7 July 2012 | AlsExGal
The film is lost but Charles Bickford's opinion of it is not
This film is indeed believed lost, so no rating is possible. However, in Charles Bickford's autobiography he spends several pages talking about this film. It was actually made fourth in his filmography although it is shown as being first. Dynamite was Bickford's first film and the film that pulled him away from Broadway and towards Hollywood in the first place, Hell's Heroes at Universal was his second, and Anna Christie was his third.
The description of the film can be read at the New York Times archive of film reviews, but basically the plot has Lenore Ulric in the title role as a French girl raised in the south seas and brought to prim and proper New England by her New England born and bred sea captain husband, played by Charles Bickford. Rose wears short skirts, shocks the puritanical New Englanders in her new home with her wild candid ways, and chases other men when her husband is away including a doctor that she so badly wants to vamp that she feigns illness to get him near her bedside.
Bickford describes miss Ulric in the most flattering terms, both professionally and personally - "beautiful, charming and a real pro". This is interesting to hear since Bickford has little good to say about anybody in the film industry in his book, although in all fairness most of his scorn is heaped upon management and directors and he did seem to regard many of his fellow thespians highly. It's also interesting since Lenore Ulric was a leading lady in the silent era whose silent films have all been lost save a few that are reportedly locked away in the Library of Congress. This film was her last one for seven years and her last as a young woman - she was 37 when she made this film - so Bickford's description is about all we have to go on as far as having any knowledge of her talents in her prime.
Bickford goes on to describe the plot of South Sea Rose in two four letter words which I can't repeat here. He thought the plot pedestrian and trashy and appealing to only prurient interests. And here's the most interesting part of the story - how Irving Thalberg, head of production at MGM at the time, talked Bickford into doing this picture in spite of his hard-nosed opinion. "A persuasive little guy" Bickford calls Thalberg in reference to this episode.