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Maytime (1923)

Ottilie Van Zandt is forced to wed her cousin, despite her love for Richard Wayne, the gardener's son. Richard leaves, vowing to return a wealthy man and eligible suitor for her. He returns... See full summary »

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(adaptation), (operetta) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Ottilie Van Zandt
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Richard Wayne
William Norris ...
Matthew
...
Alice Tremaine
...
Claude Van Zandt
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Colonel Van Zandt
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Mathilda
...
Ermintrude
...
Monte Mitchell
...
Little Girl (as Jacqueline Wells)
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Little Girl (as Madison Wing)
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Storyline

Ottilie Van Zandt is forced to wed her cousin, despite her love for Richard Wayne, the gardener's son. Richard leaves, vowing to return a wealthy man and eligible suitor for her. He returns to find she has already married and, in turn, marries another girl on impulse. Two generations later, the grandchildren of Ottilie and Richard, who both have inherited their names as well, meet and develop a close friendship that culminates in the romance that their grandparents began but could not consummate years before. Written by Kieran Kenney

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Plot Keywords:

operetta | formerly lost film | See All (2) »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

16 November 1923 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amores de Primavera  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(2-strip Technicolor) (finale)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Maytime" opened on August 16, 1917 at the Shubert Theater in New York City and ran for 492 performances closing on October 19, 1918. The play was written by Rida Johnson Young, music by Sigmund Romberg and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young. See more »

Connections

Remade as Maytime (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Watch out for that tree!
18 June 2010 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

In 2009, U.S. film preservationist Brian Meacham (good man!), with archivists at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington, identified 75 'lost' U.S. silent films which had been stored in New Zealand all along. The discovery was announced in June 2010, after the archivists had learnt precisely which films were in the trove. 'Maytime' will be released on DVD, due to the presence (in a supporting role) of Clara Bow.

I've stated elsewhere that 'lost' films tend to surface at the terminus of an exhibition circuit -- New Zealand, Australia, the Yukon -- and that (as this case indicates) 'lost' films often turn up when someone actively seeks them. 'Maytime' was in the New Zealand archive for decades, but Paramount didn't bother to ask for it and the archivists were busy with other tasks.

Because the highly unstable nitrate film stock can't wait, the U.N. have granted permission for these dangerously combustible films to be shipped from New Zealand for conversion and image transfer at several Stateside locations. Since I can't wait either, I've been able to audit the restoration process of some of these, including 'Maytime'.

The final sequence on this print's last reel was in colour tint, and my source in the restoration tells me that this particular footage is especially challenging for the image transfer and preservation.

'Maytime' was originally a 1917 Sigmund Romberg operetta with no hit songs. The 1937 'Maytime', officially MGM's remake of this 1923 Paramount silent, actually has an almost entirely new plot; MGM's screenwriters despised the original.

IMDb's contributor Kieran Kenney has already posted a synopsis for this movie, but his synopsis more accurately describes the 1917 stage operetta rather than this 1923 film. You'll be able to see for yourself when the restored version is publicly available, but here's a preview:

SPOILERS NOW: Romantic leads Harrison Ford (no relation) and Ethel Shannon play the frustrated 19th-century lovers, and also play their respective grandchildren in the modern story. (We briefly see the second pair *as* children, en route to the final reels.) But (despite Mr Kenney's synopsis) the modern lovers don't recapitulate the original romance. The first Richard Wayne is an ardent suitor who loves the original Ottilie utterly, but his namesake grandson is a scapegrace whom we see eagerly attending an orgy. (Quite mild by modern standards, this sequence.) Ostensibly the modern Richard loves the modern Ottilie, but he feels entitled to control her and possess her. When he catches up with Ottilie inside a married man's mansion, in a compromising situation that's actually quite innocent, Richard refuses to accept her explanation.

There are some intriguing visual devices in this movie. A tree is significant during the climactic storm sequence, and this multi-generation romance uses trees as a motif to convey the passage of time. Karl Struss's splendid photography is warm and lush in the romantic sequences, sharp-edged when the romances go off the rails.

Modern viewers will be interested in this film because of Clara Bow: she actually plays a smallish supporting role, but she's as vivacious as usual and she's briefly given real emphasis in a few shots.

Silent-film actor Harrison Ford gives the most impressive performances (plural) here: the two Richard Waynes have two very different personalities, and Ford clearly makes them two very different people despite the physical similarity. Ethel Shannon, in the two female leads, overacts the bathos at several points. Her dual role gets more emphasis than Ford's, but he easily steals the film as the humble gardener's son who becomes a generous millionaire, and as his bad-boy grandson (more a scapegrace than an outright villain). Ethel Shannon's looks, alas, are not likely to impress modern viewers. She did impress me in this movie's middle sequences, as the heiress humbled when her fortune fails.

While a 'new' Clara Bow movie is welcome, this is really Harrison Ford's film, even though his two roles are meant to be subordinate to Shannon's. Silent-film star Ford was utterly forgotten by 1935; the modern actor with the same name hadn't even heard of him until he saw the original Ford's star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I'd be delighted if the interest in this lost film's reappearance leads to new awareness of the original Harrison Ford, a talented actor whose voice was unsuited for talkies ... although he actually made a few sound movies, unlike this film's star actress Ethel Shannon.

I didn't audit the entire restoration of this long-lost film, but what I saw impressed me. This 'Maytime' is definitely superior to the talkie 'remake'. My rating, from only a partial viewing: 7 out of 10.


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