Guardsman, The (1931)

Guardsman, The (1931)

“It’s a soldier she’s longing for.”

An actor (Alfred Lunt) who is insanely jealous of his wife (Lynn Fontanne) pretends to be a Russian soldier wooing her, taking only his friend The Critic (Roland Young) into his confidences. Will his wife betray him — with himself?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Actors and Actresses
  • Jealousy
  • Marital Problems
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Play Adaptations
  • Roland Young Films
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Zasu Pitts Films

Legendary acting couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were both nominated for Academy Awards for their leading roles in this adaptation of Ferenc Molnar’s comedic play about a husband so insanely jealous that he disguises himself as his wife’s suitor to catch her cheating. Does his ruse work? Well, that’s the crux of the somewhat limited storyline, so it wouldn’t be fair to say more; suffice it to say that it’s clear why audiences at the time would have enjoyed a talkie like this, though its current appeal remains simply as a curio, to see this beloved couple on screen together for the first and only time.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lunt and Fontanne’s obvious chemistry together
  • An enjoyable closing shot

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look if you’re curious to see Lunt and Fontanne. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Guardsman, The (1931)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    What was seen as sparkling entertainment in its day now comes off as dated piffle.

    While watching, I tried to think if there were any current actors who could pull this material off (if it were even revived, which there’s not a chance of). I’m pretty sure that Streep could handle the Fontanne role; she would realize that the only choice is to go for something *heightened*, in order to at least make it entertaining as semi-camp. What Fontanne opts for is, alas, something closer to Norma Shearer (who Fontanne rather resembles).

    I couldn’t imagine a contemporary counterpart for Lunt. But, then, what he’s attempting is so patently absurd since his character is dumb-enough to think that a little facial hair and a silly Russian accent will easily throw his wife off.

    Even though this is woefully slight material, I actually found the other 4 main actors more accomplished: Young, Zasu Pitts, Herman Bing (as the creditor) and Maude Eburne (as ‘Mama’).

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