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A British family survives war and changing times.
On New Year's Eve, as 1899 is ending, Robert and Jane Marryot, a well-to-do London couple, bittersweetly toast the new century with their two small boys, Joey and Edward, and their servants, Alfred and Ellen Bridges, as both Robert and Alfred are leaving the next day to fight in the war against the Boers in South Africa. After the men leave, the boys play war games with little Edith Harris, the daughter of Jane's friend Margaret, while Jane and Ellen worry about their husbands. Later, as no news of the men has been received, Margaret, to cheer Jane up, takes her to see a musical show. The martial music saddens Jane, but the show is interrupted with the announcement that the South African town of Mafeking, where Jane's brother Jim and other Englishmen have been hemmed in by the Boers, has been relieved, which causes great jubilation in the theater. Upon his return to London, Alfred announces that he has purchased a London pub from another soldier so that his mother-in-law Mrs. Snapper can live with him, Ellen and their little daughter Fanny. As he and Robert celebrate their return to their families, news of Queen Victoria's illness is heard in the streets. Her death is felt by many as a personal loss. Later, Robert is knighted in virtue of his war record. In 1908, Jane and Edward, now a student at Oxford, visit Ellen and Fanny. Alfred, whom Ellen has said is injured to hide his chronic drunkenness, which has threatened to ruin them, comes in drunk. After he calls Jane a snob and throws the doll Jane brought for Fanny, Fanny runs out and joins celebrants dancing in the street. Alfred tries to retrieve her, but he is run down and killed by a fire truck as Fanny obliviously continues to dance. In 1909, by the seashore, Jane runs into Ellen and Fanny, who has just won a dance competition, while Edward walks with Edith and confesses his love for her. On April 14, 1912, Edward and Edith celebrate their honeymoon on a cruise ship in the Atlantic. Although Edith is somewhat reserved about the future, they are both thankful for their moment of happiness, unaware that their ship, the R.M.S. Titanic , will shortly sink. After war is declared in 1914, Joey is excited and anxious to join the army, while Jane, greatly agitated, refuses to drink a toast. Before going to France, Joey recognizes Fanny dancing in a club and surprises her in her dressing room. In 1918, Fanny, now starring in a musical comedy, confesses to Joey, on leave and visiting her dressing room again as she prepares for her cue, that she loves him; however, she refuses his proposal of marriage, saying that although their love affair has been great fun, she is not sure that they would be happy or that his mother would approve, and that they should wait until he returns. The day of the armistice, Ellen visits Jane and, after revealing the affair, which she has learned about from reading Joey's letter to Fanny, demands that Joey marry Fanny. Taken aback, Jane castigates Ellen and says she never interferes with Joey's affairs, then expresses regrets about the changes that the century has brought. Just then she receives a message that Joey has died and faints as celebrations begin in the street below. Jane then joins the celebrants in a dazed state. The following passing years bring political controversies, social upheavals and societal changes. Fanny sings the new hit "Twentieth Century Blues" at a club. On the eve of the new year of 1933, Robert and Jane, now an elderly couple, toast the future. Robert, optimistic as usual, and Jane, still reserved, acknowledge the great adventure their life together has been and drink to each other, to the past and future of England, to "the spirit of gallantry and courage that made a strange heaven out of an unbelievable hell," and to the hope that England "will find dignity and greatness and peace again." Outside, "Auld Lang Syne" is sung in the street below as bells ring in the new year. Robert and Jane walk out to their terrace, kiss each other and look on.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York premiere: 5 Jan 1933|
|Release Date:||1933||Production Date:||
Frank Lloyd Production
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Fox Film Corp.|
|Duration(feet):||9,500, 9,890 or 10,250|
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User Ratings & Review
The film where director Frank Lloyd won his second Best Director Oscar over a very-embarrassed Frank Capra. Wynyard was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar,...
What a Great Film!
Bob Wilson Jr 2011-03-06
And thanks so much to TCM for running it. The music is perfectly used.I wonder if the people who did "Upstairs Downstairs" realized that sense,...
Jeff Boston 2011-02-10
I'm sorry, the accomplished actress Diana Wynyard is the lady who tried too hard in this handsome production, not the beautiful supporting actress...