starring Greta Garbo and John Gilbert
November 24, 1928

One might be reconciled to silent pictures remaining a little longer if all of them were as good as A Woman of Affairs, which Clarence Brown has made for Metro, the clause in his contract that provides that no one is to interfere with him while he is making a picture, being responsible for the fact that it is good even though it is a Metro production. Although they call the woman of affairs Diana Merrick, she is none other than our old friend Iris March to whom Mike Arlen introduced us. You remember here, the captivating woman wearing the green hat. What an exceedingly silly industry is this one of making picture. The Green Hat is a story either fit or unfit for screen presentation. If fit, then it should be presented under its own name; if unfit, it should not be presented at all. Will Hays, that sanctimonious monk in tarnished cassock, did not pass upon the moral merit of the story. He received his orders from Louis B. Mayer, and then consented to the filming of some other story. It's an old custom that Hays brought with him from politics. You'll remember that he accepted tainted money as campaign contributions and tried to defraud the public into the belief that it was derived from other sources. Well, anyway, Clarence Brown made The Green Hat into a picture that rates highly as an example of screen art and which will hold the close attention of any intelligent person who views it. In making this statement, I am assuming that the public will see it as I saw it and that Metro is not going to tie pans and other things on it to make a noise. The picture is engrossing for the same reason that the book is engrossing, not for its story value, but for its delightful treatment. Brown had a superb cast -- Greta Garbo, Jack Gilbert, Dorothy Sebastian, Lewis Stone, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Hobart Bosworth and John Mack Brown. While it is a joint Gilbert-Garbo production, Jack sat back and allowed Greta to earn all the bows. Whether she will prove to be your conception of Iris March depends upon what that conception is, but she is my Iris March down to the flicker of her eye-lashes. In my opinion she never gave a more intelligent or a more entertaining performance on the screen. Al the performances are what we might expect from such a brilliant cast. Young Doug Fairbanks without question is destined to be a great actor. At the present moment the thing that he is in the greatest need of is a haircut. Clarence Brown's direction displays the same mastery that made Flesh and the Devil an outstanding picture, although Woman of Affairs will not attract the attention the other did, as Arlen's contribution in the way of a story is not as great as Sudermann's. But there still is a torch of timidity in Brown's direction and not until he gets over it will he show us what a really capable director he can be. In one sequence he swings his camera form a group to a door through which a character exits, then swings it back other group of which the departing player was a member before he left. It is a smooth manner of avoiding a cut, but Brown uses the idea only once in that sequence and not once again in the picture. His grouping in medium and long shots always is intelligent and effective, but he is too timid to go a little farther and tell his story with such shots. He falls back on close-ups after he has demonstrated that he could do without them. He is one of the most painstaking directors in pictures, one of the most thorough workmen, and when he gets a little more confidence in himself, he is going to give us some extraordinary pictures. The titles in Woman of Affairs are punctuated with that display of gross ignorance that has become the Metro trade-mark. It is why the lion in the main title roars.

For more information, see "A Woman of Affairs" as our 'Feature of the Month'

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