FERNANDO’S CORNER ~ Posted on January 6th, 2017
Some years ago I saw “Westward Passage” (1932) (RKO Pathé) (Dir: Robert Milton) ~ which I have revisited today ~ with Ann Harding and Laurence Olivier as a couple of newlyweds who have love each other very much, have a strong congeniality and have fun together, but when everyday-life begins and a baby arrives, their marriage is ruined, especially due to Olivier’s character’s immaturity and selfishness.
I liked this movie. In fact I very much like Ann Harding’s “natural” acting style, her fresh appearance, her smile, she’s a great (and forgotten) talent, and she needs to be rediscovered, as the excellent actress (and star) she was in the early thirties. Thanks to TCM, I’ve been able myself to “discover” her luminous presence on the silver screen, because few of her films are available on any format, on the market.
In “Westward Passage” Harding plays nicely opposite a very young Laurence Olivier, and they have wonderful chemistry, as a struggling couple of newlyweds, trying to cope with their incompatibilities. he’s an ambitious writer who does not want to make concessions and she tries hard to be the devoted adoring wife, who is willing to sacrifice more for the sake of their relationship than he is.
I have read that Olivier held Harding in high esteem due to her kindness towards him in this early stage of his film career and one can see they do have chemistry and worked perfectly together. Laurence Olivier was 27, I believe, when he made this film and looks quite the matinee idol type, with his eyes heavily made up, which was pretty usual in those early days.
The movie is quite episodic, considering its length. It is around 72 minutes and covers ten years of this couple’s lives. The best moments IMO are those at the beginning of the film when they arrive at ZaSu Pitts’ small rustic hotel (and a similar one towards the end).
There’s also good support from Irving Pichel as Harding’s eternal suitor, Juliette Compton as Harding’s sophisticated cousin and check for Bonita Granville’s first film role, as Harding & Olivier’s daughter. She’s very, very pretty and already has plenty of talent and that “je ne sais quois” that made her a child star, later in the decade, as the brat in the 1936 Goldwyn film: “These Three.”
A quality picture.
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