|The Barretts of Wimpole Street|
|Directed by||Sidney Franklin|
|Produced by||Sam Zimbalist|
|Written by||John Dighton (screenplay)|
|Based on|| The Barretts of Wimpole Street |
by Rudolf Besier
|Starring|| John Gielgud |
|Music by||Bronisław Kaper|
|Edited by||Frank Clarke|
|Box office||$1.1 million|
The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a 1957 Metrocolor CinemaScope film originating from the United Kingdom, and was a re-make of the earlier 1934 version by the same director, Sidney Franklin.Both films are based on the 1930 play The Barretts of Wimpole Street by Rudolf Besier. The screenplay for the 1957 film is credited to John Dighton, although Franklin used exactly the same script for the second movie as he did for the first. The film, set in the early 19th century, stars Jennifer Jones, John Gielgud, and Bill Travers.
Elizabeth Barrett (Jennifer Jones) is the disabled grown-up daughter of Edward Moulton-Barrett (John Gielgud) of Wimpole Street, and has an intense interest in poetry. However, she lives under the obsessive rule of her father, and this severely limits her ability to develop her love of rhyme amongst her peers. Edward in fact shows clear incestuous tendencies towards her, and discourages close contact with any males. When the poet Robert Browning (Bill Travers) enters her life, though, matters are brought to a head, through the intervention of Browning. Edward finds that his control over Elizabeth, and her younger sister Henrietta (Virginia McKenna), is far from complete.
To lend the whole project an air of authenticity, producer Sam Zimbalist moved filming from the 1934 location in the United States to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England.
Zimbalist wanted only "fine English actors" with the exception of American actress Jennifer Jones. The cast included Bill Travers (Browning) and Virginia McKenna (Henrietta), though cast to play future in-laws in the film, were actually husband and wife in real life.
The production wanted to use as many correct locations as possible, including St Marylebone Parish Church in London.
The film was shot in Metrocolor, using CinemaScope, with an aspect ratio of 2.35 : 1 on 35mm film. The 4-track stereo sound was supplied by Westrex.
The film was an expensive financial failure. According to MGM records, it earned $330,000 in the U.S. and Canada, and $725,000 in other countries, resulting in a loss of $1,897,000.
Reviews were generally positive, although several critics questioned the decision to remake the film at that time because of its lack of appeal to the rock and roll generation. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the film as "another fine production of the old romance ... It does one's heart good to visit once more that dramatic old house on Wimpole Street."
Variety wrote that the film had "a quality look, perfectly picturing the era with almost museum fidelity and reflecting astuteness in virtually all phases except possibly the most important—choice of story for the current, highly competitive market." The review thought that younger viewers would find the film "no more than a quaint, old-fashioned, boy-meets-girl drama, long, talky and often tedious."
Harrison's Reports agreed, calling the film "a quality production" but "extremely slow-moving, and the morals and manners of the period, as presented, may prove much too stately for today's mass audiences."Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post declared the film "an excellent remake of an old favorite" with a "chilling, memorable performance" by Gielgud.
A generally positive review in The New Yorker by John McCarten called the script a "fair and literate adaptation" of the play and Mr. Barrett "an impressive figure" as played by Gielgud, "but I'm afraid I can't say as much for Jennifer Jones, who plays the invalid Elizabeth as if she'd just completed a lively hay ride, or for Bill Travers, whose Browning is unconscionably ebullient."The Monthly Film Bulletin remarked that the decision to remake the film seemed "rather odd," given that to modern viewers it "must appear a little tame and lacking in spirit. In any case, the handling of Rudolf Besier's heavily dramatic play reveals little flair or imagination; the film is far too static and theatrically manoeuvered to maintain the interest throughout its considerable running time."
Although most of the names of the individuals involved are correct in the play and films, by definition motivations of individuals cannot be known. The numerous love letters that Robert and Elizabeth exchanged before their marriage, however, can give readers a great deal of information about this famous courtship in their own words. The correspondence was well underway before they ever met in person, he having admired the collection Poems that she published in 1844. He opens his first letter to her, 'I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,' and a little later in that first letter he says 'I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart—and I love you too' (10 January 1845).
Several editions of these letters have been published, starting with one by their son in 1898. Flush by Virginia Woolf, a version of the courtship from the perspective of Elizabeth's dog, is also an imaginative reconstruction, though more closely based on reading the letters. Both the play and film reflect popular concerns at the time, particularly Freudian analysis. Although Edward Barrett's behaviour in disinheriting the children who married seems bizarre, there is no evidence of his being sexually aggressive toward any family members.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was an English poet of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime.
The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a 1934 American film directed by Sidney Franklin depicting the real-life romance between poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, despite the opposition of her abusive father Edward Moulton-Barrett. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Shearer was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. It was written by Ernest Vajda, Claudine West and Donald Ogden Stewart, from the successful 1930 play The Barretts of Wimpole Street by Rudolf Besier, and starring Katharine Cornell.
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose dramatic monologues put him among the foremost Victorian poets. His poems are noted for irony, characterization, dark humour, social commentary, historical settings and challenging vocabulary and syntax. His career began well, but shrank for a time. The long poems Pauline (1833) and Paracelsus (1835) were acclaimed, but in 1840 Sordello was seen as wilfully obscure. His renown took over a decade to return, by which time he had moved from Shelleyan forms to a more personal style. In 1846 Browning married the older poet Elizabeth Barrett and went to live in Italy. By her death in 1861 he had published the collection Men and Women (1855). His Dramatis Personae (1864) and book-length epic poem The Ring and the Book (1868-1869) made him a leading British poet. He continued to write prolifically, but his reputation today rests mainly on his middle period. By his death in 1889, he was seen as a sage and philosopher-poet who had fed into Victorian social and political discourse. Societies for studying his work formed in his lifetime and survived in Britain and the United States into the 20th century.
Jennifer Jones, also known as Jennifer Jones Simon, was an American actress and mental health advocate. Over the course of her career that spanned over five decades, she was nominated for the Oscar five times, including one win for Best Actress, as well as a Golden Globe Award win for Best Actress in a Drama. Jones is among the youngest actresses to receive an Academy Award, having won on her 25th birthday.
Wimpole Estate is a large estate containing Wimpole Hall, a country house located within the Parish of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, England, about 8 1⁄2 miles southwest of Cambridge. The house, begun in 1640, and its 3,000 acres (12 km2) of parkland and farmland are owned by the National Trust. The estate is regularly open to the public and received over 335,000 visitors in 2019. Wimpole is the largest house in Cambridgeshire.
Robert and Elizabeth is a musical with music by Ron Grainer and book and lyrics by Ronald Millar. The story is based on an unproduced musical titled The Third Kiss by Judge Fred G. Moritt, which in turn was adapted from the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street by Rudolph Besier. It is an operetta-style musical which tells the story of the romance and elopement of poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. The original 1964 London production was a success, starring John Clements as Barrett, June Bronhill as Elizabeth and Keith Michell as Robert. Several revivals have followed.
Katharine Cornell was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born in Berlin to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York.
William Brian de Lacy Aherne was an English actor of stage, screen, radio and television, who enjoyed a long and varied career in Britain and the US.
Virginia Anne McKenna, OBE, is an English stage and screen actress, author and wildlife campaigner. She is best known for the films A Town Like Alice (1956), Carve Her Name with Pride (1958), Born Free (1966), and Ring of Bright Water (1969), as well as her work with The Born Free Foundation.
William Inglis Lindon Travers, known professionally as Bill Travers, was a British actor, screenwriter, director and animal rights activist. Prior to his show business career, he had served in the British army with Gurkha and special forces units.
Flush: A Biography, an imaginative biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel, is a cross-genre blend of fiction and nonfiction by Virginia Woolf published in 1933. Written after the completion of her emotionally draining The Waves, the work returned Woolf to the imaginative consideration of English history that she had begun in Orlando: A Biography, and to which she would return in Between the Acts.
Sam Zimbalist was a Ukrainian born American film producer and film editor.
Wimpole Street is a street in Marylebone, central London. Located in the City of Westminster, it is associated with private medical practice and medical associations. No. 1 Wimpole Street is an example of Edwardian baroque architecture, completed in 1912 by architect John Belcher as the home of the Royal Society of Medicine. 64 Wimpole Street is the headquarters of the British Dental Association.
Guthrie McClintic was a successful theatre director, film director, and producer based in New York.
Producers' Showcase is an American anthology television series that was telecast live during the 1950s in compatible color by NBC. With top talent, the 90-minute episodes, covering a wide variety of genres, aired under the title every fourth Monday at 8 pm ET for three seasons, beginning October 18, 1954. The final episode, the last of 37, was broadcast May 27, 1957.
Moultrie Rowe Kelsall was a Scottish film and television character actor, who began his career in the industry as a radio director and television producer. He also contributed towards architectural conservation.
Henrietta Harley, Countess of Oxford and Countess Mortimer was an English noblewoman, the only child and heiress of John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle and his wife, the former Lady Margaret Cavendish, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Margaret Rawlings, Lady Barlow was an English stage actress, born in Osaka, Japan, daughter of the Rev. George William Rawlings and his wife Lilian Rawlings.
The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a 1930 play by Rudolf Besier, based on the romance between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, and her father's unwillingness to allow them to marry. The play gave actress Katharine Cornell her signature role.
Rudolf Wilhelm Besier was a Dutch/English dramatist and translator best known for his play The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1930). He worked with H. G. Wells, Hugh Walpole and May Edginton on dramatisations.