Sunday, August 18, 2013

Silent Sundays: The Red Lily (1924)


“Merciful Father hear me, a sinner- bring her back to me.”

            Can anyone ever think about living without a cell phone nowadays? I can remember I got my first cell phone when I started driving at seventeen. My mom told me she was not getting me one until I started driving. Now I see eleven year olds walking around with cell phones. I honestly cannot even imagine being without my cell phone I get nervous if I cannot find it and even more nervous if I realize I went out without it because God forbid I get into an accident. In the 1924 silent film The Red Lily my modern mind could not help but think this whole tragic storyline could have been avoided if both the main characters had cell phones. I hate the fact that that thought came to my mind but it could not be helped especially because the story got dragged out.  
            Jean Leonnec (Ramon Novarro) is the mayor’s son in a small French town. He is in love with the cobbler’s daughter Marise La Noue. They have been friends since they were children. Jean and Marise spend a lovely spring day riding around the country in a wagon while in town his father is told to come away from his office as quickly as he can the cobbler is sick. By the time the mayor and Marise make it to the house the poor cobbler is dead from a bad heart. Marise now has leave her home and the town and go live with relatives. She has to leave Jean behind which none of them wants to happen.
            Marise’s next of kin are uncivilized country people. She walks in the door and her heart just drops. In the city Jean tells his father he love Marise and when he comes of age he wants to marry her. The man of the house where she is staying tries to whip her for coming between him and his wife. Marise runs out of the house and away back to her old home. Alone in the empty house she sees someone opening the door. The person is Jean he saw the light in the fireplace. He stays with her the whole night in front of the fire. The next morning Marise says she has to go back. Jean does not want her to go he wants to protect her. His father and some of the villagers come to the house. He tells Marise to leave town. He believes Jean has to marry her after spending the night together. Jean tells his father if Marise has to leave town he will go with her.
            Jean and Marise go to Paris. He walks out of the station to do something where he is arrested and told he will be brought back to his village. Marise in the meantime waits for him for hours at the station not knowing what has happened. For one moment Marise walks away from her bags and they are stolen. Jean manages to get away by jumping from the train. He manages to get back to the station and just misses Marise walking away. Alone Marise comes to a café. She is so hungry she collapses. The owner takes care of her. For weeks Jean returns to the station looking for Marise. On the night he finally gives up he goes to stand by the edge of the Seine. There he meets a man called Bobo (Wallace Beery).
            Months go by. Marise has a job cleaning the steps of a building. An older man who works in the building sees her and says the work is too hard for her. He says he will give her a position in the cloak room. The old man tries to make and advance on Marise. She rejects him and he fires her. Jean has fallen in the wrong way with Bobo. He has taken to stealing from people and robbing safes. Marise goes for a walk by the Seine and looks into the water. She eventually gets a job in a shady restaurant with grabby dirty men. She rejects a man and is fired.
            Jean is now wanted by the police. They notice him and chase after him. Jean comes to a door way where a woman is standing. She takes him to her apartment. When she turns on the light he sees the woman is Marise. Jean strikes her to the floor. He is upset to see what she that she has become a poor ragged girl when all the time he was looking for an angel. Jean leaves her apartment. He gets into a fight with a police officer and he calls for backup. Jean is shot. He runs to Marise for her to hide him. Maries covers for him when the police follow his blood trail by saying the blood is hers from the cut on her cheek. In the middle of the night Jean hallucinates that he sees Marise the way she used to look when they were in their small town at the foot of his bed. He cannot bear to see her the way she is now.
            Some time later after he has recovered Jean is nasty to Marise. He thinks she is out all night earning her money. She shows him her ragged hands from working in a factory. Bobo comes and Jean leaves without saying goodbye or thank you. Bobo motions to Marise to follow them. The police see the three of them on the streets together. Marise follows Bobo and Jean to a shady bar where Jean goes into a back room with a woman. The police come and raid the bar. Marise runs into the back room to tell Jean the police are there and to help him try to get away. Jean finds a trap door in the floor that leads to the sewers. The police barge into the room just as Jean is going down the trap door. Marise comes in between the police and Jean and is shot. Jean makes it out of the sewers and back to the bar. Bobo tells him that Marise has been shot and is probably dying. Wracked with guilt Jean goes to see Marise in the hospital.
            Two years later Marise is alive and she has become a seamstress. Jean is out of jail. Marise hopes he will come for her. Jean comes to Marise in a new suit and has flowers. He falls into Marise’s arms and cries. They go back to their happy home in the country.

            The Red Lily was an alright silent film. It was odd seeing Ramon Novarro as this poor tortured young man who goes bad over his guilt and lost love. The story kind of drive me nuts because as I said I was unfortunately watching this film with a modern mind and I thought how this would never happen today thanks to cell phones. The Red Lily has its moments where it is good and where it gets overly drawn out. I would suggest if you can to sit through this film at least once.