Critics Consensus

Though solidly acted and pleasant to look at, Cavalcade lacks cohesion, and sacrifices true emotion for mawkishness.



Total Count: 24


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,010
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Movie Info

Winner of Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and "Interior Design," this is a period piece with excellent ambiance. Tracing the lives of two British families from the beginning of the century through 1930, this adaptation of Noel Coward's successful stage play successfully portrays families sticking together through thick and thin. Weathering the death of Queen Victoria, WWI and the depression, the families make adjustments according to their circumstances, but the movie leaves a sharply anti-war taste with the viewer as the families' peaceful way of life is changed forever by the circumstances of a changing world.


Diana Wynyard
as Jane Marryot
Clive Brook
as Robert Marryot
Ursula Jeans
as Fanny Bridges
Herbert Mundin
as Alfred Bridges
Una O'Connor
as Ellen Bridges
Irene Browne
as Margaret Harris
Frank Lawton
as Joe Marryot
John Warburton
as Edward Marryot
Margaret Lindsay
as Edith Harris
Billy Bevan
as George Granger
Dick Henderson
as Edward (age 12)
Douglas Scott
as Joey (age 8)
Sheila MacGill
as Edith (age 10)
Bonita Granville
as Fanny (age 7)
Desmond Roberts
as Ronnie James
Lionel Belmore
as Uncle George
Frank Atkinson
as Uncle Dick
Ann Shaw
as Mirabelle
Howard Davies
as Agitator
Will Stanton
as Tommy Jolly
Stuart Hall
as Lt. Edgar
Betty Grable
as Girl on Couch
Mary Forbes
as Duchess of Churt
Lawrence Grant
as Man at Microphone
Winter Hall
as Minister
Claude King
as Speaker
Tempe Piggott
as Mrs. Snapper
Des Roberts
as Ronnie James
C. Montague Shaw
as Major Domo
Pat Somerset
as Ringsider
David Torrence
as Man at Disarmament Conference
Douglas Walton
as Soldier (Friend)
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Critic Reviews for Cavalcade

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (10)

  • It is, all in all, a picture that can be highly recommended and commended for its honesty of purpose and its magnificent characterizations, and one that deserves the very best in exploitation to put it over.

    Jan 5, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A gloriously, heart-rendingly beautiful, stirring picture of a generation in British family life.

    Feb 17, 2015 | Full Review…
  • It's rife with fey, unintentional camp like the scene in which a newlywed couple pledge eternal love on the deck of an ocean liner -- only to move away and reveal a life preserver labeled Titanic.

    Feb 19, 2013 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
  • Almost certain to be near the top of the list for 1933.

    Feb 17, 2009 | Full Review…
  • This is the first big film out of the Fox studio since Sheehan's return there and this is a big picture from and on every angle.

    Jan 28, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Nary a tear-jerking trick is missed (our family loses one son to the Titanic, the other to World War I), and the strangulation is compounded by the staginess since the film.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Cavalcade

  • Aug 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.
    Cinema F Super Reviewer
  • Feb 09, 2011
    Panarama of a family over many years is not a bad film but certainly not deserving of a Best Picture Oscar.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 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.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Dec 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.
    Lord N Super Reviewer

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