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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Cecil B. DeMille
Lydia Thorne, a wealthy girl who loves speed and thrills, is unsympathetic when Evans, her maid, is jailed for stealing her jewels. District Attorney Daniel O'Bannon visits Lydia to make her see the error of her own ways, but instead views a scene of Lydia and her friends that reminds him of a Roman orgy. O'Bannon feels it is his duty, therefore, to send Lydia to jail for her own good when her automobile driving causes the death of a motorcycle policeman. Lydia is resentful, and her rebuff of O'Bannon, who has come to love her, causes him such remorse that he turns to drink and dissipation. Meanwhile, Lydia reforms, realizes she loves O'Bannon, and resolves to do charitable work. She and Evans open a soup kitchen after their release, and a chance meeting with O'Bannon starts him on the road to recovery. With Lydia's encouragement he becomes himself again, runs for governor, but withdraws his candidacy to marry Lydia when he sees that her record would be a liability to him in politics. Written by
In order to correctly write a script that would depict the experience of a woman being arrested and imprisoned, screenwriter Jeanie Macpherson arranged, at Cecil B. DeMille's behest, to be imprisoned for stealing a fur piece from a friend (with whom she had worked out an agreement beforehand). She was arrested in Detroit, and spent three days in jail before a police official discovered the truth and arranged for her release. See more »
Make Dan keep an eye on her, Eleanor. If she will show up for anybody, she will for him - but as her chaperon, I won't stay and be party to such goings on!
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Thomas Meighan (as Daniel J. O'Bannon) is a district attorney in love with "speed-mad" Leatrice Joy (as Lydia Thorne). Mr. Meighan loves Ms. Joy, "for the girl he thinks she could be," but not the geared up speed freak she is. One day, Joy takes her sporty car out to race a locomotive, and wins! Later, cop Jack Mower (as Jim Drummond) stops her; but, Ms. Joy drops him a diamond necklace, and speeds off to party. Lois Wilson (as Evans) is Joy's maid; to save her ailing son, she steals a jeweled ring from Joy. After Ms. Wilson is sent to the pokey, Joy commits manslaughter. Will D.A. Meighan let her get off?
Bacchannalian parties, which alternate between present and ancient Roman debauches, is a sure sign Cecil B. DeMille is directing. The O'Bannon character's flashbacks to ancient Rome are ludicrous DeMille indulgences. The better indulgence is the generous time DeMille's camera spends in a prison for women; his female prisoners are a lively bunch! The performances are sometimes entertaining, especially Joy and Wilson. Meighan starts off slow, but eventually succumbs to degradation. While fun is spots, this is NOT a great film. The love between Meighan and Joy is not particularly convincing; he shows more interest in Wilson, and might have been wise to run off with her. The story is sometimes inexplicable.
Symbolism likens a doughnut to a life preserver - so, why not a wheel? Coin collectors might enjoy the change in Meighan's pocket when he's down and out - two buffalo nickels and a standing liberty quarter.
***** Manslaughter (1922) Cecil B. DeMille ~ Thomas Meighan, Leatrice Joy, Lois Wilson
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