Lloyd's of London (film)
|Lloyd's of London|
|Directed by||Henry King|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck
|Written by||Walter Ferris
|Music by||R.H. Bassett
Cyril J. Mockridge
|Edited by||Barbara McLean|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||November 25, 1936|
|Running time||115 minutes|
Lloyd's of London is a 1936 American drama film directed by Henry King. It stars Tyrone Power, Madeleine Carroll, and Guy Standing. The supporting cast includes Freddie Bartholomew, George Sanders, Virginia Field, and C. Aubrey Smith. Loosely based on historical events, the film follows the dealings of a man who works for Lloyd's of London during the Napoleonic Wars. Lloyd's of London was a hit; it demonstrated that 23-year-old Tyrone Power, in his first starring role, could carry a film, and that the newly formed 20th Century Fox was a major Hollywood studio.
In 1770, youngster Jonathan Blake (Freddie Bartholomew) overhears two sailors discussing something suspicious in his aunt's ale-house in a Norfolk fishing village. He persuades his more respectable best friend, Horatio Nelson (Douglas Scott), to sneak aboard the sailors' ship with him. They overhear a plot involving insurance fraud. Each of the boys had vowed to do anything that the other did. But when Jonathan decides to warn the insurers, the 12-year-old Horatio cannot accompany him, because that same day he is invited to join the Royal Navy as a midshipman.
Jonathan walks all the way to London to Lloyd's Coffee House, where the insurers conduct their business. At first, no one can be bothered with him, but eventually Mr. Angerstein (Guy Standing), the head of one of the syndicates that make up Lloyd's of London, listens to him. Instead of a monetary reward, Jonathan asks to work at Lloyd's in an entry level position. Angerstein teaches him that news is the lifeblood of the insurance industry.
By 1784, Jonathan (now played by Tyrone Power) has become an assistant to Angerstein. Jonathan shows him a semaphore telegraph apparatus he has invented, which can send messages instantly across the English Channel. While on a news-gathering mission to France, Jonathan rescues Lady Elizabeth Stacy (Madeleine Carroll) after Napoleon orders the arrest of all English people. On the two-day boat trip back to England, they fall in love. However, she sneaks away before he can find out who she is or where she lives.
Eventually, Jonathan finds out that Elizabeth is married to Lord Everett Stacy (George Sanders), who insults him as being a mere laborer. Stung, Jonathan decides to make himself so rich and powerful that even the aristocracy will have to pay him respect. He succeeds, setting up his own syndicate.
Jonathan and Elizabeth meet again. She confesses that she loves him, and the two see each other secretly. This does not escape the attention of Lord Stacy. With heavy gambling losses and hounded by creditors, he inveigles Jonathan to give him a share of the profits of his syndicate.
Meanwhile, Horatio Nelson has risen to the rank of Admiral of the British Fleet. But the war with Napoleon results in terrible losses to England's merchant fleet, which threatens to bankrupt Lloyd's. The insurers raise their rates accordingly, but the merchants complain that the charges are ruinously high and that they will not sail unless the old rate is restored.
Angerstein decides the old rate could be restored if the British Admiralty could be persuaded to provide armed escorts to the merchant vessels. But Jonathan realizes that such a course would reduce Nelson's fleet by half, putting England's survival in the balance. He commits his syndicate to the old rate without asking for escorts, singlehandedly keeping British commerce going and Nelson's force intact. As the losses mount, he runs out of money, and is abandoned by his syndicate members. Over his protests, Elizabeth puts her vast, newly inherited fortune at his disposal, but even that runs out.
Lord Drayton, head of the Admiralty, agrees to order half of Nelson's fleet to convoy the merchant ships. That same day, Jonathan receives a letter from Nelson urging him to do whatever possible to protect his fleet from being divided, no matter what the cost. In desperation, Jonathan secretly goes to Calais and sends a message to England by the semaphore, falsely reporting a victory by Nelson. The entire nation celebrates, and Drayton cancels the order to Nelson.
Lord Stacy, however, learns the truth from his spies. He goes to Angerstein and threatens to expose the lie, but Angerstein tells him that he himself would be ruined if Jonathan's syndicate is destroyed since, unbeknownst to Stacy, Elizabeth's fortune is tied up in it. When Lord Stacy finds Jonathan and Elizabeth in each other's arms, he shoots his rival in the back.
Fortunately for Jonathan, he has bought enough time for Nelson to win the Battle of Trafalgar, though at great cost. A recovering Jonathan watches sadly from the window as his childhood friend's funeral procession passes by.
- Freddie Bartholomew – Young Jonathan Blake
- Madeleine Carroll – Lady Elizabeth Stacy
- Guy Standing – John Julius Angerstein (as Sir Guy Standing)
- Tyrone Power – Jonathan Blake
- C. Aubrey Smith – Old 'Q'
- Virginia Field – Polly, a waitress at the coffee house who loves Jonathan
- Douglas Scott – Young Horatio Nelson
- George Sanders – Lord Everett Stacy
- J. M. Kerrigan – Brook Watson
- Una O'Connor – Widow Blake, Jonathan's aunt
- Forrester Harvey – Percival Potts
- Gavin Muir – Sir Gavin Gore
- E. E. Clive – Magistrate
- Miles Mander – Jukes
- Montagu Love – Hawkins
- Vernon Steele – Sir Thomas Lawrence
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Art Direction by William S. Darling and the other for Film Editing by Barbara McLean. Lloyd's of London was the second of the twenty-nine films directed by Henry King that McLean edited.
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