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The Moth (1917)

The Moth (1917) Norma Talmadge Film Corporation/Select Pictures Corporation. Presented by Joseph Schenck. Directed by Edward José. Scenario by John B. Clymer and Harry O. Hoyd. Camera by Edward Wynard and Ben Struckman. Gowns by Lucile and Henri Bendel. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Hassard Short, Eugene O'Brien, Virginia Dare, Adolph Menjou, Donald Hall, Maude Allen, Frank Kingdon, Robert Vivian, Kenneth Worms, Aida Armand, Lorna Volare. 6 reels. Copies of reels 1-4 are located at the Library of Congress (35 mm.)

Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror
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Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, October 13, 1917


Six-Part Drama Featuring Norma Talmadge. Produced by the Norma Talmadge Film Co. Under the Direction of Edward Jose. Released by Select Pictures.

The Players.--Norma Talmadge, Hassard Short, Eugene O'Brien, Virginia Dare, Adolph Menjou, Donald Hall, Maud Allen, Frank Kingdon, Robert Vivian, Kenneth Worms, and Aida Armand.

A strong cast. The excellent direction. A story of a morbid character.

Domestic difficulties have a morbid fascination for all onlookers. In "The Moth" we see a worthless husband demand more and more money from his wife, with which he maintains a second establishment. We next see him advising the lady in charge to marry some rich man but not to drop their relations, and finally we see suicides, blackmail and illicit love making. And so the morbidness loses its fascination and just naturally turns to disgust.

"The Moth" first shows a romantic young girl married off before she reaches the age of discretion to a society bounder. The story then follows their married life through a succession of episodes that play upon two of the spectators' emotion--pity, for the wife, and hate, for the husband and his friends.

The thoroughly able acting of the company of players, who have been well chosen, brings out every single point in the story to its full value. Individually they contribute performances that are effective. Norma Talmadge, the star, is excellent and the great number of attractive gowns that she wears will appeal to the feminine portion of the audience. In directing the picture Edward Jose carries out his reputation for masterful work. He has carefully developed the plot, established atmosphere and his settings are correct and tasteful. The action progresses evenly and he has not allowed the interest to lag during the six reels.

Although "The Moth" is not morally harmful it is not just the thing to exhibit to audiences of young people. It will certainly please the morbidly inclined.


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Only the first 4 reels survive, which is unfortunate because it was quite good--better than the Law of Compensation and the existing fragments of Poppy. Norma's character is more complex than usual--basically good, but something of a tease; her frivolity is not as frantic as it sometimes is and she stands up to her jerk husband for a change. A pretty good story about a confused young woman married too young, and, realizing her empty life, slowly (and somewhat fitfully) takes charge of herself and gets her life in order. I'm afraid i didn't think the mustache did much for Eugene O'Brien. It was fun to see Adolphe Menjou, already pretty much the way he'd be for the next 30 years.
Print viewed: 35 mm print at the Library of Congress.

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Last revised, August 11, 2007