Black Oxen (1923)

Article 1789 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-6-2006
Posting Date: 7-6-2006
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Featuring Corinne Griffith, Conway Tearle, Tom Ricketts

When a mysterious woman shows up who looks identical to a woman who married into royalty many years ago, an aspiring playwright falls in love with her. He then discovers that she is actually the same woman as the one she resembled, but who had undergone treatments to bring back her youth.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen the complete print of this movie; I’ve heard that only parts of it exist. The rejuvenation angle places it in the realm of science fiction, and in some ways, it does explore the impact that such a rejuvenation process might have. However, since the movie is more of a romance drama than anything else, the primary question it asks is whether the playwright will still want the woman now that he knows that she is really old. The movie itself is mildly amusing, but very slight as a result. In fact, the greatest sociological impact that this movie sees this scientific advance as having is that elderly women would be able to compete with younger women for men, and in this process, might actually teach them something in the way of good manners (the lack of which is exemplified by the role played by Clara Bow here). All in all, it’s more of a curiosity than a classic, though it’s so rare, I feel fortunate at just having had the chance to nab a copy.

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