Berkeley Square

Directed by
Frank Lloyd
Leslie Howard, Heather Angel, Valerie Taylor
84 mins
 | 1933
 | United States
 | English

A young American man is transported back to London in the time of the American Revolution and meets his ancestors. This was for its time one of Lovecraft's favorite movies and an inspiration for his story The Shadow Out of Time. Lovecraft saw this film four times in late 1933. Lovecraft himself had written a story on this very theme himslef, the unpublished The Case of Charles Dexter Ward in 1927. Lovecraft called the film "the most weirdly perfect embodiment of my own moods and pseudo-memories that I have ever seen--for all my life I have felt as if I might wake up out of this dream of an idiotic Victorian age and insane jazz age into the sane reality of 1760 or 1770 or 1780." Lovecraft noted the conceptual problems in Berkeley Square's depiction of time travel, and felt that he had "eliminated these flaws in his masterful novella of mind-exchange over time."Released in 1933, this very early and influential romantic time-travel movie was based on a play by John L. Balderston that was similar in plot to an unfinished Henry James novel. In it, Peter Standish (played by Leslie Howard) inherits a house in London’s Berkeley Square. Through unexplained means, he takes the place of his ancestor in the house in 1784, just after the American War of Independence. He arrives for his engagement to the lovely Kate Pettigrew (played by Valerie Taylor). Although initially delighted to tour the earlier era, problems arise as Standish mentions things that haven’t occurred yet, and more troubling, falls in love with Kate’s sister.H.P. Lovecraft saw this four times, and it has similarities to his then unpublished story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. However, it is clear he was inspired by the movie to write his own time-traveler possession story: “The Shadow Out of Time.”Leslie Howard received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Standish, and director Frank Lloyd made this between the great movies Cavalcade and Mutiny on the Bounty, for both of which he received the Best Director Oscar. However, he considered Berkeley Square his favorite film. Long considered lost and available only as a sub-par DVD bootleg, this will be the first public screening of a newly restored 35mm print, courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Christopher Gray, grandson of Lloyd, will introduce the movie (schedule permitting).

Previously screened at: