November 14 2016 Drama Movies Newsletter
I originally planned on reviewing the 2016 release "Our Kind of Traitor" this week. Based on a John le Carre novel and directed by Susanna White, the film is a spy thriller that features the British Secret Service and the Russian mob. I did not like the look or tone of the film, both of which struck me as a bit crude. I watched about twenty minutes and then gave up on it.
Instead, I decided to write about John Gilbert. Gilbert is one of my favorite actors, but he is constantly derided by critics and writers who, I suspect, have not really watched his films and are simply repeating the old cliches regarding his work. Marc Norman, in his book on the history of screenwriting, is an example of this. Audiences did laugh during "His Glorious Night", Gilbert's sound debut, but it was aimed more at the ridiculous dialogue than at Gilbert's voice.
You can judge the quality of Gilbert's voice for yourself since most of his sound films are readily available. I chose to write about "Downstairs" because Gilbert created the idea for the film and also wrote some of his own dialogue. His character, an unscrupulous chauffeur, is a definite departure from the romantic heroes he played in films like "The Big Parade" and "La Boheme".
Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.
Downstairs Film Review
"Downstairs" proves that silent star John Gilbert had the ability to adjust to the new sound medium and the cynical zeitgeist of Depression-era America. A conniving chauffeur profits by exploiting women both financially and sexually in this 1932 film.
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Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor
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