The Barretts Of Wimpole Street


(out of 5)

 gives one of the best performances of her career as Elizabeth Barrett (eventually Browning), the poet who lived many years as an invalid in her New York home with her eight siblings and domineering father ().  Ruling his household with an iron first, Laughton’s fanatically religious beliefs force him to keep a tight rein on every single one of his children, including in not letting them marry. The only one who gets a looser rein is Elizabeth herself, though the implications of her father’s incestuous feelings for her are a good explanation for that; reports are that Rudolph Besier’s play had more explicit references that were forcibly removed from the adaptation, but as Laughton himself put it, they couldn’t “censor the gleam in my eye.” Eventually, Elizabeth meets equally renowned poet Robert Browning (), and her love for him helps cure her illness and threatens to topple her father’s evil reign. Beautifully photographed with plush costumes and sets that jump out at you, this very opulent film also features a spirited supporting performance by  as Barrett’s younger, bolder sister, who also is thwarted in love by her father’s heartlessness. The drama is intense and the sentiments felt between all the siblings are convincingly heartfelt.  Remade in 1957 with the exact same screenplay, word for word, and by the same director Sidney Franklin, with Jennifer Jones and Bill Travers in the leads and John Gielgud as the father.

USA, 1934

Directed by

Screenplay by , , , based on the play by

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by Cedric Gibbons

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 1934

Youtube video

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