Mr. Harris is perfectly correct when he writes that this film provides Olivier with one of his finest acting roles. The movie is unique for the subtle way the disintegration of George Hurstwood is illustrated, aurally & visually. When he receives a visit from Mr. Allen of the Western Bonding Co., a waiter passes with a room-service trolley; during which he mutters: "Good afternoon, sir" & Hurstwood watches as symbolically, the world of luxury draws away from him. The sequence is also helped by the plaintive bassoon music.
Another notable moment occurs when George, having obtained the "dishwasher" workslip, pauses as a train passes by overhead. Notice how the noise underlines his descent into misery. Also, as he moves into a rougher neighbourhood, the streets become noisier, & voices more raucous & harsh.
After George returns to Chicago after a "non-meeting" with his son, the fact that Carrie has left is underlined by the way the flat "sounds" empty.
What of the visual representation? While at Fitzgerald`s George looks very elegant. Then, as head-waiter he is smart, but not so spruce. Later, he does not wear a collar & begins to neglect shaving, until finally we see his complete degeneration in the doss-house.
One strange aspect of his character is shown when he has three opportunities to improve his situation: one, with the proposed financial settlement-however,as this would have meant he & Carrie continuing to "live in sin" & given the social atmosphere of the early 1900`s this would not have been fair on the girl- secondly, when he goes to visit his son, but turns away, and finally when Carrie offers help; instead he refuses & the picture comes to its tragic conclusion. The actors play their roles wonderfully, although Miriam Hopkins is inclined to overdo the "hard lady" act. Altogether a great film, wonderfully directed by William Wyler. Certainly it has an interesting parallel with "Camille", referred to in the movie.