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Charge It (1921)

Charge It (1921) Equity Pictures. Distributor: Jans Film Service. Presented by Harry Garson. Director: Harry Garson. Story: Sada Cowan. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Herbert Rawlinson, Edward M. Kimball, Betty Blythe, Nigel Barrie, Hal Wilson, Dulcie Cooper. 7 reels. A 16mm print is held by the UCLA Film and Television Archives.

Julie shows what a good little saver she is--before she learns to "charge it" Charge it
Julia and husband (Herbert Rawlinson) make up (briefly) Charge it
Hubby gets the bills Charge it
Things are not going well at the country club dance (with Nigel Barry and Betty Blythe) Charge it
Click on thumbnails for larger view

Reviews from Moving Picture World
Review from the New York Times
Unidentified Review
Viewing comments

Reviews from Moving Picture World

June 11, 1921

"Charge It" Will Pay Cash

In precisely the sort of role suited to her talents, Clara Kimball Young will interest the masses with her new picture, "Charge It." It is a drama revolving around the iniquities of the charge account and is by way of being a warning to all womankind to beware the snare.

How anyone could avoid paying spot cash for everything after seeing "Charge It," is hard to imagine. The love of fine clothes is recognized as a basic instinct with woman, and the ease by which they are obtained through the charge account is in sharp and factual contrast with the disasters when the bills fall due. So faithful is the picture to the facts of life as we live it, that we brave the possible effect of the characterization, and call it a fine and practical moral lesson.

We are strongly of the opinion that department stores that encourage the charge account will not be delighted with "Charge It," and if the reformers find time idle on their hands the picture may suggest to them another constitutional amendment against this devil serving sin which flourishes like weed growth in our American garden.

The effect of the picture most certainly will be good.

There is also, by way of good diversion, a first-class thrashing administered by her husband to the villain bachelor, and it's a real affair with a neat knockout to top it off.

"Charge It" will pay cash dividends to the theatres.


June 25, 1921

Domestic Life As It Is, Theme of Clara Kimball Young's Latest Production, Which is Most Artistic.
Reviewed by Jessie Robb.

Those husbands who have had to foot the bills which their wives have charged will be the ones to enjoy to the fullest extent "Charge It," Clara Kimball Young's latest starring vehicle, a Harry Garson production. The enjoyment, however, will not be entirely masculine, as there is much to please the woman folk. It is a great preachment always to pay cash and not to live beyond your income. The theme is take from modern American domestic life, located in a more than prosperous suburb and concerns the troubles of a young couple when they begin to travel with the fast set which whizzes along at aeroplane speed, when said young couple can only afford a flivver. Eventually the husband wins out financially and otherwise. The story is well developed up to the climax, and then deliberately drops into an anti-climax. In less skilful hands this would be fatal. As it is, there is a distinct disappointment that a climax and finish equal to the first part of the story could not have been provided. Also some excess footage concerning the valet and his young daughter, who takes a taste of the gay life, could be eliminated.

Pictorially this production is delightfully artistic, smartly fashionable. The detail is good. Miss Young's performance is graceful and sincere. The husband of Herbert Rawlinson is especially fine. Players of more than ordinary reputations round out the cast. A picture of the eternal triangle, with a large amount of originality to interest.


Julia Lawrence Clara Kimball Young
Philip Lawrence Herbert Rawlinson
Tom Garreth Edward M. Kimball
Millie Garreth Betty Blythe
Dana Herrick Nigel Barrie
Robert McGregor Hal Wilson
Rose McGregor Dulcie Cooper
Story by Sada Cowan
Directed by Harry Garson
Photographed by Jacques Bizeul.
Length, 6,900 feet

The Story: Philip and Julia Lawrence are living happily and saving for a home. Tom Garreth, elderly millionaire and friend of the family, induces Philip to invest in stock, which is sure to make a fortune. This investment enables the Lawrences to join the country club. Julia, formerly economical, runs up large bills at the smart shops against Philip's wishes. Dana Herrick, the Lothario of this set, finds Julia attractive game, and arouses Millie's jealousy. Herrick's flirtation progresses, but Julia becomes constantly more discontented over her financial limitations. Philip discovers the flirtation and, exasperated over Julia's latest extravagance, quarrels with his wife. She goes to Herrick and finds that he is also having an affair with Millie. She leaves. Then follows a steadily downward path in her efforts to support herself, until she is check girl in a hotel. One evening Philip and Millie come to the hotel. Julia is recognized. Through Robert McGregor, Herrick's valet, she is cleared from all suspicions and leaves with Philip.

Program and Exploitation Catchlines: Do You Have a Charge Account and Do You Say "Charge It" Without Thinking of the Fatal First of the Month When the Bills Come in? Then See What Clara Kimball Young Does in "Charge It."
Charming Clara Kimball Young As the Pretty Wife in a Smart Drama of American Suburban Life.

Review from the New York Times, August 29, 1921

"Charge It," which brings Clara Kimball Young to the Capitol screen this week, is, as might be deduced from the title, a homily upon wifely extravagance. It its outline the story is thoroughly conventional, but it is adorned with a sufficient number of nice touches and bits to life it out of the ordinary and to make it an interesting film. Here and there it touches life, and unquestionably that is much to be thankful for.

This last is particularly true of the occasional moments of understanding between husband and wife--moments when a great deal is conveyed by the merest of glances. The story is not followed to a bitter and inevitable conclusion--the extravagances of the wife never bring the husband to ruin. This an item that the same picture would certainly have included some years ago. However, the present film deserves no particular credit for this slight departure from the conventional.

Miss Young's opportunities are not legion in "Charge It"; the chief requirements is that she shall be able to wear up-to-the-minute clothes, and at that Miss Young is adept. Herbert Rawlinson and Nigel Barrie stage a brisk fight that adds to the gayety of things.

Unidentified review

Charge It (Gaumont : Oct. 2).
A well-produced, well-acted photoplay, with Clara Kimball Young as the central figure. It is a social drama with a rather melodramatic flavour, and an intriguing love story with a wonderful display of gowns. Betty Blythe, Herbert Rawlinson, Nigel Barrie, and Hall Wilson are also in the cast.

Viewing Comments

A good film with a realistic plot that still has relevance today--trouble handling credit and a marriage foundering on disagreements about money. Young is particularly fine as the wife who becomes increasingly dissatisfied when she tries to keep up with the moneyed set. Betty Blythe is appropriately glamorous as the rich unfaithful wife who eggs Young on in her spending habits. An interesting subplot barely mentioned in the reviews is that of the envious maid, daughter of Herrick's bible-thumping valet. Her desire for nice things and her father's unreasonable strictness eventually drive her to run away for a career on the stage, an ambition for which she is woefully underqualified and where she ends up in a credit disaster of her own. It may be hoped that a collector has a print of this film somewhere that may make its way to video someday, it would be a worthy addition to Young's available titles.
Print viewed: Video transferred from 16mm print at the UCLA Film and Television Archives. The print was very dark and some titles illegible.

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Last revised July 7, 2007