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For Alimony Only (1926);
Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo (1924)

For Alimony Only (1926)
August 13, 2006 - 7:00 pm

For Alimony Only (1926)

Directed by William de Mille

Most casual moviegoers know the name of Cecil B. DeMille even if they are largely unfamiliar with his work. But only the most avid silent film fans are aware of older brother William de Mille—playwright, motion picture scenarist, producer, and director. And although none of William's films have been elevated to classic status, he hit the mark more often than not with enjoyable, at times compelling, contemporary comedies and dramas completely unrelated to the historical melodramas and bedroom fantasies of his better-known and more successful sibling.

If too many of Cecil's silent features have been lost, at least the greater part of his films survive, while little more than a quarter of William's silents are in existence. Of William's remaining pictures, Conrad in Quest of His Youth (1920) is by far the best, an exceptional work that would prove a highlight in any director's career. Miss Lulu Bett (1921) also ranks high, while films like Jack Straw (1920), Midsummer Madness (1921), and The Bedroom Window (1924), though ordinary, still prove pleasant diversions.

Better than those is For Alimony Only, an adult comedy about a newly-married couple left penniless by the excessive alimony payments made to the husband's ex-wife. It's all a lot of fun, thanks to the ever-delightful Leatrice Joy—perennially being mistaken for a man in these mid-'20s comedies, here at her most charming—and a deft comic turn by Clive Brook, usually stuck in stodgy parts of somber features.

This is the second of William's films preserved by the Archive, the first being Young Romance (1915), for which he was the scenarist. With luck, enough of his pictures eventually will turn up to match the amount of Cecil's UCLA-preserved works, now numbering nine with the silent version of Dynamite (1929), also screening in this year's Festival.

–Jere Guldin

De Mille Pictures Producer: John C Flinn Scenarist: Lenore J. Coffee Cinematographer: Arthur Miller Editor: Adelaide Cannon Cast: Leatrice Joy, Clive Brook, Lilyan Tashman, Cassan Ferguson

35mm, silent, 75 min.

Preserved by The Stanford Theatre Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive from a 16mm print. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory. Special thanks to: David W. Packard.

Preceded by:

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation

Kiki—Trailer (1926)

35mm, silent tinted, 3 min.

Preserved from two 35mm nitrate prints. Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory.

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation, Michael Schlesinger, and Saving the Silents, a Save America's Treasures project organized by the National Film Preservation Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Park Service, Department of the Interior

Poisoned Paradise: The Forbidden Story of Monte Carlo (1924)

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier

Of the handful of Clara Bow's earliest films that still exist Poisoned Paradise deserves attention for featuring one of her first leading roles. Here, the future "It" girl blossoms under the direction of Louis J. Gasnier in the second of three pictures they made together in 1923 and 1924.

Poisoned Paradise is simple, melodramatic fare and was adapted from Robert W. Service's novel of the same name. While the plot contains elements of intrigue, à la most B-pictures, it is essentially a story about the lives of a boy and a girl and their chance meeting in Monte Carlo.

Bow satisfies in the film, not only because her screen time is more bountiful than in her other roles at this time, but because she delivers a performance filled with emotions. Her portrayal gives the character depth and complexity well above the expected level of most B-pictures. This is enhanced by the photography of Karl Struss, who would later shoot such silent classics as Sunrise (1927) and the epic Ben Hur (1925).

The preservation began with a lone surviving nitrate print that had begun to deteriorate. Thankfully, the Archive got to it in time and most of it survived; even the film's original tints have been recreated. Of the few sections that were lost stills were used to fill in the visuals, while a Spanish-language novella based on the film (located by Bow biographer David Stenn) was consulted to flesh out the missing dialogue.

–Dina Everett

Presenter: B.P. Schulberg Screenwriter: Waldemar Young Based on the novel "Poisoned Paradise: A Romance of Monte Carlo" by Robert William Service Cinematographer: Karl Struss Cast: Kenneth Harlan, Clara Bow, Barbara Tennant Andre de Beranger, Carmel Myers, Raymond Griffith

35mm, silent, tinted. 75 min.

Preserved by The Stanford Theatre Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive from a 35mm nitrate print. Laboratory services by Cinetech, Rim Technology Company, Inc, The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Title House Digital, YCM Laboratories. Special thanks to: the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, David W. Packard, David Stenn.