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THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, 1932
Classic Movie Review

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THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, 1932
Classic Movie Review
Directed by Edward H. Griffith
Starring Ann Harding, Leslie Howard
Review by Euboea Brown



SYNOPSIS:

Tom Collier has had a great relationship with Daisy, but when he decides to marry, it is not Daisy whom he asks...

REVIEW:

The Animal Kingdom is a drama about Cecilia's efforts to dominate and control her new husband's life by manipulating him to do what she wants.

Cee claims she knows who Tom is as a person and what's best for him as well as how she will be able to help him make good decisions once they are married. She tells all of this to his friend, Owen, and his father, though she neglects to clarify that the "good decisions" are solely for her benefit. Tom has an old best friend and former girlfriend, Daisy, who stops in for a catch-up visit the night the engagement is announced. Daisy does not know of the engagement when she nervously tells Tom that she wants to bear children with him. Daisy is very much in love with Tom and wants to cut off all ties with him when informed of the engagement.

Tom and Daisy are very critical of each other's work and life because they have gone through a lot together and feel to be the better judge of the other's actions. Cee tries to sabotage Tom's friendship Daisy by getting him to think differently about his friends and work instead of using his instincts . He is certain on how he feels about his friendship with Daisy, his father, friends, and work, but, overtime, these certainties weaken to Cee's invisible wand of guilting Tom to her demands.

The end is smart and gingerly played out. Tom finds clarity after several glasses of champagne with Cee. The tone of the final scenes lean in one direction and go towards another. Both are unexpected twists, and pose the question: Will Tom feast on prey, or be feats of prey?

An interesting note is the lack of a continuous soundtrack. It is curious to watch a film and develop emotions from a scene orcharacters without musical encouragement. Lack of musical triggers allows one to focus more on the dialogue, interactions between characters, and allows for personal decisions to be made about what will be the future of the film, rather than being forced to not think or to react puppet-like.

The title is a great fit for this story. Imagine where the different animals fall into the hierarchy of the animal kingdom. Some animals evolve form others or from their environment and its conditions. In this case, Tom is one type of animal who morphs, unknown to himself, into another animal unrecognized by himself. From there, Tom morphs, yet again, though not reverting back to his old self but to an animal who eagerly knows what class to which he belongs. Actress Myrna Loy has worked with Director Edward Griffith andScreenwriter Horace Jackson once before as they maintain the samepositions in the 1931 film Rebound. Ann Harding also worked another time with this duo in the 1930 film Holiday.

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