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 »
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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
Norma Shearer is terrific playing a dual role in this well-done silent film about two women - Molly, the daughter of a convict and Florence, the daughter of the judge who sentenced him. Molly of the heavily painted face, huge feather hat, and big beaded necklace, lives in a flat on the wrong side of the tracks and goes out with a little local named Chunky. But while out at the nearby dance hall she meets a handsome, crooked grinned lug named Dave Page, who she instantly falls in love with. Dave has invented, of all things, a device that can open any safe in the world - encouraged by Molly to "not go crooked", he sells the invention to the judge and a group of bank directors, and soon literally bumps into Florence - and into a love of his own! Poor, poor Molly.
Norma Shearer is so good in this, the characters of Molly and Florence completely seem like two different women, and excellent split screen photography is used here when they are both on screen at the same time. I thought there would be something in this about the fact that the two are lookalikes, perhaps switching places or something - never happens. The fact they look alike is just not part of the plot here. The lighting is done in an interesting way in this - Norma as Florence seems to be shot in more filtered, subtle lighting and she looks very lovely - Norma as Molly is severely lit to make her look more sharp and, boy oh boy, does the thick makeup she wears as this character look really harsh - she looks almost like a prostitute here. The print of this film looked gorgeous, full of sharp contrast, and brightly tinted in sepia/orange, pink, and blue shades. The piano score for this, done by Jon Mirsalis, is wonderful and matches the story well.
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