The Light That Failed

  • 1939
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

This tragic Kipling tale, from his first novel, displays Wellman's consummate directorial skills in following the story faithfully, unlike earlier versions in which sugar-coated endings are supplied. Colman is a gifted artist who receives a sabre cut during a battle. He returns to England where he becomes a famous painter; his masterpiece is a portrait...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Rating:

This tragic Kipling tale, from his first novel, displays Wellman's consummate directorial skills in following the story faithfully, unlike earlier versions in which sugar-coated endings are supplied. Colman is a gifted artist who receives a sabre cut during a battle. He returns to England

where he becomes a famous painter; his masterpiece is a portrait of a London prostitute, Lupino. She is driven half-mad with desire for him, a part so intensely played that it brought her to stardom. Realizing that her station in life will prevent her from ever having him, she viciously destroys

the painting. The old wound has caused him to slowly go blind. In a shattering scene, Colman proudly displays the portrait to his devoted friend Huston, not realizing that Lupino has slashed it. His sight almost gone, Colman bids goodbye to his childhood sweetheart and returns to the Sudan with

friend Huston. At the first sound of battle, Colman begs Huston to put him into the fight, and he is sent blindly charging on his white stallion to his death. This moving, haunting film reinforces Kipling's love of honor, male friendship, and nobility of spirit. Wellman handles the story and

gaslight era with great care, developing his characters with incisive scenes. This was no easy task for Wellman since he and Colman argued throughout the film, the director refusing Colman's perfectionist demands for endless takes and ignoring the actor's insistence that Vivien Leigh play the

slatternly Bessie. Lupino got that emotion-charged part by barging into Wellman's office to tell him that no other woman in the world could play Bessie as well as she and providing an impromptu interpretation right then and there. She got the role, and audiences around the world were stunned by

her marvelous portrayal. Of Colman, the director would later comment: "Ronald Colman and Wellman, an odd combination to say the least. He didn't like me; I didn't like him--the only two things we agreed fully on. [He has] the most beautiful voice in the whole motion picture business."

Cast & Details See all »

  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This tragic Kipling tale, from his first novel, displays Wellman's consummate directorial skills in following the story faithfully, unlike earlier versions in which sugar-coated endings are supplied. Colman is a gifted artist who receives a sabre cut durin… (more)

Show More »

Trending TonightSee all »