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Cavalcade: BD Review

Sep 4th, 2013

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One of the least impressive Best Picture winners ever makes the jump to high-def....

Fox / 112 Minutes / 1933 / Unrated / Street Date: August 6, 2013

Cavalcade belongs in movie history because it won an Oscar for Best Picture. Is it a better or more important movie than Duck Soup, King Kong, or even James Whale’s The Invisible Man? Absolutely not. But even in the 1930s, Hollywood was a sucker for a fancily-worded historical melodrama, and Frank Lloyd adaptation of Noel Coward’s popular play falls into the Academy Award paradigm: as dull as it will likely be to viewers new to it on Blu-ray here, it certainly will feel like an Oscar movie.

The movie takes a gander at English identity over a time period of 30+ years, allowing us to gander at the turn of the century, some historic international events (things didn’t go too well for the Titanic during this time), and a massive war or three. Class inequality is also at the center of Cavalcade – in the giant homes its stories take place in, both high-fallutin’ rich folk and ‘the help’ all go into the trenches to fight for Mother England. It is, if anything, a time period of significant tumult.

But the way Cavalcade keeps its training wheels on is woefully undermining to its overall effect. Coward’s dialogue is pithy and adorable, but the folks on display here feel far more like archetypal cardboard cutouts than well-rounded characters. They seem, at times, like they’re speaking dialogue in a smartly-written play, and this sabotages any efforts the film might have for realism or earnest dramatic effect. But hey – it still won an Oscar…

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