A House Divided
A very rare film, A House Divided caught the eye of John Grierson when it was released in 1932, and Grierson went on to publish this assessment in his famous early essay “Directors of the Thirties”:
“In A House Divided, Wyler lives dangerously again. Here, the story concerns the father and son theme which Eugene O'Neill made great in ‘Desire Under The Elms'.... In this case the son is weak and the father is strong, the father takes a new wife, and wife and son fall in love with each other. The story is set against a background of sea. Walter Huston plays the father.
“I saw Huston play the father role in the New York Theatre Guild's production of ‘Desire Under The Elms.' He played it for the great and intense thing it is, and caught the Calvinist passion of the role with a certainty that seemed a trifle bewildering in the atmosphere of Metropolitan America....
“I am all for this William Wyler; he has a taste for the greater gestures and is still steering them past the hokum they so easily invoke. It is difficult to stage a tough old warrior of the Calvinist school, and achieve sympathy for him.... But Wyler and Huston put him over. It is not often that the ancient virtue of pity and terror creeps into a film. Here it does.”