You Never Know Women

1926

Drama

Top cast

Eugene Pallette as Party Guest
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
658.34 MB
960*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 11 min
Seeds 2
1.19 GB
1440*1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 11 min
Seeds 10

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by F Gwynplaine MacIntyre 7 / 10

She's Russian, he's rushin'.

Once again, a 'lost' film turns out merely to have been mislaid. Bill Wellman's 'You Never Know Women' was 'lost' for decades, until a print surfaced in the Library of Congress ... one of the two most obvious places to look for it! (The other being AMPAS.) This movie turns out to be a pleasant light comedy with a couple of thrills and a good climax, well-made by all concerned ... but it's hardly a classic. I wish that Murnau's '4 Devils' -- a movie with a setting vaguely similar to this one, which DOES appear to be lost forever, but which (by surviving accounts) was apparently a much better film than this one -- had turned up instead. (No, you clever clots in the back there: I haven't seen '4 Devils', and I don't know anybody with a print handy.)

Much of the action in 'You Never Know Women' concerns a troupe of Russian circus performers who (somewhat improbably) seem to be playing a long-term or permanent booking in one unnamed U.S. city. According to director Wellman, this troupe were based on (the real-life) Le Chauve-Souris ... but Le Chauve-Souris were a touring troupe, and the Russians in this movie seem to be well stuck in at their current location. They all share a single large hotel room (including El Brendel and his live goose). We see a little bit of the Russian dancers in performance: they're impressive, but the film is hardly scripted around them. In the lead role of Vera, Florence Vidor performs with the troupe but doesn't quite seem to be part of it, and doesn't seem to live with the others. The script never develops her character, and we never learn whether she's a Russian-American or an actual Russian who has somehow become more Americanised than the rest of her troupe. This being a silent film, Florence Vidor's real-life Texas twangs (and Clive Brook's English accent) are no handicap.

Vera and Eugene Foster (Lowell Sherman) 'meet cute' in a slight variation of the usual formula. While Vera walks through a building site, a girder gives way over her head. In a conventional romance, Sherman would pull her out of the way just in time. Instead, a brickie saves her ... but Sherman deftly interposes himself, and takes credit for the rescue. This warns us that he's not a conventional hero.

SLIGHT SPOILERS COMING. Vera works in the troupe as the target for Norodin's knife-throwing act, and as an aerialist in a butterfly costume. (With a male stunt double in one shot.) Norodin (Brook) is also an escape artist: we see him shackled, placed in a steamer trunk, the trunk chained shut and then submerged in water. Just when it seems that Norodin must have run out of air, he emerges safely: too bad we don't see how he did it.

There's a weird bit of business in which all the troupers line the stage, wearing masks with Auguste clown make-up, and then they unmask one by one ... to reveal the same make-up underneath. This business is done twice, with no payoff. I was expecting a payoff in which one clown unmasks to reveal an unexpected face. No hope.

Sherman's character, a wealthy but caddish playboy, becomes obsessed with Vera and attends every performance, trying to woo her into dating him. I had some trouble believing this: partly due to Sherman's performance (more later on this) but largely down to the fact that, frankly, Florence Vidor isn't especially attractive. Surely Sherman's character -- with his wealth, charm and good looks -- would try his luck elsewhere after Vera first rebuffs him.

Eventually, Norodin is goaded into doing his escape trick in the river. But the trunk stays in the river too long: by the time it's hauled up for air, he must surely have drowned. Significantly, we don't see his corpse. Yet Vera gradually accepts that Norodin is dead. (Doesn't she check?)

The film's climax is exciting, well-shot and edited, but ultimately implausible. Foster becomes so obsessed with Vera that he waylays her in the empty theatre and attempts to rape her. There's a good shot of Lowell Sherman's (stunt double's) feet, racing along the tops of a row of theate seats, as he pursues the fleeing Vera. It's no surprise that Norodin is alive after all, but he takes revenge on Foster in an interesting way. (Norodin is a knife-thrower, remember.) I normally like El Brendel -- here playing a Russian instead of his usual Swede -- but in this film he's lumbered with some unfunny business involving a goose, and he also has to speak the film's title line.

I know that sexual obsession can overrule common sense, but I found it implausible that the wealthy Foster (Sherman's character) would be so obsessed with Vera that he would try to rape her, risking arrest and scandal. Lowell Sherman, a rather effete actor, often played epicene cads who seduced women and tossed them aside. He was probably the silent screen's closest equivalent to George Sanders. And yet I've never found Sherman (unlike Sanders) believable in such roles. I find Sherman a credible actor when he plays a crypto-sexual role (as in 'What Price Hollywood?') or a role in which his sexuality is irrelevant (such as his fine performance in 'Mammy'), but I've never found him convincing in his woman-chasing roles.

In real life, Lowell Sherman was one of the two men who shared the hotel suite with Roscoe Arbuckle for that fateful weekend which degenerated into a drunken revel that destroyed Arbuckle's career. (The other co-host was an obscure cameraman.) Oddly, the scandal doesn't seem to have impaired Sherman's career at all ... oddly, since Sherman in his screen roles often portrayed precisely the sort of lecherous predator that Arbuckle was unfairly accused of being. I'll rate 'You Never Know Women' 7 out of 10.

Reviewed by Neal99 8 / 10

A neglected classic

This almost-forgotten film wraps romance, adventure, comedy and melodrama in one exciting package! Screened at the Fall Cinesation in Saginaw, MI in 2001, You Never Know Women revolves around a romantic triangle involving two members of an acrobatic troupe (Vidor and Brook) and a rakish ne'er-do-well (Sherman). William Wellman keeps the story moving while providing time for comic relief by El Brendel. While Brook is a bit stiff, Vidor is lovely and Sherman is perfect as the top-hatted cad. Particularly exciting is a scene involving a Houdini-like stunt performed by Brook. This film deserves to be on video/DVD!

Reviewed by boblipton 6 / 10

Illusion and Reality

You know as soon as he shows up that Lowell Sherman is a suave rotter. It was his signature role in the movies, and had been since he played the City Slicker in Griffith's WAY DOWN EAST. When a worker saves Florence Vidor from being crushed by a falling girder and she faints in his arms, Sherman steps from a saloon car and pushes him aside. He takes on the heroic role himself as an entree into Florence's world of of a touring Russian vaudeville troupe and, he hopes, her.

There are complications to his quest: the loyalty of the closed world of the troupe, and the doglike love of Clive Brook, the troupe's magician. Of course, she loves him -- like a brother -- and is fascinated by the debonair Sherman.

It's a movie about illusion and the revelation of the realities behind them. Brooks throws knives at Miss Vidor, without endangering her; he turns her into a butterfly floating through the theater; he makes her vanish from one spot and appear in another; he escapes from water traps.... until he doesn't, and reality is revealed.

William Wellman was coming off a string of unsuccessful movies, and other people who talk and write about his films think this one about a small world and intruders is the first stirring of his auctorial voice. I think he was assigned a project and discovered he liked its themes. He would return to it again and again, a theatrical world that outsiders just don't understand, in movies like A STAR IS BORN, LADY OF BURLESQUE and BUFFALO BILL: tough, bitter and mocking tales about how people protect their own.

He certainly shows us the community. The shots of the troupe in performance are close-ups or shot from the wings. The clear implication is that outsiders don't see what's going on. It's stage illusion (or perhaps movie illusion), and unless you're part of the troupe, you never see the reality.

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