The Kiss Before the Mirror. 1933. USA. Directed by James Whale. Screenplay by William Anthony McGuire, based on the play by Ladislas Fodor. With Frank Morgan, Nancy Carroll, Paul Lukas, Gloria Stuart. 35mm. 69 min.
After a few short years as a marquee-topper, Nancy Carroll was already being eased out at Paramount. On loan to Universal, Carroll starred in this adaptation of a Viennese (read: “sophisticated”) play. It’s directed by James Whale, who adorns the story with some breathtaking tracking shots. The movie is preoccupied with the feelings of two wronged husbands, but Carroll’s Maria is the most intriguing character; is she heartless, wounded, or a little of both? It was a fresh direction for the actress, but at least a few critics carped that she was miscast. Countless gossip-column items about Carroll’s supposed temperament had done their work. She made one more feature under her Paramount contract, but Carroll’s career as a major movie star was effectively over. Her last film, There Goes My Heart, was released in 1938.