Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Arsène Lupin (1932)

This 1932 version of sophisticated thief Arsène Lupin (the character reused throughout the century in numerous countries) has one strength: the brothers Barrymore. Lionel and John, in their first feature film together, are always a joy to watch; Lionel, with his charming irascibility and John, with his suave, mocking urbanity.

John Barrymore plays Lupin, of course, with Lionel as the police inspector driven to capture him. Most of the film takes place on a country estate and at the Louvre, where Lupin steals the Mona Lisa under the inspector's nose.

I'd like to recommend Arsène Lupin, but I found the film's pace terminally lethargic, more characteristic of a 1930 or '31 MGM film. I didn't find myself caring about Karen Morley, John's love interest, at all, either (despite the racy pre-code banter), so the interplay between the Barrymores was the only thing holding my interest here. Their ending scene in a police car was a very nice example of their subtlety and collaborative talents.

Recommended only for Barrymore and Arsène Lupin fans.

Arsène Lupin hasn't been released on VHS or DVD, but has been broadcast on Turner Classic Movies.

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