Monday, November 27, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Washington Masquerade (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Lionel Barrymore stars in the pre-Code political melodrama THE WASHINGTON MASQUERADE (1932), recently released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

It's the tale of Jeff Keane (Barrymore), a defense attorney who parlays his popularity into a successful run for the Senate.

The widowed Keane and his daughter Ruth (Diane Sinclair) head for Washington, where Keane has his head turned by the attentions of younger, glamorous Consuela Fairbanks (an icy Karen Morley).

Consuela marries Keane but is soon revealed to be carrying on with suave but slimy Brenner (Nils Asther)...and meanwhile she's pulling strings behind the scenes to make money and bring down her previously ethical new husband.

THE WASHINGTON MASQUERADE is reasonably entertaining to watch; those who think modern-day politicians have cornered the market on questionable behavior should take a look at what filmmakers thought of the inhabitants of Washington, D.C., 85 years ago! Much of the plot revolves around Keane taking unethical payoffs from lobbyists to placate his greedy new wife.

While the movie held my attention, this 88-minute film was more Barrymore than I enjoy in one sitting. He's fine in supporting roles, but I don't really enjoy him as a lead character, and especially as a leading man. Watching him romancing the younger Morley is awkward, to say the least, even if the age difference is addressed in the script; among other things, there's a discussion of him dying his hair to look younger!

THE WASHINGTON MASQUERADE was directed by Charles Brabin and filmed by Gregg Toland. The supporting cast includes Reginald Barlow, Henry Kolker, William Morris, Berton Churchill, Charles Coleman, Sidney Bracey, William Collier Sr., and Charley Grapewin.

The DVD picture quality is variable, with some scenes being more soft and hazy than the others. At times the picture quality changes sharply from shot to shot within the same scene, which is a bit distracting; that said, it's still a watchable print with good sound. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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