The Lady (1925 film)

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The Lady
Trade advertisement
Directed byFrank Borzage
Written byFrances Marion (scenario)
Based onThe Lady
by Martin Brown
Produced by • Norma Talmadge
 • Joseph Schenck
Starring • Wallace MacDonald
 • Norma Talmadge
CinematographyTony Gaudio
Distributed byFirst National Pictures
Release dates
 • January 25, 1925 (New York City premiere)
 • February 8, 1925 (nationwide)
Running time
8 reels; 7,357 feet
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Lady is a 1925 American silent drama film starring Norma Talmadge and directed by Frank Borzage.[1] Talmadge's own production company produced the film with distribution by First National Pictures.


As described in a review in a film magazine,[2] Polly Pearl (Talmadge) English hall singer, marries Leonard St. Aubyns (MacDonald), scion of nobility. Leonard loses what little money he has left gambling in casinos. She comes to lose his love when his father (Hurst) casts him out. She ekes out a living in a dingy French cafe as a singer. The elder St. Aubyns appears to claim her baby son after the death of its father, but Polly manages to have the child spirited away by a minister's wife. Thereafter, she endeavors to find her boy, searching the streets of London, but fails. Years later, as she is telling the story of her life in a French cafe, a brawl starts between a Frenchman and an English soldier. Leonard Cairns (Hackathorne), a comrade of the Englishman intervenes but accidentally shoots his friend and is himself knocked unconscious. From his identification tag, Polly discovers that he is her son. She tries to take upon herself the blame for the accident, but her son will not have it that way. To her delight he shows himself to be a gentleman, a joy added to that of her discovery of him.



Still with Norma Talmadge and Wallace MacDonald

Like many of Talmadge's silent films of the 1920s, The Lady is derived from a stage play. The play, The Lady, ran on Broadway from December 4, 1923 to February 1924 at Charles Frohman's Empire Theatre. The play was produced by A. H. Woods. Mary Nash played Talmadge's part of Polly Pearl and Elizabeth Risdon played Fanny Le Clare which, in the film, was played by Doris Lloyd. Also in the cast was child actor Junior Durkin who was soon to find bigger fame in films.[3]

The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, formed by the film industry in 1922, regulated the content of films through a list of subjects that were to be avoided. While Norma Talmadge portrayed a prostitute in The Lady, this was acceptable under the rules as prostitution was not explicitly barred so long as it was not forced (i.e., white slavery) and aspects of her work was not shown in the film.[4] While staying at the brothel, her work is stated as being limited to being a cabaret singer.


The Lady survives in the U.S. Library of Congress with reel 2 missing.[5] The remaining elements of the film have severe beginning stages of nitrate decomposition making much of the film hard to follow.[1]


  1. ^ a b Progressive Silent Film List: The Lady at Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  2. ^ Smith, Sumner (February 14, 1925). "The Lady; Norma Talmadge in First National Picture Rich in Emotional Appeal". The Moving Picture World. 72 (7). New York City: Chalmers Publishing Co.: 699. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  3. ^ The Lady, Broadway play, database
  4. ^ Campbell, Russell (1997). "Prostitution and Film Censorship in the USA". Screening the Past (2): C/6. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  5. ^ The Library of Congress / FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: The Lady

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