Babbitt (1934)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Release Date - Dec 8, 1934 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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William Keighley's Babbitt may lack the piercing barbs of Sinclair Lewis's original book, but it does have Guy Kibbee in one of the biggest screen roles of his career -- and absolutely perfect as the dunderheaded protagonist in this story of middle American hipocrisy -- as well as Aline MacMahon as his much smarter wife, as well as a crackerjack supporting cast. And under Keighley's fast-paced direction, that makes this movie fine entertainment, even eight decades later. The mix of comedy and drama is woven together so tightly that viewers will find themselves riveted to the screen in most of the places where they aren't laughing -- Kibbee's George Babbitt may not be too bright, but he is thoroughly likeable, and the actor makes us care very much what happens to him, especially as Claire Dodd's Tanis Judique is such a reprehensible, two-faced manipulator. This is not the best adaptation of Lewis's fiction -- that honor belongs to William Wyler's Dodsworth or Richard Brooks' Elmer Gantry -- but it is a fine little piece of not-too-ambitious filmmaking, breezily paced and enjoyable.