Kind Lady (1935), MOVIES, Reviews
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Review: Kind Lady (1935)

A while back I did a review of Kind Lady for basilrathbone.net. Thought I’d add it here, with thanks to MJ

And check out the Kind Lady caps

KIND LADY(1935) is a strange little package. Put together as a quite unambitious thriller, based on the story “The Silver Casket” by Hugh Walpole and adapted from the play “Kind Lady” by Edward Chodurov, who also co-wrote the screenplay, it tells the story of a middle-aged spinster – (Aline McMahon)– who takes pity on an impoverished but charming and educated pavement artist (Basil Rathbone) – only to get herself in a lot more trouble than she bargained for.

As a film it’s not especially well constructed or original. The plot and character development have sometimes massive hole and lapses of credibility. It seems rushed in places, badly edited and incoherent in others. The end is predictable and underdeveloped.

But…there are still things about it that surprise and impress, and moments when this unpretentious little film suddenly wanders into genre-defiance and dares to play with audience expectation in a way that wouldn’t quite be seen again until it became Indy cool sixty years down the line.

Quick plot summary (skip this if you don’t want spoilers). –

It’s Christmas Eve. Middle aged, wealthy art collector Mary Herries (MacMahon) lives alone in her comfortable London home. As she returns from a concert she sees a scruffily-dressed pavement artist , Henry Abbot (Rathbone) huddled over his artwork in the snow. She invites him in, which turns out to be a massively bad move as within a few days Abbot has taken up residence, drugged Mary and locked her up, moved in his fake wife and fake child as well as a bizarre family of ne’er-do-wells. Abbot’s plan is apparently to sell off Mary’s art collection, and he sets about doing this, inviting an art expert round to value the collection, before being inevitably and eventually foiled by an all-American hero and his girl.

Like I said – there’s nothing very original or even interesting about most of this, but still, almost by accident it seems, it’s lifted above the mediocrity to which it seems to aspire by the odd moment of brilliance and by the sheer freak-show freakishness of some of its cast of characters.

From the moment Macmahon invites Rathbone into her home until the moment she’s drugged and imprisoned there’s a marvellously played dramatic – and slightly sexual – tension between them. She feeds him, warms him. He tells her he’s an artist and one-time collector and impresses her with his erudition and his knowledge of the artwork in her collection. She’s surprised by him, non-plussed by him. Her sister and her maid both see her vulnerability and warn her, one teasingly, one in earnest, that he’s “a terribly handsome brute” and “too good-looking.” But she thinks she can take care of herself. It’s implied she might be moved by him in a way she hasn’t been moved in a long time – possibly since she lost her fiancé in the Great War.

We also see intriguing hints that he isn’t quite the decent-chap-fallen-on hard-times that she thinks he is. When she leaves him alone in the living room, he acquires a bit of swagger we haven’t seen before, brazenly helps himself to one of her cigarettes and then slips the case into his pocket.

But it’s when he comes back for a second visit that things get – briefly – really interesting, and we get a scene of pure and compelling theatricality (remember both Rathbone and MacMahon were at this point predominantly stage actors).

He brings her cigarette case back and contritely and sweetly says he pawned it. She accepts his apology. He then tells her he has brought his paintings to show her, begs her to look at them. By the convention of the time we are expecting her to say “but they’re wonderful, “ and for him to become the undiscovered genius she can mentor. But this weird little scene doesn’t take that line. It lets us watch him unveil a really awful painting of a fish on a plate, then another awful painting of some cows in a field…

“I call this my cow picture” Rathbone says, looking at her hopefully.

There’s a silence just long enough and daring enough for us to think “err…are we supposed to think this is good?” before MacMahon says, “oh, those are very bad.”

“Yes, yes I know they are,” says Rathbone in a Coenesque reversal of expectation. And in fact the rest of this scene could almost have been written by these two at their most arch and genre-bending, for this deflationary moment turns on a dime into something else, when he suddenly says “won’t you buy one?”

“Oh you’re not serious,” McMahon responds, “what should I do with it? I’d have to hide it.”

“Not necessarily,” says Rathbone, charmingly, “bad as they are they have something I think.”

“Whatever it is, I don’t see it,” Macmahon replies. But he insists, warmly, tells her one costs 5 guineas the other 7, closes the space between them…she backs off and he follows, his manner balancing on a knife-edge between menace and helpless pleading.

“You’re really amusing and most absurd, they’re not worth anything at all” she says, starting to lose the edges of her cool.

“Oh they may be some day, you never know with modern pictures.”

“Oh well I’m quite sure about those, I really don’t want one.”

“Please, buy one anyway.”

“No of course not.”

“Yes, please, I must sell one tonight whatever you think of them…Please buy it.”

She holds his gaze as she sinks into a chair, signalling capitulation, takes out her checkbook and writes him out a check – obviously without really even knowing why she’s doing it. When she gives it to him he holds on to her hand a moment and the awareness she has of his touch undercuts her line – “here and please understand that I never want to see you again. Never.” We’re supposed to realize that part of her very much does want to see him again – and he knows it.

“If you hang that in the right light it won’t look so bad.” Rathbone replies, gesturing at the cow picture. And then he takes the scene in a new direction again by revealing his wife and child are outside waiting to thank McMahon in person. He invites MacMahon to look out the window and see them there, and as she does so, the woman in the street faints away. A seemingly distraught Rathbone brings her inside. A doctor is summoned and the wife is carried upstairs to bed.

At this moment Rathbone’s air of panic subsides. He lights himself a cigarette. When MacMahon says, “aren’t you going to see to your wife?” he tells her his wife will be fine and quite clearly doesn’t have much interest either way. When she departs up the stairs to check on things, he picks up his “cow picture” looks at it fondly, places it in pride of place on the mantelpiece and lounges back on the sofa to admire it. – Fade to black.

At this point the movie is pregnant with intriguing questions and possibilities. Who is this man? What is he doing? Is he nice guy, rogue or mad man? Why does he paint terrible pictures and seem to take a kind of pride in them? Why did he want MacMahon to buy one? Does he love his wife or is he indifferent to her? Is she even really his wife? What is or will be the relationship between him and MacMahon?

Sadly few of these get to be answered or developed and at this point the film more or less abandons proto genre-defiance in favor of predictability and/or incoherence. The relationship between Rathbone and MacMahon, so intriguingly full of contradictions and tension is simply turned into that of captor and captive. As soon as he is decanted out of his scruffy clothes and into a sleek suit, Rathbone’s character becomes little more than a sketch or cipher and his motives remain unexplored.

There is some lingering Coenesque weirdness: Rathbone’s “wife” Ada (Justine Chase) who seems to be inexplicably insane and who in one scene dances to a gramophone with a rictus smile and maniacal laugh (the casually brutal way Rathbone slaps her across the face for annoying him is a moment). And his partners in crime, the Edwards family, (Dudley Digges, Eily Malyon, and Barbara Shields) are terrifically grotesque. But their development is sketchy at best and even so takes over from that of Rathbone and MacMahon. There are probably too many people in it. The five “bad guys”, the maid, the niece and “hero” nephew and various visiting people whose roles seem totally superfluous. Too much screen time is wasted in exchanges that get nowhere and develop nothing. By the time of the denouement much interest has evaporated and nothing that should be is explained.

Rathbone’s final line resurrects a ghost of that ambiguity between him and MacMahon. When her cigarette case is dropped and broken in a struggle he says “Oh, what a pity, it was so beautiful.” And there is a look exchanged between them that hints at knowledge of something. But this only makes us regret the absence of any exploration of their relationship during the entire middle section of the film.

The unanswered questions are legion. Who is Henry Abbot? Is he really a down and out pavement artist or was that all a front to gain entrance into Mary’s house? How does he know the weird Edwards family? Is he invading this woman’s home simply to steal and sell the pictures? If so why is it taking him so long and is this really the best way of going about it? If he has other motives, what are they and why aren’t they developed?

I’d be interested to read the original Walpole story as well as the stage play, as I suspect a lot of the incoherence we see on screen might be a result of the Code or some dumb note sent down by the censors. It almost plays like it’s been radically altered in the middle and veers off course so wildly you could imagine it must be because someone rewrote the central section and did a really bad job.

Rather like THE MAD DOCTOR this film is a chimera; a bizarre mix of two different films; one odd and quite challenging, the other mediocre, incoherent and just plain bad, and we are left with glimpses of what could have been, and what a subtle, versatile actor Rathbone was as soon as he was given anything to do that stretched him even a little.

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65 Comments

  1. GRETCHEN says

    In reply to Philip’s above comment:

    I believe you are RIGHT about your friend having had a sexual relationship with Basil.

    I’ve always felt he’d had many male (and female) lovers, even while married…I believe he was probably bi-sexual, rather than gay. It’s likely he wasn’t the type of person who could be truly monogamous, because of his desire for both sexes; as well as his knack for falling “in love” so easily! I don’t find his sexuality to be a turn-off— FAR from it! A man who’s been with both men AND women is more understanding of human nature, and more in-touch with his own sexuality and that of others. This does NOT make Basil less wonderful as a person, or less talented as a performer…it DOES make him more loving, giving, and compassionate; and lends to the deep level of mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity I’ve noticed he had, even in his youth.

    Basil might have been more interested in dating younger men and women (especially in his later years), because he’d begun feeling unattractive, old, and unwanted. (His lack of employment in decent film-roles during this time didn’t help the situation.) This can be a very FRIGHTENING time in a man’s life, as he comes to the realization that he is noticeably beginning to age. When he was a young man himself, he had absolutely NO trouble finding men and women to date and/or sleep-with, because of his charm and gorgeous looks. (In their 50’s and up, men commonly begin going through a time when they feel less useful as a person…how they view their own sexual-attractiveness has a LOT to do with this.) By dating someone much younger than he, Basil saw HIMSELF as “young”, virile, and sexy again. When a man is sexually-content from within, he feels he has PURPOSE, value, self-worth and importance as a human being— when he knows he can still make another person become aroused, and have them desire him in return for his affection— this brings him peace. A man’s sexuality is his very IDENTITY. It gives him reason for wanting to live and love. (A lot of women don’t understand all this “guy-stuff”, but for some reason, I DO!)

    I think Basil was SUPER-SEXY and attractive; as well as a beautiful, sweet and gentle person, up until his death. I would have dated him…even in his 60’s and 70’s! Now, that’s a guy who’s HOT…he had nothing to worry about when it came to “losing” his sexiness, that’s for SURE!! (Most people on this blog would probably have to agree with that.) 🙂

    What makes ME sad, is that Basil could not openly-date men during his lifetime, because of the “stigma” it carried back then…he couldn’t afford to lose work or friendships because of it, or be plastered all-over the tabloids as a “freak of nature”, or something. He had to keep it this BIG secret, or it would have completely DESTROYED his career, and possibly ruined his marriage. In some states, it was considered ILLEGAL. There were probably times when he REALLY needed someone to talk to about these feelings and problems regarding his sexuality and his emotions connected to it, as well as the GUILT he must’ve experienced while cheating on his beloved wife. It was just SO much for him to bear alone…this hurts my heart. 😦

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    • Alyssia says

      So where is your evidence for all that? When I say he loved Ouida and was ecstatically happy in his marriage everyone leaps on me to say I don’t have any evidence but I notice no one is saying that now to you.

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      • Actually, Gretchen isn’t claiming anything to be factual. She writes, “I’ve always felt…”; “Basil might have been…”; “I think that…” and similar statements. Philip’s comment, however, was presented as fact! Any evidence, Philip?

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    • rosebette says

      I don’t think it’s ever been verified from an authorative source that Basil had relationships with men (while we do have evidence in the form of letters for his affairs with women), so I wouldn’t jump to conclusions yet.

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Alyssia, the reason no-one is on my case about not having any “evidence”, is because I NEVER claimed to HAVE evidence…unlike your promise of having so-called “undeniable proof” (of YOUR idea of Basil’s saintliness and chastity and perfection beyond that of God Himself), in some non-existent “diary” and “papers” which we’ve never seen.

        Honestly, this whole thing is pretty LAME…why should I even HAVE to keep defending what’s already been PROVEN beyond doubt about Basil’s love-life?? It’s been well-established for DECADES that he had several girlfriends before Ouida, and was STILL seeing others during his courtship with her. ALL his friends (and I’m sure the tabloids) were well-aware of this, and he even mentions some of his previous lovers and crushes in his OWN BOOK!! Yet, you said he “NEVER” had sexual-relations with ANYONE other than his first and second wives, and NOT outside of marriage. Absolute NONSENSE! You ALSO said Basil “never felt lust” because he was “incapable” of such things, but in his book he mentions his having “made violent love to Marie” in his mind, and that his intentions were “definitely not honorable”…if that isn’t pure LUST, what would YOU call it?? To cover your error, I suppose you’d say his OWN book was a complete LIE!! You tripped yourself-up AGAIN when you wrote about how Eva was upset when he dumped her for Ouida…this means you yourself are admitting he’d had OTHER lovers besides his wives. (BTW, he began the affair with Eva long AFTER he’d already met and was dating Ouida…so I guess he wasn’t all THAT infatuated with her!) That’s why people are “jumping on you”, Alyssia. You don’t have your facts straight, so nobody takes you SERIOUSLY. You can’t even get your IMAGINARY story right!

        What I’VE stated (about Basil’s possible bi-sexuality) is my own personal OPINION.

        What YOU’VE stated (about his “spotless reputation”) was in your word, “FACT”— when in reality, NONE of it ever happened…and, that CAN be proven.

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  2. Philip K D says

    Rathbone was as queer as a nine-bob note. I have a friend in the NY gay community now in his eighties, who was his occasional lover back in the fifties. Quite seriously it’s common knowledge among gay men of his generation. He liked twinks.

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  3. Judy D. says

    A quickie: Was in the kitchen Sun. washing dog food off my shirt (don’t ask) when I heard “DeHavilland” several times on “60 Minutes” (45 mins. into show). Then I heard “Olivia,” so whisked into the living room. David McCullough, historian, was sitting near the Eiffel Tower talking to OD, grey, chubby, cheerful, alive and well. “What brought you to Paris?” he asked. “A man!” she replied. She was very friendly and still with it. The interview was only a minute or so. Did a quick search and if you google her name you will find all sorts of interviews. Also maybe “60 Mins.” replays its shows somewhere or online. Have fun–maybe she mentions BR. At any rate, she is apparently alive and well and ready for a determined Bazzer to track her down.

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    • rosebette says

      Good luck on that score. Robert Matzen didn’t have any luck making contact or getting any information from her. She’s charming and social — to a point. She plays her cards very close to her chest; we probably won’t learn anything intimate until she passes on.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      What is her blog site,I couldn’t find it when I did AOL search,I’m naturally nosy and love whatever info on Baz available.You choose what to believe or not,but love to read anything.If OR was typist,makes more sense if decided to give up job so’s not to have 2 incomes,which actually necessary if spend like drunken sailor.Or give beau coup parties.

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      • GRETCHEN says

        🙂 Hi, Ellen! Here’s an “ALYSSIA-UPDATE” for you…

        Okay, so I think this WHOLE thing is getting WAY out-of control.

        If you go-back to the blog: “Basil’s 121st Birthday”, you’ll find Alyssia’s FIRST comment there, mentioning her so-called: “The REAL Basil Rathbone” blog— it’s at WordPress, by the way. But, you can ALSO access-it simply by clicking on her NAME on that particular comment…it’s written-in as: “ALYSSIABASILONE”. (Nutty, I know.) Anyway, so when you go there, you’ll notice NO-ONE’S made any comments on it yet, because they know it’s TOTAL B-S. She mentions that it “WON’T be about FANTASY or IMAGINATION”— and yet, it seems that EVERYTHING I just read as I checked it-out again recently, shows that it IS.

        Get THIS— she ACTUALLY writes (while using TERRIBLY-IMPROPER grammar and NUMEROUS misspellings, as-if she typed-it in a HURRY…or NEVER took English-class in school) that Basil and Ouida had a “PERFECT” marriage; that he NEVER LOOKED-AT or SLEPT-WITH another woman besides her and his first wife…that his first marriage had been a “HORRIBLE MISTAKE”, and once he’d met Ouida, he knew she was “THE ONE”— and, that he SAVED himself until his wedding-day for ONLY HER, because he was such a SAINT of a man…besides THAT, she also “BEGGED” him NOT to spend his hard-earned money on her, but he did-so anyway because of his UNDYING-LOVE for her…OH, BROTHER!!!

        Now, THAT’S what I call “FANTASY and IMAGINATION”!! 🙂

        He ADMITTEDLY slept-with SEVERAL women (possibly even MEN) whilst STILL married to Marion, AND got a girl PREGNANT just prior to his marriage to Ouida— WHILE he was COURTING her! He enjoyed BRAGGING about his sexual-conquests to his friends, and made NO secret of this. It’s also a well-known FACT that she spent EVERY last cent he EVER made on HERSELF, until the day he DIED…LITERALLY! They were a JOKE in Hollywood because of it, and this was DEEPLY-HUMILIATING for Basil. YES, he loved her…and YES, he did a LOT of things to make her happy because of this— even LIE to cover-up his true EMBARRASSMENT over the whole ordeal she’d caused him. But, for Alyssia to BLATENTLY misinform the public with her manipulations of the TRUTH, is EXTREMELY worrisome to me. I’ve written in prior comments how this BOTHERS me, and how I fear her lies may give the WRONG impression (to unknowing-fans) of what a PAINFUL-HELL Basil’s life had REALLY been…I love and feel SORRY for both Basil AND Ouida, because they suffered from mental-problems and were VERY unhappy. No matter HOW MUCH we would LIKE to see their lives together as WONDERFUL and fulfilling, it just WASN’T SO.

        This NONSENSE has GOT to STOP!!! 😦

        Now, as-to WHY she left her “successful” career when she married Basil—

        She could SEE he was a rising-star, and was already beginning to make quite a LARGE salary for himself, at the time they met. She’d been PHYSICALLY attracted-to him a few years earlier, when she saw him perform in a play. Once he reciprocated this attraction, she felt CONFIDENT that she could get her CLUTCHES on that money. The reason for her NEED of this money?? Her impending BANKRUPTCY. She’d ALWAYS been a spendthrift (being a NARCISSIST who loved appearing MORE affluent than she actually WAS, and-all), and had spent all her OWN money at the time— owning NOTHING but the clothes she had on…her business had FAILED, most-likely because she probably STUNK at running-it (as much as she STUNK at writing that total BOMB of a play she did for Basil), and was DEEPLY IN DEBT. So, she had NO alternative but to become DESTITUTE…that is, until (INCREDIBLY-GULLIBLE and emotionally war-damaged and SUPER-FRAGILE) Basil came-along, looking for someone to “GUIDE” his life for him. (Poor SUCKER!!) Once she got those talons in him, she NEVER let-go.

        She baited-him like a TRUE CON, becoming EVERYTHING he ever wanted…then, to SEAL the deal, she PRETENDED to be giving-up her “high-paying” career to stay home and “TAKE-CARE” of him, and to “HELP” him become an even “BIGGER” star— little did HE know, this was her MASTER-PLAN! She knew that he was an “easy-mark”, because he was SO NEEDY at that point in his life, and was DESPARATE to find someone to help him WANT to LIVE again. She ALSO knew that if she’d ACTED as though she was being HELPFUL, he’d never be SUSPICIOUS of her TRUE intentions. Basically, she went-about spending ALL her free-time (when she WASN’T spending HIS money planning lavish parties OR shopping for designer-clothes OR getting her hair done) trying to get Basil the BIG-TIME acting-jobs she knew would bring-in the BIG-TIME paychecks…you get where THIS is going, right?? Not ONLY would she NEVER have to WORK anymore, she ALSO got to have the RICHES she’d only DREAMED-OF and WISHED-FOR her entire LIFE!! (DOUBLE-BONUS!)

        I sure LOVE Basil…but BOY, was he DUMB sometimes!!! 😦

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          • Celery Queen says

            If you truly have Basil Rathbone’s diary then you shd send photocopies to the biography archive that Marcia Jessen runs.

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Thanks,Gretchen for your info and hear ya on comments.Baz was no saint,neither was OR,and from pics here looked like she could kill with a look when he so much as spoke to another woman.Hope Livvy was never in the line of fire.Even if born into life of privelege,one isn’t going to throw it away like kleenex,although I’ve worked with a few caregivers to whom a $200 vial of medicine was disposable,telling client’s family to bring another one.Yes,don’t waste other people’s resources unless you’d do the same with your own,my credo thru 33 years in the bidness (Nursing) and there was plenty other B.S. where that came from,too.Can’t believe he’d brag freq about his conquests,but that’s guys at times.No wonder Eva supposedly threw him out God knows about what OR put up with in early days,but I knew to have him saintly until taking the plunge again is ridiculous.I wonder if her narcissism intensified as H’wood career picked up.Can’t believe The Missing Paychecks on Kit Cornell Tour,don’t think it was Baz who was not handling touring well,but OR who should’ve gone home,wherever that was at the time.She def proved herself as manager/talent agent on that tour,And any stranger coul’ve handed him the honey for his throat.Maybe should’ve left tour for that reaso,to have surgery,leave her at home and be happier without her interfering..

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Thanks for summing everything up so well.Very perceptive.True,people get a picture from what’s presented,and if things are untrue,it bugs me,too.Wiki has presented facts that the dedicated bloggers here have proven otherwise.He was one thing onscreen,the best of villains,but offscreen a very damaged soul post-WWI.His relationship with his son should’ve flourished after he reconnected,something that obviously had meaning to him,prob after sufficiently recovered from his PTSD at least to a certain extent.He was prob worried for his son w/WWII coming up to patch things up.Weeds was maybe a decent promoter for a time in his career,but came a time when she should’ve been told to bug off.Look how much he suffered financially cuz of her,how many roles prob lost even tho’ he lobbied for them.He made tons for studios and they did nothing to accommodate him with decent roles after 1945.

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    • The Countess says

      Hate to ask and open pandoras box..but,link to it PLEEEEZZZEEEE. Googleing is not helping

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      • The Countess says

        disregard the above coment i found it. 2 posts..hummm not realy setting the woods on fire there.

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    • The Countess says

      Thanks 4 the link cant wait to get my own computer back to play with it

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  4. Felix says

    I watched this film last night and agree with you about its lost potential. I could not believe how quickly it lost its way after such a promising beginning. The comparison with the Coen brothers is valid. Would like to see them re-make it.

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  5. Judy D. says

    Yeah, weren’t the Variety things great. Desertions, bankruptcies, odd jobs–do take a look online; lots more, especially about OB’s works and the outfits she wore to various events. As to Jack Miltern’s accident, the original newspaper article says, if memory serves (often it doesn’t), that the person charged was innocent because the driver who actually hit Miltern was in the car ahead of him and he/she got clean away. How he happened to step into a busy street…guess anyone who’s tried to walk several dogs at once can understand how that can happen.
    Gotta say about “Confession” (which I finally noticed NeveR had reviewed a scene from)–I think the girl, confronted with Bazz, was genuinely frightened because she was still young, shy, and innocent of men, living at home (was a father in the picture?). She was intrigued by him, but to have an older and relatively unknown man suddenly come on to her would have certainly seemed a frightening, even evil, event. At the same time, she was biologically ready for love, and so when he did kiss her she submitted, even enjoyed it, and the light fixture in the ceiling makes sense when we see the same thing later as her birth mother goes to bed drunk in his house. I can’t think of anyone’s names in the thing, darn! But when he (MM) allows or encourages the mother to get drunk–or perhaps someone also slips her a bit of powder–and she wakes up and leaves the next day, only to be seen by the jealous ex-girlfriend, there is nothing she can do to prove her innocence. If she had done nothing at all; being overnight in a man’s home was all it took in those days. She herself may not have known if anything happened. Her husband, who was a creepy-looking nerd anyway, was well within society’s norm to toss her out and bar contact with her daughter. This movie must have been pre-Code; lucky for us, considering what that would have done to totally butcher the plot.

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    • rosebette says

      Actually, it was post-code –1937 — but they got away with quite a lot, I thought. It was based on a European movie called “Mazurka,” which would explain the more sexually racy aspects. It’s one of my favorite Basil performances — he is a very sexy sexual predator. Yes, he gets his comeuppance, but he and Kay Francis are the most interesting aspects of the movie.

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      • Judy D. says

        I had trouble finding it the second time–try googling Daily Variety and look for Archives–and be persistent! First time was easy, because I was looking for the Gandolfini obit and dropped right into Variety. I don’t know how to link anything to these blogs–call me dinosauric. If you try BR, by the way, his little blurbs are accompanied by lots of tiny photos.

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        • Judy – if you have a link you want to add just paste it in to your comment and I can make it active if it doesn’t work 🙂

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          • Judy D. says

            Thanks for the link advice. Will try it next time. That’s like allowing access to Pandora’s box!! Glad someone else was able to supply the link meanwhile. I went back in, using that link, and found that it’s quite easy to run off color copies of these pages for closer perusal. I tried looking for John Rodion or Rodion Rathbone–nothing on the first, but on RR there was 10/19/83 issue with a list of names only–wonder if it was an obit? Maybe we have a hacker in our midst who can access the stuff and save us $600. Only kidding, Big Brother….
            On other things–someone asked if he could play piano. We now know he could, from the mysterious Canada letter. OH–unless he was referring to the violin! I took violin for a short time as a kid, however, and my teacher said that most of her students learned piano first. It would certainly be easier!
            As to which letter, sounds as if it really could have been written during the war bond tour–it seems to have totally concentrated his mind on that part of his past. Whoever he was writing to, he seemed more interested in venting than asking her how she was doing, etc. Oh, if only he had put in a name. And why write her if he was going to call her that night, except that he obviously needed to vent. And who was the “we” he referred to–other performers, or was Weed traveling with him? If he had made a total mess of his life, did that include his marriage? Who may have written a date on the letter–could it be wrong, and from another Canadian trip? Which could make Cynthia a possible recipient, but not likely he’d write a letter like that to a young kid; maybe a teen. And it has a warm start but a cold signoff–no With Love or something like that. Our Man of Mystery!!
            One other thing: someone wrote that Aldous Huxley’s brother was married to Weedie’s sister. Yet if you search the family none of the three are listed as having a spouse or children; but Wikipedia, think it was, has a family tree with one brother Andrew (1917-2012) having a spouse named Richenda Pease (1925-2003). A name as exotic as Ouida Bergere, but still–! Another brother, Noel, died of suicide, so I figured him as a perfect candidate, but nothing there!
            Loved Ellen’s blog about lousy drivers–totally agree, we’re not even safe on the sidewalk. I won’t even drive out of town unless it’s to my PCP. (Great way to get out of going places: “I’m too old and my car is older than me in dog years.”) I don’t think suicide was involved; just a moment’s distraction with lively dogs pulling him along or whatever. (Mebbe they’d had cocktails before their walk.) I think there was mention of a curve and they couldn’t see the car(s!!) coming. (Could blog street to check–if it hasn’t been altered in all these years.) And it certainly is pretty common for people to sprint away from an accident scene rather than face the consequences–especially if they have a bad record to start with, or have a “wrong” person in the car, or are so loaded they don’t even realize what they did, or are just plain terrified. Imagine if it was a fellow actor or producer!!

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            • Judy D. says

              Oops again, iMDp shows Rodion as dying 8/22/96, Brooklyn. Three choices of DOB given.

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            • Ellen Foley says

              Wasn’t it Huxley’s brother,David married to Weedy’s niece,think it was in 1950s.She was Ouida Branch.

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              • Judy D. says

                I didn’t see any David listed–just Julian, Andrew, Arnold, Noel Trevelyn, and a sister. And the tree (Wikipedia?) if I remember correctly didn’t show any offspring, such as a David-type son or nephew. But as we know, we can’t believe everything we read in “official” sites. “Dig we must!”

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                • Hmmm…trying to remember where the info about Ouida jr marrying a Huxley came from. Anyone recall?

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              • The Countess says

                If you search back ..um Heavens knows how long ago I posted a link to a pic of David and Ouida jr grave sight.My acces to things right now is limeted as My own compuker is down and still waiting my pal the computer boy wonder to get into it’s innards and fix it. FINGERS CROSSED CLEAR UP TO THE ELBOW.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Always thought from what Baz said,it was sort of a mindless impulse to cross street with all the traffic,?suicide attempt,but still can’t understand why the driver hitting him could in all conscience leave,but then again,I can’t see how doctors cover up real cause of death to avoid investigation by CDC ofmhosp-acquired infection,but CYA has always been the way to go in healthcare with less than honorable people sliding by all the time,giving the honest ones more to clean up after.Hope that driver was hounded by Jack coming back nightly until he made amends to all concerned and his conscience cleared,but what I saw yesterday in front of me during morning rush hour traffic,someone flying across 3 lanes of traffic to get ahead causing a very bad accident,totaling 2 cars,his included,anything goes.I just shudder every time I get on the road,and yesterday and being clobbered by a distracted driver in a parking lot are making me decide to stay off the road.www.variety.com and select archives,1906-2012 could at least see what was in each paper/Variety edition,have to admit,if I had the green,I’d spend it well on that site.Too bad my granny didn’t save her scandal sheets from days gone by,rather than pass them on to her ceramics classmates.

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      • Darius says

        What does anyone think of the suggestion made in the fictionalisation of the Cornell tour that Jack Miltern was Basil’s seducer and/or corrupter? I’m new here so if it’s been discussed accept my mumbled apologies.

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        • Judy D. says

          I think if Bazz was inclined that way he wouldn’t want the guy around as a constant reminder when he would have all of Hollywood to pick from. Well, not “all,” I suppose. Anyway, there seems to be very little online biographical info for Miltern except that he apparently was one of those guys who would invest in a business (real estate, I think) and lose his shirt, so he may have made a habit of living in guest quarters of good friends (like crazy Oscar Levant living with Harpo Marx, among others), and he was Ouida’s friend first apparently. He may not have been married, but then again, most women with sense don’t marry guys who can’t hold on to a few bucks. More likely he had some sort of unrequited affection for the Weeder and Basil found him amusing and a treasure-trove for the earlier days of theater and probably vaudeville (we can just guess at those wild stories gone forever).

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          • Ellen Foley says

            Maybe they both were Baz confidantes cuz they had lavish spending in common,Jack & WeedsHe must’ve been a gambler,Baz was the bet runner at the races.Maybe in Calif,OR had some distance from creditors.His $7500 a week salary he threw at Flynn may’ve been nice to have,but even nicer to keep and live on.He should’ve declared OR a dependent on 1942 taxes,for never growing up.

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  6. Bessie Bunter says

    I have never seen Kind Lady but I read the spoilers and now I really want to even i it is not that good. Basil + sexual tension is a must-see always

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  7. Roberta says

    I agree about Kind Lady. I watched it a while ago and found it tremendously disappointing. The beginning was full of promise as you say and I was terribly intrigued by the direction in which the relationship between Basil and the lady was going to go. But then, absolutely nothing happened and it turned into a very bad thriller. So frustrating.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      The whacko family is the biggest let down,wonder why they introduced those characters,maybe to “deal with” any interference.They seriously bog things down.Don’t know if remake w/Ms Barrymore was improvement or not,if they weren’t in reference to something else,I’d call it a Penny Dreadful,cuz it is awfulconfusing and some acting is awful by unnecessary characters.

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  8. Judy D. says

    P.S.–you’re not getting much response–must be the nice weather (and the full moon!)–but hafta say you did a great job in your necropsy of the carcass of that unfortunate, coulda-been-a-contender movie. How ’bout tackling “Confession” and “The Last of Mrs. Cheyney”? If you already did, sorry, I shall check them out–been busy!

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    • Hannah says

      I tried to comment about six times but either the comment option was turned off or when I clicked on ‘post comment’ the web page froze!

      Like

  9. Judy D. says

    “Kind Lady” is a lot like “The Servant,” the 1960s(?) Dirk Bogarde (Bogard?) movie, a reliable plot type–someone gets to move in because of some weakness in his/her prey, and the macabre fun begins. It certainly is a somewhat disappointing movie; “Servant” shows where it could have gone, psychologically and plotwise, but you are probably right that some blasted censor got in everyone’s way. What a shame! And we know Bazz didn’t care for censors!!

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  10. Judy D. says

    Has anyone taken a look a the online Archives 1905-2013 for Variety? A subscription is $600/year, but anyone can go in and take a dekko. I looked up OB and John Miltern. Trouble is, sometimes the bit they show ends off in the middle of an intriguing sentence. Some highlights to save you the trouble (not counting play, movie OB reviews):
    4/5/18 issue–OB breaks off bus. connection with Mabel Condon, “who was her……” (!) Turns out MC was a literary agent, film writer, and manager of talent; 1/27/65–Mabel Condon Birdwell, age 58, dies (so like OB she was pretty loose about her age, unless it’s a typo!). 6/17/25–BR “admitted his engagement” to OB. (Sounds reluctant!) 9/8/42–Fed. taxes owed?–BR $17,773, OB $18,008. 10/25/39–adopted 8-mo.-old girl from adoption home–Superior Judge W. Turney Fox approves action. 11/5/24–Fitzmaurice files divorce action–alleges desertion by OB–wouldn’t go to coast with husband. 9/21/17–OB to retire from the American Play Co. offices on 10/1. 9/28/27–OB rumor, was originally a phone operator at Pathe before playing minor roles in pictures. 8/5/21–G. Fitzmaurice linked with his scenarist, OB. 1/18/37–John Miltern buried in birthplace, New Britain, CT. 1/20/37–Logan F. Metcalfe blamed for leaving Miltern accident scene; exonerated by coroner’s jury. 2/24/65–Miltern played Moriarty in Gillette’s SH production, 1929.
    The website continues to be so great–and love the photos. The poolside one is priceless–hope it wasn’t too hot a day for the butler!

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    • Hot Chick says

      LOL I really hope OB was a phone operator! It totally jibe with everything else that has been coming out about her.

      Like

    • Roberta says

      How incredibly intriguing! I would almost be prepared to pat the subscription to know more

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    • Elaine says

      The fact people were speculating OB was a telephone operator suggests there was an awareness or suspicion at any rate that Ouida was not quite the real deal. I wonder if she gave an impression of being a little unbalanced or unreliable. Once again – why did Basil marry her?

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Dear Judy D:Thanks so much for sharing your info,very intriguing!Figured someone should’ve at least been cited in Jack’s accident-must’ve known someone to have not had book thrown at him,even if was heavily traffic at time,left scene of critical injury,and trauma prob caused Baz.Interesting re”fitz divorce,wouldn’t accompany spouse-too busy scoping out future hubby-bit of subterfuge?Could use for a screenplay if remarriage plans failed.Career prob was over when Fitz found another.Cyn from adoption home good to know.She was a lucky little lady in a doting dad,anyway,esp when ill for whatever part of her life.New Jack was from here in CT,didn’t know it was New Britain.

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  11. Ellen Foley says

    What,no family dog?The family was totally unnecessary,were they supposed to be hillbillys?They seemed so un-Henry,as if a circus troupe.She should’ve given him the check and told him to get art lessons.Still,love it for Baz/Aline at least they make sense and make the film interesting/tolerable.

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  12. I turned comments off for a while because they were being weird again, but – well, they’re back now. I won’t be able to moderate them until Sunday, but be patient… 🙂

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