Our Betters (1933)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners  |   Release Date - Feb 23, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Made before the advent of the Production Code, Our Betters has the kind of relative frankness that is always surprising to see in an early '30s movie. It also finds director George Cukor still finding his way, and while parts of the film are extremely well done, there's still a slight tentativeness to parts of it that keep Our Betters from being its best. The screenplay also has a few problems, for the emphasis has shifted somewhat from the original Somerset Maugham play; the Americans are seen more sympathetically, and while this may balance things a bit, it also undermines Maugham's points; nevertheless, there are any number of witty, cutting remarks, and some can't-fail scenes that more than make up for the occasional lapses. Constance Bennett is a delight throughout, throwing off lines both honeyed and acidic with aplomb, and looking smashing in Hattie Carnegie's scrumptious outfits. Anita Louise also looks wonderful, and Violet Kemble-Cooper is a delight. Charles Starrett is a bit of a bore, and the "flame" that ignites Tyrell Davis is rather offensive, but Gilbert Roland is good, making the most of a rather underwritten role. Not a classic, but this infrequently seen comedy is sophisticated, rather biting, and fun.