The Wedding Night
Directed by King Vidor
I’m about ten films away from finishing up 1935. Running into a film like this one that I had never heard of makes me glad that I stick with it until the end. This romantic drama really impressed me.
Gary Cooper plays Tony Barrett, a hard-drinking washed-up novelist who can’t even get an advance on his next book. He and his wife Dora move to his family farmhouse in Connecticut where they can live for free. Their neighbors are a community of very traditional Poles. One of these buys some of Tony’s acreage and Dora, who decides she doesn’t like country life, moves back to New York. Tony remains behind and finds inspiration for his next book in Anya (Anna Sten), the daughter of his neighbors. He also gradually falls in love with her. But she has a strict Polish upbringing and is promised in marriage to a local boy. With Ralph Bellamy (complete with Polish accent!) as the loutish fiance.
This is a very mature and realistic sort of romance and the performances are terrific. It’s refreshingly different from the all too familiar plotlines of other films of the period. I think Cooper’s performance equals or betters anything he ever did. The movie is also beautiful to look at with cinematography by Gregg Toland and many Polish folkloric details. Highly recommended.
King Vidor won the award for best director at the 1935 Venice Film Festival for this film, which was nominated for the Mussolini Cup.