The legendary John Barrymore stars with Bebe Daniels in this drama about a Robin Hood-like lawyer who bilks his rich clients to help the poor. When he’s found out, he must repair his damaged reputation and defend his altruism to keep from being disbarred, relying on no one but his secretary for help, support and love.
Wyler was born Wilhelm Weiller to a Jewish family, a Swiss father and a German mother, in Mulhouse in the French region of Alsace (then part of the German Empire). His mother was a cousin of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures. His father, Leopold, started as a traveling salesman which he later turned into a thriving haberdashery business.
During his childhood Wyler attended a number of schools and developed a reputation as “something of a hellraiser,” being expelled more than once for misbehavior. His mother often took him and his older brother Robert, to concerts, opera, and the theatre, as well as the early cinema. Sometimes at home his family and their friends would stage amateur theatricals for personal enjoyment.
After realizing that William was not interested in the family business, and having suffered through a terrible year financially after World War I, his mother, Melanie, contacted her distant cousin about opportunities for him. Laemmle was in the habit… read more
John Barrymore swings from ecstasy to suicide (twice! maybe 3 times!) in the most bipolar performance of his career. And he does it all while obviously drunk! I dig his blinking (at cue cards, I'm guessing) during two key scenes, and I love the class warfare that erupts when his lawyer character defends (gratis) a Communist who was beaten up by the cops. Then he almost gets disbarred for... well I got lost there...