Socialite Anatol Spencer seeks a better relation that he has with his wife. He sets up the friend of his youth Emilie in an apartment only to have her two-time him. He comforts the near ... See full summary »
Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.
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Dr. Edward Meade and friend Richard Burton both love Sylvia Norcross. Both enlist in the military, but Meade stays back to care for deformed children. Sylvia thinks him a coward and marries... See full summary »
Wealthy cripple Markley finances the education of blacksmith's daughter Ruth. When she returns to their small town he asks to marry her, but she runs off with city worker Jim Dirk who is ... See full summary »
Socialite Anatol Spencer seeks a better relation that he has with his wife. He sets up the friend of his youth Emilie in an apartment only to have her two-time him. He comforts the near suicide Annie only to have her rob him of his wallet. "Satan" Synne, the "wickedest woman in New York," looks promising but she's only plying her trade to help raise funds for her husband's surgery. He decides to return to his wife, with all her faults, only to find her carousing with his best friend Max. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gloria Swansonadmitted in an interview decades later that Wallace Reid's drug addiction scared her while they were making this film, and she avoided socializing with him because of it. See more »
In the flashback sequence where Emilie is on a swing and two mirrors are set up to give repeated reflections of the action, the cameraman bending over his camera is visible a few times when the swing moves out of the way. See more »
This film is great fun, and often -- and I think intentionally, as in the 'Satan Synne' segment -- very funny: "an extravagant story that never by any chance could be taken seriously," as one contemporary reviewer approves. It's hard to sympathise with spoiled wife Vivian at first (a hard-edged performance by Gloria Swanson), but as the film goes on we start to realise that she does have a point.
This being a de Mille film, the costumes are of course fantastic; although it's actually not Swanson, the famous 'clothes-horse', who gets the best dresses here. Production values are elsewhere very high, as well, extending into beautifully-drawn title cards (in one case, with a live-action car actually driving across it!) and a lot of sacrificed furniture, while frankly, those jewelled flowers look almost worth losing a lover over...
But it's not all gloss and enjoyable silliness. There's some fine acting on display as well, not least from Wallace Reid as the well-meaning 'Tony' whose halo begins progressively to slip -- and, in a couple of telling little scenes, from Elliott Dexter as the overlooked best friend. (The little scene over the chessboard is a perfect illustration of the power of the silent screen: everything made explicit without a word.)
The picture's stage heritage shows up mainly in a few over-long title cards, where plot points are conveyed in one long 'speech'; at almost two hours in duration, it's also unbalanced in the direction of the first half, which could almost stand as a film on its own without its briefer 'sequels'. If Emilie is not to have a film of her own, there is perhaps a little too much time devoted to her.
But "The Affairs of Anatol" is well worth seeing -- not least, as an eye-opener for those like myself who associate C.B. de Mille with vast Biblical epics. This piece of froth and frivolity has more of the charm of a Harold Lloyd movie minus the slapstick; one can really see why 'handsome Wallace Reid' was a star; and there are just enough well-judged moments of genuine feeling among the spectacle and satire to make us care about the various minor players.
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