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Cynara [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Ronald Colman, Kay Francis, Phyllis Barry, Henry Stephenson, Viva Tattersall
  • Directors: King Vidor
  • Writers: Frances Marion, Lynn Starling, R. Gore Brown
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, Italian
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008T5FA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,160 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on October 8, 2009
Format: VHS Tape
CYNARA is a rarely seen Precode early talkie about the tragic consequences of marital infidelity. Director King Vidor uses the considerable talents of Ronald Colman and Kay Francis to enliven what are the assuredly heavy consequences of a barrister John Warlock (Colman) who cheats on his wife Clemency (Francis) with a shopgirl, played by the almost unknown Phyllis Barry. Vidor goes to great pains to show that Warlock--despite the ramifications of his name--is far more than a cad and a bounder. When Doris (Barry) throws herself at his feet, Warlock at first tries to resist, telling her how happily he is married. Little by little she wears down his manly resolve until they begin an affair that promises to be the sort that Frenchmen have in abundance, with all concerned knowing the rules about the when and the where. Doris unexpectedly morphs soon enough into Alex from FATAL ATTRACTION and tells Warlock that she simply cannot live without him. And Cynara, which began with a light whimsy of forbidden romance takes on a heavy patina of tragedy. Through it all, Vidor presents Warlock as a well-intentioned gentleman who realizes the severity of his straying and tries to break it off with a fanatically crying woman who will not take no for an answer. Colman's elegance and articulation play off well with Vidor's trying to have it both ways. The ending is not the forced happy ending of a Greek near tragedy, but is a realistic reappraisal of a marriage that both want to maintain but the finger wagging of a Puritanical society consigns Warlock to the lowest reaches of Dante's hell. Though CYNARA is one of the first talkies, it shows some advanced use of sound and dialogue to recreate an era that prized public morality over private decency.
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Format: VHS Tape
Ronald Colman is successful barrister Jim Warlock of London, apparently completely devoted to his wife Clemency (Kay Francis) but also starting to have just a tiny bit of doubt about the boring, settled routine life that he's ensconced in. When Clemency unexpectedly takes off for Italy to accompany her romantically-troubled sister, Jim finds himself alone for an unexpected time and in the company of his far less conservative older friend Tring (the marvellous Henry Stephenson). Tring convinces Jim to go out for a night on the town right after his wife has left, and in a little Italian restaurant Jim soon meets - and is smitten with - Doris, who might be a younger version of his wife (though it should be noted that Phyllis Barry at 24 was only 3 years younger than Kay Francis at the time). Jim enters into an affair, all the while trying to convince both Doris and himself that it can never be allowed to affect his marriage or career. But when Clemency returns unexpectedly a day early, and Jim has to cancel an afternoon's appointment with Doris, the scorned lover can't take it - she has lost her job recently, as well as losing the man she's convinced herself wants more than just a fling.

I wonder if there was anything particularly new in this story even in 1932; certainly the film is more frank, and more open about the hows and whys of infidelity than most American films of that era - and much more so than American films would be for the next few decades once the Hays Code came into place; but at the same time, it does all seem fairly ordinary on just the basic plot level - the resolution with Doris won't surprise anybody, though perhaps the final scenes between Jim and his wife will.
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