23 March 2017 | Michael_Elliott
Worth Watching for Bow and Cooper
Children of Divorce (1927)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
As the film starts off we're told about special homes where children of divorced parents can go and stay. We then meet Kitty who is dropped off by her mother and can't make friends but soon Jean becomes an older sister to her. Jean meets Edward and the two make a childish joke that one day they will marry. Flash-forward and Kitty (Clara Bow) is a flapper and soon a drunken night leads to her marrying Edward (Gary Cooper), which of course breaks the heart of Jean (Esther Ralston).
CHILDREN OF DIVORCE is the greatest movie that its stars ever made. In fact, I honestly thought there were quite a few problems throughout the picture and it wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping for when I went into it. With that said, both Bow and Cooper are legends of the screen and them alone makes this worth sitting through.
The story itself is pretty melo-dramatic and downright predictable at times. For starters, the story never really makes any sense because as children the Bow character is pretty much a shy and timid girl. Then, when we see the adult version, there she is as this loud, over-the- top party girl. There's just nothing here that's very believable as the first portion just seems over-dramatic and the second portion is just your typical Bow character from this period.
I'm certainly not going to ruin what happens as the movie goes along but there's no question that it's rather unbelievable and I'd argue that the ending is laughably bad and predictable. It's certainly a morality tale but to me it was just a bit overdone for its own good. Director Frank Lloyd (with apparent re-shoots by Josef von Sternberg) does a decent job at keeping the film moving but visually there's not too much here.
I thought Bow was good in the film, delivering the type of performance that you'd expect from her. This certainly wasn't her best role but there's no question that it's hard to take your eyes off of her. Cooper was also good in the part, although it's clear he was still learning his way on the screen. I didn't care too much for Ralston's performance as she was certainly the weak link.
It seems I'm really coming down hard on CHILDREN OF DIVORCE but perhaps it's mainly due to how disappointed I was in it. It's a decent movie and certainly worth watching if you're a fan of the stars but there's no question that they did much better work.