A friend in Europe sent me a rare copy of the sound version on PAL disc which I converted to NTSC for myself. The silent version I've had a few years.
It was a delight to actually SEE the sets in the sound version, first of all. Clarity is so much better! In the silent version the artist's (Ralph Graves) dwelling looks like a slimy, dirty hovel because the print is so lousy. In the sound version it looks just what it was supposed to be: a very rich guy's penthouse apartment in Manhattan. What a contrast!
In the sound version Marie Prevost gets many more scenes; in the silent version her part is cut to practically nil. However in both versions I did get a little ticked off at the script constantly harping on her weight. We all know how Marie died and it's terrible to hear lines constantly like: "If you gain another 10 pounds no one will look at you." Poor dear Marie. It wasn't bad enough she had to hear it in real life, she had to hear it on screen as well! The big problem is she does NOT look fat! She looks NORMAL! Just not a skinny stringbean like so many other actresses. She was a delight no matter what she weighed; why didn't someone help that woman instead of knock her down? She made a lot of money for the studios in her day and then they dumped her when she needed help. Cruel Hollywood!
In the sound version the music is MUCH better, more sophisticated. The silent version has a rather horrid piano soundtrack as I recall which made me think of fingernails being scraped against a chalkboard.
There are also more scenes with Lowell Sherman in the sound version as well but that didn't make much difference because his part wasn't substantial and neither was his character's personality; just another wolf after the girls for cheap sex.
If there is anything that is better in the silent version it is the key scene where the two people, the artist (Graves) and the model (Stanwyck) finally admit they are head over heels in love with one another. That's such a bittersweet scene. Because there are no words spoken in the silent version Ralph and Barbara had to communicate more with their eyes and body language, and that made this key scene more powerful and far less awkward than in the sound version. So for all you readers who have only seen the silent version rest assured you at least can enjoy this beautiful love scene in its best framework.
A pleasant precode for the early Barbara Stanwyck fan and interesting to study the differences in the two versions.
8 out of 10