Loyalties | Chicago Reader

Loyalties

Based on a play by John Galsworthy, this 1933 British feature about anti-Semitism stars Basil Rathbone as a wealthy Jewish businessman sued for slander after he accuses an army officer (Miles Mander) of stealing 100 pounds from his wallet during a weekend house party for aristocrats. It might be argued that the film itself isn't entirely free of anti-Semitism; as Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times at the time, Rathbone's “Shylock in modern dress . . . gets his pound of flesh in this drama, but finds his triumph empty,” which correctly implies that the character is something of a stereotype from the outset. Yet Galsworthy's study in tribal loyalties has some less-than-obvious points to make, and Basil Dean's direction shows some flair and genuine cinematic panache. A fascinating relic.

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