The Master of Spectacle, Cecil B. De Mille, directed this risque all-star revue of decadence which must have been jaw-dropping in 1921 and remains astonishing today. Anatol de Witt Spencer (Wallace Reid), as incredibly wea... more »lthy as he is naive, and his child-like bride Vivian (Gloria Swanson) are on their honeymoon. At a posh speakeasy he spies his high school sweetheart, who is obviously the sex toy of flamboyant old Gordon Bronson . To Vivian's dismay, idealistic Anatol decides to rescue the seductive Emilie, but soon she goes back to Bronson. The cycle begins again when Anatol tries to save another wayward woman from her life of sin before finally succumbing himself to the ways of the flesh. In "The Affairs of Anatol," not only does DeMille show women smoking, drinking (during Prohibition), exposing body parts seldom before seen on a movie screen, and frankly pursuing men who attract them; he also presents this debauchery with amazing visual flair. With film design by Erte, De Mille clearly meant "The Affairs of Anatol" to be as much a decorative as a dramatic feast. The film is digitally mastered from an elaborate original print featuring hand coloring, stencil coloring, and dozens of changes in color tint and tone, in itself a striking work of art.« less
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 03/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Affairs of Anatol, although concerned with adultery, is really quite a moral film. Anatol de Witt Spencer has the best of intentions with regard to the three women, other than his wife, who he is involved with. His affairs, at least in terms of what is seen, don't amount to more than a lustful look and a kiss. Nevertheless the film depicts a world which Hollywood would soon be unable to show. Later censorship would not allow a character called Satan Synne who is obviously a prostitute and it certainly would not allow us to see her invite Anatol into her bedroom. The episode concerning Satan Synne is the best of the film. This is partly because she is played by Bebe Daniels. Anyone who has seen 42nd Street will recognise Daniels as the star who sprains her ankle. She was an important silent actress and her beauty allows her to convincingly portray a temptress known as `The wickedest woman in New York.' Satan Synne is a wonderful character and fascinating not because of her supposed wickedness, but because Demille shows her in such a sympathetic light. Thus although Demille's film is moral it does not moralize. It does not condemn the world it shows. The film, as a whole, is entertaining and very interesting, but it does not quite attain greatness. Anatol comes across as just a little too naïve to be completely believable, while his wife, played by Gloria Swanson, lacks understanding and is seen to be simply spiteful. The viewer is left wondering what her problem is, and thus at times her actions lack motivation and justification. This means that she is a less sympathetic character than she ought to be. The Affairs of Anatol is a good film, but one of the main reasons to see it is that the print presented on the DVD is quite superb. It is unusual to see a print which shows such elaborate colouring techniques. Not only are there a large number of tinted scenes, but also at times the print has been coloured in such a way that different parts of the negative show different colours. Furthermore, the titles are inventive with coloured drawings and even on occasion animated scenes. The spectacle of the film is thus heightened and the viewing experience becomes unforgettable. Silent films are often shown in black and white even when they were originally coloured. It is rare indeed to see a film which shows the variety of colouring techniques which existed in the silent era. It is for this reason that The Affairs of Anatol should be added to any silent film fan's collection."
Witty, Cynical Film But Poor Picture Quality
Robert M. Fells | Centreville, VA USA | 11/15/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL is one of the great but elusive silents from the early 1920s that turn up only as tantalizing photos in film books. So it is a real joy to discover a tinted and toned print on DVD with a serviceable new music score. The film also provides an opportunity to view the sophisticated work of Cecil B. DeMille when he was still very much of a creative film-maker and before he settled into the "cotton candy" purveyor of comic book-type films of the sound era.Perhaps the spendid visual quality of some recent DVD silent film releases has spoiled me, but as all silent film buffs know, the flesh tones in silents are crucial. When the actors all look as though their make-up is white flour, you know you're watching a print a few generations removed from a good original. Since the liner notes claim that ANATOL was taken from a 35 mm. original - hence the elaborate stenciling, tinting and toning - I was shocked at the rather muddy pictorial quality and dead white faces of the actors. It's still a wonderful film but the disapponting visual quality will limit its appeal to established silent film buffs. It's tough sledding for others."
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 12/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has a lot going for it, even though it's more like fun entertainment as opposed to a heavy classic masterpiece. It was directed by Cecil B. DeMille, whom most people either love or hate. Though he's largely remembered today for his religious epics, this film is the type of picture he did more of. It still has the feel of a morality play, but overall it's not as heavy-handed as the type of DeMille picture most people associate him with. The print is also beautiful, with a lot of tinted and hand-colored title cards, complete with lovely drawings and ornate letters, tinted scenes, and even one scene towards the end that appears to be in very early Technicolor. Another thing it has going for it is that it has a number of big-name stars; some movies with star-studded casts seem more interested in parading out these big names than on delivering a well-developed storyline, but here there's no sense of being bogged down by a lot of big stars. We have the handsome and ill-fated Wallace Reid in the title role of Anatol DeWitt Spencer, the glamourous Gloria Swanson as his newlywed wife Vivian, the charming Bebe Daniels as the tempting Satan Synne, Agnes Ayres (once a big-name star but largely forgotten today) as Annie Elliott, and even the legendary Russian ballet dancer Theodore Kosloff (né Fyodor Koslov) as an Indian hypnotist. (Interestingly, he's billed as a "Hindu," even though his character's surname is Singh, which as most people should know is a Sikh, not a Hindu, surname.)
Anatol and Vivian are happy newlyweds who are still enjoying the honeymoon phase of their marriage, although Vivian is quite displeased at Anatol's habit of trying to reform what he sees as wicked women. One of these women is his childhood sweetheart Emilie, whom he moves into their house after telling her sugar daddy that he won't have her to exploit and take advantage of anymore. However, as time wears on Emilie gets tired of the straight and narrow path Anatol wants her to be on, and goes back to her life as a kept woman. Anatol feels furious that he was tricked into thinking she wanted to change, and decides he and Vivian will go on a trip to the countryside, where people are still honest, moral, and kind. However, they aren't there very long when he finds himself tricked and taken advantage of by a woman yet again, and by the type of woman he never suspected would be as crafty and scheming as her big-city counterparts. However, Vivian sees him in what she interprets as a compromsing position with this woman, and goes home alone. This sets in motion a chain of events that eventually leads Anatol to the home of Satan Synne, who is not all she seems to be on first glance. Since he caused the problems in his marriage in the first place, however unthinkingly, he must be the one who rights them too. This leads to an interesting dénouement."
A Great Cecil B DeMille film not to be overlooked!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cecil B DeMille was already an accomplished and respected director and producer when "The Affairs of Anatol" was made in 1921, and this film is a good example of the changes he kept making in order to please the viewing audience. After an artistic and intelligent drama like "The Whispering Chorus" in 1918 which was a box office flop, DeMille changed tack and used the tools that were drawing audiences and making profit. That meant big name stars of that time such as Wallace Reid and Gloria Swanson, as well as over-the-top visually exotic sets and costumes, sexual innuendos, extravagance, melodrama balanced with a hint of comedy and then a few extra Cecil B DeMille touches. "The Affairs of Anatol" has it all: a matrimonial melodrama about a wealthy, High Society couple and their turbulent first months of marriage. The naïve husband has a weakness for damsels in distress who need rescuing - or so he believes - which leads to the predictable marriage crisis, yet the smooth style and touches of comedy and irony make it pleasant and entertaining viewing. Add to all this a new stereo orchestral musical score to enhance the film even further, as well as some visual treats such as lovely, coulorful title cards and frequent colour tinting. In fact, DeMille had actually experimented with the use of colour in earlier films already such as the fire in "Joan the Woman" (1916) and later a whole segment in colour for the parting of the Red Sea scene in "The Ten Commandments". The picture quality is very good throughout, with only a few scenes where light areas are a bit too light, but I hardly took notice due to the many outstanding features of this film. Although DeMille deliberately tried to make more superficial and commercially-viable films of this nature at that time, I still found some depth and meaning in the story and performances, such as the true-to-life situations of the individual women Anatol tries to help, and each one of the three situations, like three stories in one, makes a point and is more intriguing than the former. After the old school sweetheart who needs to be rescued from a wealthy older man, Anatol rescues a poor farmer's wife who has just experienced a major crisis in her married life, and then finally there is the seductive `Satan Synne', lusciously performed by Bebe Daniels, who has a leopard in her bedroom and another big surprise for Anatol as well. Despite this film being a general melodrama, DeMille gives it enough intrigue, suspense, style and visual delights to make it great viewing even many decades later."
THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL!
Michael Anthony Brenton | The Other Side of the Known Universe | 10/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by the immortal CECIL B. DeMILLE! Starring the dazzling GLORIA SWANSON! A tawdry little tale of the JAZZ AGE! Swanson plays Vivian, the wife of Anatol DeWitt Spencer, played by WALLACE REID! They are a young married couple who end up CHANGING their HEARTS along with their PARNTERS once they are seduced by the DECADENT PLEASURES of New York City! Featuring BEBA DANIELS as the wickedest woman in the Big Apple, Satan Synne! The story might not be much but the COSTUMES and the SETS are pure DEMILLE! "The Affairs of Anatol" is based on a novel and play by Arthur Schnitzler! In DeMille's hands it becuase a SOPHISTICATED FARCE! This SILENT film is presented with its original COLOR TINTING! This would be a good one to check out before watching GLORIA in "Sunset Blvd"!"