A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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as Sydney Fairfield
as Hilary Fairfield
as Meg Fairfield
as Kit Humphreys
as Doctor Alliot
as Gray Meredith
as Aunt Hester
as Party guest
Critic Reviews for A Bill of Divorcement
The dramaturgy is pure 19th-century, yet Cukor gives you Barrymore and the debuting Hepburn cutting through it like a couple of long-stemmed knives
Outdated family drama about dealing with mental illness.
Audience Reviews for A Bill of Divorcement
VERY stagy but interesting film served as Hepburn's screen bow. She's a trifle studied and Barrymore occasionally goes over the top but mixed in with that is some excellent acting by both. Billie Burke, more subdued than usual, delivers the film's best most consistent performance. She does a very fine job of showing the anguish of a life suddenly turned upside down.
I have heard for eons about how great an actor John Barrymore was, and I expected some good but overblown silent acting style from him. How wrong I was! He in reality had a naturalistic acting style that would hold up just as good today. This film is about a man who regains his sanity and escapes from a mental institution (after 16 years) only to find that his wife has divorced him and is about to marry again. Barrymore did a wonderful job of making you "feel his pain" at his discovery that the woman he adores loves someone else. And his body language that gave away that he wasn't completely well, was right on the mark, very much like people I have known who were treated for severe mental illness. This was also the first film of 24-year-old Katherine Hepburn. She plays the daughter who was born after the man's commitment to the asylum. All her mannerisms are already developed, and she's beginning to show the talent to come. She claimed later to have learned a great deal about acting from Barrymore during this film. Billie Burke, better known as Glinda in the Wizard of Oz, plays dramatic here as the wife. This really made me want to see more of Barrymore, but also made me wonder what Drew Barrymore could do if someone really gave her a chance.
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