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She Loves and Lies (1920)

She Loves and Lies (1920) Norma Talmadge Film Corporation/Select Pictures Corporation. Produced by Joseph M. Schenck. Directed by Chester Withey. Scenario by Grant Cooper and Chester Withey. Camera by David Abel. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Conway Tearle, Octavia Broske, Phillips Tead, Ida Darling, Jack Dillon, Eva Gordon. 6 reels. Reels 1, 3-6 (some deterioration) are located at the Library of Congress (35 mm.)

An English advertisement for the film under the title of The Marriage Swindle, courtesy of Derek Boothroyd

Review from Variety
Review and advertising aids from Moving Picture World
Viewing comments

Review from Variety, January 9, 1920


Marie Callender Norma Talmadge
Ernest Lismore Conway Tearle
Polly Poplar Octavia Broske
Bob Brummel Phillips Tead

This Select picture, presented by Jos. Schenck, is especially for kissers, kissed, and those who hope to be kissed, expect to be kissed or want to learn how to kiss. In this delicate art Norma Talmadge in "She Loves and Lies" gives lessons and examples and does so charmingly.

The story was originally by Wilkie Collins (whose name is misspelled on the screen) and was adapted by Grant Carpenter and Chester Whitey [i.e. Whithey]. The latter directed cleverly and the photography was excellent. The completed product is a happy mixture of farce and comedy and the gay, pretty, and amusing scenes.

Miss Talmadge appears as Marie Callender, known on the stage as Marie Max. Because he wants her to so much and because Auntie reads the cards to that effect Marie engages herself to the wealthy Gordon. But she catches a glimpse of Ernest Lismore and breaks it off. Rescued by the latter from a fire she is left all Gordon's money. Posing as an old woman she makes Lismore marry her to save his fortune and then gets acquainted with him by a trick while she is posing as June Dayne, a Greenwich Village cutie. He falls for June hard and then very amusingly it develops his wife and sweetheart are the same.

Bar none this is the best comedy bet for first class theatres shown here recently. It combines humor and sex interest.


Review and advertising aids in Moving Picture World, January 17, 1920

"She Loves and Lies"

Norma Talmadge Has Light Comedy Role in Entertaining Select Release.

Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

A SHORT story by Wilkie Collins in its original form, "She Loves and Lies" is good entertainment and gives Norma Talmadge a light comedy role which permits her to wear handsome gowns, act with her usual excellent effect and disguise herself as an elderly lady of stately manners during a portion of the picture. Joseph Schenck has produced this Select release with liberality as to supporting company and settings, and the director has carried out his part of the work with commendable skill. As one of the adaptors, Chester Withey has changed the English atmosphere and altered the characters of the story to conform with the New York of today, and the entire picture moves briskly, with occasional glimpses of Washington square and other well-known localities to give impressions of reality to the scenes.

"She Loves and Lies" is never a strong story, but the star makes the most of several displays of real feeling and, as Marie Callender, presents a type of American girl that is clever enough and good enough to be the wife of any man, no matter how high his station. Some of the devices of the plot will cause the more sophisticated portion of a body of spectators to smile indulgently and to wonder if any person ever was fooled by a wig and a few lines on the face, but the spirit of the tale is wholesome and bright, and there is never a moment when the picture is not enjoyable.

Conway Tearle contrives to be manly in a part which depends more upon personality than on situations. Octavia Brooke, Phillips Tead and Ida Darling are consistently amusing in a trio of character parts.



Marie Callender Norma Talmadge
Ernest Lismore Conway Tearle
Polly Poplar Octavia Brooke
Bob Brummel Phillips Tead
Carrie Chisholm Ida Darling

The Story

Marie Callender, the girl in "She Loves and Lies," who does the things mentioned in the title, is an actress with an ambitious aunt and two lovers. One, named Gordon, is an elderly man of vast wealth; the other is a young chap, with nothing but his nerve to recommend him. Urged on by her aunt and Polly Poplar, an artist friend, Maire becomes engaged to Gordon. While visiting his country home, the house takes fire and Marie is rescued by Ernest Lismore, the handsome young man next door. The exposure on the night of the fire proves fatal to Gordon, but before he dies he leaves everything to Marie provided she marries the man of her choice.

After the death of Gordon, the girl, now living in the millionaire's city home, commences to think seriously of the man who saved her life. Hearing that he is badly in need of money, she disguises herself as a woman of sixty and invites him to the house. When he arrives she tells him she will advance him one hundred thousand dollars if he will marry her. The ceremony is performed, but the couple do not live together as man and wife. Gordon treats Marie wit the utmost respect, but she is lead to believe that he loves another woman, when his wife takes off her wig and grease-paint and fascinates him as June Daye, a young artist who lives in Washington Square.

Gordon is honest about the affair, and goes home and confesses everything to his wife, after she has hastened home also and resumed her disguise. There is a pleasant ending all around, with Polly Poplar and Marie's former admirer pairing off and taking out a marriage license.

Program and Exploitation Catchlines:

"She Loves and Lies" Stars Norma Talmadge in a Light Comedy Role of an Entertaining Story.

Did You Ever See Pretty Norma Talmadge as She Will Look at Sixty? IF Not, See "She Loves and Lies" -Taken from the Well-Known Story by Wilkie Collins.

See How "She Loves and Lies" in This Amusing Story of an Actress Who Has Difficulty in Selecting Her Better Half Entertaining Story of a Love and Romance with Norma Talmadge as the Star

Exploitation Angles: Let Miss Talmadge carry the burden of sale, telling that this gives her a sprightly little story by a well known author. Dwell on the elderly disguise. If you can use cuts, show a cut of her as the old woman and ask your readers who it is, working up a little excitement about the matter.

Viewing comments

I wasn't expecting much of this film but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Quite a fun comedy despite the bizarre plot--this woman chooses the world's most convoluted way to meet a guy! An actress inherits a lot of money on condition she marries the man of her choice, who is the man who rescued her from a burning building--apparently she saw him but he didn't see her. Not wanting to be too forward (!) she find out when he is in financial difficulty, disguises herself as an old woman and offers to pay his debts if he'll join with her in a marriage of convenience, then she pretends to be Greenwich Village artist and lures him to her studio where she gets him to fall in love with her. Weird! Unfortunately reel 2 is lost, and with it the scene introducing Tearle when he rescues her, so you spend half of reel 3 figuring out what you missed. But after than you just forget about it and enjoy. Norma give a terrific performance (i saw a little Kiki in it), and Conway Tearle (who is usually about as funny as the grim reaper) is excellent as her exasperated straight man. A few splotchy places, but overall in pretty good shape except for the missing reel. Restoration tip--the main event of the missing reel is repeated in a dream sequence later in the film, so it could be copied and plugged in (except that apparently the sequence ends differently, so it would need to be cut short). The rest could be bridged with titles, and that should make it presentable for public exhibition.
Print viewed: 35 mm print at the Library of Congress.

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Last revised, October 9, 2010