The Brat

John Ford

T. it.: La trovatella; Sog.: dalla commedia di Maude Fulton; Scen.: Sonya Levien, S. N. Berhman, Maude Fulton; F.: Joseph H. August; Mo.: Alex Troffey; Int.: Sally O’Neil (the girl), Alan Dinehart (MacMillan Forester), Frank Albertson (Stephen Forester), Virginia Cherrill (Angela), June Collyer (Jane), J. Farrell MacDonald (Timson, the butler), William Collier Sr. (judge), Margaret Mann (governess), Albert Gran (bishop), Mary Forbes (lady Forester), Louise MacIntosh (Lena); Prod.: William Fox; Pri. pro.: 23 agosto 1931. 16mm. L.: 722 m. D.: 65’. Bn. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

One of the oddest excursions and leastknown titles in Ford’s long career, the romantic comedy The Brat proves that even with wildly incongruous, uncharacteristic material, Ford could deliver an expert and polished piece of entertainment. Based on a Maud Fulton play about a stuffy New York high-society novelist (Alan Dinehart) who takes in a waif (Sally O’Neil), supposedly as research material (“a Rose in the Gutter”), The Brat has obvious echoes of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. As such it would seem more natural subject matter for George Cukor than for Ford, but the director takes on the challenge with aplomb. “That was just one of those damn things they handed you,” he recalled to Peter Bogdanovich, while reminiscing about a funny scene of two women fighting, made more authentic by actresses who “hated each other’s guts and really went at it.”

 “The Brat (1931), a trivial Maud Fulton drawing room comedy of manners, becomes thoroughly enchanting because of rapid pacing and a light, pointed touch. Piquant Sally O’Neil’s fascination is heightened by her huge intense eyes, YankeeCockney accent, and friendly youthfulness wedded to sophisticated theatrical manners. Rather than try to lessen the ‘typing’ of the ‘stock’ roles (which would only have farther dehumanized them – one might as well discard the whole play!), Ford has his actors play them for all their worth — with constantly confirmatory ‘business,’ often in Ford’s ‘wacky’ manner.” (Tag Gallagher, John Ford: The Man and His Films)

 “The playing is competent, there is a swing in the stage-set garden, swans on the pond and a windmill. J. Farrell MacDonald is the butler and there is a look-in for Ward Bond. The nicest moment is provided by Victor McLaglen as a well-muscled artist’s model, beating himself despairingly at the sight of a Vorticist drawing of his torso.” (Lindsay Anderson, About John Ford)

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