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The Marionettes (1918)

The Marionettes (1918) C.K.Y. Film Corp. Distributor: Select Pictures Corp. Presenter: Clara Kimball Young. Director: Emile Chautard. Scenario: Frederick Chapin. Camera: Jacques Bizeul. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Nigel Barrie, Alec B. Francis, Florence Atkinson, Mrs. Helen Simpson, Mrs. Madeline Cadeux, Hazel Washburn, Mrs. Louise Bates, Carey Hastings, Corliss Giles, Edward Kimball, Mrs. Ethel Winthrop, Sam V. Phillips, John Dudley, Henry Warwick, Robert White, Henry Law, Arthur Marion, John Gaylor. 5 reels. This film is apparently LOST

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World
Review from Motion Picture Classic

Review from Variety, February 8, 1918

The Marionettes
Fernande de Monclars Clara Kimball Young
Marquise de Monclars Mrs. Ethel Winthrop
Madame de Jussy Florence Atkinson
Madame de Valmont Mrs. Helen Simpson
Madame de Briey Mrs. Madeline Cadeux
Barone Durieu Hazel Washburn
Mme. de Lancey Mrs. Louise Bates
Julie Carey Hastings
Roger de Monclars Nigel Barrie
Pierre Vareine Corliss Giles
Ferney Edward Kimball
Nizerolles Alec B. Francis

"The" Marionettes," Select, is the adaptation of the Pierre Wolff comedy in which Nazimova appeared several seasons ago. At basis, it is the old theme of the neglected wife, a plain little sparrow, who develops into a peacock and wins back forgetful hubby. Roger de Monclars is a spendthrift and heavily in debt. His mother refuses further financial assistance unless he marries a little convent-bred girl, daughter of a professor, on an adjoining estate. The marriage is consummated. But the young husband soon begins to neglect his plain little wife for the fascinating Madame de Jussy. The bride, Fernande, is heartbroken until a little marionette show provides her with the suggestion that fine feathers will attract the masculine sex and with the coming of suitors, her husband will be won back again. She blossoms forth in smart gowns and dashing hats. Fernande creates a sensation, and Rogers, just back from a flying trip to Monte Carlo with the fair de Jussy, is startled. But, after teaching him a lasting lesson in jealousy; Fernande falls into his arms again. "The Marionettes" is not a starring vehicle for Miss Young--just fairly interesting. Nor does the star appear at her best. The production is adequately directed by; Emile Chautard. Miss Young's cast varies. Nigel Barry, the former dancer, gives an expressionless performance of the husband, Roger. Curiously, the "marionette" show of "The Marionettes" is really a puppet show--at distinct variance with the pictured sub-titles. The sub-titles look a little like the advertising slides utilized in family theaters. The actual working is said to be the work of Anita Loos. They are intelligent but not electrifying.

Reviews from Moving Picture World

February 16, 1918

Clara Kimball Young in Screen Version of Pierre Wolff's State Play of Social Life--On Select Pictures Program.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

An excellent subtitle for "The Marionettes" would be "He Fell In Love with His Wife." This five-part screen version of Pierre Wolff's stage play, in which Clara Kimball Young and her company are now appearing, is simple in theme and shows the advantages and also the disadvantage of the French custom of having the parents arrange the marriages for their children. Fernande de Monclars, the part taken by the star, is a young girl brought up in a convent who is married to a man she loves devotedly, but her husband has consented to the union for the sole reason that it will relieve him of his debts. Fernande's childlike innocence is typical of the French stage ingenue, and she begins her married life by wearing the simplest frocks and making no effort to fill her position as the mistress of a fine establishment.

One night, after becoming sensible of her husband's neglect, she goes to a private marionette performance and sees a forcible example of the consequences of a wife's dressing unbecomingly and not trying to keep her husband at his own fireside. The marionette heroine is left to mope at home, while hubby does gallivanting off with another charmer. Fernande starts in the next day to profit by the lesson. She orders all sorts of gay feathers and starts a number of flirtations in imitation of the most experienced woman of the French social world. Her husband begins by having his jealousy aroused and ends by falling madly in love with Fernande. She keeps him at a distance for a time, then capitulates. Contrary to the usual construction of such a story, no mention is made of a duel.

Taken on its own grounds, "The Marionettes" is good screen material. The plot is not at all complicated and is free from any suggestion of the darker side of life. It introduces a number of well-bred persons in pleasing surroundings and has been produced under the direction of Emile Chautard with understanding and liberality. The society scenes are especially well done and the French atmosphere is maintained with skill.

Clara Kimball Young is a trifle mature looking for Fernande in the earlier scenes, but acts the part convincingly and makes a series of stunning pictures in the elaborate toilets worn in the latter half of the picture. Nigel Barrie is excellent as the husband, and important roles are competently filled by Mrs. Ethel Winthrop as Marquise de Monclars, Carey Hastings as Julie, Corliss Giles as Pierre Vareine, Edward Kimball as Ferney and Alec B. Francis as Zizerolles.

January 19, 1918

Clara Kimball Young and Her Own Company Present Their Screen Interpretation of the French Play of the Same Title by Pierre Wolff.


Fernande de Monclars Clara Kimball Young
Marquise de Monclars Mrs. Ethel Winthrop
Roger de Monclars Nigel Barrie
Pierre Vareine Corliss Giles
Ferney, Fernande's uncle Edward Kimball
Nizerolles Alec B. Francis
Directed by Emile Chautard.

The Story: Fernande de Ferney, a young French girl, has spent her time between the convent and the country home of her uncle, where she has learned to passionately love Roger, the son of the Marquise de Monclars. The marries her for her fortune, but does not value what he has so lightly won until she profits by the lesson taught in the little marionette play written by their friend Nizerolles, and finds that men are much like marionettes.

For the Program: She found that clothes make the woman.
There are two routes to a man's heart--his stomach and jealousy.

Advertising Phrases: The country mouse learns city ways.
The dressmaker is cupid's best friend.

Feature These Players: Clara Kimball Young. Refer to Magda or Shirley Kaye if you have shown those productions.
Nigel Barry as the indifferent husband.

Stunt Suggestions: For the lobby use marionettes, large dolls with strings fastened to the tops of their heads and to hands and feet. If you can rig a motor with an eccentric shaft you can give motion to the figures and greatly increase the attraction of the display. The same display can be used for store windows with a card, "To gain your husband's love dress well and make him jealous. That is the lesson taught in the Clara Kimball Young production of "The Marionettes at (house and date). Come in and see our displays." With a little trouble you can erect a float with a proscenium on either side with marionettes taking their motion from the vibration of the vehicle if they are strung with springs.

Advertising Aids: Two styles each one and three-sheets. One style each six and 24-sheets. Window cards. Heralds. Lobby displays 8x10, 11x14 and 22x28. One three-column cut and two each two and one-column cuts on production, one each one-half, one and two-column cuts of star.
Released in January.

Review from Motion Picture Classic, May 1918, p. 73, by Frederick James Smith, "The Celluloid Critic" [Thanks to Randy Bigham for this review]

"... Clara Kimball Young's latest, The Marionettes, adapted from Pierre Wolff's play, is light material, the star playing a little convent-bred girl who is married by her family to a dissolute young nobleman. She becomes a butterfly of course and fascinates her errant hubby back into the fold again. Miss Young is better in her more sophisticated moments, while Nigel Barrie, who does the husband, is expressionless. He has, however, the most dramatic spats to be observed anywhere in the celluloid drama ..."

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Last revised October 13, 2005