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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at film-making

8/10
Author: silentfilm-2 from Plano, Texas
11 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is available from David Shepard and Kino on the Before Hollywood There Was Fort Lee, NJ, although that is a shortened version with just the "behind-the-scenes movie sections. I'm not sure if Blackhawk Films only had a film print of these parts, or they edited out the other scenes. The original Blackhawk version was retitled A Movie Romance. The complete feature does survive, but the preprint for this version had some nitrate decomposition, and a couple of sections looked bad, so that may be why Blackhawk's version was edited.

Directed by Maurice Tourneur, the film has Tourneur playing himself, or more likely a caricature of himself. Supposedly, director Emile Chautard and future director Joseph von Sternberg also can be spotted.

Country lass Mary (Doris Kenyon) longs for a romantic man to sweep her off her feet. She dreams of a troubadour that will woo her, but is constantly interrupted by the only available local boy, Johnny Applebloom.

Meanwhile, a film company from New York (actually New Jersey) is filming a western in the countryside. Mary sees an Indian (in full headdress) and raises an alarm -- spoiling a scene that the movie company is filming. She is immediately attracted to the dashing film star Kenneth Driscoll (Robert Warwick). He encourages her to leave her home and try to become an actress in the big city.

When she arrives at the studio, she discovers that everything about the movies is fake. The doors and walls are just flats that are hastily assembled for the set. That lanky walk of the western hero or the happy skip of the heroine are just acting too. The sets are on a big revolving stage, so the angle of the sun can even be manipulated. The black attendant at the studio signs all the movie stars' "autographed" photos. The signs on the wall say "Positively No Smoking", but everybody smokes anyway. Even the titles of the film (which are illustrated nicely) emphasize everything fake about the movie-making life.

Movie star Driscoll is just as disenchanted with the ho-hum of everyday film-making. He makes a temporary split from girlfriend Vivian (June Elvidge) to pursue this "exciting" country girl. His plans are dashed when Mary's screen-test is a stinker. We don't get to see the actual film, but only the audience's pained reactions to it.

Mary is devastated, but she doesn't want to admit to everyone back home that she was a failure, so she continues to see Driscoll and we she has lunch with him in the studio cafeteria along with other extras dressed as policemen, soldiers, cowboys, etc.

Mary decides to stay with Driscoll. At a party with their movie "friends", she agrees to marry him although there is not much love between them. Surprisingly, her mother appears, with a cake especially for Mary's birthday. This causes Mary to re-evaluate her future.

This film has all kinds of fascinating scenes of studios, movie sets, dressing rooms, editing rooms, etc. If you've always wondered what went on behind the scenes when a silent film was being made, this movie peeks behind the curtain.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Where the movies flourish.

8/10
Author: Joe (joestillwell@yahoo.com) from Chicago, Ill.
20 October 2001

"A Girl's Folly" is a sort of half-comedy, half-mockumentary look at the motion picture business of the mid-1910's. We get a glimpse of life at an early movie studio, where we experience assembly of a set, running through a scene, handling of adoring movie fanatics, even lunch at the commissary. We are also privy to little known cinematic facts - for example, did you know that "Frequently, 'movie' actors do not know the plot of the picture in which they are working"?

The plot of this film in essence is movie star Kenneth Driscoll's discovery and romancing of a budding young starlet whom he discovers while shooting on location in the country. I believe the 30-minute version I watched was abridged, included on the same tape with Cecil B. De Mille's "The Cheat." It is a very credible film - an easy watch with a large cast of extras. As a bonus it includes some of best-illustrated captions I have ever seen accompanying a silent movie.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Film Mocking Film-making

8/10
Author: Cineanalyst
31 July 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having previously seen the abridged print presented by David Shepard, I finally got a hold of a complete--or nearer complete version, which was about 56 minutes compared to the 30-minute version more widely distributed. The Shepard print for Image Entertainment is certainly of superior quality, and the best parts are there, but it's nonetheless good to see the rest of the film and fill in some loose story ends.

In the Shepard print, the film ends with Mary stating, "You see, I've changed my mind--I'm never going home." Yet, in the complete version, Mary and Kenneth Driscoll end their relationship soon after that scene – Mary returns home to the country – and Driscoll rekindles his relationship with Vivian. This additional footage develops the character Vivian, who had little relevance in the Shepard version. Moreover, in the complete version, the picture begins in the New Jersey countryside with Mary, where she reads and fantasizes about her ideal lover. She's disappointed by the reality of the advances by farm "chore boy" Johnny Applebloom (a character completely absent from the Shepard version), but after her affair with Driscoll, she returns to the country to presumably and eventually become a farmer's wife.

Regardless of the print, "A Girl's Folly" is a good little film for 1917, made by one of the top directors of the 1910s, Maurice Tourneur. In it, Tourneur takes plenty of jabs at his own business, including by playing a caricature of himself--the director of the film-within-the-film. The two leads also give quality performances by early screen-acting standards: Robert Warwick, an actor playing a skirt-chasing star, and Doris Kenyon, as an ingénue aspiring to play an ingénue on the screen.

Self-referential films, which made film-making the focus of the films, were nothing new by now. Mack Sennett had already parodied this type of movie three years prior with "Mabel's Dramatic Career". Several aspects of this one stand out, though. Frances Marion's intertitles are humorous, including illustrations of the actors on a chessboard with a hand directing them--remarkable for 1917. I especially liked the film's final title cards where two observers remark on the film's happy ending: "Gee but ain't that romantick!" And, the other replies, "Romance, nuthin! – That's movin' pictures!" Fellow female screenwriter Anita Loos made a similar self-referential conclusion to another picture from 1917, "Wild and Woolly". Both writers helped change the role of their professions in the business and art.

Some of the photography by Tourneur and John van den Broek is good, especially concerning the film-making business. The use of mirrors in several scenes is a nice reinforcement of the film's self-reflexivity. Furthermore, the editing is exceptional. The quick crosscutting during the studio scenes is especially salient; it serves to punctuate the hectic pace filmmakers work at, especially back then.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good to see Robert Warwick, matinée idol of the 1910's

Author: mmipyle from United States
8 January 2010

Two days ago I watched "The Beloved Blackmailer" (1918) with matinée idol Carlyle Blackwell. The film was made in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The DVD on which it's released is a tribute to two films made in Fort Lee, and last night I watched the other on the DVD, "A Girl's Folly" (1917) with another silent matinée idol, Robert Warwick. It's really interesting to watch Robert Warwick when he was younger, although he was already 39 when he made this film!! I still remember him 33 years later (!) when he played the drunken sot Charlie Waterman in the poignant Bogart film "In A Lonely Place" (1950). Many may recall that part because it was done so well. He went on to act in many, many more films and on TV until 1962! Anyway, in this film he's an actor in a silent troupe who has a lady he's "kept" for some time, played by June Elvidge. He's tiring of her, although there's still some flame, and he admits as much to a friend. But the troupe goes to the country to do some scenes and there Warwick meets Doris Kenyon who's tired of the country, bored, and wants to go to the big city and "live". She gets a chance to do so because of her chance encounter with Warwick, and she goes to the studio and does a film test. It's a bomb! Since she's a failure, Warwick offers her a chance to stay and be "his", not meaning his wife, but his "kept" woman. She accepts. Doris Kenyon, to say the least, was very lovely to look at in this film. She was a genuine beauty. And all natural, not a made up lock or swipe or painted part about her.

This could have been any number of pre-code sound films made between 1928-1933. It had all the ingredients. The ending, however, was more like the Breen Code post 1933 films. It ends happily, with everybody ending up where he or she belongs. It was a very mild ending, for that matter, but it was a good romp getting there. What was most interesting - in fact, it was greatly fascinating to me and would be to many on this board - were the scenes of making a silent film! Studio habits, the old cameras, the making of sets, both inside and outside - all was here and shown in graphic detail. Make up and make up artists. Direction from a silent director - what there was of it - or not. One of the title cards read: "Often the actors don't know anything about the plot". Very, very interesting, to say the least.

Also, the fact that a cowboy style film was being made, and that in New Jersey! Of course, we must remember where "The Great Train Robbery" (1903) was made... Interesting film historically. Interesting to see Robert Warwick, another early matinée idol who's been all but forgotten, although he did have a very long career (nearly 50 years) and may be known by his face if seen by many. A recommended look at the past, to be sure.

One last note: this film has been available only in a 38 minute truncated version for the last nearly 95 years. This print is the complete film, nearly 70 minutes long. It has some severe nitrate deterioration in a couple of places, but it doesn't detract from the film at all except for a few seconds. It's great to be able to see this film as it was originally released for the first time since that original release.

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Country girl goes behind the scenes

6/10
Author: timbeach-03889
5 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'A Girls Folly' is a film that demists the glamour of filmmaking, breaking the fourth wall by showing scene rehearsals, sets erected, 'star' autographs signed by black attendants, and starlets frightened of a mouse (I'm guessing they were starlets, though I really don't know for sure - the scene felt pretty random otherwise, and them being starlets is about the only way I can see it having any relevance.) A title card informs us many actors didn't even know the plot of the film they were working on. It shows us that to those on the inside, the day to day life of a movie star could be just as much a drag as anywhere else. The final scene is a clever wink. "Gee, but ain't that romantick!" one man says to another as the couple and mother walk off down the leafy lane. "Romantick, nuthin!" replies the other, "That's moving pictures!"

It is somewhat ironic then that the scenes critiquing the film industry shine brightest, but that's the way it is, and the vehicle taking us from the outside to inside of this hidden world is aptly handed to a young lady from the countryside, who is bored with her uneventful life and desires romance and excitement. In the countryside we spend most of our time outdoors - the natural surroundings no doubt representing the purity that will be lost on her journey as she leaves for the city. A film is being made on her property, and the lead actor, desiring her love, uses his influence to land her a test role. When her test fails however, it is then she learns that all the excitement of her dreams could be just as crushing or mundane as her life in the countryside. We are given a happy ending however in that her failures have taught her to embrace and see the virtue in her homeland. Her folly of the title is most likely referring to her early naivety. It is a growing wise tale.

IMDb bills this as 'comedy' which is a bit strange to me. It has its chuckles, but nothing like the endless running gags of a Keaton or Chaplin film. It plays out somewhat like a Griffith film, minus the pretense, which is much to its advantage. If the film suffers a little though its that the characters of Vivian and Kenneth feel underdeveloped, while we never really form an emotional attachment to anyone - there is little pathos. The film takes an objective viewpoint, and although the subject matter is interesting, I was largely unmoved. Perhaps early cinema's limitations are partly responsible, though I must say it felt quite advanced for its time and was easy to watch. It is not often Hollywood turns such an unflattering spotlight on itself, but I actually think this is prime material for a remake - in the hands of someone who could magnify both the glamorous expectations and the crushing blow of failure, without losing the objective themes.

I watched the 58 minute version. The print suffers from heavy nitrate deterioration in a few places, but I can't image it will deter the silent film fans who have done enough digging to find themselves in this forgotten corner.

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I Really Liked This Film

8/10
Author: silentmoviefan from United States
22 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a truly fascinating film.

Being a fan of silent movies like I am, I just loved the sort of inside look this movie gives. Sure, I'd never heard of the studio and had barely heard of Fort Lee, New Jersey at the time. It was so awesome seeing what one was like during that early time period, when features were just coming in to fruition.

Another thing that was neat is here's the young lady who barely ventures outside of her house and there's a movie being made. That's sort of dream-like in a way.

Still another thing I liked was a scene with a mouse. I know I'm in the minority when it comes to mice, but I think domesticated mice are really cute. This scene, which really doesn't advance the film, features a white mouse loose in what I guess is the young lady's home, where four of her sisters(?). Being a white mouse, it most likely isn't wild to start with. After realizing he really isn't wanted there, the mouse tries to escape, but is too fat to fit in the first hole he sees. Eventually, he does escape and the four girls heave a collective sigh of relief.

As for the movie, it's a little hard to follow in the beginning due to nitrate deterioration. Before she stumbles into the movie, he resides in a sort of fantasy world in which she imagines being a damsel in olden days and being joined by Prince Charming. A farm boy who lives nearby bursts the bubble of fantasy, however, displeasing her immensely.

Not too long after that she stumbles onto the set. At first, she draws the ire of director, cast and crew, but leading man Robert Warwick suggests giving her a shot in the movies (no pun intended).

However, this is not a later Hollywood movie in which the leading lady becomes a big star. She doesn't make it, but Warwick keeps her around as a kept woman.

Her mother, missing her daughter (and possibly not liking the idea of her little girl being a kept woman) comes to see her and the girl makes her way back home.

This movie has so much to like, so I'm giving it a high rating.

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Behind the Scenes When the Movies Were Young!!!

8/10
Author: kidboots from Australia
17 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Overlooking the banks of the Hudson and featuring the mighty cliffs of the Jersey Pallisade, Fort Lee became one of the earliest focal points of film making activity. The convenience of Manhattan made it a popular place for film studios as cast and crew could travel from New York by ferry to the wonderful scenic cliffs (excellent for Pearl White serials) and parks that were just great for location work. However by the time of "A Girl's Folly" the end was in sight. Unfortunately Fort Lee couldn't compare to the diversity of locales found in Los Angeles, not to mention the low taxes, less strict labor laws and a climate that provided at least 300 sunny days a year. Still, if you ever wanted to see Robert Warwick when he was a matinée idol, before he was playing stern fathers in "So Big" and "Unashamed" and Doris Kenyon when she was a sweet young thing before her society matrons in "Interference" and "Counsellor at Law" this is the movie for you!!!

Mary (Doris Kenyon) escapes her small town world by reading romantic fiction but when a moving picture company comes to town for location work dreams become a reality.

"Frequently movie actors do not know the plot of the picture in which they are working" - This movie offers a fascinating behind the scenes glimpse into the way movies were made in the early days - the director demonstrating how he wants the two stars to enter a room, the movie crew's cafeteria and even viewing a screen test. Vivian Carlton (June Elvidge) is in love with leading man Kenneth Driscoll (Robert Warwick) but although he is tired of her he hasn't the heart to leave her. Then Mary wanders onto the set worried that Kenneth has hurt himself falling from his horse. She ruins the take but a friendship blossoms and Kenneth feels convinced that if she came to New York her freshness would make her a natural for the movies. Unfortunately her test is a complete flop (a bit of realism for star struck young women in the audience) but she dreads going back to the country - a failure!!! Kenneth proposes she stay with him and he will give her everything she desires - and she accepts, hence the title "A Girl's Folly"!!!

Not knowing her living arrangements, her "little mother" pays a visit and charms everyone with her naturalness and the love she has for Mary. Mary is ashamed and returns home sadder but wiser. This movie has always fascinated me because in an old "Motion Picture Magazine" I have from 1917 they send an intrepid reporter behind the scenes of "A Girl's Folly" to report on the delightful sequence of the schoolgirls trying to catch a little white mouse. Which had nothing to do with the rest of the movie but was very sweet to see. There is not much information about June Elvidge but she seemed to have a reasonable career usually playing vamps!!!

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Very interesting film -- fragment or not?

7/10
Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
6 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I haven't read through all the comments, but at least one poster mentioned that the 30 minute version might possibly be abridged. I'm curious about that myself because the later parts of the film just didn't make much sense to me even when I rewatched them. 30 minutes seems really short for a movie in 1917 also. "Poor Little Rich Girl" which was Tourneur's next film is 65 minutes long and "Pride of the Clan" which was his previous feature was 84 minutes long. So I'm relieved to see that I wasn't crazy, there must be part of this film missing and that's why the resolution didn't make much sense.

It's hard to review or comment on a movie that you're only able to see half of... but I would recommend this film anyway because of the really fascinating view that it provides us of the insides of an East Coast movie studio of the time. It's the earliest film I've personally seen that's based on the movie industry itself. The main character is a movie star played by Robert Warwick, who was later a mainstay Hollywood character actor and appeared in almost all of Preston Sturges' films. He plays a western actor perhaps vaguely modeled on William S. Hart, who Warwick does resemble somewhat. After the really fascinating sequences set in the studio we see them on a location shoot where he discovers a country girl (Doris Kenyon) and convinces her to come to New Jersey for a screen test which goes very poorly. After that point the movie seems to be missing major pieces in the form we have now.

Again, I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in film history for the documentary value, but in the form we have it doesn't hold up much as a movie and isn't a particularly good example of Maurice Tourneur's work.

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