Children of Divorce, Blu-ray (1927/2016)

by | Dec 11, 2016 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Clara Bow really shines, and an early Gregory Peck is not bad in this restored silent of 1927.

Children of Divorce, Blu-ray (1927/2016)

Cast: Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, Esther Ralston, Einar Hanson, Norman Trevor
Directors: Frank Lloyd & Josef von Sternberg
Studio: Paramount/Blackhawk Films/ Flicker Alley (12/3/16) (2 discs: Blu-ray & DVD)
Video: 4:3 silent, 1080p HD
Audio: New scored based on original by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra PCM 2.0
Extras: 65 min. Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl produced for Turner Classic Films by Hugh Hefner and narrated by Courtney Love, Souvenir booklet of rare photos, essay, notes of production, article on music of Rodney Sauer, score compiler.
Length: 71 min.
Rating: *****

This is the 50th publication of Flicker Alley, is based on a 4K resolution scanning of the Library of Congress 1969 fine grain master, and involved over 200 hours of lab work to create the best version possible. This was the first silent film where I must say I forgot it was silent, and the intertitles were not up too long. Gorgeous cinematography, and Clara Bow stands out as the first sex symbol in movies and as far as I’m concerned, way beyond her successors: Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe and others. Even Jean Moreau, Audrey Hepburn and Sonia Braga couldn’t compete, for me, with the ‘It’ girl (and how she got that title), and the fascinating bio of her, produced by Hugh Hefner, shows her sordid childhood and her entire life.

The movie begins at an American “divorce colony” in Paris after WWI, where divorced parents would leave their children for months at a time. Three of the children there meet and become friends. Years later, in America, the wealthy Gary Cooper character reconnects and falls in love with Esther Ralston, fulfilling a childhood promise to one day marry each other.  But the scheming Kitty (Clara Bow) targets Ted for his fortune, and arranges after a night of drunken revelry, to marry him.  This unfortunate series of events wrecks the lives of the three, whose views of marriage have been shaped by their being children of divorce.

Cary Cooper was obviously one of her many loves, and she was for a time denigrated by the Hollywood set for her wild behaviors. She even had a fling with, of all people, Bela Legosi! She was definitely the symbol of “the flapper” of the 1920s. (Never mind that she had short hair.)

—John Sunier

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