Male and Female - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Male and Female Reviews

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February 1, 2019
The best romance movie ever made!
April 23, 2015
good silent actioner
½ January 4, 2015
This is a movie that has great first and third act, but mediocre mid part which is problematic having in mind that that part on the island is the longest and it weakens the whole film. It explores well the subject of social class and the conclusion is quite satisfying, but the gender relations subject is not properly done mainly due to sexist overtones. DeMille's direction is weak, the movie is structurally uneven and it has some detours, but the scenery is solid, the role reversal is interesting and the film is thematically rich and very involving, albeit flawed experience.
June 3, 2012
Gloria Swanson starts again, this time as British noble class, who shipwrecks with her family, butler and chamber maid on a tropical deserted island. Soon, the butler is running the whole island and class roles go Topsy-turvy. Based on a stage play by J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan).
½ November 14, 2011
Though I do not understand at all, Crichton's appreciation for Mary.. I thoroughly enjoyed it anyways.
October 3, 2011
thoroughly enjoyed this movie. beautiful women, sophisticated men, a dry and clever sense of humour, and a bittersweet love story. the fantasy element is terrific as well--the story starts off realistically, then veers away from reality with the shipwreck, then goes completely off into Babylonian dreamland, then eases back into reality again. a true cinematic escape.
October 3, 2011
thoroughly enjoyed this movie. beautiful women, sophisticated men, a dry and clever sense of humour, and a bittersweet love story. the fantasy element is terrific as well--the story starts off realistically, then veers away from reality with the shipwreck, then goes completely off into Babylonian dreamland, then eases back into reality again. a true cinematic escape.
August 14, 2011
Maybe If the Leopard Had Killed Gloria Swanson?

I strongly suspect the producers of [i]Red Dwarf[/i] of being familiar with the original play, if not necessarily this version thereof. After all, their "only competent person in a small group trapped far from anyone else" is named Kryten. I suspect that growing up in the UK probably kept them better acquainted with the not-[i]Peter Pan[/i] works of J. M. Barrie than the average American is. Not only that, but they're substantially older than I and therefore had a quite different education. It is certainly true that the crew, what there is of it for most of the series, of the [i]Red Dwarf[/i] would have died had the ship not provided for their needs, and most of the characters in this would have died on their deserted island had not they had a single competent figure. One rather begins to wonder how they all survived in London, come to that.

William Crichton (Thomas Meighan) is the butler to Lord Loam (Theodore Roberts) and his family. Most notably his daughter, Lady Mary Lasenby (Gloria Swanson). Lady Mary is supposed to marry someone much more suitable, but first, the family goes off on a cruise through the South Seas. Tweeny (Lila Lee), the scullery maid, somehow gets to go along as a ladies' maid, because she wants to be close to Crichton. But Crichton only has eyes for Lady Mary. While someone, I missed who, is consoling Tweeny, he manages to steer the boat into a cliff, because they're about twelve feet off the shore of an island and not paying attention to it. Anyway, Crichton, as the one who can keep them alive, gets seriously declared king of the island, and he gets whatever he wants--until they see a ship.

There's also the little matter of Lady Mary's friend, Lady Eileen Duncraigie (Rhy Darby), who fell in love with her chauffeur (Henry Woodward) and married him. She is, naturally, completely ruined. Her father casts her out--and, not incidentally, fires her husband--and her husband's friends want nothing to do with her. Lady Mary had initially advised her friend against the marriage, and it is only after the return from the island that she insists that love should be enough for anyone. Which actually then ends in loveless marriages all 'round, I think--or at least loveless on one side. Crichton and Lady Mary would probably end up being completely miserable, though for reasons that have little to do with class, but I don't think his marrying someone he doesn't care two pins about is better.

I'm not familiar with the poet Lady Mary and Crichton keep quoting, but I have some serious problems with it. Namely the idea that you can have a king in Babylon and a Christian slave at the same time. By the time there were Christians to be slaves, there were no kings left in Babylon. Oh, it gives rise to one of those glorious Cecil B. DeMille set pieces--one of the first, in fact. And, in true DeMille style, that was Gloria Swanson with actual lions. The original play is called [i]The Admirable Crichton[/i], and it's certainly true that there is much to be admired about him. It's just that his taste in literature is, to my mind, lacking. Though it is rather typical of the popular poetry of the era.

Honestly, I don't believe they were on an island at all. I think they were on a peninsula and could have gotten to civilization at any time. The simple fact is, that "island" has too large a population of jaguars. And that's leaving aside that the only other large animals we ever see are the humans. However, I think the other people were too incompetent to ever consider such a thing, and I think Crichton rather liked having them under his power at last. I mean, he ate his meals in solitary splendor, being waited on by the women. There was no sharing, despite the fact that communal living is smarter under the circumstances they were in. On the other hand, these were members of the British aristocracy, and being subservient to their own butler was probably more comforting to them than being equal to him.
August 12, 2010
great showcase for swanson
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2009
"Male and Female" is one of the early feature-length films produced and directed by Cecil DeMille and one of the first films he made with Gloria Swanson as the lead actress. Unfortunately I cannot recommend it. The film gets better in the second half, but the first 70 minutes or so are interminable. With a running time of nearly two hours, it's a long haul. Even in 1919, great directors were revealing their chief weakness: the refusal to edit themselves. If 30 or 40% of the footage were cut away, "Male and Female" might be ideal.

But excessive length and slack editing are not the only problems. There also is the thick, simplistic moralizing and the retrograde view of gender roles. Several members of a very rich English family are marooned on an island with some of their servants when their yacht capsizes. Swanson plays the eldest daughter in the clan. Thomas Meighan, who in his day was a major star, plays the family's head butler.

The servants immediately take the lead on finding food and building shelter on the island, but the aristocrats quickly shed their sense of privilege and pitch in. With class differences disappearing, Swanson's character realizes she's in love with the butler, who emerges as the natural leader on the island. It was nice to see the aristocrats acknowledging that in some cases a lower-class person has more leadership ability than they. But once class privilege is demolished, it's replaced by male-supremacism! The butler starts to be worshipped by the women, who fight against each other for the right to serve him dinner! He sits in his king-like throne being waited on. And what's pathetic is that DeMille does not present this ironically. He seems to believe that female subordination is an important part of the natural order.

I am surprised and disgusted that Swanson allowed herself to be used by DeMille in the construction of this gross endorsement of male supremacy, particularly at a time when the women's suffrage movement was reaching a crescendo in the United States. I'm glad Americans did not take their leadership from men like DeMille or women like Swanson.

The story shifts back to class in the last segment. The family is rescued from the island, and immediately class stratification reasserts itself. Once back in London, the butler realizes that he would never be able to support Swanson's character and resists her initial suggestions that they have a go at marriage. The sense of fatalism that washes over both of them is complex. This is DeMille at his best. Too bad he's at his worst throughout most of the picture.
August 8, 2009
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½ July 31, 2009
Delightful silent film about a shipwrecked British family and their servants, with a great cast; story based on James Matthew Barrie's classic play The Admirable Crichton. The class structure in Britain at the time is gently ridiculed throughout and therein lies the fun.
Special mention goes to Thomas Meighan's incredible performance as the butler Crichton who falls in love with the aristocratic daughter of Lord Loam, Lady Mary. Thomas was so manly, tall, muscular and handsome, completely fascinating to watch in this role, and every other role I have ever seen him in. No wonder he was so popular as a leading man in silents. As far as I am concerned he stole the show. You couldn't take your eyes off him. :)
Gloria Swanson brings a vulnerability to her role, which in the beginning is pretty unsympathetic. During their time on the island she grows the most emotionally, and one cannot help but feel sad for her at the end. Her character gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and the scullery maid Tweeny (pixie Lila Lee) gets the Grand Prize and moves to America to start a new life with Crichton.
One strange thing about this version: there was a crew of men on board the boat, but after the shipwreck they are not seen or heard from again. What happened to them? Only Lord Loam and his children and two servants survive, as far as we can determine. Yet we see this crew rowing away from the site of the wreck, two years go by, and they are never accounted for. Odd.
The musical score is pretty here but sounded a bit synthetic at times. I would have preferred a straight piano score, her piano moments were lovely.
I really enjoyed this silent film. But then I have read almost everything James Barrie has written, so it's not surprising I would love Male and Female, based on his play. I just wish at least one of the silent versions of his "The Little Minister" would have been great, especially the one with Betty Compson.
June 15, 2009
MALE AND FEMALE is a wonderful silent film from 1919, and stars Gloria Swanson. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, this movie is based on J.M. Barrie's play "The Admirable Crichton". Crichton is played by Thomas Meighan, who is the bulter in love with Swanson who plays an aristocrat. When Swanson's character and her family decide to sail the high seas, they are shipwrecked on a tropical island along with their servants. While living on the island, the tables are turned - the servants are now in charge and the aristocrats are now the servants, as Crichton, the bulter has survival skills needed. I recently purchased a DVD collection of Gloria Swanson's films, and very proud to own a copy of this film. The quality is excellent and the music is absolutely beautiful and fitting to the scenes. This film is a must for all Gloria Swanson fans.
September 20, 2008
very enjoyable and thought provoking
½ April 25, 2008
Though I do not understand at all, Crichton's appreciation for Mary.. I thoroughly enjoyed it anyways.
July 3, 2007
... great scenarios, great story... suprising end for our time...
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