It's hardly daring _ even compared to what D.W. Griffith was doing at the same time in America _ and it's hardly Oscar Wilde. The play's verbal wit, of course, is a casualty _ there's no room for it in the subtitles. Not only has the plot been changed to shoehorn it into 64 minutes of pantomime, but the movie skews the material toward the lachrymose by telling us immediately that Mrs. Erlynne is the title character's mother (and casting such a matronly actress that the idea of Lady Windermere seeing her as a sexual threat is, to put it mildly, far-fetched). And the director usually keeps the camera as solidly planted in one place as a potted palm, and avoids close-ups unless he wants us to read a letter or see a photograph. For all that, it's fast-moving, easy to follow, and not at all embarrassing. It actually does capture some of Oscar Wilde's atmosphere. The actors (one gathers they were West End performers doing a little extra day work) aren't bad _ they are much less hammy than Griffith's stock company. But the liveliest scene, oddly, has nothing to do with the plot. It's a visit to a dog show, possibly done on location, with advertisements for Spratt's Dog Food plastered in every vacant spot. (Product placement in 1916?) I think the director liked the dogs more than he liked the play.
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