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.
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, but...it 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.
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.
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.