THE GUARDSMAN (1931) B/W 89m dir: Sidney Franklin
w/Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Roland Young, ZaSu Pitts, Maude Eburne, Herman Bing, Ann Dvorak
From The Movie Guide: "A tattered, irresistible Valentine, more like a photographed stage play than a film, but a souvenir of lyrical, happy talent. French playwright Ferenc Molnar's clever marital comedy was never better performed than by the illustrious stars of American theater, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, who had made the play a Broadway hit in 1924.
"This bubbling sex farce begins when Lunt, watching Fontanne dreamily playing Chopin on the piano, suspects that her mind is on another. He quickly determines to resolve this doubt by a dangerous charade. Impersonating his imagined rival --- a Russian guardsman with mustache and broad accent --- he seduces his wife, who turns the tables on him the next morning, telling him, 'I knew it was you all along.' Or is this just a clever attempt to preserve her marriage?
"It took the supreme talents of Lunt and Fontanne to make this delicate stage material work. Although the public did not respond well to the sophisticated comedy, the film was a smashing critical success. Except for cameo roles in STAGE DOOR CANTEEN, this would be the only sound film the couple made in their illustrious careers, although Hollywood had previously wooed them into silents. MGM's Irving Thalberg managed to convince the famous pair to leave Broadway for THE GUARDSMAN, but it took a lot of convincing. To them the movies were merely cloudy mirrors of their own live theater reputations, reflections they did not appreciate. But in all fairness to their undeniable talent, it is said both realized they didn't photograph worth a damn."
Lunt and Fontanne were nominated for Oscars for Best Actor and Actress.