The title of Men Are Not Gods, a 1936 British drama set in the lively world of the London theater, comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Othello. That’s the play that pulls newspaper secretary Ann Williams (Miriam Hopkins) into the orbit of married stage stars Barbara Halson (Gertrude Lawrence) and Edmund Davey (Sebastian Shaw), the stars of said play. Moved by the plea of Barbara to hold an opening night review for the sake of her husband, a fine actor who had an off night, Ann alters the notice by her boss (Frederick Skeates), the paper’s theater critic and old-school defender of art and tradition and lands in a romantic triangle, torn between her affection for Barbara and her obsession with Edmund.
The Hungarian-born director and producer Alexander Korda was fast becoming the most successful filmmaker in Britain. He formed London Films in 1932 and made his reputation as the director of handsome and popular historical dramas. In 1936 he built Denham Studios and produced his greatest slate of films to date, including Rembrandt, which he personally directed, Things to Come, and The Man Who Could Work Miracles. His ambitions demanded he cut back on directing and he handed the directorial reins of Men Are Not Gods off to Austrian-born director Walter Reisch, who began as an assistant for Korda in Vienna in the early 1920s and had arrived in Britain in the mid-1930s along with the flood of artists fleeing Nazi Europe.
Plays on TCM on Saturday, August 31