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Black Is White (1920)

 |  Drama  |  7 March 1920 (USA)
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A man's jealousy of his wife ruins their marriage. She leaves, taking a new name and beginning anew. Years later, they meet, but the husband does not know it is she. They marry, with the ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Holmes Herbert ...
Jim Brood (as Holmes E. Herbert)
Jack Crosby ...
Frederick Brood
Clifford Bruce ...
Claire Mersereau ...
Lyda Desmond
Lillian Lawrence ...
Mrs. Desmond
Joseph Granby ...
Patrick Barrett ...
Tom Cameron ...


A man's jealousy of his wife ruins their marriage. She leaves, taking a new name and beginning anew. Years later, they meet, but the husband does not know it is she. They marry, with the wife hoping that time has changed her husband for the better. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Release Date:

7 March 1920 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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A Melodrama That Strains Credibility
16 October 2011 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Having contracted with Paramount for a several stars in 1917, Thomas Ince became responsible for a series with Dorothy Dalton, as I outline in my Ince biography. BLACK IS WHITE opens deep in the tropics, as the aptly-named Jim Brood (Holmes Herbert) has spent fifteen years traveling, trying to forget his past. Realizing finally that his attempt is a failure, he returns to Europe, not knowing that his wife, Margaret (Dalton), believed dead all this time, is now living in Paris as the daughter of a Baron.

Jim had originally fled when he falsely believed she was unfaithful, and has always regarded their son Frederick (Jack Crosby) as the offspring of her infidelity. Jim would seem immune from temptation, but in the flowery language of an intertitle that is typical of the overstated tone of the film, "Though your castle be fortified with a thousand weapons and your armor of flawless steel, one day love may creep in smiling and overthrow your universe." And, without realizing it, Jim falls in love with the same woman, marrying Margaret again, although he now knows her as Yvonne. In this way she meets Frederick for the first time, but Jim now is jealous of the two. After accusations of drunkeness and stealing his stepmother (in fact, he is in love with another woman) Frederick finally denounces Jim, saying "I wish to God I had never been obliged to call you father." Overcome with rage, Jim tries to shoot Yvonne, but Frederick interposes himself. Finally Yvonne brings forgiveness among all, so that Jim=s actions will not continue to rebound.

The melodrama reaches absurd heights, from the overacting of Holmes Herbert as Jim to the failure to acknowledge the unlikelihood that Jim would not recognize that Margaret and Yvonne are one and the same. BLACK IS WHITE cost $100,005 to produce, and grossed $206,452. It would also have a coda; six years after Ince's death in 1924, Herbert wed Ince's widow Elinor, but within a few years she divorced him, and he subsequently married at least two more times.

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