It wasn’t long into Frank Lloyd’s Cavalcade that the film felt different. It wasn’t because the film focusses on a well-to-do English family at the turn of the century. Instead, the ‘difference’ of Cavalcade is that early on the tone and style of the performances denote a slight departure from the traditional Hollywood film. Although distributed by Fox Film Corporation, the film was produced by Fox in London, and hence the feeling of Cavalcade as a ‘foreign’ film bears out.
Cavalcade follows the lives of the Marryot family– Jane, Robert, and their two children Joey and Edward. The film opens with the family ringing in the 20th century while worrying about the rumors of war. The family’s butler and maid, Alfred and Ellen Bridges, share the very same worries. None of the four’s worries go unwarranted because shortly after the new year, both Robert and Alfred travel to Africa to fight for England. This sets the course for both families as they endure tragedy after tragedy, through 1933, where we see the Marryot’s ring in yet another year. The cumulative effect of the tragedies each family endures, produces a dour feeling, instead of an appreciation for the resilience each family has. It makes a person almost long for the next Oscar winner, a comedy that has Hollywood firing on all cylinders. *cough*
Cavalcade (1933) 112 minutes. Directed by Frank Lloyd. Starring Diana Wynyard, Clive Brook, Una O’Connor, Herbert Mundin.