THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM (1935)
Article #1694 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-3-2005
Posting Date: 4-2-2006
Directed by George Nichols Jr. and Victor Schertzinger
Featuring Lionel Barrymore, Helen Mack, Edward Ellis
After his death, the patriarch of a family, unhappy with the state of affairs he left at the time of his death, comes back to try to make things right. However, nobody can see or hear him.
Lionel Barrymore was an actor who was able to project character so effortlessly that sometimes I wish he’d held back a little bit; there are moments here where he’s a little hard to take. Still, I’m glad he’s playing the role of the ghostly patriarch here; his ability to hit just the right emotional notes makes this movie work far better than it might have otherwise, due to an old-fashioned script (it had been filmed before in 1926) and some rather stiff and lifeless direction. A good supporting cast helps as well, with Helen Mack and James Bush as the young lovers, Allen Vincent as the villain, and George P. Breakston as the orphan whose history plays an important role in the action. Donald Meek, Ethel Griffies and Edward Ellis are also on hand to add some more character acting to the proceedings. The concept of a dead man trying to communicate with the living has popped up several times over the years; it was used in THE COCKEYED MIRACLE and serves as one of the central themes of GHOST as well. Playwright David Belasco (upon whose work this movie was based) also wrote the play that was the source of Lon Chaney’s LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH.