Strange Interlude

  • 1932
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Shearer, the pampered daughter of academic Walthall, has loved the boy next door all her life, and the two plan to marry. WW I intervenes, and father Walthall persuades his daughter to defer the wedding until the cessation of international hostilities. The boy goes off to battle, where he is killed. Distraught, and regretful because she had not a single...read more

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Shearer, the pampered daughter of academic Walthall, has loved the boy next door all her life, and the two plan to marry. WW I intervenes, and father Walthall persuades his daughter to defer the wedding until the cessation of international hostilities. The boy goes off to battle, where he

is killed. Distraught, and regretful because she had not a single night of happiness with her beloved, Shearer--blaming her father for his interference--leaves the family home to take a job as a nurse in a hospital for wounded veterans. Her work throws her in close contact with a manly young

doctor, Gable, and his best friend, the pleasant but weak-willed Kirkland. Gable advises the unhappy young woman to restructure her life, to marry and have children. Shearer concurs. Her choice for a bridegroom lies between two suitors, Kirkland and Morgan, a novelist who has an Oedipal attachment

to his mother. She chooses Kirkland, for whom she has maternal affection. Told by Kirkland's mother Robson that insanity runs in his family, Shearer is reluctant to have him father the children she so desperately wants. This is all right with Kirkland, who is repulsed by the very thought of

physical love. Shearer is faced with another difficult choice: who will father her child? Manly Gable is the answer to her problem. The child born, Kirkland is overjoyed, thinking the boy to be the seed of his loins. Gable has fallen in love with Shearer and nobly sustains her secret, hovering on

the fringes of the little family, a virtual lap dog to his beloved, albeit a strong, silent one. The boy, Alexander, grows to manhood loving his surrogate father, Kirkland, but suspicious and resentful of his real father, Gable. Both Shearer and Gable suffer terrible pangs of regret at the lad's

dislike of Gable. One-time suitor Morgan also hovers about the nuclear family, serving as comic relief to the unremittingly somber story. The boy grows up to be Young. At college, Young falls in love with O'Sullivan. The fiercely possessive Shearer attempts to prevent the marriage of the young

couple by telling O'Sullivan that mental illness runs in the lad's family. Gable realizes that the well-kept secret of the young man's parentage must come out; he reveals the secret and comforts the young woman. The happy Young's rowing team wins a crucial regatta; the enthusiastically rooting

Kirkland--still believing himself to be the boy's father--suffers a stroke from the excitement. Shearer resigns herself to self-sacrifice, caring for Kirkland at the cost of her own potential happiness with Gable.

O'Neill's talky tragedy--with a megalithic five hours of stage time--is hopelessly truncated in this misdirected cinematic version, notable mostly for being the film that pasted on actor Gable's first mustache. The picture mingles on-screen synchronous dialog with voiced-over thoughts of the

characters. These asides were prerecorded and played for the on-camera performers, most of whom--Gable was the exception--felt compelled to register appropriate facial expressions. After a time, audiences began to giggle as the actors adjusted their faces to correspond to their offscreen voices;

the film appeared almost to be part-talkie, part silent. Both the writing and the directing of the film reflect the surgical skills of Gable's physician character in that a mighty struggle was being made to reduce the corpus of the massive play. Little effort was expended on anything else. Gable's

restrained performance as the he-man-turned-wimp through love is effective and served to gain him some stature. All the adult characters age two decades in the picture, and all handle it well. Shearer, married to production chief Irving Thalberg, was still the queen of the lot at the time the film

was made. Gable was delighted to gain the prestigious role; as a struggling, unsuccessful young Broadway hopeful, he had seen his long-time friend Earle Larimore play the role on-stage and become the darling of the theater-going intellectuals; he relished his own chance of attaining similar

stature. He needn't have worried; he was ultimately to become the king of cinema. In Britain, the film was retitled STRANGE INTERVAL, and japesters said that censors had removed the lewd.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Shearer, the pampered daughter of academic Walthall, has loved the boy next door all her life, and the two plan to marry. WW I intervenes, and father Walthall persuades his daughter to defer the wedding until the cessation of international hostilities. The… (more)

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