One hundred years ago this week, during the hottest part of the summer, film news had slowed to a trickle. Grace Kingsley found herself reviewing a movie made in 1918 that had been plucked from the shelf, dusted off and put in a theater. To her surprise, she enjoyed it! She put her finger precisely on why it was worthwhile:
You’ll sometimes see a play that is a perfectly good play, and yet somehow you don’t care a hang about it—and then again you’ll see a play that isn’t a good play, judged by many high-brow standards, but you’ll sit on the edge of your seat until it is finished.
High-quality trash is hard to come by! At the moment, the film was called The Married Virgin, so you know it wasn’t afraid of melodramatic tropes. Kingsley summed up the plot:
The cold-blooded, fascinating rascal of a fortune-hunting Spanish count, beloved of the married woman several years his senior, plots with her to wed himself to the woman’s step-daughter in order to get her money so the two can elope.
That’s not nice! What could possibly happen next? The Married Virgin (a.k.a. Frivolous Wives) survives at the Library of Congress, and people still watch it because that rascally Spanish count was played by Rudolph Valentino, back when he was still called Rodolfo Di Valentina (Kingsley thought his performance was “true to life”). People still enjoy it the same way she did; Fritzi Kramer at Movies Silently wrote “the movie is never boring and is a prime example of an over-the-top silent melodrama…Still, if the film is bad, it is entertainingly bad.”
After that review, Kingsley abandoned her typewriter and escaped the newsroom for two whole weeks. The blog will follow her excellent example. I hope you all can take some time off from your regular work and find something entertaining to watch, too.