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The Worldly Madonna (1922)

The Worldly Madonna (1922) Harry Garson Productions. Distributor: Equity Pictures. Presenter: Harry Garson. Director: Harry Garson. Scenario: Sada Cowan. Camera: Arthur Edeson. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, William P. Carleton, Richard Tucker, George Hackathorne, Jean De Limur. William Marion, Milla Davenport. 6 reels.

This film is available on video, and a 16mm print is in the Blackhawk collection. This was the last Young film released through Equity, the company created chiefly to distribute her films.

Reviews from Moving Picture World
Video Review

Reviews from Moving Picture World

April 14, 1922

Clara Kimball Young Plays Dual Role in Entertaining Equity Melodrama.
Reviewed by Roger Ferri.

Clara Kimball Young has furnished exhibitors with many box-office pictures this season, but "The Worldly Madonna" represents her best work. In the first place, the production, a melodrama, fills every requirement of the shopping exhibitor, it is melodramatic and clever with every opportunity for original and box-office attraction exploitation.

The story is one of the most original and entertaining in which she has appeared, in spite of the fact that the dual role Miss Young plays calls for the best in any artiste, and in this instance this magnetic star establishes herself as a player of a most superlative order. What is more the two roles are as different from each other as day and night. The entire production glorifies Clara Kimball Young and will make your patrons seek more of this sort of character work on the part of this star.

Miss Young scores a distinct and individual triumph in this special. As Lucy, the cabaret entertainer, she is extremely wayward in her ways, while as Janet, a novitiate at the Convent, she is lovable and innocent. To further complicate this dual characterization the story calls for a double deception in the identity of the two that injects into the picture a twist that is melodramatically sensational, although there are one or two spots that are not made fully clear.

The picture, as a whole, is a fine entertainment vehicle with each player doing his or her work admirably. George Hackathorne a the hunchback, Richard Travers as Allan Graves and William P. Carleton as the politician, do particularly brilliant work. The direction is good. The settings are elaborate, consistent in general with the picture itself, which is lavishly produced.


Janet Trevor, Lucy Trevor Clara Kimball Young
John McBride William P. Carleton
Allan Graves Richard Tucker
Ramez George Hackathorne
Toni Lorenz Count De Limur
Dr. Krell William Marlon
Jail Matron Milla Davenport
Directed by Harry Garson
Length, 6 reels

The Story: Janet Trevor, a novitiate at the Convent, in order to save her twin sister, Lucy, a cabaret entertainer, agrees to change places with the latter, who believes she has committed a murder. It develops that the supposed victim is John McBride, a politician loved by both. The latter, however, had only been stunned Allan Graves, a crooked restaurateur, makes threats against McBride and later accuses Janet, believing her to by Lucy, of having been a witness to the murder of Toni Lorenz, whom the politician is accused of killing. Ramez, a hunchback, confesses to this crime, but not until after the deception of the two girls is made known. Graves, however, refused to accept the confession and accuses Lucy, who confesses being a drug addict, but stoutly denies any part in the crime or that McBride had killed Lorenz. Finally McBride discloses the double-dealing or Lorenz, who, instead, of having been murdered, had been bribed to leave the country so that Graves could get McBride in his power. With these disclosures, McBride tells of his love for Janet, while Lucy finds happiness in her new life of peace taught her by her unselfish sister.

Straight from the Shoulder Reports (from exhibitors)

April 12, 1922
WORLDLY MADONNA. Here is an A No. 1 picture, fit for any theatre to show and they will like it; if not, tell the they don't know what a picture is. Pleased. Attendance: good. A.E. Rogers, Temple Theatre, Dexter, New York.

September 16, 1921
WORLDLY MADONNA. Not much of a picture to help Metro to sell the star's new output. The theme is not likely to meet with the approval of the Catholics in your town or city and the theme is an impossible one. Let's hope that Harry Garson will do better for Metro. Advertising; billed heavy. Patronage: mostly ladies. Attendance: very poor. M.F. Schnibben, Opera House, Florence, South Carolina.

Viewing Comments

A disappointing film for Young, a rare double part that doesn't quite come off. It is perhaps unfair to judge, given that the version viewed is missing at least one scene (bridged by titles) and, at 47 minutes, must be missing more. In addition, the ending has been changed. Still, even in its present state Young gives an uneven performance. She is blankly virtuous as the novitiate, but is well suited to the worldly sister--duplicitous, flirtatious, and desperate. Unfortunately the more interesting sister has much less screen time and practically disappears ones she enters the convent. There is an air of cheapness about the film, and little in the way of gowns (the choice of dress for the worldly sister's nightclub act is particularly unfortunate). Designer Ben Carre has, however done a remarkable job in the nightclub where much of the action takes place, using some painting techniques possibly inspired by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to create the "Cubist Cafe" out of what looks to be a very plain set underneath. The muddled plot could be chalked up to the missing footage, except that even the normally laudatory Moving Picture World notes that the full length version doesn't make much sense. The ending has been changed to what would seem to be one less offensive to Catholics, a problem noted by the South Carolina exhibitor report above.
The film is available on Video from Grapevine. The image is dark and rather soft, and the organ score is lackluster. It is also available from Movies Unlimited, Facets, PicPal, Nostalgia Family Video, Ebony Showcase Theatre, Hollywoods Attic, TV Video, Ronny Cramer's Cult Film Site, Foothill, and other public domain video dealers.

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Last revised April 14, 2007