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The Guardsman 1931
Description: An acclaimed actor and his equally acclaimed actress wife, who have been married for less than a year, are already showing signs of strain in their marriage. The actor believes his wife is capable of infidelity and sets out to prove this is so. Disguising himself as the type of boy he believes she fancies (a Russian military officer), the actor woos his wife while she believes him (her husband, that is) to be out of town. The actress shows each sign of succumbing to the "Russian's" advances, yet the husband can never quite place the stamp of certainty on her behavior. The truth eventually reveals itself...or does it?
Released: 07 Nov 1931 Director: Sidney Franklin Writers: Ferenc Molnár (from the play by), Ernest Vajda (screen play), Claudine West (continuity) Actors: Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Roland Young, Zasu Pitts Genres: Comedy, Drama
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The Guardsman Reviews:

Many folks seem to regard this movie as necessary simply because it is a living testament to Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontaine's acting. After all, it is the only preserved sound performance in which they have starring roles. In reality, however, the movie is not only historically necessary because of the legends in it; it is one of the most new and funny movies to emerge from the pre-Code period. The storyline is irresistible: a vain acting couple constantly insult and tease one another. In order to use his wife's fidelity after a bout, the Actor (Lunt) disguises himself as a foreign guardsman, goes out of his method to meet his wife in disguise, and furthermore goes on to test and seduce her. After he succeeds, he reveals himself, furious at her perfidious attitude. The Actress (Fontaine) starts laughing, claiming that she knew all along. At first dubious, the Actor is eventually convinced that his wife was testing along with him, and the two romantically embrace. The Actress looks at the camera and gives the most priceless look, letting the audience know that she may not have really known all along... Lunt and Fontanne create this movie come to life. There dominating presence creates a satirical and realistic portrait of what an egomaniacal acting couple's life might really be like. In addition, there are some priceless helping roles: Maude Ebourne as a sarcastic maid, Zasu Pitts as a strange (to tell the least) servant, Roland Young, and always-reliable Herman Bing as "a creditor." Sidney Franklin, perhaps the most unjustly forgotten of all screen directors (his classics contain Personal Lives, Smilin' Through, The Nice Earth, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and The Dark Angel), adroitly tutorials the ensemble, allowing the acting to take center-stage but never neglecting the features so necessary to cinema. In all, this short, fast-paced romp with two bona fide legends of American scene history is an essential lesson in screen comedy and romance. Although the Lunts, when asked to do soon movie work, replied "We can be purchased but we can't be bored!" there is absolutely no sign of unenthusiasm on screen here. Every earned an Oscar nomination for their performance in The Guardsman, and they left their indelible stamp, albeit only for a short eighty some-odd minutes, on American motion picture history.


The Guardsman is actually one of my 10 favourite films. Thanks to Turner Classic Films audiences can continue to see the brilliant performances of Lunt and Fontanne in this hilarious enjoy made into a film. The performances of the help cast are excellent, especially that of Roland Young. The Guardsman does what a nice comedy could do. It could create us laugh, give us insights into the human condition, and hold us wondering what will happen next to characters that we care about. I laughed out loud and watched the unpredictable plot transport through scenes of witty, quick paced dialog that led to an ending that lived up to everything that preceded it. If you carefully watch Fontanne in the ending, you will be certain of the meaning of her character's smile.


The names Lunt and Fontanne to this day signify greatness in acting. This popular scene couple has a theater called after them in Fresh York City. To see some of these "great names" perform, though, can prove to be the shattering of illusions. Today's acting styles are so various than they were back then, and one sometimes expects to see hammy gestures, trembling voices, and over the top melodrama.I am thrilled to report that Lunt and Fontanne live up to their reputation and are as unbelievable today as they were back then when they filmed their hit play, "The Guardsman." It's a silly storyline -- a husband and wife theatrical couple spar at every other, and the husband believes his wife is unfaithful. To use her, he disguises himself as a Russian guardsman and attempts to seduce her.Lunt and Fontanne were a very pretty couple and absolutely charming. Their performance in a stage from "Elizabeth the Queen" at the very beginning of the movie had me hankering for more. I want they had made another films, but they refused, finding it too boring.A true treat.



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