Motion Picture News, December 6, 1919
"That Cecil B. DeMille has proven himself one of the foremost directors on the screen has long been recognized. It looks as if he has excelled himself with "Male and Female," an adaption of Sir James M. Barrie's play, "The Admirable Crichton." There may be those who will find fault that the original title has been changed, but if they know the British playwright they will appreciate the fact that he cannot be done successfully on the screen. So "Male and Female" is Cecil B. DeMille's achievement any way you look at it. True, he has incorporated Barrie's underlying thought the English life is divided by sharp contrasts - that equality does not figure in it except in moments of extremity. And when stressful events are over, things are as they were in the beginning."
Photoplay, December, 1919
"A truly gorgeous panorama, unwound about the story contained in J.M. Barrie's play, "The Admirable Crichton," with Miss Macpherson as the composer of the optic version, and Mr. DeMille as the conductor and expounder. It is a typical DeMille production - audacious, glittering, intriguing, superlatively elegant, and quite without heart. It reminds me of one of our great California flowers, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow and devoid of fragrance."
Gene Ringgold and DeWitt
Bodeen in The Complete Films of Cecil B. DeMille (Citadel
"For audiences today, 'Male and Female,' 'Why Change Your Wife?,' or 'The Affairs of Anatol' and their luxurious, high-toned goings-on can, at best, only be viewed as "high camp'; their production, architectural and costume designs, in particular, are responsible for the term 'Early DeMille.'."
Kevin Brownlow in The
Parade's Gone By (University of California Press, 1968)
"'Male and Female' was a delightful version of 'The Admirable Crichton,' and the famous bathroom scene was introduced with sly humor. . . "
James Card in Seductive
Cinema (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)
". . . the word 'admirable' was sufficiently foreign to Hollywood parlance to cause Paramount to change the title of its new property to 'Male and Female.' With this alteration, all Hollywood felt semantically secure. one wonders how the great British master of whimsey reacted to this American violence done to his drama even before the cameras rolled. If he was stunned by the new title, he must surely have been staggered by the DeMillean additions to his plot when he beheld Gloria Swanson, all decked out in peacock feathers, being fed to the hungry lions of Ishtar in one of C.B.'s most lavish flashbacks to savage goings-on in Babylon."
"When DeMille adapted Sir James Barrie's 'The Admirable Crichton' in 1919, changing the title to 'Male and Female' was not the only alteration Sir James' work suffered in Hollywood hands. 'Male and Female' reflected much more accurately the new emphasis placed on the story than did the original title. Although ostensibly the movie was still concerned with an English family, no one could possible mistake Gloria Swanson for a Londoner. It became unquestionably an essentially American battle of the sexes between Gloria and Tommy Meighan as the stalwart Crichton."
Lewis Jacobs in The Rise
of the American Film (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939)
"Even more suggestive of the new era was the significantly titled 'Male and Female.' A modernization of James Barrie's 'The Admirable Crichton,' it related the intimate adventures of a lady (Gloria Swanson) and a butler (Thomas Meighan) on a desert isle, emphasizing the supremacy of sex over class barriers and condoning marital infidelity, 'spice,' and sensation for their own sake. More daring in its subject matter than any other picture Hollywood had produced, bolder in its attack on the genteel tradition, this film ushered in the new movie showmanship. Throughout it played on the audience's senses with luxurious settings, cave-man love scenes, sensual display."
Benjamin Hampton in History
of the American Film Industry (Dover Publications, 1970 -
orig. published 1931)
"Jeanie MacPherson and Cecil DeMille renamed the play 'Male and Female' and expanded it until it was an almost perfect recipe for box office success, filled with comedy, romance, thrills and sex appeal, the latter element being supplied principally by Gloria Swanson . . . The public's joyous reception of 'Male and Female' convinced DeMille that the new formula was very positively in tune with the times."
copyright 1999 by Tim Lussier. All rights reserved.
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