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Hillary Fairfield
Margaret Fairfield
Kit Humphrey
Sydney Fairfield
Gray Meredith
Doctor Alliot
Aunt Hester


Executive Producer
Screenplay by

Based on the play by

Director of Photography
Art Direction by
Film Editing by
Sound Recordist
Musical Director
Piano Concerto by
Costume Design by
Makeup Artist
Assistant Director
Technical Director

John Barrymore
Billie Burke
David Manners
Katharine Hepburn
Paul Cavanagh
Henry Stephenson
Gayle Evers
Elizabeth Patterson


George Cukor
David O. Selznick
Howard Estabrook and
Harry Wagstaff
Clemence Dane aka
Winfried Diana Ashton
Sid Hickox
Carroll Clark
Arthur Roberts
George Ellis
Max Steiner
W. Franke Harling
Josette De Lima
Mel Burns
Dewey Starkey
Marion Balderstone


Film data

RKO Radio Pictures
75 minutes
Reels: 8
Produced: July 1932-

Premiere: September 30, 1932


Feeling himself well, shellshock victim Hillary Fairfield, whose streak of latent insanity was brought out by the strain of the World War, escapes from an asylum. He returns home on the very day his wife Margaret, who has since divorced him, plans to remarry.

Critics' reviews

Mordaunt Hall - New York Times - October 3, 1932
"Miss Hepburn’s portrayal is exceptionally fine. As Sydney, before her father's arrival on the scene she is looking forward to becoming the bride of Kit Pumphrey, but as soon as she discovers that there is a strain of insanity in her fathers family she jilts Kit and encourages her mother to marry Meredith, explaining to Margaret that she will stay by her father. Miss Hepburn's characterization is one of the finest seen on the screen and the producers have been wise in not minimizing the importance of her part because Mr. Barrymore is the star of the film."

William Boehnel - New York World-Telegram - 1932
"Katharine Hepburn, who makes her screen debut here and who was last seen in New York on stage in A Warrior's Husband, gives a beautiful performance as the luckless daughter."

Richard Watts Jr. - New York Herald Tribune - 1932
"Mr. Barrymore, showing surprising restraint when you remember that he is a Barrymore playing a madman, is splendid as the escaped father, providing one of his finest cinema characterizations. Miss Billie Burke is youthful, radiant and moving in the brief role of the wife. The most effective portrayal of the film, however, is provided by Miss Katharine Hepburn, who is both beautiful and distinguished as the daughter, and seems definitely established for an important cinema career."

The New Yorker - 1932
"I liked the acting throughout; it's all very temperate and reasonable. Katharine Hepburn suggests the proper intensity without any undue trumpetings and alarums, and, with her general appearance of half Botticelli page and half bobbed-hair bandit, might well be the daughter of one of the old English families."

Alexander Bakshy – The Nation
"The film is intelligent, moving and capably acted."

The Times - London
"Miss Hepburn has a harsh, granting voice and there is a lot for her to learn, but she acts with sincerity and intelligence, and when she and Mr. Barrymore are alone together a dim reflection of the play's quality shines through the screen."

Thornton Delehanty - New York Post - 1932
"She (Hepburn) has dignity and an instinct for underplaying an emotion which are valuable as they are, in a film actress, novel. In her ability and good looks, Miss Hepburn has the making of a star. All she need is a little more familiarity with the microphone, some worthy roles and a firm determination not to let her producers exploit her as a second Garbo, second Joan Crawford, or second anything."

Photoplay - 1932
"This picture makes history, not since Greta Garbo first lashed before screen audiences has anything happened like this Katharine Hepburn."

Tom Milne - Time Out
"Skilfully canned version of Clemence Dane’s terribly dated problem play about a shellshocked WWI veteran (possibly suffering from hereditary insanity) who returns from the asylum after 15 years to find his wife planning divorce and his daughter a stranger. Full of strangled sentiments and easy options, with a rather too carefully studied performance by Barrymore. But fascinating to see Hepburn raw-boned talent already at work for her first film, and Cukor already responding to it."

What Kate had to say

In treatment

What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say

George Cukor
"Not the least of her gifts is intelligence. In A Bill of Divorcement she was most uncertain of screen technique. But she let no one know it. She watched herself carefully, felt her way cautiously and with that picture emerged as a top-rank film star, apparently in one easy lesson....but it was hard work for her."

Lobby Cards

In treatment