Will you play?
Yes. For the King.
This is the next movie in my Bette Davis series and it was a significant one in her career, to hear her tell it. George Arliss, an actor basically forgotten today, stars in this tale of a concert pianist stricken with deafness; at the time, he was a huge star and he personally selected Davis to play the ingénue part. Arliss is an odd-looking duck and his acting is anything but naturalistic, but it works. He came to prominence in the silent period and you can tell it, but he’s compelling and the story is genuinely moving. The concert pianist is a man of faith until the deafness strikes and he begins, first to doubt, then to question and ultimately to rage against God. But there may yet be a purpose for his life. It’s a story that never gets old; tragedy strikes but is overcome by finding new purpose and while it may be a lttle stagy and Arliss may take some getting used to, I found myself being incredibly moved by the story and its telling here. It’s a great human drama and unjustly forgotten. And, oh, yes, watch for a very, very young Ray Miland in a tiny role. 4 stars.
tl;dr – story of concert pianist struggling with deafness retains its urgent power; occasional staginess and some iffy acting doesn’t damage this moving tale of faith, doubt & tragedy. 4 stars.