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Why Change Your Wife? (1920)

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Robert and Beth Gordon are married but share little. He runs into Sally at a cabaret and the Gordons are soon divorced. Just as he gets bored with Sally's superficiality, Beth strives to ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Beth Gordon
...
Robert Gordon
...
Sally Clark
Theodore Kosloff ...
Radinioff
Sylvia Ashton ...
Aunt Kate
...
The Doctor
Mayme Kelso ...
Harriette - the Couturière
Lucien Littlefield ...
Gordon's Butler
Edna Mae Cooper ...
Gordon's Maid
Jane Wolfe ...
Client
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Storyline

Robert and Beth Gordon are married but share little. He runs into Sally at a cabaret and the Gordons are soon divorced. Just as he gets bored with Sally's superficiality, Beth strives to improve her looks. The original couple falls in love again at a summer resort. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

19 September 1921 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Hvorfor bytter Manden Hustru  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of William Boyd. See more »

Quotes

[Intertitle]: When a woman meets her ex-husband she realizes all *she* has lost. When she meets his wife she realizes all *he* has lost.
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User Reviews

 
Never underestimate the power of a dress
6 January 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Today Cecil B. DeMille is probably best known for the overwrought (if thoroughly enjoyable) biblical epic "The Ten Commandments." But during the silent era he made several sophisticated comedies portraying the battle of the sexes such as "Why Change Your Wife," an engaging mixture of bizarre, over the top glamour (the negligee the husband buys his wife is so elaborately constructed I couldn't blame her for looking dismayed when she first saw it) and dead on day-to-day detail about married life—is there a couple who hasn't gotten in each other's way and on each other's nerves when sharing a bathroom? Gloria Swanson plays Beth Gordon, a young wife who cannot resist the temptation to improve her husband, scorning his fox trot records for something called "The Dying Poet." She loses him to the proverbial shop girl, Sally Clark—hilariously played by Bebe Daniels—a character so vulgar she owns a gyrating Kewpie Doll. (This film's frank endorsement of consumerism has often been remarked on, but it rightly acknowledges that what we chose to buy tells as much about our class and character as anything else). The husband soon realizes that he made a mistake, clearly finding Sally's baby talk even more tiresome than Beth's high minded nagging, but it isn't until Beth transforms herself into a sexy knockout wearing the height of pre-flapper fashion that the two reunite.

The movie isn't entirely cynical about romance—it is never really in doubt that Beth and her husband love each other—but it is shrewd enough to recognize that in holding the attention of your partner a little glamour and sophistication doesn't hurt (the husband isn't let off the hook though, and his naiveté in expecting the honeymoon phase to last forever is mocked in a bathroom scene when Sally repeatedly interrupts his attempts to shave just as Beth did earlier).

A side note: All the leading players are engaging, but the violinist (played by Theodore Kosloff) who seduces women by making love to their souls steals every scene he is in.

To sum up, this worldly comedy challenges the common assumption that silent film is little more than slapstick or melodrama.


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