THOUGH "Beyond the Horizon," by Eugene G. O'Neill, is termed a "new American tragedy," it is a tragedy which might occur in any civilized country of the world where marriage is a recognized institution. It interprets the misery which follows the union of a man and a woman who are incompatible. In this particular domestic tragedy there figures an intellectual, a dreamer, a man with the soul of a poet, who marries a woman mentally his inferior.
She is a dullard, common, stupid, slovenly, uninterested in the world's progress, and lacking in amiability in the bargain. She isn't even a good housekeeper. Because of this dull creature, the dreamer gives up an opportunity to travel in the magic, far-off places of the world, a trip for which his soul thirsts. He remains at home to do farming, an occupation for which he is totally unfitted, while his brother, a born farmer, who would have made an excellent mate for the country girl, goes in his place. The dreamer toils unsuccessfully on the farm; is soon disillusioned as far as the woman he married is concerned, particularly when, in a nasty mood, she taunts him with the fact that she has never cared for him, but has always loved his brother, and, in other ways, reveals her mean and petty nature. He tries to derive a bit of comfort from his beloved books, and from the companionship of his little daughter.
The child dies, the wife grows still more slouchy and unattractive, and the husband, always poor in health, develops tuberculosis, and dies, still dreaming of "what might have been" had he taken the road of his dreams, instead of trudging along the wrong matrimonial lane. The only difficult thing to understand is how, in the first place, a man of his mental attainments could have yoked himself to the clod of a woman he did. She certainly had nothing to her credit but a fairly good figure, and you frequently find a laundress or a scrubwoman who has that.
Richard Bennett, as the dreamer, could tug more effectively at the heartstrings if he had his part letter perfect, for his frequent slip-on on his lines destroys the illusion; Edward Arnold of "The Storm" company was splendidly satisfying as the whole-hearted farmer lad; Helen MacKellar, also of "The Storm" company, might have been the woman for whom her rôle was especially written, so well does she fit in the picture; the work of Max Mitzel, as the bluff, seafaring, oath-hurling captain, certainly could not have been improved upon; Louise Closser Hale, as the crotchety old invalid, never put more or better humorous shading to her lines than she did in this performance; and Elfin Finn, a wee girlie, with remarkable poise for one so young, made quite a characterization of a rôle which might have proved trifling in the hands of a less capable child actress.
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