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Children of Divorce (1927)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 25 April 1927 (USA)
A young flapper tricks her childhood sweetheart into marrying her. He really loves another woman, but didn't marry her for fear the marriage would end in divorce, like his parents'. Complications ensue.


Frank Lloyd, Josef von Sternberg (uncredited)


Owen Johnson (novel) (as Owen McMahon Johnson), Adela Rogers St. Johns (story) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Clara Bow ... Kitty Flanders
Esther Ralston ... Jean Waddington
Gary Cooper ... Edward D. 'Ted' Larrabee
Einar Hanson ... Prince Ludovico de Saxe
Norman Trevor ... Duke Henri de Goncourt
Hedda Hopper ... Katherine Flanders
Edward Martindel ... Tom Larrabee
Julia Swayne Gordon ... Princess De Saxe
Tom Ricketts ... The Secretary
Albert Gran ... Mr. Seymour
Iris Stuart Iris Stuart ... Mousie
Margaret Campbell Margaret Campbell ... Mother Superior
Percy Williams ... Manning
Joyce Coad ... Little Kitty
Yvonne Pelletier ... Little Jean


A young flapper tricks her childhood sweetheart into marrying her. He really loves another woman, but didn't marry her for fear the marriage would end in divorce, like his parents'. Complications ensue.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Come keep step with the mad and merry pace of the jazz orphans of today! Victims of divorce. Taxicabs their cradles. Thrill-jaded at twenty, sophisticated at sixteen. (Print Ad, Rockingham Post-Dispatch, ((Rockingham, NC)) 12 May 1927) See more »


Drama | Romance



Did You Know?


Clara Bow was dating Gary Cooper at the time this film was being made. According to Esther Ralston, Bow scandalized her cast members with disclosures of their nightly sexual escapades. Ralston said she was among the shocked; however, she still enjoyed working with Bow. See more »


Kitty Flanders: You'd make a marvelous second husband but you are too much of a luxury for a poor girl's first husband.
See more »


Referenced in Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl (1999) See more »

User Reviews

I for one would love to wake up next to Clara Bow.

"Children of Divorce" (1927) is a melodramatic love triangle directed by Frank Lloyd, and starring Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and Gary Cooper. In 1927, the Cooper stock was on the rise. Gary had met Clara Bow in a party just after she had finished her signature film "It" (1927). They quickly became "special friends", and Bow insisted that Coop must be inserted into her new film, even though it was finished and all but one of the sets had been destroyed. But the studio was forced to agree with their star, and Josef von Sternberg filmed a quick scene with Cooper as a reporter, and it was added to the film. This is all told very well in Larry Swindell's book "The Last Hero: A Biography of Gary Cooper" (1981).

By their next onscreen encounter, Cooper was elevated to be the male lead, albeit in a very female centric melodrama. "Children of Divorce" is a morality tale that asks, whether children of divorced couples are more likely to become divorcees themselves. Thus, its attempt is to glorify the sacred nature of marriage by casting shame on divorced couples. It's not a subtle film. Like many a silent film, it begins with the characters as children. All three, Jean (Ralston), Kitty (Bow) and Ted (Cooper) were raised in a children's home run by nuns, because their rich, divorced parents couldn't bother to take care of the kids themselves. As they grow up, Jean and Ted are in love and want to marry, but Kitty also has an eye for Ted.

The contrast between Jean and Kitty is shown to be night and day. Jean is respectful, "wife material" so to say, while Kitty is a carefree flapper who likes to have fun. During a night when he gets drunk, Kitty tricks Ted into marrying him, and when it's announced that they are going to have a child, Jean won't allow Ted to divorce Kitty, because then world would have one more child of divorce. If you can't guess the outcome, you probably haven't watched too many silent melodramas.

I have mixed feelings about this film. The core merit it has going on, is the presence of Bow and Cooper, who are both very charismatic. The film is worth watching solely because of them. I dislike films that give such a black and white separation of good girls and bad girls. From my perspective, probably from today's perspective, Ralston appears boring and lifeless, while Clara Bow's charm has not been damaged by the years. I for one would love to wake up and discover myself married to a girl like Kitty. The film is heavy-handed with its marital themes, and it feels like it tries to brainwash the female audience into obedient housewives and dutiful mothers. Clara Bow is another alternative for a female role model, and therefore must be destroyed. "It" presented Bow's sex appeal in a lively way, and allowed it to exist. This film looks down on her, even if she is the star.

I also have never liked the American notion of "childhood sweethearts must marry as adults" in films. This is nonsense. It is very unlikely, that the first person of the opposite sex that you meet, is going to be the most suitable marital candidate you will ever meet. Therefore films like this, that tell the audience how Ted and Jean must be re-united, because they loved each other a long time ago, don't really hit home for me. There is even a creepy scene, where Ted stares at Jean, who is comforting his child, and imagines Jean as a little girl. It played the wrong way in this context, sorry.

So all in all, as a narrative, this doesn't hold up even a bit. But it does show how Cooper can act and led to better parts for him. Clara Bow may be the bad woman here, but she is easily the most memorable thing in the film.

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Official Sites:

1st home video release ever





Release Date:

25 April 1927 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Children of Divorce See more »

Filming Locations:

Del Monte, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent | Stereo (New score by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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