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Male and Female

Overview

Don't let that title fool you: Male and Female is really James M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, as interpreted by Cecil B. DeMille. Thomas Meighan plays Crichton, the very proper butler in the British household of Lord Loam Theodore Roberts. When masters and servants go on a yachting excursion, the vessel is destroyed in a storm, marooning everyone on a desert island. The helpless aristocrats must turn to the resourceful Crichton for survival. Before long, Crichton is ruling the roost, while his masters are ...
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Overview

Don't let that title fool you: Male and Female is really James M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, as interpreted by Cecil B. DeMille. Thomas Meighan plays Crichton, the very proper butler in the British household of Lord Loam Theodore Roberts. When masters and servants go on a yachting excursion, the vessel is destroyed in a storm, marooning everyone on a desert island. The helpless aristocrats must turn to the resourceful Crichton for survival. Before long, Crichton is ruling the roost, while his masters are cheerfully performing the most menial of tasks. Haughty Lady Mary Gloria Swanson foregoes her class-conscious upbringing and falls in love with Crichton. Once the castaways are rescued and brought back to England, however, the original class distinctions are restored. Lady Mary goes ahead with a marriage to stuffy Lord Brockelhurst as scheduled, but it is obvious that she will be unhappy in this "socially correct" union. Meawhile, Crichton finds happiness with scullery maid Tweeny Lila Lee, who has loved him all along. Feeling that the Barrie play didn't have sufficient "punch" to go over with 1919 filmgoers, DeMille interpolated a dream sequence in which Gloria Swanson imagines herself a Babylonian princess; this gave the actress the opportunity to share a scene with a live and none-too-docile lion. One would think that critics of the era would haul DeMille over the coals for taking so many liberties with The Admirable Crichton, but such was not the case. One reviewer of Male and Female even congratulated DeMille for making Barrie "filmable"!
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Janiss Garza
The star of this adaptation of James M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton isn't Gloria Swanson, nor is it Thomas Meighan. And it certainly isn't James M. Barrie. Male and Female's one and only star is its director, Cecil B. DeMille. His personality dominates every frame, and the film is a good illustration of both DeMille's virtues and his faults (at least during this particular era of his career). While film historians always mention the pointless but picturesque Babylon dream sequence, the whole picture, really, is pure DeMille fantasy, from the elaborate bath scene near the beginning to the Robinson Crusoe-like island home created by Crichton, the butler (Meighan). DeMille tells his (not Barrie's) tale of how nature levels the classes in a florid and witty style that is quite amusing. Critics of the day noted, however, that the film was cold at its center, and they were right. DeMille doesn't seem to extend much sympathy to his lead characters, and often the actors' performances suffer. Swanson, in particular, seems hard to grasp -- she's more of a "type" than a real human being. Perhaps that's because she was only 20 when she made this film, and had only just achieved stardom. Meighan, an older, more experienced actor, gives some warmth to his role, and as the scullery maid, Lila Lee does well -- though her role is so long-suffering and one-dimensional that she didn't need do very much. DeMille's specialty wasn't making actors look good; it was glorifying his own personal vision. That he does here, with humor and a more than a bit of pomposity. But Male and Female is so fascinating in its overblown uniqueness that its faults can be forgiven.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/28/2014
  • UPC: 089218729293
  • Original Release: 1919
  • Source: Alpha Video
  • Presentation: B&W
  • Sound: silent
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 51,961

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Thomas Meighan Crichton, A Butler
Gloria Swanson Mary Losenby
Lila Lee Tweeny
Bebe Daniels The King's Favorite
Theodore Roberts Lord Loam
Raymond Hatton Honorable Ernest Walley
Lawson Butt
Kamuela Searle
Mildred Reardon Agatha Lasenby
Robert Cain Lord Brockelhurst
Julia Faye Susan
Rhy Darby Lady Eileen Dun Craigie
Edmund Burns Treheme
Henry Woodward McGuire
Sydney Deane Thomas
Wesley Barry "Buttons"
Edna Mae Cooper Fisher
Lillian Leighton Mrs. Perkins
Guy Oliver Pilot of Lord Loam's Yacht
Clarence Burton Captain of Yacht
Mayme Kelso Lady Brockelhurst
Technical Credits
Cecil B. DeMille Director, Producer
Anne Bauchens Editor
Wilfred Buckland Art Director
Mitchell Leisen Costumes/Costume Designer
Jeannie Macpherson Screenwriter
Alvin Wyckoff Cinematographer
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