Eleanor Boardman

The Circle (1925)

The Circle 1925When Arnold Cheney (Creighton Hale) was just a baby, his mother Lady Catherine (Joan Crawford as the young Catherine, Eugenie Besserer as older Catherine) leaves her husband Lord Clive (Derek Glynne as young Clive, Alec B. Francis as older Clive) to run off and elope with his friend Hugh (Frank Braidwood as young Hugh, George Fawcett as older Hugh). When Catherine leaves, she leaves baby Arnold at home to be raised by Clive.

30 years pass and Arnold hasn’t seen his mother since. Naturally, Arnold and Clive have a lot of resentment toward Catherine and Hugh. Arnold is now married to a woman named Elizabeth (Eleanor Boardman) and they live together in the big family estate, enjoying all the privileges that come with wealth. But Elizabeth is in love with Edward Lutton (Malcolm Mc Gregor) and is considering leaving Arnold for him. Since she knows the situation she’s in sounds somewhat familiar, she decides to invite Catherine and Hugh over so she can see what their relationship is like now.

Arnold is very anxious about this meeting and when they arrive, things are awkward at first. But when Elizabeth sees Catherine and Hugh having a sentimental moment together, she thinks leaving her husband would be the best move. But when Arnold finds out about it, he isn’t about to give up on his marriage so easily.

For some reason, I didn’t have terribly high expectations for The Circle, but I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected to. Frank Borzage directed it and did a fine job. The story has a very healthy balance of humor and drama. It’s the kind of story that might have become cheesy and cliched in less capable hands, but it worked out very well. The cast is excellent and I really enjoyed the cinematography and sets. This is the kind of movie I don’t hear mentioned too often, but it’s a real gem.

Tell It to the Marines (1926)

When Skeet Burns (William Haines) enlists in the Marines, his hometown of Kansas City couldn’t be more thrilled — they’re glad to have him out of their hair for a while.  At least all the people  back home think he’s going into the Marines.  Really, he just enlisted so he could get a free trip to San Diego and he could easily get to some horse races in Tijuana from there.  When he gets off the train, he runs into Sergeant O’Hara (Lon Chaney), who tries to stop him from going off to Tijuana.  Skeet manages to sneak away, but O’Hara is confident that he’ll be back.  O’Hara’s hunch proves to be right when Skeet shows up at base after his trip to Tijuana.

At first, it appears that Skeet is all wrong for the Marines.  He’s undisciplined, he’s got a bad attitude, and he can’t stop getting on O’Hara’s bad side.  He’s miserable until he meets Norma (Eleanor Broadman), a nurse on the base.  Even though O’Hara also has a thing for Norma, Skeet still tries to pursue her.  At first, Norma is put off by Skeet’s forward behavior towards her, but she finds herself attracted to him.  When Norma accidentally gets Skeet thrown in the brig when she complains to O’Hara about his behavior, she feels bad and tries to convince O’Hara to let him go on a sea training trip anyway.

When Skeet gets out of the brig, he really wants to get on the right track to impress Norma.  But he has a hard time resisting trouble and gets into a fight with a Navy sailor on the ship and when O’Hara’s troop is sent to the island of Tondo, he gets involved with a native girl, despite O’Hara’s warnings not to.  When Skeet tries to break it off with the native girl, he gets into a huge fight with several other natives and word of this incident gets back to the base.  Norma no longer wants anything to do with Skeet.  He thinks O’Hara told her about it just to make himself look good.  But the truth is that O’Hara has realized that she’d be better off with Skeet.  When the Marines are sent to Shanghai, where Norma is also stationed, O’Hara even tries to get Norma to give him another chance.  But then Norma and the nurses are sent to another city that is being threatened by bandits.  The Marines are sent in to protect them, and even though Skeet goes in with a lot of hostility toward O’Hara, he ultimately sticks by his side when O’Hara is wounded.

Overall, I really liked Tell It to the Marines.  The pacing could have used a little bit of work.  I thought it started out strong and it ended strong, but it dragged on a bit in the middle.  Also it was a little predictable that it would turn out that O’Hara was particularly hard on Skeet because he reminded him of himself when he was younger.  But those issues aside, Lon Chaney was superb in it.  This is a little bit of an unusual Lon Chaney role because he doesn’t wear any of the dramatic make-up that he is typically known for.  But Lon clearly proves here that his performances do not rely on heavy make-up.  This was not only  Lon Chaney’s personal favorite movie of his, but it was so realistic that he was made an honorary Marine for his work.  But for how great this movie is, I don’t think it really gets the recognition it deserves.