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Barretts of Wimpole Street [VHS]

18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, Katharine Alexander
  • Directors: Sidney Franklin
  • Writers: Claudine West, Donald Ogden Stewart, Ernest Vajda, Rudolph Besier
  • Producers: Irving Thalberg
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Warner)
  • VHS Release Date: September 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302308321
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,923 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Simon Davis on May 2, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"The Barretts of Wimpole Street", was an prestigious stage play that gave famed actress Katherine Cornell one of her most memorable acting roles in the early years of last century. It was with this thought in mind and hoping that the earlier critical success could be repeated on screen that MGM boy genius Irving Thalberg purchased the property as a vehicle for his wife, the first lady of MGM Norma Shearer. It was all part of Thalberg's personal campaign to elevate Norma to the ranks of the acting elite by performing in film properties that had respected theatrical pedigrees. This was really the first of these ambitious efforts and would be followed in later years by no expense spared productions of "Romeo and Juliet", and "Marie Antoniette". Despite her lack of theatrical training Norma Shearer does excellently in the role of invalid poetess Elizabeth Barrett and she manages to remove quite a bit of the static quality that comes with such a stage constructed piece as this . Combined with the fine talents of Fredric March and especially Charles Laughton in a stunning performance as her tyrannical father the film version became an acting tour de force for all three leads with Norma quite rightly earning another Academy Award nomination as Best Actress of the year.
The story in actual fact is simple and straight forward and details the romance that blossoms between Elizabeth, an invalid in her domineering father's house, and acclaimed poet Robert Browning. The friendship that first develops via letters grows into a consuming love affair after the two finally meet and through the love and devotion that Elizabeth receives we witness a rapid improvement in her health where she begins to enjoy life and begins going out into the world.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mia on August 2, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
If you're into well-acted movies with a strong literary yet romatic leaning, this is the flick for you. Norma Shearer (once married to boy genius producer, Irving Thalberg) plays poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Fredric March's Robert Browning. A true-life love story!
DON'T get or even be bothered with the pasty Jennifer Jones remake. This is the genuine article, with a stellar performance by Charles Laughton as the Father You Love to Hate. Laughton's performance really should be up there as one of the most despicable Hollywood villians EVER filned! Compare him to any James Bond villian and I think you might just agree. He is perfectly horrible; a snake willing to eat his own young. There is a scene (towards the end of the movie) between him and Norma Shearer, that even with 1930's Hollywood Production Code subtly, will still give you the creeps.
The chemistry between Shearer and March is enchanting. You really do care about these two lonely, bright, creative people connecting. Maureen O'Sullivan (Mia Farrow's mom) is wonderful as Elizabth's sister, who really gets the romantic ball rolling. The costumes are lovely and the director's choice to keep the film mostly confined to invalid Elizabeth's bedroom is quietly brilliant.
While is is a stagey film, as many of Shearer's movies are, I believe it holds up extremely well. It is more than worth a look-see and is a fine addition to a classic film buff's library.
Also, it's a pretty good chick flick for coffee, chocolates and converssation!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dave on July 12, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This enchanting classic from 1934 chronicles the real life romance between poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in Victorian England. Norma Shearer stars as Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid who's practically held prisoner by her selfish, dominating father Edward (Charles Laughton), who's obsessive love for Elizabeth is almost incestuous at times. Edward enjoys being the religious fanatic and stern taskmaster over his scared sons and daughters, and only Elizabeth has the courage to argue against his cruel methods of "parenting". The whole Barrett family is miserable, and everyone (even relatives) tells Elizabeth that in her weakened condition it's only a matter of time before she dies.

Elizabeth writes poetry to escape her dreary world, and she corresponds with another poet, Robert Browning (Fredric March). Their poetry draws them closer and closer to one another until finally Robert decides he has to meet her face to face. Robert's charm is almost overwhelming for the frail Elizabeth, but she agrees to let him visit again. Because of his visits she makes herself get out of bed and walk, and over time she begins to regain her health. What started out as a friendship blossoms into love, and Elizabeth and Robert vow to marry one another no matter what the obstacles they face. Elizabeth's jealous father quickly tries to put a stop to their relationship, but their's is a love that won't be stopped by ANY obstacle!

This wonderful movie was the first Norma Shearer film I'd ever seen, and her angelic beauty as well as her amazing talent made me an instant fan. Her chemistry with Fredric March was totally convincing, and as for March he was fantastic as usual. Oh, and look no furthur for Charles Laughton's most unlikable screen character, because this is it!
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