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21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A film which the production code would never have approved.

8/10
Author: jackdogue from Midwest America
16 December 2004

Evelyn Brent's depiction of Rose Henderson truly makes me wonder just how

much better films of the thirties, forties, and fifties to mid sixties would have been had not censorship seized control of Amercan cinematography in the early

1930's. Instead of a scene showing Rose and her wealthy husband Lon each in a twin bed separated by a nightstand, The Mating Call has Rose calling on her

ex-husband, Leslie, who has just returned from WWI to find out his marriage to underage Rose was annulled by her parents when he was serving in France.

Rose has no love for her husband, Lon, as he is having an affair with a much

younger woman, and despite Leslie's not wanting to see her again, Rose

repeatedly attempts to seduce him - finally tricking Leslie into joining her in his bedroom after she has begun to disrobe. If TCM runs it again, check it out. It's nice to know that pre-production code movies actually depicted some of the

interesting realities of life that censors wouldn't allow.

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19 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing, sensual Howard Hughes film

9/10
Author: overseer-3 from Florida
1 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Directed by legendary James Cruze, one of his few surviving silent films, The Mating Call is a rare delight, featuring an attractive cast, a compelling script (or continuity, as it was called in the silent days), and some unforgettable precode moments. Thomas Meighan was aging a bit by 1928 but he was still a handsome hunk of a man, Evelyn Brent was extremely sexy, and Renee Adoree gives a completely marvelous and poignant performance as the immigrant wife. Her nude swimming scene must have shook up the audiences of that era, years before Hedy Lamarr did the same in Ecstasy.

To a certain extent the film has been poorly understood and characterized by other reviewers here. The Order scenes were NOT based on the KKK, there was no racism in the picture. It was a local organization made up of white male citizens of the little town who wanted to make it uncomfortable for other white male immoral types to get away with sin against their families or others. The men who were chastised were adulterers or those who didn't properly take care of their families. Now this kind of thing is best dealt with in the church, and privately, and of course without whippings. Their little town would not have been a very pleasant place to live, given the stress WW One soldiers faced upon their return to the States.

I felt the musical score was passable, but certainly not great. During a key bedroom scene, with Evelyn Brent's character coming on to Thomas Meighan's character, it sounded like carousel or kiddie music in the background, totally inappropriate to the flavor of the scene. The music should have been sexy, since the scene was sexy. Must all of Robert Israel's compiled soundtracks sound like music for Harold Lloyd comedies? This was a drama predominantly, with a few funny moments added for comic relief.

Thanks to TCM for broadcasting the film. I am glad I recorded it on DVD-R, since it is unknown at this time when the film might be released by the company that worked on it.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Compelling to the End

8/10
Author: Falcon-51 from South Carolina
16 December 2004

Another treasure released from the achieves and shown on TCM. This is a gem and a silent picture that you will not want to miss. Now that it has premiered for the first time on television since its theatrical release in 1928 it will likely been shown many more times, but that of course is up to TCM and/or the owners of the film.

Thomas Meighan plays (Leslie Hatton) a farmer who returned from war to find his marriage to (Rose Henderson) played by Evelyn Brent had been annulled by her parents. She however eventually marries another man, but one who is unfaithful to her. In her desperate situation she tries to seduce Leslie to have an affair with her, but he has lost all interest in her and her lack of moral character.

He eventually decides to find an immigrant wife by going to Ellis Island and finds a young woman who agrees to marry him in exchange for taking her and her parents into the country under his care and responsibility. Problems arise however when Rose's persistence puts Leslie in a bad situation with a black mask group known as "The Order" who think they are the judge, jury and punishers of moral issues in their town.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic Film Restoration

10/10
Author: Draconian Clown from USA
15 December 2004

This movie is a unique glimpse into the culture of the period. One outstanding item is the depiction of a clan-type organization who acts more as a community secret police (seriously flawed in their self-righteous and heavy handed rule) in general than as a specifically racist group. I had always heard about this being their main historic role because in many parts of the country where these groups existed, there were simply not sufficient numbers of minorities around to pick on and by their nature these groups had to pick on someone.

The film's treatment of sexuality seems far more erotic just in the suggestion of nudity and intimate touching than today's practice of "anything goes" sexual contact and the full nudity of multi-millionaire, artificially enhanced actors. I know old-timers and conservatives have been saying this for years but seeing this movie proves the point.

I was so interested in the acting that I really didn't care about the plot. Also, the film is so well restored that it is almost in 3-D.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Renee Adoree

Author: pickerfromhell from United States
20 November 2006

Rennee stole the picture. She was the most photogenic of all the players. The discretion of the censors to allow the swimming scene was a real plumb. I was certainly interested to see the interactions of the supposed "Order" and the principle players. A good amount of tension was generated in the last half of the picture. Helen Foster played a small part. I don't recall seeing her before and she was very photogenic as well. Although some of the scenes were dark, the version I watched on TCM was a remastered copy and the quality was quite good in fact, it was excellent. Very unfortunate that Renee Adoree tragically died so young. She was a real beauty.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Sex, lies, and the Order

6/10
Author: stpetebeach from St. Petersburg, Florida
15 December 2004

THE MATING CALL was shown on TCM on Dec. 15, 2004, marking its apparent first screening since 1928. The silent film is something of a morality play, complete with a returning soldier who has lost his wife (to an adulterer); a morals police force, the Order, in dark cloth hoods (except for the leader, who wears satin); one woman drenched by a bucket of water and another caught skinny-dipping; and some provocative eyebrow acting. Evelyn Brent radiates sex as Rose, while Thomas Meighan seems mostly confused as the farmer who needs a replacement woman -- and goes to Ellis Island to get one! THE MATING CALL, directed by James Cruze (I COVER THE WATERFRONT), ably entertains while carrying a rather more serious theme on hypocrisy.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

While having a "trashy" plot, it IS truly original and unique!

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
20 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the stranger silent films I have ever watched. Now this isn't to say it's bad--it certainly is super-entertaining. It's more just a bit odd in regard to story elements--things I just didn't expect to see in this film.

The movie is about a WWI vet that comes home to find that the woman he married just before shipping overseas has had the marriage annulled and is married to another man! To make things worse, she STILL is interested in her first husband and tries to get him to have an affair. It seems this skanky lady hates her second husband and wants to use the returning soldier to hurt her current husband (who has been cheating on her)! This, it seems, is a VERY dangerous thing, as the second husband has a temper AND he's a member of a KKK-like organization that is anxious to punish the soldier for any improprieties! So, oddly, to divert suspicion and try to get his first wife to leave him alone, he runs off to Ellis Island and picks a person to marry who would have otherwise been deported!! Now that's an interesting way to find a wife!! What happens next, you'll just have to find out for yourself, but it includes whippings, murder and a brief but graphic nude scene!! As you can guess, this movie is amazing for all the bizarre and salacious plot elements it includes--but this does keep this movie entertaining and fast-paced!!

A final note about the KKK-like group called the "The Order". This black-hooded group features prominently in the film and the way they are dealt with is awfully judgment-neutral. The problem, it seems with The Order is NOT that they punish people for evil (some of their punishments are real "civic-minded"--such as threatening a man who is a ne'er-do-well who lets his mother starve and whipping a man who is unrepentant about spousal abuse), but that they made a mistake in accidentally punishing an innocent man! In fact, at the end, The Order fixes everything up right for everyone--they seem like such nice guys! As I said, this is a bizarre film!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A contemporary look at the clan

Author: roblanious from United States
16 September 2008

Though the "Order" in the film is not referred to as the KKK, it is obvious who it is supposed to represent. The KKK of the 1910s and 1920s was the second generation of the clan which resurfaced in 1915, with the aid of "Birth of a Nation" The organization still held on to its racist roots and expanded to the anti-immigrant, anti-Jew and anti-catholic views. They relaxed their hatred of the "radical Republicans" to reach out to more white people as long as the Republicans who wished to join developed conservative views. This Era of the Klan was founded on concepts of Americanism, meaning Christianity and Patriotism; it was a White male social and fraternal organization organization out to stomp on "Niggers, Catholics, Jews...dope, bootlegging, graft, night clubs and road houses, violation of the Sabbath, unfair business dealings, sex and scandalous behavior." The organization practically ran Southern governments and appealed to small Northern towns as well. Robert Coughlan in "Konklave in Kokomo" stated "Literally half the town belonged to the Klan when I was a boy. At its peak, which was from 1923 through 1925, the Nathan Hale Den had about five thousand members, out of an able-bodied adult population of ten thousand. With this strength the Klan was able to dominate local politics." So, the portrayal of the clan was not too way off. The clan flogged many a white man and woman for "immoral behavior". I found the movie portrayed the clan in a neutral manner, politically correct for its time, but leaning toward the negative side as a bullying organization meddling into the private affairs of others. We all know that was the least of what they did. In fact, within a year or two of the release of this film, the clan quickly deteriorated from public backlash against the criminal behavior that came with their almost absolute power. On a whole other note, I was amazed at the nudity that was allowed in films back then. It was not prevalent but not new either. Of course this was the roaring 20s with mini-skirts, the Charleston and flappers. This was before the depression. Though I did not find the movie all that worth watching for the story line, looking at it to view the contemporary views that were abundant and conflicting makes this an historical gem.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Anti-Klan melodrama

8/10
Author: Ron in LA from United States
21 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Silent romantic melodrama about a moody WWI vet who returns from war hoping to consummate his marriage, only to find his marriage has been annulled and his ex is married to another. He's then put in a precarious position between the sexually aggressive ex and her new hubby's "Order" of moral vigilantes.

Users who see this as a pro-Klan film are missing the point of the movie, and failing to check their history. There actually were incidents of Klan groups in Alabama in 1927 (the year before release of this film) practicing vigilante punishments, including flogging, of whites who had committed moral transgressions. Far from being "untouchable" in 1928, the daily newspaper in Montgomery, Alabama ran a series of editorials against the Klan, for which it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. In 1928, a Catholic was elected governor of Alabama, and Klan membership began to fade.

The Mating Call is clearly part of the mainstream backlash against the Klan. The only Klan member is an outright hypocrite, and the Klan vigilantes are shown whipping an innocent man. Where does anyone get favorable treatment from that?

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

An politically incorrect movie from the late 1920s when the KKK was untouchable

8/10
Author: zardoz-13 from United States
16 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 1928 black & white silent movie ''The Mating Call" depicts the KKK in a surprisingly positive light. Not surprisingly for 1928 the year that it was released, but surprising in terms of today's society. No African-Americans get lynched, raped, or killed by the KKK in this James Cruze directed movie. Instead, the KKK functions as an extra-legal organization—which is the purpose that it served for those who championed it—disciplining whites only. For example, one white wife beater gets tied to a cross and bull whipped for spousal abuse. The movie concerns a World War I veteran, Major Leslie Hatten (Thomas Meighan of "The Racket") who returns from Europe to his farm (the exact Southern locale is never established) and learns that Rose, the girl that he married, is no longer his wife. Seems that she was underage and the justice system has had their marriage annulled. Meanwhile, a shifty real estate agent, Lon Henderson (Alan Roscoe of "Half-Shot At Sunrise") has since wed the hero's wife and another sweet young thing—Jessie (Helen Foster of "Should A Girl Marry" )--pursues the hero, while she is having adulterous relations on the side with the hypocritical Lon. Eventually, Jessie tires of Lon and wants Hatten, but he doesn't want her or her flirtatious ways. In one scene, she enters his house, goes into the kitchen, and drenches herself with a basin of water so that she can force him to bring in her valise of clothes and use the accident as an excuse to shed her apparel. When the jealous Henderson—a member of the KKK—refuses to have anything to do with Jessie because she shows an interest in Hatten, the villainous real estate dude compels her to commit suicide, but not before she slips some incriminating letters into the coat pocket of another paramour. Our hero discovers Jessie's corpse resting at the bottom of a lake and removes her body. Immediately, Lon convinces the KKK that since Hatten found her deceased remains on his property that Hatten must be the killer. The Klan take the hero and punish him by bull whipping him until the other paramour reveals the real estate dude's perfidy. An interesting portrait of the American South from the early 20th century. Biggest oddity is that the hero owns a farm and never locks his front door. People traipse in and out of the house whenever they want. Eventually, in an effort to run off Jessie, the young girl who teases him, Lon heads off to Ellis Island, New York, and saves a foreign family from deportation on the basis of their pretty young daughter's consent to marry him. At one point, late in the movie, this chick goes for a midnight swim in the nude. This is a restored print from millionaire Howard Hughes lost collection uncovered at the University of Nevada. The chief narrative flaw here is that characters go missing for no apparent reason. The chick that Hatten marries comes home with him and brings her mom and dad, but after they arrive at the farm, we never see them again.

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