Lady of the Night ~ the story of two baby girls, born near in proximity, but worlds apart in life, - Molly Helmer, the daughter of a thief, and Florence Banning the daughter of the judge ... See full summary »
Lady of the Night ~ the story of two baby girls, born near in proximity, but worlds apart in life, - Molly Helmer, the daughter of a thief, and Florence Banning the daughter of the judge who would send Molly's father to prison. The girls' lives come together as young women at eighteen as Florence leaves the security of the exclusive Girls Select School, and Molly, now orphaned, begins her life free from reform school. Norma Shearer plays both young women, but the apparent differences in their worldliness will also make them most unfamiliar in appearance. Molly's new world consists of nights at Kelly's Dance Hall and her ever-present worshiper, Chunky Dunn. On one of her nightly dance hall outing's Molly meets David Page, an up and coming inventor, whom she quickly falls in love with. Molly persuades David to seek an honest buyer for his new safe-cracking device; against the advice of Chunky whose shadier side see's this as an opportunity for himself, and to corrupt David in the ... Written by
This is a pretty straightforward silent romantic melodrama, and it's unclear why Norma Shearer was cast in a dual role when the two characters are not related and there's nothing in the plot that requires them to look at all alike, but it's made interesting by the excellent performance Shearer turns in as Molly. Florence is a typical goody-good Shearer characterization but Molly is a much more fascinating character, not really a "bad" girl but a young woman who's living by her wits, close enough to the underworld to be involved with a shady character like "Chunky" Dunn but decent enough to steer the hero away from criminal temptations. Beautifully made up and costumed (those feathers in her hat seem to have a life of their own!), Shearer as Molly turns in a sensitive performance, alive to the pathos of the character: it's a real pity she didn't make more films playing roles like this instead of the impossibly good heroines (like Florence in this film) for which she became known. (Incidentally the print I saw on Turner Classic Movies ran only 64 minutes and did not contain a two-strip Technicolor sequence a real pity since I like the look of two-strip and am always glad when I can see a well-preserved example of it.)
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