IBBETSON (director: Henry
Hathaway; screenwriters: from the novel by George duMaurier and the play
by John Nathaniel Raphael and Constance Collier/ Vincent
Lawrence/Waldemar Young/John Meehan/Edwin Justus Mayer;
cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: Stuart Heisler;
music: Ernst Toch; cast: Gary Cooper (Peter Ibbetson), Ann Harding (Mary, Duchess of Towers),
John Halliday (Duke of Towers), Ida Lupino (Agnes), Douglas Dumbrille (Colonel Forsythe), Donald Meek (Mr. Slade), Virginia Weidler (Mimsey at
Moore (Gogo at
Duquesnois); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR;
producer: Louis D.
Lighton; Universal; 1935)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
fantasy romance that's well-produced and elegantly
photographed by Charles Lang, which makes up a great
deal for how the fanciful story never seemed anything
more than incredibly peculiar. Director Henry Hathaway
("5 Card Stud"/"True Grit"/"the Sons of Katie Elder")
bases it on a novel by George duMaurier.
The novel was cheered by surrealists as a fine work of
l'amour fou, and the
film's gentle far reaching love story also greatly
It's set in the middle of the
19th century and opens in the suburbs of Paris, where prominent
English families reside. The eight year old Gogo
(Dickie Moore) and the six year old Mimsey (Virginia Weidler) reside in mansions next
to each other and play together. When Gogo's mom
suddenly dies, his London residing uncle, Colonel Forsythe (Douglas Dumbrille), brings him back to
London as his guardian. He also renames the strange
and sensitive lad Peter Ibbetson. The lad, now played with
intensity by Gary Cooper, grows up to be a promising
architect. His blind boss, Mr. Slade (Donald Meek),
sends him to Yorkshire to rebuild the stable of the
Duke of Towers (John Halliday). After working there
for two months, Peter is accused by the jealous Duke
of falling in love with his wife and asked to leave.
Peter has failed to show any other interest in a woman
other than his love for his childhood playmate. When
it's suddenly discovered that Mary is Mimsey, Peter
can't leave her. When the Duke pulls a gun on Peter
after catching him embracing his wife, he fires a shot
at his rival but is accidentally killed when Peter
defends himself. Peter receives a life sentence, but
discovers that he and Mary have such a deep love that
they share the same dreams and are able to mystically
communicate with each other and meet magically in
their childhood garden spot while they are both alive.
Later, they will reunite in heaven.
The pic could never sell me on its dreamy Elysian stuff, but I can respect the production for the lyrical ways it tries to bridge the dream world with reality.
REVIEWED ON 10/21/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ