Sunday, February 14, 2010

1922 MANSLAUGHTER - More outrageous DeMille Sex and Sin stuff.

Cecil B DeMille and his writer/mistresses Jeannie MacPherson put together an "everything but the kitchen sink" story for this film.  A rich, shallow woman  accidentally kills a cop and ends up going to prison. Prison life redeems her and turns her into a good church going Christian.  The synopsis can't even begin to cover the amount of plot and melodramatic situations DeMille crammed into an hour and forty minutes.

The silent films of DeMille are generally considered his artistic peak.  This film isn't up to the silent version of The 10 Commandments that I saw but it is certainly a lot of fun with never a dull moment in any of it.


Just to give you the idea of the bizzaro nature of this film, DeMille, includes two ancient Roman orgy sequences which have absolutely nothing to do with anything in the film.  These scenes appear to have been included just as an indulgent whim.  One of the orgy scenes, has a couple of lesbians making out in plain view of the camera which is  pretty amazing stuff for 1922.

DeMille was frequently criticized for the poor handling of actors in his films but his star Leatrice Joy,  does a very good job going from playing a spoiled partying playgirl to a born again Christian.

Obviously Leatrice Joy is more fun to watch being naughty than nice.  She did a lot of her own  driving during the car chase scenes.   DeMillle was a big believer in actors doing their own stunts even if it meant risking their lives at times.  

Cecil B. DeMille, was criticized for being somewhat of a right wing moralizing hypocrite throughout his career but he certainly understood how to mix dirtiness with piety, something a lot of Christians are still very adept at.

In DeMille's case his moralizing is extremely entertaining in this film.