Original version with subtitles
The 1932 Broadway revival of Julian F. Thompson’s 1924 role-reversal farce The Warrior’s Husband is remembered, when it is remembered at all, as a showcase for the talents of the 25-year-old Katharine Hepburn, who was recruited for Hollywood stardom on the basis of her performance as Antiope, the swaggering, self-confident leader, circa 800 B.C., of the Amazon army. Hepburn went to RKO but the play went to Fox, where Elissa Landi took over a role still imprinted with Hepburn’s persona.
Like many examples of its genre, such as Alice Guy-Blaché’s 1906 Les Résultats du féminisme and Richard Wallace’s 1926 What’s the World Coming to?, Thompson’s play imagined gender relations as a zero-sum game: if women were to become stronger and more independent, men would necessarily become flightier and flouncier. In Walter Lang’s 1932 film, the redoubtable Marjorie Rambeau plays Hippolyta, the Amazon queen, who for political reasons is forced to marry Sapiens, a mincing example of detoxified masculinity played by Ernest Truex, missing no opportunity to camp it up. Meanwhile, Antiope is confounded by her first encounter with the Greek warrior, Theseus (David Manners), whose strapping masculinity is something new to her: Antiope attacks him with a sword; Theseus conquers her with a kiss.
Director Lang, who would later helm many of 20th Century-Fox’s famously garish Technicolor musicals, doesn’t exactly treat this material with the irony and restraint of a Lubitsch (as in the master’s 1918 I Don’t Want to Be a Man), but he does effectively lob some broadly suggestive pre-code gags, including a startling moment when the Amazon army salutes their queen with raised middle fingers. Though hardly a classic, The Warrior’s Husband is entertaining proof that gender issues are not exclusively a 21st-century concern.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dalla pièce omonima (1924) di Julian Thompson. Scen.: Ralph Spence, Sonya Levien. F.: Hal Mohr. M.: Ralph Dietrich. Scgf.: Max Parker. Mus.: Val Burton, Will Jason, Arthur Lange. Int.: Elissa Landi (Antiope), Marjorie Rambeau (Hyppolita, regina delle amazzoni), Ernest Truex (Sapiens), David Manners (Theseus), Helen Ware (Pomposia), Maude Eburne (Buria), Claudia Coleman (Heroica), Ferdinand Gottschalk (Sapiens il vecchio). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation, Jesse L. Lasky Productions. DCP 4K. D.: 76’. Bn.
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