Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

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  • The Circle (1925) - Plot Summary - Silent romantic comedy/melodrama. In Cheney Castle, England, lives Lord Clive Cheney and his beautiful but discontented wife, Catherine, who decides it's time to run away forever with her lover, Hugh Porteous (her husband's friend and "best man" at their wedding, no less). Catherine has no problem whatsoever at leaving behind her young son, Arnold, by the way. Cut to thirty years later where we find Arnold (Creighton Hale) and his wife, Elizabeth (Eleanor Boardman), living in the castle with now aging Lord Cheney, who never remarried, apparently. Elizabeth is a beautiful but discontented young lady too, finding hubby Arnold sort of dull and as fussy as an "old woman". She wants to run off with handsome friend "Teddy" (Malcolm McGregor), but, unsure if it could be a mistake, has invited Lady Catherine and her husband Lord Hugh to return to Cheney Castle after thirty years to observe for herself if their runaway love has held. The couple arrives, Catherine happy to reunite with her "original husband" and long-unseen son (lavishing the uptight son with kisses he doesn't seem too comfortable with). And we now find Lord Hugh a very grumpy old man with a nose like W.C. Fields, and Lady Catherine is hardly the lovely thing she once was. After bickering over a game of cards, Elizabeth is convinced the couple's love has gone like the wind - and she seems particularly disturbed by the fact that Lady Catherine has completely lost her lovely looks (and I found her over-concern with the aging looks of this couple even more of a concern!). Should she run off with her lover, or stick it out with boring Arnold? And what about dad, Lord Clive? Oh how I wondered why some gal didn't come along and snatch him up - after all, he is a Lord in a castle? Odd.

    Review - Okay, I would consider this a fairly average romantic melodrama of it's day, featuring the often seen "love triangle" plot element, but interesting now for a few other reasons. First, the film features a quite young Joan Crawford in one of her first roles, as the young Catherine, seen pretty briefly in the opening part of the film. The film is directed by Frank Borzage and based on a play by W. Somerset Maugham. Actor Malcolm McGregor seems a bit stiff, really just there as eye candy, I guess - but the film does include a very nicely done performance by Eleanor Boardman (looking very pretty too) and I actually got a kick out of the uptight Creighton Hale character, with his expressions changing from sour to bemused. Interesting camerawork in places, notably during the Bridge game scene. The film as screened on TCM featured an original music score by Garth Neustadter. I found the score okay to pleasant at times, but in some places in the film the music seemed sort of dark, like it belonged more in a Hitchcock film than a romantic-comedy (and a few places, it seemed almost sci-fi). Entertaining enough, for it's just over an hour length. Note: a moral is pointed out in intertitles in the opening of the film as being old and valuable and that is "Man may select a wife - but he should be careful whose wife he selects". Hmm. Rating - * 7.5 to 8/10 stars *

    Director: Frank Borzage
    Film Genre: Romantic Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 60 minutes

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10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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