Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 10:15


John Emerson
Piano accompaniment by

Maud Nelissen and Donald Sosin


Saturday 02/07/2016


Original version with simultaneous translation through headphones


Film Notes

This seems to be the third film Frank Borzage directed, then aged twenty- two. He does not act in it, and the scenario was written by someone called Lorimer Johnston, then aged fifty-eight. The print is of poor quality, the image blurred. Nothing enthralling in the plot or the characters – an aged organist, the aged organist’s daughter and a young organist, who might be a crook. I find myself in serious trouble explaining why this grey little film appears to me like a perfect Borzage, a beautiful, moving work, unpretentious, emanating a great sense of harmony and humanity. How much of Borzage have we seen since he was rediscovered twenty-five years ago? Far too little for our good.

Mariann Lewinsky

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Lorimer Johnston. Int.: George Periolat (Josiah Pringle), Vivian Rich (Faith Pringle), Gayne Whitman (Gordon Howard), Antrim Short. Prod.: American Film Manufacturing Company. 35mm. L.: 870 m. D.: 42’ a 18 f/s. Bn.


Film Notes

According to Anita Loos’ highly unreliable (but diverting) memoir The Talmadge Girls, D.W. Griffith, as supervisor for the Fine Arts Corporation, asked Loos to write a script for Norma Talmadge after being pestered by Talmadge’s formidable mother Peg. Whatever the truth, Loos’ future husband John Emerson began shooting The Social Secretary in Triangle’s Yonkers studio by late June 1916, and was finished in three weeks. Reviews were glowing, with the greatest praise going to Norma, such as Thomas C. Kennedy in “Motography”: “There is no doubt that the girl around whom Miss Loos wrote this melodramatic comedy makes an irresistible bid for the affection and sympathy of the spectator but one cannot be so sure that this fact is traceable to the author’s efforts. The medium has a lot to do with it and in this case the medium is Norma Talmadge”. The actress had been charming audiences for five years at Vitagraph, but now the big time loomed, and one month after the release of The Social Secretary, Lewis Selznick formed the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation, with her future husband Joseph Schenck as president.
Film historians frequently discuss the ‘novel’ treatment of sexual harassment here, yet the main complaint by critics of the era was that the subject already felt old hat. Such are the pitfalls of scholarship too focused on present-day sensibilities, without sufficient historical background.

Jay Weissberg

Cast and Credits

Scen: Anita Loos, Alfred H. Moses Jr., John Emerson. F.: Alfred H. Moses, Jr. Ass. regia: Erich von Stroheim. Int.: Norma Talmadge (Mayme), Kate Lester (signora Peabody-de Puyster), Helen Weer (Elsie de Puyster), Gladden James (Jimmie de Puyster), Herbert Frank (conte Limonittiez), Eric von Stroheim (Adam Buzzard), Nathaniel Sack. Prod.: Fine Arts Film Co. / Triangle Film Corp. 16mm. L.: 1111 m. D.: 56’ a 18 f/s. Tinted.