The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street Photos

Movie Info

Based on a successful stage drama, this historical romance stars Norma Shearer as Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid largely confined to her bed. Elizabeth has little company beyond her dog and her obsessively protective father, Edward Moulton Barrett (Charles Laughton). Her one great passion and means of emotional escape is writing poetry, to which she devotes a large part of her days. She makes the acquaintance of fellow poet Robert Browning (Fredric March), who pays her a visit. They respect each others' literary abilities and become romantically attracted to each other. Robert asks for Elizabeth's hand in marriage, but Edward refuses to allow it. Elizabeth must battle her father for the right to live her own life, but eventually she is able to wed Robert and bring herself back to health. Director Sidney A. Franklin also helmed a remake of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957); it was his last film.

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Cast

Norma Shearer
as Elizabeth Barrett
Fredric March
as Robert Browning
Charles Laughton
as Edward Moulton Barrett
Ian Wolfe
as Harry Bevan
Maureen O'Sullivan
as Henrietta Barrett
Katherine Alexander
as Arabel Barrett
Marion Clayton
as Bella Hedley
Ralph Forbes
as Capt. Surtees Cook
Vernon P. Downing
as Octavius Barrett
Neville Clarke
as Charles Barrett
Neville Clark
as Charles Barrett
Matt Smith
as George Barrett
Matthew Smith
as George Barrett
Robert Carleton
as Alfred Barrett
Alan Conrad
as Henry Barrett
Peter Hobbes
as Septimus Barrett
Ferdinand Munier
as Dr. Chambers
Leo G Carroll
as Dr. Ford-Waterlow
George Kirby
as Coachman
Winter Hall
as Clergyman
Leo Carrillo
as Dr. Ford-Waterlow
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Critic Reviews for The Barretts of Wimpole Street

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (3)

As a film it's slow. Very. The first hour is wandering, planting-the-plot stuff that has some difficulty cementing the interest, but in the final stretch it grips and holds.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Sidney Franklin has filmed a drama of beauty, dignity and nobility.

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

Slow, deliberate, dull.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

One of the better-known and more typical of MGM's adaptations of famous stage plays.

January 31, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Sidney Franklin's first version of the story is stiff and stagy, but it offers good roles for Charles Laughton as the tyrannical and abusive father and Norma Shearer as his invalid poet-daughter.

February 10, 2008 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

When not even Charles Laughton, playing a deranged, scarily pious, and pretty obviously incestuous domineering father can save a film, you know you have problems.

December 5, 2004 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Barretts of Wimpole Street

½

The love story between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett is legendary, and her 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' contains some of the beautiful love poetry ever written. They were both already established poets when they began corresponding, but she was an invalid, and had doubts and insecurities that he helped overcome with steady, persistent, genuine love. What I had forgotten about their story was how poorly her father behaved towards her and the rest of his children, and this movie really shows us that, in what appears to be a pretty accurate way. Charles Laughton is brilliant as the overbearing, controlling, overprotective, borderline incestuous Mr. Barrett, father of 12, whose wife had passed away, and whose own frustrations in love had led him to forbid his children to marry. He's hard to watch at times, but certainly gives the best performance, and the movie is probably more about his inability to let his children go - indeed, he disinherited each one who married - than it is about the extraordinary love between Robert and Elizabeth, though Frederic March and Norma Shearer do have some tender scenes. I enjoyed watching it, but I suppose that's the reason I didn't give a higher rating. How much better would it have been had they incorporated even more of their relationship, and some of their letters and poetry. The movie would be remade 23 years later by the same director, Sidney Franklin, and would be a great choice to be remade (with script changes) again today.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

A bit on the melodramatic side but I think this was the time period that created the melodrama. Fredric March is seemingly in every film as the leading man and here he performs his duty and gets his maid.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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