them but the way he wants them, he’s fine. When he lies dying in a stinking jail and dreams of wandering in Elysian lanes with his sweetheart – he’s just not believable.
Ann Harding, on the other hand, as the duchess, is splendid. Ringlets have replaced the part down the center and the effect is startling.
John Halliday is the duke, a bit here but expertly played. Ida Lupino has a bit as Agnes and most definitely impresses.
1935: Nomination: Best Score