The Barretts of Wimpole Street

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The Barretts of Wimpole Street is a 1934 American film depicting the real-life romance between poets Elizabeth Barrett (Norma Shearer) and Robert Browning (Fredric March), despite the opposition of her father Edward Moulton-Barrett (Charles Laughton). The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was written by Ernest Vajda, Claudine West and Donald Ogden Stewart, from the play by Rudolf Besier. The film was directed by Sidney Franklin. The play that it was based upon was made famous by Katherine Cornell.

In 1957, Sidney Franklin filmed a word-for-word, and nearly shot-for-shot Metrocolor remake, of The Barretts of Wimpole Street, in CinemaScope. This version starred Jennifer Jones as Elizabeth, John Gielgud as her father, Bill Travers as Robert Browning, and Keith Baxter in his film debut.[1]

Both of the films were released by MGM.



The bulk of the story takes place in the lavish home of Edward Barrett (Charles Laughton) and his adult children. Upstairs, Elizabeth (Norma Shearer), the oldest girl, consults with her doctor. She is recovering from an undisclosed illness and is extremely weak - standing and walking are painful - but the doctor advises that a full recovery is possible.

She has a vivacious and brilliant mind, her poetry is frequently published, she has a cute cocker spaniel named Flush, and she loves fooling around with her siblings, especially her youngest sister, Henrietta (Maureen O'Sullivan). However, Edward - her father - is displeased by the rambunctiousness in Elizabeth's room. He wastes no opportunity to remind Elizabeth that she is very ill and possibly in danger of death. Perversely, he seems determined to keep her confined, as though he does not want to allow her to make a full recovery; he even goes so far as to defy the doctor's orders. When she complains that the porter which she has been advised by the doctor to take is making her feel worse, the doctor takes her off it and puts her on hot milk instead, but Edward forces her to continue drinking porter. His tyranny over the boys is more sketchily shown, but clearly, they are just as terrified of him as the girls.

Meanwhile, Henrietta is interested in marrying her brothers' friend Surtees (Ralph Forbes), who has a promising career in the military. But she discourages him. She cannot see any way around her insanely possessive father, who has forbidden any of his children - including his six boys - to marry.

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