The Clinging Vine

The Clinging Vine is a 1926 American silent comedy film produced by Cecil B. DeMille and Paul Slone and directed by Sloane. It was distributed by DeMille's Producers Distributing Corporation.[1][2] The film is based on a 1922 Broadway play of the same name by Zelda Sears.[3] The film was a starring vehicle for Leatrice Joy who left Paramount Pictures along with DeMille when he formed his own distributing company PDC.

The Clinging Vine
Directed byPaul Slone
Produced byCecil B. DeMille
Paul Sloane
Written byJack Levne (adaptation)
Rex Taylor (adaptation)
John W. Krafft (intertitles)
Based onThe Clinging Vine
by Zelda Sears
StarringLeatrice Joy
CinematographyArthur C. Miller
Production
company
DeMille Pictures Corporation
Distributed byProducers Distributing Corporation
Release date
  • September 6, 1926 (1926-09-06)
Running time
71 minutes; 7 reels (6,400 feet)
CountryUnited Stares
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

PlotEdit

Business woman Antoinette Allen (Joy), known only as "A.B.," works for T.M. Bancroft (Edeson) and runs the company for him and the male board of directors, and uses masculine manners, clothes, and hairstyle, but is unhappy. When at a business retreat she overhears the boss's son Jimmy (Moore) call her an Amazon, she allows Grandma Bancroft (Claude) to give her a makeover to be more feminine by wearing a young woman's attire, plucking her eyebrows, curl her hair, and bat her eyelashes. Grandma teaches A.B. that men do not want brains but a clinging vine, and explains that all she needs to say to any man is "Do go on!" and "Aren't you wonderful!" She is introduced to Grandma's guests in an exaggerated white outfit with ruffles and bows, and all the men are smitten with her, including Jimmy, whom she decides to marry. Despite her guise, A.B. saves the men and Jimmy from a con man, and saves the company from ruin. In time, A.B. is able to combine elements from her former business persona and the flirtatious feminine ideal that the men desire.[4] In the end, Jimmy tells her, "I think you're wonderful," and A.B. replies "Oh, do go on!" just before they kiss.[5]

CastEdit

unbilled

ProductionEdit

Leatrice Joy had impulsively cut her hair short in 1926, and Cecil B. DeMille, whom Joy had followed when he set up PDC, was publicly angry as it prevented her from portraying traditional feminine roles.[5] The studio developed projects with roles suitable for her “Leatrice Joy bob,”[5] and The Clinging Vine was the third of five films before she regrew her hair. Despite this, a professional dispute would end the Joy / Demille partnership in 1928.

ReceptionEdit

The reviews did not favor the film. While Motion Picture Magazine (Oct. 1926) thought the stage version of The Clinging Vine was a creditable success, they asked what would make PDC or Joy "go in for this brand of stuff." Picture Play Magazine (Oct. 1926) said Joy was not "fare well" and called the character's transformation in the film "sad," and Photoplay (Sep. 1926) called the plot "goofy" and the film "trite and tedious."[6]

Critical reviewEdit

The film version presented A.B. (the only name she is called) as a much more androgynous character than the Antoinette of the stage play, and satirizes the conventions of the professional or business woman makeover film by absurdly exaggerating its comic changes. Furthermore, when A.B. is alone after her makeover, she returns to using masculine mannerisms.[7] The introductory shot of Joy shows her from behind signing documents and directing employees, creating such a strong mannish impression (possible only in a silent film) that some have described the later feminine transformation as being like that of a female impersonator.[5] Lastly, while much of the comedy comes with the difficulty in which A.B. transforms into the overly exaggerated feminine ideal, the greatest parody is how well it works on the men of the film.[7]

PreservationEdit

A copy of The Clinging Vine is preserved at the Library of Congress and the UCLA Film and Television Archive,[8][9] and it has been released on DVD.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1921-30 published by The American Film Institute, c.1971
  2. ^ a b Progressive Silent Film List: The Clinging Vine at silentera.com
  3. ^ The Clinging Vine as produced on Broadway at the Knickerbocker Theatre, December 25, 1922; at the Internet Broadway Database IBDB.com
  4. ^ Wagner, Kristen Anderson (2018). Comic Venus: Women and Comedy in American Silent Film. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-4103-2.
  5. ^ a b c d Johanna, Schmertz (2013), "The Leatrice Joy Bob: The Clinging Vine and Gender's Cutting Edge", in Dall’Asta, Monica; Duckett, Victoria; Tralli, Lucia (eds.), Researching Women in Silent Cinema: New Findings and Perspectives, University of Bologna, pp. 402–13, ISBN 978-8-8980-1010-3, ISSN 2283-6462
  6. ^ Vintage Reviews of The Clinging Vine at silentsaregolden.com
  7. ^ a b Horak, Laura (2016). Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. pp. 134–37. ISBN 978-0-8135-7484-4.
  8. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at the Library of Congress published by The American Film Institute, c.1978
  9. ^ Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Database: The Clinging Vine

External linksEdit