Sunday, January 05, 2003


This is a propaganda film, not for our efforts in WWII, but for the government's attempts to help the stuggling American economy after the Depression. The title, we are told at the beginning and end of the film, comes from a quote by FDR; in England, the movie's title was THE NEW DEAL. Set in England, the plot follows the problems of two men who work for the Service department store chain: one is Lionel Barrymore, an unambitious, low-level clerk who has worked in essentially the same position for 40 years; the other is Lewis Stone, the president of the store chain and head of the Service family. Times are bad and Stone is forced to cut some dead weight in order to stay open. Though he has some loyalty and affection for Barrymore, his advisors talk him into sacking the old man. However, despite the firings, Stone's troubles continue and he faces bankruptcy unless he agrees to sell his chain. His family is not very helpful: his lazy children think only of themselves and his unfaithful wife (Benita Hume) is ready to leave him. By contrast, Barrymore's family rallies around him and he finds a new business opening a small bakery with his wife (Doris Lloyd) at its helm. Eventually, at Stone's darkest moment, he runs into Barrymore and is inspired to follow Barrymore's lead in solving his problems and keeping his store. Colin Clive does a nice job in the understated role of Stone's personal assistant, who is more help to Stone than his own children, and who rather passively courts Stone's daughter (Elizabeth Allan). Phillips Holmes is Stone's son, who does come around to make his father proud. Despite fairly good performances from all, the proceedings are rather drab, cut and dried, and too propagandistic to be fully successful as entertainment.

No comments: