Lloyd’s of London (1936)

Lloyd's of London (1936)

Synopsis:

In the late 1800s, a precocious boy, Jonathan Blake (Freddie Bartholomew, Captains Courageous), provides valuable information to an insurance business and he is allowed to stay in the company as an apprentice. Over the years, Jonathan (Tyrone Power, The Mark of Zorro) becomes a successful insurer in his own right, but a love affair with a married aristocrat, Lady Elizabeth (Madeleine Carroll, The 39 Steps), creates all sorts of problems for the ambitious businessman.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Diverting combination of English history and Hollywood melodrama. Lloyd’s of London, thanks to director Henry King’s (The Song of Bernadette) fine craftsmanship, compelling performances, good writing and detailed sets and costumes (the production is quite handsome), is very engaging.

Despite its title, Lloyd’s of London is not about the creation of the famous insurance company. It’s an entirely fictional period piece that toys with real historical events. Various historical figures — Horatio Nelson, Benjamin Franklin, etc. — come in and out of the story, entertainingly interacting with the film’s fictional characters. The movie is filled with adventure and intrigue, and you do learn a thing or two about England during the reign of King George III.

Top-billed Bartholomew is only in the movie for about thirty minutes. The billing reflects the actor’s popularity. The real star of the film is fourth-billed Power; the role made him an overnight sensation. Despite his inexperience, Power does a good job carrying such an elaborate production on his shoulders.

George Sanders (All About Eve), making his American film debut, plays a deliciously villainous fop. Carroll adds a bit of depth to her window-dressing role. The fantastic cast also includes veterans C. Aubrey Smith (The Prisoner of Zenda), Una O’Connor (The Adventures of Robin Hood), E.E. Clive (The Invisible Man), and Montagu Love (Gunga Din).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Lloyd’s of London is an expansive, fun production with a strong cast. The film doesn’t break any ground rules, but fans of Hollywood’s studio system will find something to enjoy. It’s also the film that made actor Tyrone Power one of 20th Century Fox’s top stars. B&W, 118 minutes, Not Rated.

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