Miss Lulu Bett (1921)

 |  Comedy, Drama  |  November 1921 (USA)
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Wlliam deMille produced and directed Miss Lulu Bett, a film of extraordinary conviction and insight. It was then often the custom for unmarried women to lodge with family; thus we discover ... See full summary »


(adaptation), (novel)
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Cast overview:
Neil Cornish
Dwight Deacon
Diana Deacon
Mabel Van Buren ...
Ina Deacon
Mae Giraci ...
Monona Deacon (as May Giraci)
Clarence Burton ...
Ninian Deacon
Ethel Wales ...
Grandma Bett
Taylor Graves ...
Bobby Larkin
Charles Ogle ...
Station Agent


Wlliam deMille produced and directed Miss Lulu Bett, a film of extraordinary conviction and insight. It was then often the custom for unmarried women to lodge with family; thus we discover Miss Lulu in a boring Midwestern town, an exploited household drudge for her sister and her overbearing brother-in-law. In the course of the story (based upon the Pulitzer Prize play and novel by Zona Gale), Lulu evolves from slavery into an attractive and self-assured woman, prepared to make her own life. Revealed through wonderful performances and clever use of props, the characters are extraordinarily solid and involving. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama




Release Date:

November 1921 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Zona Gale re-wrote her novel into a play, which was first produced by Brock Pemberton at the Belmont Theater, New York. The premier took place on 27 December, 1921. The following cast was featured: Carroll McComas as Lulu Bett, William Holden as Dwight Deacon, Catherine Doucet as Ina Deacon (billed as Catherine Calhoun Doucet), Jack Lionel Bohn as Bobby Larkin (billed as Jack Bohn), Willard Robertson as Neil Cornish, Louise Closser Hale as Miss Bett (misspelled as Louis Closser Hale), and Brigham Royce as Ninian Deacon, plus Lois Shore as Manona Deacon and Beth Varden as Diana Deacon. See more »


Mrs. Dwight Deacon: Oh, Dwightie, have I kept you waiting?
Dwight Deacon: After twenty years of being married to you, my darling, I aught to be used to waiting.
See more »

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User Reviews

Powerful Drama Told With Restraint
4 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

We may never know exactly how good or bad a director William C. de Mille was. Only a handful of his films survive and only one of the surviving films, "Miss Lulu Bett", is revived with any regularity. But if a director is going to be known by one film, he or she could do much worse than "Miss Lulu Bett."

The film is a fine example of film-making on a small scale. Little touches remind audiences of the simple beauties of the moving image art form. There is the image of the lonesome and shy Lulu (played by Lois Wilson)unfurling her hair on a staircase. There is the image of Lulu and her lover Neil Cornish (Milton Stills) talking under a bower strewn with flowers. These images of delicate beauty show what carefully chosen props and settings can do to make a film with a modest budget look classy.

The story is interesting and it is not as old fashioned as some on-line reviewers have suggested. Lulu is not physically abused or held in captivity. She is abused psychologically by her overbearing brother-in-law, and her captivity is a matter of economics: she simply has no money to live on her own. The belittling of women and economic inequalities are still important issues for women.

Some people may object to certain stylistic qualities of "Miss Lulu Bett". The film has a fast enough pace, but much of the story is told through title cards. I presume that the overuse of language is a hold-over from literature: "Miss Lulu Bett" was originally a popular stage play and novel. These title cards, however, are pithy and straight-forward; they never seem to interfere with the pace of the film in any way. Film critics who ignore the device in silent films may want to watch "Miss Lulu Bett" as an example of title cards used well.

In all, "Miss Lulu Bett" is a fine drama about a female survivor of abuse. The artistry is touching and low-key, but captivating all the same. It is truly a fine work from William C. de Mille, a director whose career is now almost erased from film history.

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