Monday, May 29, 2017

The Circle

The latest movie I watched off my DVR because it's avaialble thanks to the Warner Archive is The Circle.

This silent movie starts off with a prologue in the 1890s. Lord Clive Cheney is married to Lady Catherine (a young Joan Crawford at the beginning of her career), but doesn't realize that she's in love with another man, Lord Hugh Porteous. Lady Catherine runds off with Lord Hugh, leaving Lord Clive to raise their son, young Arnold, alone.

Fast forward 30 years. Arnold is all grown up and looking old before his time, with a lovely young wife of his own in Elizabeth (Eleanor Boardman). But what he doesn't know is that like his mother, Elizabeth is in love with another man, the dashing Teddy (Malcolm MacGrgegor). Indeed, Elizabeth is thinking of running off with him, just like Arnold's mother did 30 years earlier.

But Elizabeth wants to find out if running off for happiness instead of stability is really the right thing to do. To that end, she's invited Lady Catherine over for a visit, with Lord Hugh. Elizabeth wants to see how the 30 years have changed Catherine and Hugh, and whether they're still in love with each other. After all, if they're not happy, then perhaps Elizabeth will get the idea that she should stick with Arnold after all.

Of course, things don't go so smoothly. First off, Lord Clive shows up unexpectedly, and everybody is naturally terrified of how he'll react to his ex-wife's presence. And then there's Catherine and Hugh. They've both become decidedly middle-aged. Time takes its toll on everybody, and it really seems to have taken its toll on the couple, especially Hugh. But while the couple argues bitterly at cards and Catherine thinks it would be a mistake for Elizabeth to leave, Lady Catherine still loves Lord Hugh....

The Circle is well-made, but I had a problem with it in that it didn't seem to go anywhere. I really found it difficult to care much what happened to any of these people. There's also an extra house guest added who doesn't seem to have much to do in the second half of the house party. But the story takes some pleasing twists and turns, and people who like silents will probably enjoy this one more than I did.

The Circle is another of those movies that only seems to be available on a standalone DVD and would benefit from being part of a set of some sort. At the Warner Archive price and the short running time (66 minutes), I'm not certain if the DVD is worth it.

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