B&W : Seven reels
Directed by Maurice Tourneur
Cast: Florence Billings [the woman], Warren Cook [the man], Ethel Hallor [Eve], Henry West [Adam], Flore Revalles [Messalina], Paul Clerget [Claudius], Diana Allen [Heloise], Escamillo Fernandez [Abelard], Gloria Goodwin [Cyrene], Chester Barnett [the fisherman], Faire Binney [the girl], Warner Richmond [the officer], Lyn Donaldson, Rose Rolanda
Maurice Tourneur Productions, Incorporated, production; distributed on State Rights basis by Hiller and Wilk, Incorporated. / Produced by Maurice Tourneur. Scenario by Charles E. Whittaker. Art direction by Ben Carré. Assistant director, Charles Van Enger. Cinematography by John van den Broek and René Guissart. Music score composed and arranged by Hugo Riesenfeld, assisted by Edward Falck. / © 24 November 1918 by Maurice Tourneur Productions, Incorporated [LP13397]. Premiered 27 October 1918 by the Rivoli Theatre, New York, New York. Released October 1918. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.33:1 format. / Van den Broek died during production in a drowning accident at Schooner Head near Bar Harbor, Maine, on 29 June 1918. Garden of Eden location photography was taken in New Jersey.
Synopsis: [Article published 28 October 1918] EVE'S DAUGHTERS SEEN IN ‘WOMAN’; Maurice Tourneur’s Film Play Eloquent of Emancipation for Those Serving in War. / The ability of Maurice Tourneur to create pictures, not just single scenes without meaning or connection, but eloquent, beautiful pictures in motion that make a poetic story come true for the time being, has never revealed itself more fully than in “Woman,” the principal offering at the Rivoli this week. The magical Mr. Tourneur has taken a series of episodes from history and tradition and brought them to life on a screen. / The work is supposed to have some central idea, something to do with the place of woman in the history of mankind, which, it would seem, was one of “soul-warping slavery” until the war came as a great emancipator and released women for “glorious living and doing.” This somewhat romantic conception may seem poetry to some, and silly twaddle to others, and “Woman” has little value as evidence for or against the basic truth of the idea. / In seeking to set forth his idea, however, Mr. Tourneur selected a number of episodes — those of Adam and Eve, Messalina and Claudius, Heloise and Abelard, Cyrene and The Fisherman, a Girl and an Officer in the civil war — and it was in telling the stories of these that he found full expression for his genius and created a succession of ballads in pictures, each of which was a thing of beauty by itself with the convincing power of a good story exceptionally well told. The applause of the spectators after each indicated that they had been caught by Mr. Tourneur’s magic and held by his subtle spell. / One might write much in detail about the film, mostly to exclaim in delight about this or that particular touch or masterful stroke, and just a little to point out inharmonious notes — as when Adam was represented strikingly as a primitive man and Eve as an obviously modern young lady minus her clothes, but amply protected by tresses over which the hair-dresser and wig-maker must have spent considerable time. Good words might also be said for the persons in the cast, each of whom played his or her part well. It should be noted that Paul Clerget, as Claudius, was impressive in moments of artistic pantomime, but was so seldom in the forefront of the action that one could determine nothing about his rank as a screen actor. / Something must be added about the excellent presentation of the picture. John Wenger prepared a stage setting of unusual charm, even as compared with his other works and the orchestral prelude and accompaniment, arranged and in part composed by Hugo Riesenfeld, assisted by Edward Falck, contributed much to the effectiveness of “Woman” and decidedly enhanced its beauty.
Survival status: Prints exist in the Museum of Modern Art film archive [incomplete]; in the Gosfilmofond film archive; and in private film collections [16mm reduction positives].
Current rights holder: Public domain.
Listing updated: 16 November 2012.
References: Brownlow-Parade p. 141; Higashi-Virgins pp. 62-63, 69; Limbacher-Feature p. 279; Sloan-Loud pp. 123, 153 : Website-AFI : with additional information provided by Pete Jones and Tom Kern.