(1932)4Craig ButlerA first class romance, Smilin' Through is totally unbelievable -- but it never really asks for believability. The whole point of a movie like Smilin' is that it may be set IN the real world, but it is definitely not OF the real world. With its message that true love redeems all and that nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of true love, Smilin' is clearly not interested in educating the intellect but in milking the emotions, and it does this beautifully. Yet at the same time, the films avoids being a shameless "weepie." Great credit for this is due Sidney Franklin's excellent direction. He clearly is committed to the material and allows the emotions to billow forth freely when appropriate; yet he also knows when to pull the reins in contrast and to create greater impact. Under lesser hands, the far-fetched story might seem ridiculous; in his, it feels just right, even as the viewer knows it's totally artificial. Sidney is also blessed with a superb cast, with a luminous Norma Shearer turning in one of her finest performances and a wonderful Fredric March demonstrating why he was one of the screen's finest actors in the 1930s and 1940s. Leslie Howard is hampered somewhat by some unconvincing "age" make-up, but overall is quite effective.