Dick Heldar in The Light That Failed, William Wellman‘s film of 1939, is a London painter who eventually goes blind long after receiving a head-slashing wound on the battlefield. A message is conveyed: There is a great deal that will not break a man, but war will.
Heldar is not broken, for example, by his sweetheart Maisie’s leaving him, or by Cockney girl Bessie’s wronging him, but war is another matter. Wellman’s direction of this adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s first novel is expert, although most of the cast is just okay. Ronald Colman decorates the film without solidifying it, as Wellman does. His opening war sequence is engrossing. For good measure, there is also Ida Lupino—true and energetic as the pathetic Bessie.