A peek at London theater in 1932

Real life briefly intrudes on blogging.  But not on movie-watching!  Expect more reviews soon, including my entry on Fitzwilly for the 1967 in Film Blogathon.

In the meantime, enjoy this brief snippet from a 1932 Royalty Theatre stage play, While Parents Sleep, recently uploaded by the British Pathé archive.

I’ve been on a long-running British film kick, and the number of actors who split their time between stage and screen was high – unlike actors in Hollywood (based on highly scientific IMDb/Wikipedia browsing).  Unfortunately, most of those performances were never filmed.  It’s rare to see actual footage of a play.

All four of the pictured actors and actresses also worked in the movies – Frances Doble, a Canadian actress (The Constant Nymph, 1928 version) and Diana Beaumont (The Stolen Face) sticking to the British film industry.  Hugh Williams had a moderately successful movie career (seen here before in Secret Mission), and Jack Hawkins?  He would turn up as Major Warden in The Bride on the River Kwai, Quintus Arrius in Ben-Hur, and…a lot of other things.

While Parents Sleep was reportedly popular – popular enough to be filmed in 1935, with a young Jean Gillie (whose character in 1946’s Decoy could go head-to-head with Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity as film’s iciest femme fatale).  Also appearing in a small role: William Hartnell, AKA the First Doctor of Doctor Who.

I don’t know.  Based on this tiny clip, I’m not sold on the play – it seems like it needs more wit and plot.  Maybe it’s just poor advertising.  Or good advertising – they probably picked the racier bits to draw the public!  What do you think?  Would you have bought a ticket for While Parents Sleep in 1932?



Man of the Moment (1935)

Man of the Moment (1935)


1935’s Man of the Moment is a surprisingly funny, if slightly dark, little gem of a romantic comedy made in Britain, but starring two American actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Laura La Plante.

Snapshot Summary: Laura La Plante plays Mary Briany, a London secretary in love with her boss (Wyndham Goldie), who barely realizes she exists. After said boss arrives late to work with the other secretary in tow, both still in evening clothes, and Mary’s demoted doing the other secretary’s grunt work…well, she’s had it. She quits on the spot. Inspired by a sensationalist account of a recent suicide whose unrequited love wept bitter tears after her death, Mary tries unsuccessfully to drown herself in the river. (“I intend to die with an expression of peace on my face that surpasses understanding!”) Under protest, she’s fished out by a passing gentleman named Tony Randall (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), who takes her home to keep her from being arrested (suicide is a crime, you know!), dry off, and straighten up. Trouble is, Mary wants no part of this rescuing business, and Tony, who is flat broke and engaged to be married in the morning to his wealthy fiancée, finds himself stuck between keeping Mary from escaping back to the river, and his fiancée from discovering that there’s a woman hiding in his spare room.

Continue reading