Chicago Tribune – Monday, October 2, 1916 – Page 19
An interesting Picture Well Done
“Diane of the Follies”
Written by Granville Warwick
Produced by Fine Arts
Directed by Christy Cabanne
Released by Triangle
- Diane …………………………………. Lillian Gish
- Phillips Christy …………..…. Sam de Grasse
- Dea Livingston ………………… Howard Gaye
- Marcia Christy ………….….. Lillian Langdon
- Jimmie Darcy ……………………… A. D. Sears
- Theatrical manager ……….… Wilbur Higby
- Butler …………………….…… William de Vaull
- Bijou Christy ………. Wilhelmina Siegmann
Girls from the Follies – Adele Clifton, Clara Morris, Helen Walcott, Gracie Heins
By Kitty Kelly
It is curious to see the cameo faced Lillian Gish capering about as a dancer of the follies. Her general sedateness has faded far in “Diane of the Follies” and she is as tempestuous a whirlwind as Gaby Deslys at her palmist.
“Diane of the Follies” is a curious thing, too. It is rather embarrassed with ideas, but some of them got mixed up with themselves and didn’t come through to a finish, resulting in a certain illogicalness. They are the effect of environment and the husband’s lack of sympathy and his companionable neglect of his wife. The result is matrimonial shipwreck, but as the story seems to indicate, a much desired personal freedom.
Diana is a young hypocrite, not so much intentionally as in effect. She is a product of the stage and her ruling characteristic is the chameleon quality of changing her personality to fit histrionically the environment in which she finds herself. The breath of life to her is the applause of approval which she gets in liberal measure from the other side of the footlights.
Naturally she is a shallow thing, but she has a good heart which might have been cultivated, but which the husband allows to lie fallow. She wishes to join to his intellectual pursuits; he shuts her out, but includes the elderly sister who has always kept his house for him. And furthermore he grows bored at Diane’s efforts to attract and please him. The marvel is that with her nature she stuck it out three years or more, arguing a character ballast undreamed of.
There comes a domestic crisis in which she flings off to the stage and glory. Then the baby, the only joy that came to her from the marriage died, thus breaking all ties. Diane goes forever to the life she loved and knew and leaves her respectable husband to his version of the same.
It is an extremely interesting picture, extremely well done. Sometimes Miss Gish’s Diane is just a little too temperamental and certain mannerisms are too obvious. Sometimes she jerks about altogether too much. But her characterization of the variously mooded Diane is quite an achievement on the whole. She makes her live and further, enlists our sympathies.
It isn’t the socially correct and outraged husband and sister whom one pities, though they did get ridden over rather roughly; it is poor thing trying, unappreciated, tempestuous tempered Diane. The husband might at least have tried to make something of her, but he seemed not to. The conclusion is that sympathy must be a factor in environment if the latter is to have any influence.
Here as ever in Fine Arts films, the little things are exquisitely done. They are too numerous and too small to receive attention in chronicling, but they are really, the mainstay of the picture. The natural human things the supporting players do provide an atmosphere of reality as background for the main thread of the story. For instance here, the quiet, well bred disgruntlement of the sister keys the whole affair into naturalness. Such bits abound.
A lot of people won’t like it because it has a queer heroine, but she is no queerer and a deal realer than the weird vampire things set forth so successfully. And a lot of people will like it because it is an interesting thing set forth skillfully.
One of the loveliest picture bits I’ve ever seen is that where Diane, leaving, remembers the baby in the nursery – but does not go to kiss him good-by.