Evidence (1929) Warner Brothers Pictures. Director: John G. Adolfi. Scenario-Dialog: J. Grubb Alexander. Titles: De Leon Anthony. Photography: Barney McGill. Editor: Robert Crandall. Song, Little Cavalier: Al Duban, M.K. Jerome. Cast: Pauline Frederick, William Courtenay, Conway Tearle, Lowell Sherman, Alec B. Francis, Freddie Burke Frederick, Madeline Seymour, Ivan Simpson, Myrna Loy, Lionel Belmore. 8 reels, Vitaphone. This film is LOSTthough Vitaphone discs for all reels exist at the UCLA film and Television archives
This was the only film in which Frederick sang.
|Lowell Sherman has a timely accident. Conway Tearle checks him out while Polly watches.
|Women in silent films are afflicted with husbands who always suspect the worst of them. William Courtenay carries the thankless role into the talkies.
|Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for this scan.
|A herald I got on eBay. Left is the outside, right is the inside|
Warner Bros. production and release. Starring Pauline Frederic. Directed by John G. Adolfi from stage play, "Divorce Evidence," by J. Du Rocher MacPherson. Screen adaptation and dialog by J. Grubb Alexander. At Mark Strand, New York, Oct. 4. Running time, 79 min.
|Myra Stanhope||Pauline Frederick|
|Cyril Wymborne||William Courtenay|
|Harold Courteney||Conway Tearle|
|Norman Pollock||Lowell Sherman|
|Harbison||Alec B. Francis|
|Kenyon Wymborne||Freddie Burke Frederick|
|Mrs. Debenham||Madeline Seymour|
|Native girl||Myrna Loy|
This sure fire "mother" motif in "Evidence" plus its interpretation by Pauline Frederick and a wholesome supporting cast, cannot miss bringing this one into the money getting class.
Story and direction receives more than usual attention and care, with John Adolfi turning out a fine all-around job in coursing the action. Warners are understood to have considered tagging this in the special cases before eventually deciding to let it go as a programmer. Decision appears for the better. The multitude of picture goers and a good many Frederick fans may have hesitated to pull the purse strings for $2, but will certainly go for this a pop scale. And it's not a special anyway, unless for Miss Frederick who again demonstrates a tear jerking mother part to its fullest extent, getting some superb emotional acting out of it without becoming balmy or maudlin. Which is another reason why "Evidence" is as convincing as it is.
Consistency of the cast, but with one minor exception, enters as an important factor in building and holding several tightly strung high spots. Seems too bad to put a 29 year-old head on a six-year-old's shoulders. That's just wheat they did with young Freddie Frederick (not Miss Frederick's son), a cute and promising kid, but extremely mechanical in this picture. They put words in the youngster's mouth that would do credit to a divinity student, at the same time taking away from him all those juvenile attributes the average audience will be disappointed in not finding.
A vivid and human problem is treated here with becoming restraint, and blazing expletives, touching the heart strings all the time. A faithful wife and devoted mother stands unjustly convicted of an indiscretion on circumstantial evidence brought about by a jealousy-crazed rejected suitor. There is a splendid court scene, where Miss Frederick rises to heights in renouncing her rights as wife and mother, finding herself the victim of circumstances with no one to believe her. She is forced to give her child to the father, turning to an emblem of justice in the courtroom and laughing hysterically.
The action jumps six years. Child has been brought up with no knowledge of his mother and the father is contemplating marriage again. A chance meeting in the park brings mother and child together. She comes to see him at home and is discovered by the husband, who turns a deaf ear to her pleas and sends her away. The child follows his mother, leaving a suspicion of having been kidnapped. A friend of the family, secretly in love with the woman, remonstrates with the husband and breaks off their friendship. By a twist of conscience the rejected suitor appears on the scene with a signed confession absolving the woman, but will not relinquish it unless she agrees to his bargain. It [sic] a fit of remorse and illness he chokes on a glass of liquor and dies just as the vindictive husband and loyal friend arrive.
There is a touching tete-a-tete between the woman and man who fears to speak of his love for her, bowing out gracefully when he understands her unchanged feeling for her husband. With the evidence of her innocence in hand she confronts the man who made her suffer, who asks for and is granted forgiveness with the bond of their child linking them.
William Courtenay expresses the husband with a fine touch, always convincing and never theatrical. An outstanding bit is that of Lowell Sherman on the other end of the triangle. Sherman has two punch spots in the picture at the start and close, bringing both together in a splendid performance. Comparatively and through handling a role of proportionate unimportance, Conway Tearle carries a sympathetic strain, while giving a bang-up account of himself in what little he does. Tearle, long a silent-screen luminary, should find a place in the talkers. His previous stage background gives him a distinguished touch.
"Evidence" is a personal triumph for Miss Frederick, but just as much a box office one for its producers.
Pauline Frederick gives a fine performance in this old-fashioned drammer of circumstantial evidence in the divorce courts. We all knew that Polly would be grand in the talkies. If it weren't for a fine cast of stage and screen vets, this picture would creak even worse than it does. Conway Tearle and William Courtenay head an excellent troupe. All Talkie.
Last revised, October 30, 2009