MovieChat Forums > CavalcadeĀ (1933) Discussion > Diana Wynyard and the 'Cross-Eyed School...

Diana Wynyard and the 'Cross-Eyed School of Acting'


Diana Wynyard seems to be of the Norman Shearer "Cross-Eyed School of Acting." Whereas Miss Shearer, and later -- Karen Black -- actually do seem to be cross-eyed at times, with Wynward, it seems to be an affectation, to signal something, like consternation. Going cross-eyed and looking upstage right seem to be her idea of "acting" in "Cavalcade." This old-fashioned type of performance was even old-fashioned then. You see Walter Huston & Co. in a contemporaneous film like "Beat of the City," and they are so spontaneous, so full of life, whereas the actors in this stinker are from the semaphore/elocution style of acting.

A museum piece! It's hard to believe that Marlon Brando would come to the screen 17 years after this!

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"Why do people always laugh in the wrong places?"
--Montgomer Clift

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And Wynyard got nominated for an Oscar for that performance!

Tastes have changed considerably!

Sam Tomaino

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[deleted]

Hi Max Reagan,

I watched Cavalcade to and agree it is a museum piece and also, a time capsule. Wynyard give a glimpse of what stage acting was at the time, quite stilted, especially when compared to more natural acting styles of Barbara Stanwyck and James Cagney. As another posted noted, it was shot six years after the transition from silent films began and though there was movement in some of the crowd scenes, the actors remained pretty static when they had dialogue but like you, I enjoyed it.

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I wanted to like it -- the subject is right up my alley -- but Wynward's performance grated. The other actors were fine -- relaxed and natural. I tried to think of her character as a drama queen -- that's just her personality -- but even that didn't help. I bailed shortly after the ship sailed for South Africa.

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However, she was IMO well-used in the original British film version of Gaslight. Her character seemed more like she could be driven mad than Ingrid Bergman later in the same role.


"Well, for once the rich white man is in control!" C. M. Burns

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Clothes-Off, I can see that. She'd be effective as a tightly wound, fragile character.

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Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman parodied this style of acting frequently. It's hard to watch parts of "Cavalcade" with a straight face.

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