'Riptide': THR's 1934 Review
On March 30, 1934, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios and producer Irving Thalberg unveiled the romance drama Riptide in theaters, starring Norma Shearer. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below:
A distinct innovation is Riptide, which marks Norma Shearer's screen return after a long absence, during which the lady seems to have added even more to her physical and histrionic charms. The film is an innovation inasmuch as it is almost completely devoid of action, yet the mental "action" is dynamic enough to carry it along through climaxes that successfully create the illusion of swift movement.
With the flawless performance of Herbert Marshall in a difficult role, added to the vivid and impressive moods as portrayed by its star, Norma Shearer, Riptide, with its great appeal for any type audience (particularly the feminine contingent) and the penetrating direction of Edmund Goulding, stands to make its producers and exhibitors a barrel of money.
Riptide might be limited to more sophisticated audiences were it not for the fact that it embodies in its story elements that at one time or another have come into the lives of any and all — from broker to milkman — from society belle to milkmaid.
At one point or another, some sequence in the picture is bound to "hit home" with every member of any audience — therefore the assertion that even though Goulding's dialogue and direction are sly, subtle and civilized — he is nevertheless firing at everybody when this yarn unwinds.
Riptide traces with meticulous care the path traced in a human being by the slow, poisonous growth of a terrific jealousy. The audience sees the ugly emotion grow from the very beginning until it brings upon itself the very thing it fears.
Marshall marries Miss Shearer because he KNOWS they belong to each other, in spite of her indiscreet past. She is madly in love with him, too, but under the influence of wicked Aunt Hettie (Mrs. Pat Campbell) she goes with her to Cannes while Marshall is in the U.S.A. on business.
A glass of champagne — a kiss — with Bob Montgomery, who later gets drunk and falls off her hotel balcony; newspaper headlines — cheap publicity — and Marshall coming back, eaten by jealousy — too suspicious to believe any evidence in his wife's favor.
He tortures her and himself — decides upon divorce, and leaves her. After she really has been unfaithful to him, he wants her back and she goes to him — unable to confess the very thing he has feared — yet brought about through his own jealousy. When he finally does discovery his wife's infidelity, they again decide to part, but, ironically, it is at this point that he utterly recovers his faith in her. Finis.
The fine efforts of Goulding, Marshall and Miss Shearer, together with the beauty of the production itself, and the presence of Robert Montgomery, who again is the charming young rake in the picture-garden, give the customers plenty to like and talk about.
Mrs. Pat Campbell is a very amusing Aunt Hettie, and Ralph Forbes a likable and convincing secretary. Lilyan Tashman, George K. Arthur, Skeets Gallagher, Helen Jerome Eddy and Florine McKinney appear briefly but with effect in supporting roles. Photography by Ray June is expert throughout. — Staff review, originally published March 21, 1934.