Chances (1931)

Chances (1931)

Directed by Alan Dwan with an adaptation by Waldemar Young (The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935)) this slightly above average World War I drama borrows a romantic storyline from Hell’s Angels (1930) that of two brothers one carefree and one serious who go off to fight in the same unit while leaving behind a woman they both love. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Anthony Bushnell play the brothers respectively and Rose Hobart plays the woman who (like Jean Harlow) is initially the love interest of the serious brother before she falls hard for the carefree one. Even the same brother dies in the end though not by heroism and far less dramatically. The only real difference is that all three were childhood friends in this one; Bushnell and Hobart were close whereas Fairbanks Jr. was annoyed by her.

In 1914 London where the inseparable brothers are going through training together Fairbanks Jr. is captivated by a beautiful woman he meets in the fog not realizing it’s someone from his past until he and Bushnell return to their mother’s (Mary Forbes) where Hobart is a guest. In a party sequence (not entirely unlike the other film) Fairbanks Jr. wins over Hobart’s until he learns of his brother’s plan to marry her. He then uses another woman (Florence Britton uncredited) to reestablish his playboy persona in front of Hobart hoping she’ll be satisfied with Bushnell.

Once the brothers are shipped off to war Fairbanks Jr.’s character gets to perform admirably in battle earning him a seven day leave. His brother asks him to find out why his would-be fiancée has stopped writing him. On his way through Calais he runs into her she’s a driver now and they declare their love for each other once again. Fairbanks Jr. urges her to write Bushnell of their love then spends all but the last day of his leave with his mother. His last day is spend romantically with Hobart’s character who gives him a picture of herself with a loving inscription to “keep her close so she can protect him”.

Sometime after he returns his brother learns the truth about who loves whom through a misunderstanding with the aforementioned picture. Other than that there’s not much left besides some unspectacularly staged (when compared to The Big Parade (1925) or All Quite on the Western Front (1930)) ground battle sequences; of course it would be nearly impossible to top Hell’s Angels (1930) aerial sequences. Holmes Herbert plays the brothers’ commander; Edmond Breon a General Harry Allen a Private.

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