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A Bill of Divorcement

1932 1h 10m Drama List
60% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 57% Audience Score 500+ Ratings
Meg Fairfield (Billie Burke) is set to marry Gray Meredith (Paul Cavanagh), pending a divorce from her first husband, Hilary (John Barrymore), who has spent nearly 20 years in an insane asylum. On Christmas morning, while Meg and Gray are attending church, Hilary returns home, having snapped out of his illness. He is met by his daughter, Sydney (Katharine Hepburn), who is worried she will inherit his mental problems. The Fairfields must decide how Hilary's arrival will change their plans. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
Nicholas Bell IONCINEMA.com A rigid examination of social mores regarding marriage and mental illness, it has the potential to be a rousing screwball comedy, but instead hovers on dread and melodrama. Rated: 2.5/5 Aug 18, 2020 Full Review Pare Lorentz Vanity Fair John Barrymore and Miss Hepburn brighten the generally pat and stuffy feeling of the movie and make it entertaining. Jun 5, 2019 Full Review Fernando F. Croce CinePassion The dramaturgy is pure 19th-century, yet Cukor gives you Barrymore and the debuting Hepburn cutting through it like a couple of long-stemmed knives Jul 4, 2011 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Outdated family drama about dealing with mental illness. Rated: C+ Aug 12, 2008 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Even in 1932, when the melodrama was made, the biological and moral issues of insanity were outdated, but Cukor's film features an original, striking turn from Katharine Hepburn in her screen debut. Rated: B Jul 10, 2006 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Steve D Well done from a great cast. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/01/24 Full Review Audience Member One of John Barrymore best film while, Katharine Hepburn gives a great performance in her debut film role. The story revolves around a beleaguered father spending years in an instituton after being shellshocked in the great war. He escapes and returns home only to find that all has changed in the Homefront. A great watch for fans of sentimental drama. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/02/23 Full Review Audience Member VERY stagy but interesting film served as Hepburn's screen bow. She's a trifle studied and Barrymore occasionally goes over the top but mixed in with that is some excellent acting by both. Billie Burke, more subdued than usual, delivers the film's best most consistent performance. She does a very fine job of showing the anguish of a life suddenly turned upside down. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member first of many pairings of david selznick & director george cukor Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member Entertainingly melodramatic tale of hereditary insanity with a bizarrely unsatisfactory ending. Young Kate is fun to watch. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Audience Member Though long-forgotten and now mostly received with resounding "mehs" by modern audiences, I found Katharine Hepburn's film debut to be an excellent melodrama. The plot follows a family where the matriarch is about to remarry when her husband who has been institutionalized for years suddenly reappears in their lives. While the way the plot unfolds won't leave for many surprises or a particular amount of depth, the performances are what keep you interested and invested in the proceedings. It's got heart and it's also got genuine moments of emotion thanks to the committed performances from the cast, particularly Katharine Hepburn and John Barrymore. If you're a fan of the actress, this is a film worth tracking down to see the debut of the screen legend. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review Read all reviews
A Bill of Divorcement

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Movie Info

Synopsis Meg Fairfield (Billie Burke) is set to marry Gray Meredith (Paul Cavanagh), pending a divorce from her first husband, Hilary (John Barrymore), who has spent nearly 20 years in an insane asylum. On Christmas morning, while Meg and Gray are attending church, Hilary returns home, having snapped out of his illness. He is met by his daughter, Sydney (Katharine Hepburn), who is worried she will inherit his mental problems. The Fairfields must decide how Hilary's arrival will change their plans.
Director
George Cukor
Producer
David O. Selznick
Screenwriter
Howard Estabrook, Harry Wagstaff Gribble
Production Co
Selznick International, RKO Pictures
Genre
Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Streaming)
Dec 25, 2016
Runtime
1h 10m