The House of Rothschild Reviews

  • Dec 14, 2019

    Anti-Semitism is rarely touched in films from this era and when it is, as in The Life of Emile Zola (1937), it just sort of floats around as a vague idea without ever really being called out as the terrible prejudice that it is. This film initially seemed like the movie that would tear apart anti-Semites and tackle an issue that would lead to the holocaust and World War II. Then the film lost itself in being a relatively dull drama about business and corporate intrigue then it decided it wanted to throw in some forbidden romance just for good measure. I was interested in seeing a young Loretta Young as I had enjoyed her work in The Farmer's Daughter (1947) but she appears very briefly and the storyline she is involved in felt arbitrary so on the whole nothing about this film really held my interest. The Rothschild family face anti-Semitism in Frankfurt, Germany in 1780 as they are overtaxed due to their race and religion. When patriarch Mayer Rothschild, George Arliss, is dying he urges his sons to establish banks all over Europe so that they will be able to build up a strong network and support one another in times of difficulty. They are extremely successful and within a few decades are financially prosperous and become involved in supporting various countries during wars. The most successful of the brothers, Nathan, George Arliss, takes the side of the Duke of Wellington. When he is successful he earns a lot of money and chooses to attempt to invest in the rebuilding of France but due to his being Jewish he is turned down. Meanwhile his lovely daughter Julie, Loretta Young, falls in love with the gentile Captain Fitzroy, Robert Young, but with Nathan's new feelings of inferiority he prevent the two from getting married. I will forgive a film almost all of it's flaws if it features a compelling romance and that was what I was holding out for here as my hope was that this film would feel like the third act of Fiddler of the Roof (1971) but alas it was as dreadfully maudlin as the rest of the film. Young with her sparkling eyes and generally indomitable spirit was not often to lift this stolid film up as she is handed a thankless role as a devoted daughter who does a lot of blushing and always appears bashful about what ever she feels. Her scenes in the film felt obligatory as the filmmakers were likely aware that it would be difficult to draw in a female audience with a film so caught up in "Great Men" and masculine ideals. Nathan is the typical dominating patriarch and it is taken as a given that he can control the lives of the women in his family. There is no room for criticism of his behavior and Young is largely sidelined with her thinly written part as the type of character Deanna Durbin would go on to play is far below an actress of her considerable charms. Arliss is back after having won an Academy Award for the stodgy political biopic Disraeli (1929) and nothing appears to have changed as he still has a disconcerting habit of staring at the camera. I never quite bought into either of the characters he plays as his emotional deathbed scene seems forced and his righteous anger as Nathan came across as mild frustration. He is asked to carry a lot of the film and he just does not have the capability as a better leading man from this time period like Fredric March would have had more restraint and technical prowess. I can see why he was cast in this role as he had inhabited an iconic Jewish authority figure just a few years earlier but I can see why he is not held up as one of the great leading men of the 1930s as his technique lacks refinement and he seems to be throwing everything out there. What one wants from a film like this is some great, powerhouse performances and something to connect to emotionally and this film lacks both as Arliss is a mess, Young is underused and the romance never comes alive.

    Anti-Semitism is rarely touched in films from this era and when it is, as in The Life of Emile Zola (1937), it just sort of floats around as a vague idea without ever really being called out as the terrible prejudice that it is. This film initially seemed like the movie that would tear apart anti-Semites and tackle an issue that would lead to the holocaust and World War II. Then the film lost itself in being a relatively dull drama about business and corporate intrigue then it decided it wanted to throw in some forbidden romance just for good measure. I was interested in seeing a young Loretta Young as I had enjoyed her work in The Farmer's Daughter (1947) but she appears very briefly and the storyline she is involved in felt arbitrary so on the whole nothing about this film really held my interest. The Rothschild family face anti-Semitism in Frankfurt, Germany in 1780 as they are overtaxed due to their race and religion. When patriarch Mayer Rothschild, George Arliss, is dying he urges his sons to establish banks all over Europe so that they will be able to build up a strong network and support one another in times of difficulty. They are extremely successful and within a few decades are financially prosperous and become involved in supporting various countries during wars. The most successful of the brothers, Nathan, George Arliss, takes the side of the Duke of Wellington. When he is successful he earns a lot of money and chooses to attempt to invest in the rebuilding of France but due to his being Jewish he is turned down. Meanwhile his lovely daughter Julie, Loretta Young, falls in love with the gentile Captain Fitzroy, Robert Young, but with Nathan's new feelings of inferiority he prevent the two from getting married. I will forgive a film almost all of it's flaws if it features a compelling romance and that was what I was holding out for here as my hope was that this film would feel like the third act of Fiddler of the Roof (1971) but alas it was as dreadfully maudlin as the rest of the film. Young with her sparkling eyes and generally indomitable spirit was not often to lift this stolid film up as she is handed a thankless role as a devoted daughter who does a lot of blushing and always appears bashful about what ever she feels. Her scenes in the film felt obligatory as the filmmakers were likely aware that it would be difficult to draw in a female audience with a film so caught up in "Great Men" and masculine ideals. Nathan is the typical dominating patriarch and it is taken as a given that he can control the lives of the women in his family. There is no room for criticism of his behavior and Young is largely sidelined with her thinly written part as the type of character Deanna Durbin would go on to play is far below an actress of her considerable charms. Arliss is back after having won an Academy Award for the stodgy political biopic Disraeli (1929) and nothing appears to have changed as he still has a disconcerting habit of staring at the camera. I never quite bought into either of the characters he plays as his emotional deathbed scene seems forced and his righteous anger as Nathan came across as mild frustration. He is asked to carry a lot of the film and he just does not have the capability as a better leading man from this time period like Fredric March would have had more restraint and technical prowess. I can see why he was cast in this role as he had inhabited an iconic Jewish authority figure just a few years earlier but I can see why he is not held up as one of the great leading men of the 1930s as his technique lacks refinement and he seems to be throwing everything out there. What one wants from a film like this is some great, powerhouse performances and something to connect to emotionally and this film lacks both as Arliss is a mess, Young is underused and the romance never comes alive.

  • Nov 14, 2019

    Disturbingly accurate.

    Disturbingly accurate.

  • Oct 26, 2019

    Horrible movie that shows how disgusting and deceiving (((this))) family really is. Sad to think that they still are alive. They need to be abolished. George Patton even said we defeated the wrong enemy in WW2..

    Horrible movie that shows how disgusting and deceiving (((this))) family really is. Sad to think that they still are alive. They need to be abolished. George Patton even said we defeated the wrong enemy in WW2..

  • Apr 04, 2019

    The House of Rothschild solidly deals with Anti-Semitism and it's commendable in that regard as a very early film about this issue. It's also quite well acted. But the characters are bland and boring and the movie is never cinematic at all and rather stagey due to mediocre cinematography, score, editing and the overall look and feel to it are never cinematic.

    The House of Rothschild solidly deals with Anti-Semitism and it's commendable in that regard as a very early film about this issue. It's also quite well acted. But the characters are bland and boring and the movie is never cinematic at all and rather stagey due to mediocre cinematography, score, editing and the overall look and feel to it are never cinematic.

  • Feb 23, 2018

    Awful. The acting is atrocious.

    Awful. The acting is atrocious.

  • Oct 24, 2015

    Rewatched this film from pre_WW II, and although I know it was quite Hollywood, it was a Hollywood of a different time and watching over it is really a great classic.

    Rewatched this film from pre_WW II, and although I know it was quite Hollywood, it was a Hollywood of a different time and watching over it is really a great classic.

  • Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
    Aug 19, 2014

    Who is George Arliss? Talk film with anyone, newbie fan to longtime devotee, and see who mentions him. Nobody. And yet he was something of an auteur in his day, respectable as a bank and better thought of. This is the first thing I've ever seen him in, the kind of thing he was most known for, historical bio-pics. And its an unusual bit too. A film about banking? Are you kidding me? And Jewish bankers no less? In a positive light? Talk about flying in the face of public perceptions! Wake me when it's over, okay? And yet: objective achieved. Because of George Arliss, class, humanity, distinction, purpose, he's the hub from which these qualities flow to and through the whole piece, a benevolent fatherly presence that's believable. I was impressed.

    Who is George Arliss? Talk film with anyone, newbie fan to longtime devotee, and see who mentions him. Nobody. And yet he was something of an auteur in his day, respectable as a bank and better thought of. This is the first thing I've ever seen him in, the kind of thing he was most known for, historical bio-pics. And its an unusual bit too. A film about banking? Are you kidding me? And Jewish bankers no less? In a positive light? Talk about flying in the face of public perceptions! Wake me when it's over, okay? And yet: objective achieved. Because of George Arliss, class, humanity, distinction, purpose, he's the hub from which these qualities flow to and through the whole piece, a benevolent fatherly presence that's believable. I was impressed.

  • Aug 06, 2014

    Dear Rotten Tomatoes pls get ur fact straight it's 1934

    Dear Rotten Tomatoes pls get ur fact straight it's 1934

  • Jul 05, 2014

    Interesting look at the Rothschild financial dynasty during the days of Napoleon. Well done although some liberties were taken. Originally created to battle anti-semitism. Love the early use of Technicolor.

    Interesting look at the Rothschild financial dynasty during the days of Napoleon. Well done although some liberties were taken. Originally created to battle anti-semitism. Love the early use of Technicolor.

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    John B Super Reviewer
    Oct 18, 2013

    In my opinion this is a hidden gem from the thirties that doesn't get a lot of airplay but probably should. It is one of the first looks at anti-semitism on film and is a great history lesson as well as a great film.

    In my opinion this is a hidden gem from the thirties that doesn't get a lot of airplay but probably should. It is one of the first looks at anti-semitism on film and is a great history lesson as well as a great film.