The Great Garrick

Director: James Whale
Year Released: 1937
Rating: 3.5

Members of an 'elite' acting troupe from France try to make the title character - a British actor - look like a fool, but the ruse is plainly obvious to him. At first I was put off by the overacting, until I realized that everyone's chewing up the scenery, and quickly interpreted the entire movie as a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek exercise by Whale, who, to me, seems to be poking fun at the pomposity of actors and 'acting' in general (Garrick comes to the realization he doesn't understand what genuine emotions really are): Olivia de Havilland outlandishly swoons over Brian Aherne's (mock-) pompous lead while members of the French theatrical brigade engage in elaborate sword duels at all hours of the day. Miraculously, it never comes across as condescending. If you're in on the joke, it turns out to be a good film.