Looking uncannily like the real artist, Charles Laughton makes Rembrandt a memorable motion picture experience. Not that the film is without other assets. The script is literate. In a series of vignettes, it provides Laughton with big scenes and chances for character delineation.
Director Alexander Korda and his cinematographers also do a fine job of giving the film a visual texture that is reminiscent of Rembrandt's work. The supporting cast, especially marvelous Else Lanchester and the rarely-seen (on film) Gertrude Lawrence, are a definite plus. Still, the film rises or falls on Laughton.
He is up to everything that is required of him. The tortured soulfulness that underlies so much of Laughton's work -- that feeling that there's an angel caught inside a monster's form - is given great rein here.
Laughton also perfectly captures the stubbornness (or determination, depending upon one's point of view), temperament, scorn and tenderness Of Rembrandt. He takes full advantage of such showcase pieces as the declamations on the wonder of love and on the foolishness of humans that frame the film.
Laughton's performance alone makes it a not-to-be-missed experience.