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Sabtu, 05 Maret 2011

The Lady (1925) - Frank Borzage

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Synopsis

Polly Pearl, a singer in a second-rate English music hall, marries Leonard St. Aubyns, a feckless scion of nobility. Leonard's father immediately disinherits him, and Leonard soon squanders his small stake at Monte Carlo. Leonard later dies, and Polly is reduced to singing in a waterfront cafe in Marseilles in order to support herself and her young son. The elder St. Aubyns attempts to gain possession of the child, claiming that Polly is an unfit mother. Polly entrusts the boy to an English acquaintance, who returns with him to England. Soon after, Polly goes to London, but, after searching the streets for weeks, she can find no trace of her son. Years later, having become the owner of a cafe in Le Havre, Polly witnesses a young English soldier accidentally kill a drunken comrade in a fight. Polly discovers that the soldier is her son and attempts to assume the blame for the shooting, but her son, with the instincts of a gentleman, does not allow a woman to sacrifice herself for him. The boy escapes the authorities and embarks for America and a new life, leaving behind him a mother contented in the merits of her son.

IMDB Review wrote:
Only of few of Norma Talmadge's 1920s silent features exist: KIKI, SECRETS, and THE LADY. Of the three, THE LADY is her best performance.



The film opens with middle-aged barmaid Polly (Talmadge) being insulted by patrons and sitting down to tell the story of her lifelong pursuit to be "a lady." She says that 24 years before, she was the toast of the British music halls as a singer and dancer and that she was pursued by a young gentleman. They marry and travel throughout Europe, but in Monte Carlo she discovers that he is having an affair. Polly attacks the woman, but the husband (Wallace MacDonald) comes to his girlfriend's defense and calls his wife a common trollop.


Back in England, they separate and Polly descends into singing at a cheap saloon. But her revenge is the son she has kept from her ex-husband. Then one day an older man (Brandon Hurst) comes into the salon and demands possession of the boy because the husband has died and he wants his grandson. Polly panics and goes back to get the baby but instead hands the kid over to a minister's wife (Margaret Seddon) with the promise the boy be raised to be a gentleman. They disappear into the London fog.


After 5 years of searching, Polly has never found the boy and is now reduced to selling flowers on the street. She calls plaintively into the fog and follows families with the hopes of finding the boy. A policeman comforts her and advises she give up the search. Years later we're back in a saloon where middle-aged Polly is a barmaid. After an especially violent apache dance, there is a brawl and shooting and a surprise ending.


Norma Talmadge is simply wondrous. At age 32, she is at the height of her dramatic powers and the height of her silent career. Co-stars include George Hackathorne, Doris Lloyd, Emily Fitzroy, Paulette Duval, Marc McDermott, and Walter Long. Directed by Frank Borzage with the same atmospheric touches he brought to great silents like SEVENTH HEAVEN and STREET ANGEL. A reel or two is missing and there is decomposition, but this film is still well worth seeking out.

Rating 10/10








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