how can you mend a broken heart
soccer against the enemy

lady of the night (monta bell, 1925)

I don't often write about movies here, because most of the movies I watch are long past their sell-by date. Does anyone really care what I think about an 81-year-old silent movie starring Norma Shearer? I watched this one, Lady of the Night, because Mick LaSalle gushed over it … called it a masterpiece comparable to The Great Gatsby, and he does love him some Norma Shearer. My own taste for Shearer is probably unfairly tainted by my overriding taste for Pauline Kael … Kael never much liked Shearer’s acting. I can’t really remember her in much of anything beyond The Women, where she’s dull in comparison to the rest of the cast.

This time she plays dual roles, good girl/bad girl thing, although the twist here isn’t just that the bad girl is really good, which is often true in these melodramas, but that the good girl is really good, too. It’s something of a positive message about women, that the two aren’t set against each other in any way except that they love the same man. Shearer does just fine, the movie is less sappy than I expected, and it’s a lot shorter than Booty Call, so if you can bear to spend an hour or so watching a silent movie and you get Turner Classic Movies, you might look for it the next time it rolls around. But, sorry, Mick, it’s no Great Gatsby.

Now, I ask you, did you really care about my thoughts on an 81–year-old silent movie?


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