In an opening flashback to the late 1890s, we see Joan Crawford (in a small early role, as young Catherine) deciding to leave her husband and run away with a lover. Thirty years later, the son she left behind is married to beautiful Eleanor Boardman (as Elizabeth). Like her mother-in-law, Ms. Boardman is contemplating running away with a lover
handsome Malcolm McGregor (as Edward "Teddy" Luton). Mistakenly
thinking her father-in-law will be absent for the duration, Boardman has invited older lovers Eugenie Besserer and George Fawcett (as Catherine "Kitty" and Hugh "Hughie" Porteous) over for a visit...
"I want to see how runaway love wears after thirty years, If they're still happy, then "
Naturally, original deserted husband Alec B. Francis (as Clive Cheney) arrives home unexpectedly. More startling surprises follow. Reportedly, MGM changed the ending of the original W. Somerset Maugham play; it is still amusing, but the alteration no longer fits the story's thesis. This is evident in the final scenes with Ms. Besserer and Mr. Fawcett, who act up a storm. Boardman, stuffy husband Creighton Hale (as Arnold Cheney) and the others are fine, too. There is outstanding work from director Frank Borzage, photographer Chester A. Lyons and the "Cheney Castle" MGM production crew. Happily, a beautiful print survives.
******* The Circle (9/22/25) Frank Borzage ~ Eleanor Boardman, Eugenie Besserer, George Fawcett, Malcolm McGregor
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