Age of Innocence, The (1934): Moeller’s First Sound Version of Wharton’s Novel. Starring Irene Dunne

Philip Moeller directed The Age of Innocence, the first sound version of Edith Wharton‘s novel of the same title, set in the upper circles of  New York society of the 1870s.

The novel became a Broadway stage production, starring Katharine Cornell, in 1928.  It was also adapted in a 1924 silent version starring Beverly Bayne, and a 1993 film version, directed by Scorsese and starring Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder.

At his engagement party, the wealthy Newland Archer (John Boles) is surprised to meet his childhood friend Ellen (Irene Dunne), now Countess Olenska.

The cousin of his fiancee May (Julie Haydon), Olenska is considered scandalous by the rigid mores society of the time. Newland, however, treats her well and sends her two dozen yellow roses.

Things change, when Olenska turns to Newland for advice about a possible divorce.

Though prolific as a Broadway director, Philip Moeller had helmed only two films, this one, and the 1935 “Break of Hearts,” with Katharine Hepburn.

Irene Dunne as Countess Ellen Olenska
John Boles as Newland Archer
Lionel Atwill as Julius Beaufort
Helen Westley as Granny Manson Mingott
Laura Hope Crews as Augusta Welland
Julie Haydon as May Welland
Herbert Yost as Howard Welland
Theresa Maxwell Conover as Mrs Archer
Edith Van Cleve as Jane Archer
Leonard Carey as Jasper, the Butler


RKO Radio Pictures

Directed by Philip Moeller
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Novel written by Edith Wharton in 1920
Play by Margaret Ayer Barnes in 1928
Screenplay by Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman
Music by Max Steiner (uncredited)
Cinematography: James Van Trees
Edited by George Hively
Release date: September 14, 1934
Running time: 81 minutes