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Scott O'Brien, Classic Film Biographer

& A Man's Business

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Reviews and Profiles 

Whether embracing the silky essence of Kay Francis in Trouble in Paradise (1932), or enduring the machinations of Bette Davis in The Little Foxes (1941), Herbert Marshall was the essence of smooth, masculine sensitivity.  Dietrich, Garbo, Shearer, Stanwyck, and Hepburn eagerly awaited to be, as Shearer put it, “so thoroughly and convincingly loved” on screen.

While many knew that Marshall had lost a leg in WWI, he preferred audiences to concentrate on his acting. Even so, he volunteered hundreds of hours to hospitals encouraging amputees during WWII.

His legacy as a versatile actor, and morale booster is as compelling, as it is complicated. “Marshall’s personal story,” noted the late Robert Osborne, “is a fascinating one.”

Herbert Marshall is Scott O'Brien's seventh biography of classic cinema legends.  His books received positive reviews in such publications as Sight & Sound, SF Gate, and Classic Images.  Three of O’Brien’s books have made the Huffington Post’s “Best Cinema Books of the Year.” 


        The Good Fairy (1935) Margaret Sullavan

The Flame Within (1935) Henry Stephenson, Ann Harding

The Letter (1929) Jeanne Eagels 
The Letter (1940) Bette Davis

                The Painted Veil (1934) Garbo

CBS radio - scene from Riptide (1934) Norma Shearer

The Little Foxes (1941) Teresa Wright, Bette Davis

London 1933: Marshall and Jeanette MacDonald await director Ernst Lubitsch to film The Queen's Affair.  Sadly, Lubitsch was too ill and dropped out. Bart and Jeanette followed suit.

Trouble in Paradise (1932) Kay Francis 

 ... one of the great classics of the Pre-Code era: Trouble in Paradise.

 Marshall was in a good mood during production, and had nothing but praise for director Ernst Lubitsch. He explained to Laura Benham, 

When a player is cast in a Lubitsch picture his worries are over. He can be completely assured ... that Lubitsch will bring out in him a better performance than he ever suspected himself capable of giving. There is not one thing— not one detail—about acting, that Lubitsch does not know. He never wastes words, but in his soft rather guttural voice explains quietly just what he wants you to do. And he is always right. It’s a pleasure and an education to work with Lubitsch. 

When asked, director Lubitsch took no credit for Marshall’s flawless performance. “He is one actor who doesn’t need direction,” acknowledged Lubitsch.

Variety rated Trouble in Paradise as the film that “clinched a prominent spot for Marshall in Hollywood-made-films.”

 Many consider Trouble in Paradise Lubitsch’s best film.