Cecil B. DeMille directed this risque all-star revue of decadence which must have been jaw-dropping in 1921 and which remains astonishing today, although for entirely different reasons.
Anatol de Witt Spencer (Wallace Reid), as incredibly wealthy as he is naive, and his child-like bride, Vivian (Gloria Swanson), are on their honeymoon. At a posh speakeasy he spies his high school sweetheart, Emilie (Wanda Hawley), from Pompton Lakes, New Jersey (DeMille’s own hometown), who is obviously the sex toy of flamboyant old Gordon Bronson (known on Wall Street as the Man of Iron, but here as the Man of Dough). To Vivian’s dismay, idealistic Anatol decides to rescue the seductive Emilie, sets her up in an expensive apartment and gets her violin lessons, but she won’t change her stripes and goes back to Bronson. The Spencers then try a second honeymoon, but they are no sooner settled into a simple country life than almost the same thing happens again, this time with the thieving wife (Agnes Ayres) of a self-righteous deacon (Monte Blue).
Not only does DeMille show women smoking, drinking (during Prohibition), exposing body parts seldom seen on a movie screen, and frankly pursuing men who attract them; he also presents this debauchery with amazing visual flair. DeMille clearly meant The Affairs of Anatol to be as much a decorative feast. With design by Erte, elegant Spencers honeymoon in sets that look like the work of Aubrey Beardsley on stimulants; Satan Synne’s cape and tiara look like an octopus made of pearls, and all this exoticism is enriched by many striking and unusual lighting effects.
This DVD edition is digitally mastered from an elaborate original print featuring hand coloring, stencil coloring, and dozens of changes in color tint and tone, in itself a striking work of art. The Affairs of Anatol is presented at a visually correct projection speed (21 frames per second) with a digital stereo score compiled by Brian Benison from authentic silent cinema music.
The Affairs of Anatol
Length: 117 minutes
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Music: Complied and performed by Brian Benison
Produced for DVD by David Shepard
From the Blackhawk Films Collection
Presented by Flicker Alley