“How can a husband, who loves his wife, neglect her so!”
An unhappily married woman (Marie Prevost) attempts to seduce the husband (Monte Blue) of her best friend (Florence Vidor), not knowing that her own divorce-seeking husband (Adolph Menjou) has set a detective (Harry Myers) on her trail; meanwhile, Vidor must stave off affectionate advances from her husband’s business partner (Creighton Hale).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Adolph Menjou Films
- Ernst Lubitsch Films
- Love Triangle
- Marital Problems
- Silent Films
The Marriage Circle was Ernst Lubitsch’s second American film, and is notable for showing early evidence of his fabled “touch” — i.e., his light hand with sophisticated romantic comedies. It was remade in 1932 as the musical One Hour With You, and my reaction to both films was much the same: frustration with the character played by Blue (who looks somewhat like Chevalier, his counterpart in the later version). We never quite understand the motivations of this presumably-happily-married fellow, given that he allows himself to be seduced by a femme fatale, and shows signs of not being nearly as committed to his devoted wife as he should be (i.e., he carelessly drops a bouquet of flowers she’s picked for him); is their “ideal marriage” just a figment of Vidor’s imagination, or is Blue really that much of a two-timing, gullible sap? The most believable characters are played by Prevost and Menjou, whose strained marriage (as epitomized in the smartly filmed opening scene) comes across as all-too-realistic. Their manipulative machinations — and easy willingness to use others for their own purposes — are reminiscent in some ways of the dynamics between Valmont and the Marquise in Dangerous Liaisons.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Adolph Menjou as Professor Stock
- Florence Vidor as Charlotte Braun
No, though it’s certainly must-see for Lubitsch fans.