A Bill of Divorcement (1932)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
A Bill of Divorcement Photos
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
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.
What an interesting movie. Behind the scenes we have the sunset of one legend (John Barrymore) and the sunrise of another (Katharine Hepburn) and it is utterly amazing to see them together on screen. Both actors play perfectly off each other and their relationship will break your heart. The ending with the two of them at the piano had me crying for them both. John Barrymore plays a man escaped from the assylum that he'd been in since returning from WW1 a shell shocked man. We never are told how long he's been there, but it's long enough that his daughter (Hepburn) doesn't remember him (talks about him at the beginning as if he were dead) and his wife (Billie Burke in the only thing I've ever seen her in other than Wizard of Oz) has filed for divorce and taken up with another man. What proceeds is a dazzling family drama that ends with a family torn apart and his daughter's life resigned when she realizes that his madness could be hereditary- thus her blood damaged (Let's put on our 1930's hats people- insanity was a worse fate than death back then) and her upcoming nuptial plans are now in question. Granted, you have to conceit to the times to fully appreciate the weight of the decisions these characters make, but other than that a fine, fine little drama that will show you without a shadow of a doubt how Miss Kate Hepburn became a star and give you a chance to catch one of the great American actors: Barrymore in one of his last great roles.
A bit melodramatic, but still an excellent film. Katherine Hepburn's debut is a great one, but it is John Barrymore's performance is what makes the film. A fine classic, very well done.
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