Black Oxen

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Black Oxen
Directed byFrank Lloyd
Produced byFrank Lloyd
Written byFrank Lloyd
Mary O'Hara
Based onBlack Oxen
by Gertrude Atherton
StarringCorinne Griffith
Conway Tearle
Clara Bow
CinematographyNorbert Brodine
Edited byEdward M. Roskam
Distributed byAssociated First National Pictures
Release date
  • December 29, 1923 (1923-12-29)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles
Black Oxen

Black Oxen is a 1923 American fantasy/romantic drama silent film starring Corinne Griffith, Conway Tearle and Clara Bow. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the film is based on the controversial and best-selling 1923 novel of the same name by Gertrude Atherton.[1]

Described as "subtle science fiction", the film takes its title from William Butler Yeats: "The years like great Black Oxen tread the world."[1] It was produced by Frank Lloyd Productions and distributed by First National Pictures. A special edition of Atherton's novel was released featuring stills from the film.


Lee Clavering (Tearle), a playwright in New York, falls in love with an Austrian countess, Madame Zatianny (Griffith). Janet Oglethorpe (Bow), an animated and precocious flapper, is also in love with Lee but he hasn't noticed yet. Unbeknownst to Lee, Madame Zatianny is actually 58 years old, and has retained her youth through a rejuvenating glandular treatment and X-ray surgery. Lee's plans to marry Madame Zatianny are thwarted when one of her former admirers reveals her embarrassing secret and, in the end, Lee discovers happiness with Janet.


Clara Bow as Janet Oglethorpe, the flapper in Black Oxen, holding a copy of Flaming Youth. With Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts


In many advertisements and[2][3] publications about the film in 1923, Corinne Griffith was used to advertise the movie because she was a known star, and she was known to be one of the most beautiful actresses in cinema. Additionally, publications used the quote "The years like great black oxen tread the world and God the Herdsman goads them on behind." by W.B. Yeats[4] that is in Atherton's novel and the opening of the film.

Preservation status[edit]

The George Eastman House retains a print of the film which is incomplete, comprising the first seven reels, but not the eighth. In 2010, it undertook restoration of the 35mm print, funded by The National Film Preservation Fund. The Gosfilmofond Russian State Archive also holds an incomplete copy, consisting of all reels with the exception of Reel 2. A DVD The New York Public Library has a 16mm print available in three film reels.[5] A 60-minute version mastered by eBay retailer Buyers’ Gallery Video is available on DVD. No complete version of the film is currently commercially available [6]

Black Oxen is one of about ten films starring Corinne Griffith, out of 58, that are available for viewing.[7]

DVD release[edit]

Black Oxen was released on Region 0 DVD-R by Alpha Video on September 1, 2015.[8]


  1. ^ a b Woodward, Kathleen (1999). Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations. Indiana University Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-253-11384-9.
  2. ^ Screenland, inc. “Screenland.” Screenland, Oct. 1923.
  3. ^ Brewster Publications, inc. “Motion Picture Magazine.” Motion Picture Magazine, Aug. 1923, pp. 76–76.
  4. ^ Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948. Black Oxen. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923.
  5. ^ Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn; Dawson, Melanie (1 January 2012). "Black oxen". Broadview Press – via Library Catalog.
  6. ^ "Silent Era : Home Video Reviews".
  7. ^ Tim, Lussier (2004). "Corrine Griffin: The Divine Lady". Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  8. ^ "Alpha Video - Clara Bow Double Feature: My Lady of Whims (1925) (Silent) / Black Oxen (1923) (Silent)". Retrieved 24 August 2015.

External links[edit]