Cavalcade - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cavalcade Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 9, 2011
Panarama of a family over many years is not a bad film but certainly not deserving of a Best Picture Oscar.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2010
Boring! If they wanted to tell the audience what life was like at the beginning of the 20th century without an entertaining story, they should have made a documentary.
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2007
The version that I assume is the best copy available was so poorly preserved and takes the viewer out of the story. I never got into it.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2011
Almost no one remembers the film today. Still, it's noteworthy to be reminded that sometimes, yesterday's news is worth looking at again.

Cavalcade tells the "Upstairs/Downstairs"-style story of two British families across the years from December 31, 1899 to December 31, 1932. The "Upstairs" clan members are the Marryots: father Sir Robert (Clive Brook), mother Lady Jane (Diana Wynyard), and sons Edward (John Warburton) and Joe (Frank Lawton). The "Downstairs" family consists of manservant Alfred Bridges (Herbert Mundin), his wife, maid Ellen (Una O'Connor), and their daughter, Fanny (Ursula Jeans). It is a tale of joy and woe, chiefly concerned with the experiences of Robert Marryot and his wife, Jane, and embracing what happens to their children and their servants.

As the movie opens, both Robert and Alfred are preparing to fight in the Second Boer war. Both distinguish themselves in combat. Upon their return, Robert is knighted and Alfred is able to leave service and set himself up as the owner and operator of a London pub.

Albeit there are simply too many characters to keep track, yet just give a film a chance by watching it more than once is the way to go. And while there's a certain reactionary quality to some of the film's material, the movie's overriding thrust is very effectively anti-war.

The story is more concerned with the potential of death than it is with actual tragedy - how those left behind live in a constant state of anxiety, never knowing if their loved one is going to appear on a casualty list. (One of the most moving scenes occurs when Jane and Ellen go to a central location to read the names of the latest dead and wounded soldiers.) The movie also touches upon the common theme of how wasteful and irrational war is - it is referred to as a way for men to earn their stripes and for nations to flex their muscles.

Inasmuch as modern audiences have often found the film stilted and overacted, one critic reckons that when seen today, Cavalcade is best viewed from a historical perspective.
Lord Naseby
Super Reviewer
½ December 16, 2009
well, I can say that I certainly appreciate the history behind it. I liked all of the historical events that it covered. however it had few merits beyond that. the acting in it wasn't that great and the screenplay was sub par. it was one of those eeeh films. not really bad but not good either. If I had to choose I would have given Best Picture to I am A Fugitive from a Chain Gang. that film was way better than this one. yeah, this film was only okay. nothing special and certainly not deserving of Best Picture.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2007
A favorite.
½ May 5, 2015
The weakest "Best Picture" Oscar ever, it's overwrought, overstuffed and overacted. But historic, grand, and of its time.
March 16, 2015
It's like "Boyhood" in that it tries to show the development of characters and the world around them over a long stretch of time, but unlike the former, "Cavalcade" does nothing to invest us in the characters and their world. It's a series of mostly unconnected events with little in the way of themes or atmosphere. Some of the performances are good, such as Merle Tottenham as a woman who laughs at others' misfortune, but it's mainly a pretty boring film.
½ May 23, 2014
If it had spent more time on any of the time periods displayed, it could have been very solid, but no attachments were made to any character, and it felt really difficult to care.
½ May 3, 2014
This is a poor mans forrest gump, showcasing a series of big historical events from the turn of the century in england in the most straightforward way possible. Its almost like a documentary at some parts where actors are barley needed.
½ May 16, 2013
Okay so back to the older winners, this one I had trouble finding online or at the library, but luckily my brother had a VHS copy. How did he do that? genuine idea.

Plot: The film revolves around a an upper-class British family, the Marryots and their servants, the Bridges. Between 1901 and 1933, we take a look at what they all go through during many historical events around that time.

Honestly, this movie was just meh. I mean the acting was good for what it was worth, just didn't age well. There's all this death, life and love from all of these characters while Britain it self goes through things like the Second Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic, and World War One. And honestly, it's not all that particularly interesting. It's not to say that it was completely boring or anything like that - the acting was good for what it was, and there are some characters you actually care about a tiny bit - but the characters are a little too simple and the story is very loose when it comes to bringing these historical events into the story and having anything to do with the characters. Most of the events like Queen Victoria's death or the sinking of the Titanic are close to never really brought in. Thinking more about it, I guess all that made sense back in 1933 where all these events are something everybody knew back then, but some of these things were over 100 years ago or less. And some of us might not be familiar with or have even learned some events from school or something like that. I mean I've learned a lot of things in school over the years but I never knew there was a Second Boer War, or even a first for that matter. I wish I knew more, because they bring it up so bluntly that we don't even know which war it was. All the characters say is "We're going to war!" and "we won" and that's almost all of what they gave us with that.

And that's my review for Cavalcade. I don't doubt that it was a great movie to have back in its time, but it has aged to be a film that has characters that are too simple and are often not all that interesting, and lacks real effort in bringing the characters and the historical even together very well. It has its little nice moments, but is otherwise not the greatest among the best picture winners.
½ September 26, 2012
It is definitely too sentimental at times and some scenes are overly extended, but Cavalcade is a delightful and passionate drama with some solid acting and with wonderful story of happiness, losses and victories through a lifetime told beautifully by a mother and a wife.
½ March 13, 2011
One of the early Best Picture winners. This had to be one of the first stories to have a plot that spand almost 30 years. As you watch it, you can see that the filmmakers didn't know how to tell such a story in such a long timeline. However, the plot does remain epic within the familiy's perspective. I would have liked to see more of how the years affected the parents (who I assumed were suppose to be the main characters) as opposed to the kids so when the end of the film does come, we feel that they have been through an unforgettable three decades together. Still a solid movie for its time and a good movie overall.

Grade: B+
½ February 17, 2011
A pretty accurate damning of the troubles confronting people at the turn of the 20th century because of how horrible that time would become for them. Still, it wasn't particularly moving a lot of the time because it jumped through time so quickly and didn't really have a chance to build any interest (in any period) for any of the characters, thus lessening what sort of impact it could have had.
½ August 13, 2009
It's a stately production, even for 1933, and the kind of film the Academy's been watching for ever since. I think the most impressive feat of the film is cramming so much "time" (& history) into so little a running time. We feel like we're there all those years with these three groups of people (even if we do manage to virtually skip the 20's). It's not done perfectly, but adequately enough to where we don't notice those faults. The acting from all is great, but does feel stage-like and burdens the film [emotionally] a little more than it should.
½ December 19, 2010
A melodramatic epic romp through turn of the century England. We kick it off on the New Year's Eve that kicks off the Bohr War. We're effected by the Titanic, the Lindberghs, the death of Queen Victoria and conclusion of the first World War. The film is decidedly anti-war, avoiding any of the complexs politics that may have led to some conflict, and instead focuses on quick shots of soldiers falling down and landscapes of military graves.

The lead is the matriarch of the well-to-do family at the center of the story. I've seen Dinana Wynyard before and remembered liking her. She's absolutely awful here, though. Constantly crying.

There's not much of a point to the film. Just vignettes of pieces of history at a time when people hung out in the drawing room in their formal attire. A couple of surprising pieces include allusions tp premarital sex, premarital pregnancy, drug use and maybe even a gay upper crust of society. I always find these things interesting for 1933 movies.

A good half star added for an awesome performance of "20th Century Blues" by the beautiful Ursula Jeans.
January 24, 2010
From 1899 and issuing in the new year/millennium to 1932 and issuing in the new year this film covers a historical time period through the eyes of one family. It couples the past with the future and shows how England progressed through those three decades from the war with the Boers to the Titanic to World War I. A remarkable look on how England changed from the top of the world filled with grace, dignity, and peace to the country it is more like today. Excellent photography, editing, and direction make this an enjoyable and well done best picture. The scene especially where England is going off to war in WWI is amazing as each year that passes the same filming location gets more and more destroyed and the screen gets darker and darker and darker. Heartache, sorrow, and pain are shown as is happiness, joy, and love and the film captures all the aspects of normal life through the course of three decades. An amazing film which captures the essence of humanity in a very well done manner.
May 1, 2010
Eh...not bad I guess. The ending there kinda reminded me of Mi Familia a little bit. Kinda sucks losing your kids in the manner that they lost theirs. Fate really hated this couple, it seems.
½ December 23, 2009
Cavalcade is an epic film about a family in London. The film starts in 1899 and ends in 1933. It covers some historical events like the Second Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the Titanic, and World War 1.

This film won a few Oscars including best picture. It was a decent film and had some reasonably interesting characters. There was nothing overly-spectacular about it but at least it was good enough to keep my interest for the duration.

April 21, 2009
the academy really seems to love sweeping stories, spanning large swaths of time, with big, capital m 'messages' about the long journey of life. 'benjamin button' and 'gump' are current examples of this genre, though i doubt they were directly inspired by this film. i still say the best classic 'war-torn british family drama' is 'mrs. miniver.' 'calvacade' is worth seeing however if you are a fan of brilliant character actress una o'connor, who gets a rare chance here to play an important leading/supporting character rather than the bit parts she is usually relegated to.
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