“I will create my own being: that boy! That boy will be my counterpart, he shall be what I should have been.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
While the story itself feels somewhat contrived — after all, what proof does Tsarakov have that Fedor’s “serious” relationship with Nana (Marsh) will ruin his chances for success? — Barrymore remains a pleasure to watch, and Barney McGill’s shadowy cinematography creates an appropriately stylized air of imminent doom. Cook, unfortunately, is instantly forgettable as Tsarakov’s young protegee (perhaps he was intentionally cast as someone without much personality?):
but Marsh is at least beautiful to look at, and Luis Alberni as Tsarakov’s drug-addicted musical director is appropriately over-the-top.
Film fanatics take note: Boris Karloff appears briefly in the beginning of the story as Fedor’s abusive father, though only his distinctive voice emerges as proof that he’s part of the proceedings.
Note: It’s always enjoyable to look for evidence of “Pre-Code” sensibilities in early Hollywood films; the following comment — made by Nana’s new lover, Count Renaud (Andre Luguet), as they travel together on a train for the first time — is a good example:
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: