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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Age Of Innocence (1934)

Set in 1870s Manhattan, the impending New York society nuptials of a young lawyer (John Boles) and his fiancee (Julie Haydon, Laura in the original GLASS MENAGERIE) are interrupted by the arrival of the fiancee's cousin (Irene Dunne), a worldly Countess from Europe. The lawyer finds himself fascinated with the sophisticate and his imminent marriage no longer seems desirable. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Edith Wharton by way of a Broadway adaptation by Margaret Ayer Barnes, the film examines the adamant social code of the period and how a simple divorce would have social ramifications on an entire family. Not without interest, the movie is a shell of the Wharton novel, turning it into a rather stuffy period melodrama. I'm not a fan of Irene Dunne's dramatic roles, much preferring her as a comedienne, but she's very good here. Her earnestness compensates for the inadequacy of Boles' ineffectual performance. Directed by Philip Moeller, this is one of only two movies he directed. Martin Scorsese would direct a more elaborate version in 1993. With Lionel Atwill, Helen Westley and Laura Hope Crews.

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