Having just seen several very early movies starring Leslie Howard I have arrived at a studied opinion of his acting skills. Comedy and light characters is his forte. Pygmalion us the epitome of his talent in this vein.
In totally serious characters parts he is less able than Gary Cooper, who at least can show sincere anger. Mr Howard couldn’t even do that while calling for the assassination of a friend who has fallen in love secretly with Howard’s bride of six days.. His acting in serious roles is all internalized. Nothing is given to the audience except head down and hands to the head.
He would have made a great Hamlet…perhaps.
Even in The Scarlet Pimpernel when challenging his students to help him…he fails stir the audience.