- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
One of the great pleasures of home video is the ability to pull up whenever one likes films that were star-making properties for certain actors. We can see, for example, Shirley Temple's first real splash in a feature film in Stand Up and Cheer or Mae West taking everyone by surprise in Night After Night. Though Freddie Bartholomew was probably the most famous of the male child stars of the mid-1930s and received top billing in Henry King's Lloyd’s of London, it was Tyrone Power whose startling good looks and undeniable on-screen charisma captivated audiences and which led 20th Century Fox to give a true star build-up to the actor. As for the film, it’s a rags-to-riches saga that holds one’s attention mainly through a powerful cast of leading and supporting players. The story is fairly predictable, but watching these A-list actors in a quality production march their way through these expected paces is still quite diverting.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 57 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmaray case
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 12/03/2014
Learning of an upcoming scam to bilk the insurers at Lloyd’s Coffee House in London of thousands of pounds, young scalawag Jonathan Blake (Freddie Bartholomew) walks one hundred miles to London to report the upcoming swindle. Once he’s proven right, one of Lloyd’s underwriters John Julius Angerstein (Sir Guy Standing) takes a fatherly interest in the young boy and brings him on as an apprentice. Thirteen years pass and Jonathan (Tyrone Power), now a charismatic and enterprising young man, spearheads a series of ideas that brings power and prestige to Lloyd’s as London’s number one brokerage and insurance firm. When war breaks out with France, Lloyd’s bets heavily on Jonathan’s canny knack for predicting positive outcomes, based on his early childhood friendship with Horatio Nelson (Douglas Scott ) who has grown up to command His Majesty’s Fleet as Admiral Lord Nelson (John Burton). But Nelson begins suffering a series of defeats against the French which brings Lloyd’s to its knees, and it’s only through some crafty tricks of Jonathan’s that the firm stays afloat though that may soon come to an end due to Jonathan’s bitter romantic rival Lord Everett Stacy (George Sanders) who blackmailed Jonathan to buy into Lloyd’s once he caught Jonathan with Stacy’s wife (Madeleine Carroll).The success of Jonathan Blake’s professional life is contrasted quite obviously with the uneven nature of his personal life in the script by Ernest Pascal and Walter Ferris (based on a story by Curtis Kenyon). Jonathan juggles two women: the married Lady Elizabeth played by Madeleine Carroll and the infatuated, unfulfilled Polly (Virginia Field) who works at his brokerage. Both the personal and the professional sides of the plot are interesting though the Production Code demanded that Blake’s dalliance with a married woman (once he learns that she’s married) had to be handled off screen and only be suggested through subtext (the gorgeous Polly, who has a charming, ingratiating scene in a gambling club as she masquerades as a lady, gets cheated in the scenario; such a pretty, charming character deserved more elaboration). The rise-near fall-and rise again of the firm is quite expected with very little in the way of freshness, but tying it to the insurance of the fleet and the firm’s potential ruination should England lose the war against Napoleon does allow some action scenes of the war at sea to keep one’s attention. Director Henry King garbles some of the plotting here and there not always making it clear the firm’s position on matters large and small, but the big picture is clear enough. And though Jonathan Blake is a fictional compilation of several real-life young men, the story does have, in addition to the real-life John Julius Angerstein and Lord Admiral Nelson, a parade of famous real-life characters parading through it including Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson, Boswell, the Marquis of Queensberry, and painter Sir Thomas Lawrence.Freddie Bartholomew appears only in the film’s first half hour as the plucky, sensitive young lad eager to do a good turn, and he’s as effective as always. While Tyrone Power likely isn’t any more believable as the adult version of Bartholomew as Mickey Rooney was growing up into Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama, on his own Power’s first star role (he’s billed fourth) finds him completely at ease in the romantic and earnest portions of the movie but a little stiff and inexperienced in some of the later, more dramatic turns of events (some of the film’s dialogue seems daunting for him), and his slight English accent comes and goes. Still, the camera loves him, and it's easy to see why he was such a hit in this movie. As the love interest of two men, Madeleine Carroll is lovely and lilting though actually no more so than Virginia Field’s Polly who, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t quite get her dramatic due. Sir Guy Standing is a wonderful surrogate father as Angerstein with audience sympathy remaining with him even when he and Jonathan find themselves on opposite sides of an insurance issue. George Sanders even in 1936 has his caddish persona down to a tee as the repulsive Lord Everett Stacy. C. Aubrey Smith has a couple of fun scenes as the randy Queensberry, and Una O'Connor squawks with the best of them early-on as Jonathan’s harsh aunt. Other very familiar studio contract players that give the film a most welcome sense of acquaintance are Gavin Muir, E. E. Clive, Miles Mander, Holmes Herbert, and Leonard Mudie.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
The film’s theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio is faithfully presented here. There is plenty of grain on display especially in scenes with lesser contrast, but sharpness in general is quite good (except when approaching the end of each reel – noted by the reel change markers – where things sometimes turn alarmingly soft). The grayscale is above average with especially bright whites even though black levels vary more obviously. There are some slight scratches here and there, a few missing frames, and some occasional line twitter. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 12 chapters present here.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. While dialogue is clear enough to be heard and doesn’t clash with the music and sound effects, there is modified hiss present through most of the film, and there are occasional pops and some muffled crackle as well.
Audio Rating: 3/5
There are no bonus features on this made-on-demand disc.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
Tyrone Power’s undeniable camera appeal comes through with blazing obviousness in Lloyd’s of London making his soon-in-the-making superstardom easily understandable. The film may seem a trifle long and extended, but the lushness of period detail and a sterling array of expert character actors make it a genuinely entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: