Cecil B. DeMille's breakthrough production, a satire on class distinctions. Based on James M. Barrie's play "The Admirable Crichton," "Male and Female" made a star of Gloria Swanson (Queen Kelly) and solidified DeMille's s... more »tanding as a big box office director with one of his more modest, but no less 'big' silent classics.« less
"Absolutely unforgiveable! Never never put logos/bugs in the corner of the screen on DVD releases. If I am going to invest money on buying a DVD, I do not wish for it to look like I am watching the program on television. Obviously Passport has a problem with people possibly copying the discs, but trying to prevent piracy this way is bad for business. Do not patronize this company or their inferior discs. One star because the "bugs" blew it for me!"
The Admirable De Mille
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 02/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is really hard to see why De Mille has such a relatively poor reputation, when one sees a film like Male and Female. He is often lambasted and compared unfavourably with other silent directors, but De Mille outlasted most of them, not least because he was a great storyteller. The story of Male and Female, adapted from J.M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, is amusing and an interesting comment on class difference. The performances are naturalistic and subtle showing silent acting at its best. This film offers an especially welcome opportunity to see a very young Gloria Swanson. Her famous bath scene is much less modest than one would expect in a post production-code film, though its hardly shocking by today's standards. Her descent into a Babylonian lion's den is quite startling and not at all gratuitous (as the DVD box would have it) for the film has a number of plot points which build up to this 'dream' sequence. This DVD is really top notch, for the print is first class with very little deterioration. It is well tinted, with appropriate colours and greys. The music adds to the viewing experience, fitting in well with the mood and the pace of the film. I have only seen two of De Mille's silent films and only a few of his talkies, this film made me wish to see many more."
Pretty decent budget boxed set
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 09/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Containing 10 films, 6 of them features, this set could be a nice way for someone on a shoestring budget to start adding some Gloria Swanson films to one's library. The shorts, 'His New Job' (1915, and really a Chaplin film), 'The Danger Girl' (1916), 'Teddy at the Throttle' (1917), and 'The Sultan's Wife' (1917), are a rather interesting change of pace for the average viewer who is probably only familiar with her work in later features. Gloria actually got started acting in Keystone comedies, and displays great comedic timing and ability in these shorts. They also show her paired with Bobby Vernon, an actor who now seems to be largely forgotten, and with her then-husband Wallace Beery in 'Teddy at the Throttle.' These shorts show that she wasn't just adept in dramatic acting. The depiction of India and Indians in 'The Sultan's Wife' is highly inaccurate, but one shouldn't expect too much in the way of cultural sensitivity and awareness in anything from 1917.
Four of the features are ones she made with Cecil B. DeMille, 'Male and Female' (1919), 'Don't Change Your Husband' (1919), 'Why Change Your Wife?' (1920), and 'The Affairs of Anatol' (1921). A lot of people think of DeMille as a director of over the top Biblical stories, decadent indulgent extravagant films, and preachy morality plays, but he actually did more films like these, light-hearted morality plays and comedies about romance and domestic life. While there are some of his trademark touches of decadence and over the top scenes, such as the Babylonian dream scenes in 'Male and Female,' overall they're enjoyable, believable, and down to earth. Gloria had some great co-stars in these films too, such as Wallace Reid, Thomas Meighan, Bebe Daniels, and Theodore Roberts. 'Sadie Thompson' (1928), believed by many to be one of her greatest silent roles, is another highlight of this set, though sadly the final reel is lost, making the remainder of the story be told through stills and explanatory intertitles, and just when the dramatic intensity was at its height and leading up to what was a really riveting final reel, too. 'Indiscreet' (1931) is a typical early talkie, with very still cameras, not a lot of action shots, and below-par audio quality. It's an interesting way to kill time, but not really that memorable or great. It's also not a good sign when the villain is a lot more interesting and believable than the supposed good guy. Still, Gloria does a great job with the mediocre material, and does it all--singing, comedy, emoting, and dramatic moments. Included as bonus features are a short documentary, a 'Hollywood Biography' episode, interviews, and a newsreel consisting of clips of her films and non-acting footage.
In spite of the good points, though, this is a budget set, and when it comes to technology, one generally gets what one pays for. After viewing the entire set, one can probably guess why so many great films were issued for such an unbelievably generous price. Most of them have already been issued on DVD, only the versions here do not have the same nice prints or custom-made soundtracks. For example, this version of 'The Affairs of Anatol' doesn't have the beautiful scenes near the end that are in early Technicolor on the official DVD. Finding out about how Passport Video has a history of pirating the hard work of other people makes one wonder if perhaps these too weren't taken without permission. There's also a bug on the lower right-hand corner of the screen, and while it can be tuned out periodically because it's a rather transparent white against black and white images, it's still annoying and distracting, and has no reason to be there. One expects that when watching something taped off of the tv, not on a supposedly professional DVD! Still, this is a really good price for someone who might not be able to afford all of the individual higher-quality DVDs that have these films, and it's not like one should expect a really high standard from such a budget boxed set."
Way more than expected
M. J Jensen | Venice, CA United States | 08/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had read some of the reviews on this film, and although they do a good job of revealing the basic plot synopsis, they don't fully do it justice.
first of all, when the DVD cover says "lavishly staged", that was really an understatement. sure, i knew about the legendary "King of Babylon" scene and was expecting a lavish DeMille set for that segment, but this statement also applies to the rest of the film as well. for example, i was shocked by the scene of the ship crashing and sinking, with both an external ship torn up on the rocks, as well as amazing internal shots of the rock breaching the hull and Gloria trapped in the flooding water below deck.
the scenes on the island were always beautiful, although one thing that seems to be absent from other reviews is the point of ridiculousness that the castoways nearly descend to. to be frank, i wasn't expecting a depiction of shipwreck that so closely resembeled Gilligan's Island, but when you look at it, there are similarities between the cast: the millionaire, the movie star (Gloria Swanson), the girl next door, even a cowardly comic relief Gilliganesque character, not to mention the admirable Chrichton, whose outlandish inventions put him in the position of the professor. to modern audiences, it is a little absurd to see the grass hut mansion complete with modern furniture and other luxuries, but it isn't any less entertaining.
although the basic premise of the movie is well known, it has probably never been conveyed as well as it was in this film (reference the similar theme in either version of Swept Away). mostly, that credit goes to amazing direction and a stunning cast. one can easily see why Gloria Swanson was one of the world's biggest sensations, because she can evoke sympathy from the audience for even the most undesirable characters like Lady Mary. the cast deserves a standing ovation for their performance, which otherwise could have been just a silly melodrama. instead, we actually do care about the unjust caste system and how it affects the lovers on both sides of the spectrum."
Extraordinary silent film
Rachel | United States | 07/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a masterpiece that gives you the feel of the time and place of the story line. Gloria Swanson is definitely a superb, passionate, and glamorous actress in the film. The picture quality is very clear and the orchestra sound added makes this movie a time capsule for years to come. This film, without a doubt, is one of gloria swanson's finest moments along with her other films "Sadie Thompson" and "Sunset Boulevard." I strongly recommend this film to those who appreciate a brillant silent film."