Saturday, September 17, 2011


Anatol and Vivian are on their honeymoon (with her flirty behavior, Vivian is, as a title card tells us, "putting too much honey in 'honeymoon'"). At a nightclub called the Green Fan, Anatol runs into an old grade school pal, Emilie, who has become a gold-digging jazz baby, and is being kept by Gordon, a much older man. Deciding he needs to save her from herself, Anatol takes her under his wing, much to Vivian's dismay. Gordon tells Anatol to go ahead and perform his "noble rescue work" and he'll be back in a few weeks to "pick up the pieces." At first, Emilie seems ready to change, claiming she was dazzled by "the Fairyland of Wealth" into which Gordon placed her, but soon she's taken up with Gordon again; Anatol smashes her room up good, after which Gordon proposes to her. However, this experience doesn’t cure Anatol of his need to be a white knight, and when he and Vivian decide to spend some time out in the country to repair their relationship, he falls into the same trap with Annie, the wife of a farmer who is also a church treasurer; she has spent church money on nice clothes and now needs to pay it back or her husband will be in trouble. She throws herself into the river but Anatol saves her—there is a comic scene of Vivian watching as Annie, who is pretending to be unconscious, primps in a mirror. Once again, Anatol gets taken in by a supposed innocent. The film wraps up with a third segment involving sexy dancer Satan Synne who is actually the most innocent of all of Anatol’s "affairs": she's desperate for money to pay for operations on her critically ill husband, a wounded soldier.

This episodic comic melodrama was directed by Cecil B. DeMille; it was of interest to me for its two main stars: Gloria Swanson, who plays Vivian, the wife; and Wallace Reid as Anatol, both pictured above. Reid, who was a popular silent star, was in an accident a couple of years before this film was made and became a morphine addict; he died in 1923 at the age of 31. This is the only Reid film I've seen so far, but he seems to have been far from his peak—his looks and build were declining by this time; still, he is adequate for the part. Swanson has little to do except be insulted by her husband's behavior, though she does get to indulge in a little side fling of her own near the end of the film. Agnes Ayres as Annie looks surprisingly modern, like she might pop up in a movie tomorrow. There are some color-tinted scenes and title cards, and a couple of elaborate scenes set at nightclubs. Basically fun for silent-movie fans, though at two hours, it does drag a bit in the middle. [DVD]

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