The Constance Talmadge Double Feature
Kino // Unrated // $29.95 // March 16, 2010
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 3, 2010
Highly Recommended
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The Movies:
Kino has put out a pair of DVDs featuring two of the Talmadge Sisters, Norma and Constance.  They were both big stars in the silent era and had their own production companies.  (Their middle sister, Natalie only appeared in a few films and was Buster Keaton's first wife.)  The two sister's stage personalities were polar opposites.  The blond and perky Constance was a comedienne while the brunette Norma was a tragic heroine.   Both sisters are largely forgotten today and many of their films are lost.  The ones that survive are rarely shown.  That's why it's such a treat that Kino has dug up a total of four films by these two silent stars and released them on a pair of discs. 
The Constance Talmadge Collection includes two wonderful films both costarring Ronald Coleman.  It's a must-buy for silent comedy fans.
Her Night of Romance (1924):  This wonderfully amusing romantic comedy features Constance as a rich young heiress, Dorothy Adams, who travels to England in secret to get away from all of the fortune hunters back in the states.  As she states early in the film, men don't love her, they love her money and she hates them all.  That soon changes when she trips and is helped up by the dashing man who then leaves.  The man is Lord Paul Menford (Ronald Colman) a nobleman who has fallen on hard times and has to sell his estate.

In a series of coincidences that could only occur in a romantic comedy, Dorothy's butler confuses Menford with his uncle, who is a famous physician, and brings him to treat the young woman.  At the same time Dorothy's father offers to buy Lord Menford's estate.  When Menford and Dorothy arrive at his old home, the two have to pretend that they are married.  Add into the mix Menford's conniving business manager and you've got a recipe for a hilarious comedy.
I really enjoyed this movie a lot.  Constance was a top-notch comedienne who was incredibly funny.   Her facial expressions alone are enough to raise fits of laughter.  Pairing her with Ronald Coleman was a stoke of genius too.  Not only does he have a lot of comedic talent too, but the pair has a lot of screen chemistry too.  They play off each other wonderfully.  It's too bad that neither of these fine actors is better known today.
Her Sister from Paris (1925):  Made the following year, this is another great comedy.  Constance plays a dual role in this film and is quite good in both roles.
Helen Weyringer (Constance Talmadge) and her husband Joseph (Ronald Coleman) have been married a while and the spark has gone out.  After a fight Helen goes home to her mother's, but on the way remembers that her sister, a world-famous dancer and her identical twin (a single beauty mark is the only difference), is arriving in town that day.  She makes a detour to the train station where she has to fight the crowds to see her sibling Lola.  Once there together, Helen reveals her troubles and Lola has a plan...

Later, Joseph and his friend Robert (George K. Arthur) run into the wild, vivacious, and outgoing Lola and go out for a night on the town.  Both men are infatuated with the charismatic dancer from Paris and Joseph even plans to run away with her, but there's a snag in his plans.
While most viewers will predict the outcome of this film from the very beginning, it's not the result at the end we're watching the movie for, but the ride to get there.  And what a ride it is.  The film is filled with comic moments and once again Constance Talmadge shows what a talented comedienne she really is.  Ronald Coleman holds his own too, which is saying something.  Another great comic gem. 
The DVD:

These two films come on one single-sided DVD.
 These two films are accompanied by piano scores composed and performed by Bruce Loeb (Her Night of Romance) and Judith Rosenberg (Her Sister from Paris).  While I admit I prefer orchestral scores, these accompaniments were fine.  They were scene specific and though not as catchy as some scores, suited the movies well. 
Both movies were restored by the Library of Congress, and look great.  The contrast is excellent the prints are generally clear and the detail is very good.  There are some occasional specks here and there, but they aren't distracting in the least.  A very good looking pair of silent gems.
The only extra is a photo gallery.
Final Thoughts:
These two films were surprisingly good.  This was my first exposure to Constance Talmadge and I was duly impressed.  Both films are funny and enjoyable, and while they may be predictable it's fun getting to the ending anyway.  Highly Recommended.

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