Where Sinners Meet (1934)

“When two British lovers run away with each other, more often than not they take the Dover Road, for at its end is a boat for France. First of all, they must make the boat…”

Leonard (Reginald Owen) and Anne (Diana Wynyard) have not “made the boat.” After encountering some car trouble on Dover Road, they’ve been told to make their way to a nearby mansion which operates as a hotel. Here, they’ll be able to spend the night. In the morning, the car will be fixed and they can be on their way.

The “hotel,” however, is not what it seems. It’s owned by the mysterious Mr. Latimer (Clive Brook), an eccentric and very wealthy bachelor. Wary of the institution of marriage, Latimer has a hobby of luring eloping couples to his home, where he can make sure that they’re well-matched before they run off to France together.

Where Sinners Meet was directed by J. Walter Ruben. The script was adapted by H. W. Hanemann (co-writer of Rafter Romance) from a play by A. A. Milne (creator of Winnie-the-Pooh). In addition to the above-credited cast, Billie Burke and Alan Mowbray also appear in the film.

The premise of Where Sinners Meet is quite unique, which gave me high hopes for an exciting and enjoyable story.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

While the film is very dialogue-heavy and somewhat stagey, there’s a lot to love about it. Clive Brook’s character, for one, is a fascinating man. He believes he’s using his wealth in the best way possible, to help others avoid the fate of a failed marriage. Brook gives a perfectly convincing performance in the role and is quite charming.

Cast-wise, though I loved Brook’s performance, a real highlight of the film is Billie Burke. She brings a great number of the film’s laughs with her bubbly, baby-talking, over-the-top character of Eustasia, one-half of a second kidnapped couple staying in Latimer’s mansion.

To determine the compatibilities of Eustasia and Anne with their respective mates, Brook puts each couple through a set of amusing tests plucked from the realm of potential day-to-day mishaps – dealing with a common cold, for example, or running into an ex.

The stakes are low for these tests, which keeps the story quite thin and fluffy. Still, the film is an enjoyable watch thanks to its likable cast and silly sense of humor. The score: 3.5/5

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