Roy Somerville has turned out a rather interesting story that will hold the interest of the majority of audiences as produced by the Triangle-Fine Arts Company. It is a five-reel feature ...
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Roy Somerville has turned out a rather interesting story that will hold the interest of the majority of audiences as produced by the Triangle-Fine Arts Company. It is a five-reel feature and was produced under the direction of C.M. and S.S. Franklin, with Norma Talmadge as the star. Cora (Norma Talmadge) is wedded to Arthur Vincent (Eugene Pallette) and there are two children. Vincent is the son of the president of a bank and is devoting the greater part of his time to Jane Courtenay, a cabaret dancer, who is willing to have him devote his time to her as long as he is a good provider. The wife, who has been sadly neglected, turns to her sister, who is wedded to Fred Brown, a young detective. His brother Charles, who works in the elder Vincent's bank as a cashier, lives with them. He was Cora's first love and has never quite recovered from the fact that she jilted him to wed Vincent because of his money. The cabaret dancer makes several demands on the young Vincent, who tries to borrow...
A lot of silly nonsense but a really rather cunningly woven bit of nonsense by the Franklin brothers. They had been encouraged by Griffith (boss at Fine Arts) to make "kiddypics", in fact they had been very specifically hired for the task, having made a film called The Rivals with three child-stars for the Komic Pictures Company. So they got together n expanded collection of tiny tots and a veritable stream of such kiddypics poured forth from the various companies controlled by Griffith, first Majestic/Reliant, then Fine Arts.
With the demise of Fine Arts, the Franklins took their whole brood with them to Fox where they continued the process (the tots now actually billed as The Fox Kiddies). Jack and the Beanstalk 1917 is a typical example.
While still at Fine Srts, they developed another speciality in parallel - Norma Talmadge whom they directed in such films as Going Straight (1916) and Forbidden City (1918). At some point they were bound to have the notion of combining the two. They had already enlisted Bessie Love (fresh from her unforgettable performance as the fish-blower in John Emerson's Mystery of the Leaping Fish) to play in at least one film with their kiddies (Sister of Six 1916), so nothing more natural that they should also make a film that is half-Talmadge half-kiddypic which is exactly what we have here.
More than one reviewer has referred to the "story" within the film, a fairy tale where the actors of the film - Talmadge, Hinckley and a still relatively svelte Eugene Palette all reappear along with the kids who play cupids and dwarfs. This is not quite the first occurrence of such a scene that I know of (there is a rather similar scene in the 1915 Alas and Alack directed by Joe De Grasse for Universal and starring Lon Chaney but this is a rather more elaborate example. And in 1919 the idea really takes wings when it is used by Cecil B. DeMille for the famous Babylonian fantasy scenes in his bizarre version of James Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, Male and Female and reused yet again in 1921 for the Cinderella sequences in Forbidden Fruit.
By which time the idea goes international, because, far off in Austria, an admirer both of DeMille and Griffith by the name of Mihály Kertész (the future Michael Curtiz) who will use the idea in an even more elaborate fashion (combining it with the idea of parallel stories used by Griffith in Intolerance)for his 1922 epic Sodom and Gomorrah. Not to be outdone, DeMille and Jeannie MacPherson borrowed back the idea as adapted by Kertész (two parallel timescales) for The Ten Commandments in 1923 and Kertész reclaimed the idea again in 1928, shortly after his arrival in the US, for his Noah's Ark. From small acorns.....
There is another curious aspect of the film that has not been remarked upon and that is the way the children (and the viewer) are mad accomplice to what might be described as "justified adultery" - adultery in thought if not quite in deed - on the part of the neglected wife and her former lover. It is I think symptomatic of a subtly changing morality with respect to marriage, a change in which the cinema played a vital role, and which would accelerate in the twenties with the arrival of Lubitsch, Murnau and other European directors and of Greta Garbo and other major European stars.
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