quiet_curiosity: (Frosty)
quiet_curiosity ([personal profile] quiet_curiosity) wrote2010-01-03 04:47 pm

Battle of the Sexes (1928)

Summary: A wealthy businessman is targeted by a gold-digging flapper and her "jazz baby" paramour in an attempt to seduce and swindle him. When he falls for it, his family life is thrown into upheaval.

Stars: Jean Hersholt, Phyllis Haver, Belle Bennett, Sally O'Neil, Don Alvarado, William Bakewell, John Batten
Director: D.W. Griffith

Viewed Via: TCM/DVR
Current Commercial Availability: Battle of the Sexes (R1 - Image - OOP)

Notes: This is a remake of Griffith's (now lost) 1914 film of the same name. It featured Lillian Gish as the Daughter.

1) I really do like the first scene in the barber shop. It was a great interplay of people and motives and sets up the story rather nicely.

2) The initial Mother's birthday party sequence is rather touching. Here, the family seems warm and close. You dread what you know is coming.

3) Upon here is were my hatred rose forth. I'm no prude who clutches her pearls and shrieks, "My stars! AN AFFAIR!" Affairs don't inherently make people terrible and can certainly make for good/funny/thoughtful entertainment. But, god, is Jean Hersholt's Father character an utter asshole once he hooks up with the flapper. His complete personality flip-flop and lack of concern for his wife's feelings is chilling. At one point he thinks about what he's done and his reaction to it all can be summed up by that oft reviled internet saying "meh". The way he yells at her and shakes her when she tries to confront him about the affair left me seething. There were times when they tried to play his "Middle-Aged-Man-Tries-to-Look-Younger-for-Younger-Mistress" thing for laughs but I could not summon up the urge to chuckle. It's been awhile since I've hated a character so thoroughly.

4) The rest of the family at times appear to be a bit wide-eyed obvious in the shocked/horrified acting but no one is inherently bad. Belle Bennett is particularly sad and pitiable as the Wife. Her devastation is at times uncomfortable to behold. Sally O'Neil is a bit more natural and nuanced as the Daughter, Ruth. William Bakewell is barely there as the Son, Billy.

5) Phyllis Haver is pretty fun as Marie Skinner, the flapper. She's gaudy and a bit obnoxious with her near constant gum smacking, but all of this works for the character. Don Alvarado doesn't come off nearly as good as her "jazz baby" paramour Babe Winsor. He just looked so ridiculous, especially when we first meet him (fur lapelled coat and all). His acting is, for the most part, bland to the point of nonexistence.

6) Set dressing and costumes are, over all, top notch.

7) Near the end, Ruth decides to go over to Marie's apartment and threaten her so as to make her give up on her dad. In the course of things (including Haver's great reaction to the gun), Father, Marie, Ruth, and Babe end up in the same room. Ruth claims that she and Babe are in a relationship and Father goes crazy. He's yelling about how she'll embarrass them and why can't she be good and she tells him that she's only following his example. Mind you, Father doesn't really get it until Ruth explains that she's not actually doing anything with Babe and that his girlfriend was taking him for a ride...but lets back up a second. What we have here is some form of recognition of the double standard...in a film by D.W. Griffith. Victorian, racist, virgin fetishist Griffith made a film in which the double standard was recognized. HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD!

8)But, of course, in the end, Father recognizes the error of his way and Mother takes him back. How could she trust his emotionally abusive hide again! I knew it was coming but I was furious.

Battle of the Sexes has a better reputation today than it did when it first came out. And it was nice to see Griffith tackle a more modern era. But I hate this movie so much.

unrelated to this movie, haha

[identity profile] autophanous.livejournal.com 2010-01-09 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I was reading imdb last night and someone was gushing about how hot frederic march and leslie howard were in design for living.

...you mean gary cooper? because they don't look anything like the other, and howard had the unusual distinction of being able to act.

cracked me up.

Re: unrelated to this movie, haha

[identity profile] autophanous.livejournal.com 2010-01-09 05:05 pm (UTC)(link)

Re: unrelated to this movie, haha

[identity profile] autophanous.livejournal.com 2010-01-09 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)