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Lure of Crooning Water, The (1920)


Main image of Lure of Crooning Water, The (1920)
35mm, black and white, silent, 6,323 feet
Directed byArthur H. Rooke
Production CompanyStoll Film Company
ProducerGeorge Clark
Scenario byGuy Newall
Original novelMarion Hill
Photography byJoe Rosenthal

Cast: Guy Newall (Horace Dornblazer); Ivy Duke (Georgette Verlaine); Douglas Munro ("Yes" Smith); Hugh C. Buckler (Dr John Congdon); Mary Dibley (Rachel Dornblazer); Arthur Chesney (Guy Pinkerton)

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Comedy-drama about actress, who, during rest-cure in the country, causes farmer to fall in love with her and follow her to London, where she sends him back to his wife and children.

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Ivy Duke plays Georgette, a successful but jaded city actress suffering from exhaustion who is sent to the country by her doctor/friend for a rest cure. At a loss for anything else to do down on the farm, she causes the farmer Horace (Guy Newall) to fall in love with her.

The tensions between the hard work and simple morality presented by the rural environment and the excesses of the town are thrown into sharp relief when he later follows her to the city. The setting up of the romance starts lightly as she mocks him for his coarseness and he shows his disapproval of her frivolity. This selfishness is juxtaposed with the homeliness and drudgery of the wife (Mary Dibley) although she and her husband seem to exist together happily enough.

Of Ivy Duke's charms in the film, The Bioscope review said that it held "just that touch of refinement and distinction that might cause resentment in a village" and she does indeed play the part with great subtlety. Likewise, Newall's portrayal of the farmer's developing passion for this butterfly creature is beautifully restrained. The pivotal scene takes place in a thunderstorm, prefigured metaphorically in the inter-titles. "Rachel had little time to notice the gathering clouds". As Rachel comforts the children upstairs, Georgette invades the farmer's private study. As the lightning flashes, he sneeringly asks if she is afraid. "No" she says "I want someone to revel in it with me". Bodies move closer, he follows her off screen and it fades to black. The romance becomes more intense but can not survive his removal to the city. She sees that she loves the trappings of home and hearth she associates with him, not the man himself (one of so many she has known). In the end she tries to redeem herself and remedy the situation somehow but it is only through the near death of their child that the husband and wife are reconciled.

This was one of the first George Clark/Guy Newall feature collaborations. It was made with very little money and cramped studio space but ironically this forced the team (with Arthur H. Rooke directing and Joe Rosenthal Junior on camera) to shoot as much as possible on location, greatly to the benefit of the final film. The film, according to Rachael Low, was famous for its delicate combination of tinting and toning in the sylvan love scenes.

Bryony Dixon

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Video Clips
1. The gathering clouds (7:35)
2. Unhappy past (4:14)
Newall, Guy (1885-1937)
Silent Lovers