Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Primitive Lover (USA,1922)

Phyllis Tomley faces a dilemma between a marriage without excitement and attraction for another man. She often reads novels and considers her own life boring in comparison with thrills that the characters of those books live. She ended up having unrealistic expectations about her husband (Hector Tomley) and considered him careless and self-centered because her own romantic fantasies were not being fulfilled. The plot of this film is interesting because it takes into account the wishes and life goals of a woman are something important and worth pursuing. 
However, her former fiancé, a novelist who was presumed dead (Donald Wales), reappeared out of the blue claiming his death was merely a publicity stunt. Phyllis wanted to divorce Hector and Hector`s prompt agreement angers her. Things would not become any easier when Hector tried to prove to Phyllis that her love interest was not as good as she thought and it becomes clear to the audience that Hector actually still loved Phyllis and would fight for her.
Then, Phyllis realized that Hector was not as bad as she thought while Donald Wales was more awkward in the wilderness than Phyllis expected. Hector seemed to act more like a “primitive lover” than Donald, as Hector had the assistance of a local indian to handle life in a wild environment. Donald`s dullness deeply disappoints Phyllis because she expected a life of excitement and thrills with him.
The actors do have some funny overacting (especially in the beginning of the film, in a raft), which was no longer very common in Hollywood in the 1920s. The audiences are soon introduced to the dichotomy refined domestic tranquility X exciting rough instincts, which has been portrayed in novels and films of all eras. Not really an innovative plot (although it does not mean the film is bad, just that it is not extremely different from films of its own era) and Constance Talmadge is not in her best comedic shape here. The characterization of natives often look slightly fake, but it is a light-hearted, naïve film that still entertains the audiences.
Actor Joe Roberts is part of the cast. He made a name for himself due to his films with Buster Keaton, usually as a heavy or authority figure and it was a really fruitful partnership, which would surely last for many years were not for the death of Roberts in 1923. Actor Harrison Ford (no connection with his later namesake) was a high-profile name in Hollywood during the silent era, but unfortunately he was one of those artists who did not get to transition into talkies. He played the role of Hector Tomley. 

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