review for Secrets on AllMovie

Secrets (1933)
by Craig Butler review

Secrets is a curious misfire, meaning that it doesn't really work as a film but has more than enough interesting things about it to make it worth watching. For one thing, it's Mary Pickford's last film and one of the few talkies that the vibrant silent star made. Pickford never really made the transition from silent to sound, although a number of her talking pictures were popular. She was capable of being a fine talkie actress; the talent was clearly there, but she needed to put a great deal of effort into re-learning how to act in front of a camera with a microphone, and she apparently didn't want to do so. As a result, some of her scenes come across as stilted or disjointed; others, however, are magical and demonstrate what could have been. Indeed, her scene following the death of her child is pure gold. Leslie Howard was more at ease with dialogue, and his performance is a big help to Secrets, but there's also a problem here: Howard is very convincing as the lover, not quite as convincing as a rough Western hero type. Frank Borzage works some magic of his own in his direction; despite some credibility problems in the script, Borzage directs as if he believes in every wild moment, every truth-stretching bit turn of events.