Beloved Enemy (1936)

Beloved Enemy

IMDB Rating 6.5

Dublin, 1921
A time of Ireland's bitter struggle for freedom from English rule...
A time of night raids and ambushes, of guerilla warfare against British military occupation..
A time of horror and heroism, with men on both sides dying bravely for what they believed was right.

Set during the Irish Revolution of 1921; Dennis Reardon is a character based on Michael Collins and a legendary romance he had with Lady Lavery.

The Irish armies work in the shadows and the English break down doors and hunt for Dennis Reardon.

Lord Athleigh arrives from England and some of the rebels want to blow him up, but Dennis Reardon forbids it. They do go off and get a shipment of guns. Lord Athleigh brings his daughter, Lady Helen (Merle Oberon) with him. Lord Athleigh is on a team of negotiators seeking a treaty.

Children write "Up The Rebels" on Lord Athleigh's car, and Helen brings one home who got hurt when running away. The boy tells Helen he hates her because of what her people have done to his. At the boy's house Helen sees Reardon, who she had met at the police station before. They take a bike ride home. Reardon tells Helen he would like to settle on a farm in Galway and raise pigs, horses and children.

Helen then finds out by accident that Dennis is the real Dennis Reardon. Lord Athleigh says it is the worst situation he has ever seen. He considers Dennis Reardon is a member of a murder gang, Helen tells her father where she thinks Dennis Reardon will be tomorrow.

At the market the next day, where they were supposed to meet, a trap is set for Dennis. They close in but he escapes. Dennis and Helen exchange correspondence, but now the English are following her, hoping she will lead them to Reardon. When they meet Helen confesses that she knows who he really is, and she had helped set him up.

Dennis and Helen talk and begin to fall in love. But the English have surrounded the block, but Dennis slips away again. Dennis promises his friend that the cause is most important to him and he won't see her again.

Lord Athleigh and Helen head back to England. Lord Athleigh says the current policy is not working, and suggests that they have a truce, and negotiate with the Irish.

The Irish debate whether they should go and negotiate. Dennis wants to go, because they have nothing to lose by listening.

At the negotiations the decimating vote for the Irish delegation is by Dennis. The delegation had been told it was all or nothing and one of the delegation members warned Dennis if he settled he would be a dead man when he set foot back in Dublin. But Helen tries to convince Dennis to sign the treaty for Ireland. Dennis does decide to sign.

Dennis returns to Dublin but not everyone was happy.

A faction of the Irish Army wants to kill Dennis for betraying Ireland for the English woman. Helen goes and talk to the group, but they don't believe her.

Dennis then gives a speech in public and is shot by the Irish army. But Dennis lives, unlike Michael Collins, and goes off with Helen.

According to there were two endings shot: "Two endings were shot for Beloved Enemy, a tragic one and a happy one. The film was released and reviewed with a tragic ending - Frank Nugent's New York Times review mentions the "tragically foredoomed romance," and describes the ending; so does Variety, which notes that an alternative ending was shot, but adds that "the tragic note seems consistent with the plot." Apparently, audiences did not agree. Box office was disappointing, and the ending was changed to the happy one. Reviews were mixed; Nugent's was among the most enthusiastic, calling the film "A fine and mature and dignified drama of the Irish Rebellion of 1921, it has the stamp of quality on each of its departments."


NY Times Review

December 26, 1936

' Beloved Enemy' Opens at the Rivoli 

Samuel Goldwyn, who has had some conspicuous and richly deserved successes this season, has launched another golden barque in "Beloved Enemy," which came yesterday to the Rivoli. A fine and mature and dignified drama of the Irish Rebellion of 1921, it has the stamp of quality on each of its departments—story, direction, performance and production—and it tempts us mightily to revise our tentative list of this year's best ten to make a fitting place for it. If it should not be included, it will only be because ten is not an elastic number and cannot be stretched to contain all the great pictures of 1936.
Its story—the result of perfect collaboration between John Balderston, Rose Franken and William Brown Meloney—is of the tragically foredoomed romance between Dennis Riordan, rebel leader, and Lady Helen Drummond, niece of the English representative, come to study the Irish situation, report and, later, attempt to reach a basis for peace. It is a tragic romance because it was, and might have continued to be, an ideal one. Dennis, until patriotism thrust a firebrand into his hands, was a quiet man with dreams deep in him of a snug home, a table with a country tablecloth on it, steaming red tea and a wife and children to fill his house with pleasant noise. And Lady Helen shared his dreams and would have made them true.
But Ireland stood between them and there was little time for dreams when men were dying, while raids and forays broke the restless stillness of the night, while dead men cried for vengeance and for the defense of the cause. It is the cruelest part of their tragedy that, when peace was made and they might have had their lives to themselves, the gods exacted a price: Dennis shot down and killed by the fanatics of his party who felt he had betrayed them in London by voting for truce.
It is a story that required a prose touched with poetry, and it has it from its writers. It demanded the most convincing performances, and it received them from Brian Aherne as Dennis (a character obviously patterned upon Michael Collins, we might mention), from Merle Oberon as Lady Helen, Jerome Cowan as O'Rourke, Donald Crisp as the stubborn Burke, Ra Hould as the youngster Jerry, Karen Morley, Henry Stephenson, David Niven and so many others. It cried out for an understanding director, one capable of sending his camera hawking after melodramatic action, lingering upon a love scene, standing silent before tragedy. H. C. Potter, with his former Broadway partner, George Haight, as associate producer, has matched his drama's moods perfectly.
And, giving it its final luster, is Gregg Toland's photography which has almost a golden patina, and the usual—so usual that we accept it as a matter of course—handsome Goldwyn production. "Beloved Enemy," as you probably have suspected, has an enthusiastic admirer in me.