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Old Wives for New/The Whispering Chorus

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Editorial Reviews

Two of Cecil B. DeMille's earliest films from the silent era. Includes the social comedy Old Wives For New (Charles Murdock, Florence Vidor. 1918/60 min.) and a revolutionary psychological drama, The Whispering Chorus (Raymond Hatton, Kathlyn Williams. 1917/86 min.). Silent with music scores. 2 DVDs. B&w/NR.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Raymond Hatton, Kathlyn Williams, Edythe Chapman, Elliott Dexter, Noah Beery
  • Directors: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Writers: David Graham Phillips, Jeanie Macpherson, Perley Poore Sheehan
  • Producers: Cecil B. DeMille
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 153 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BC8T0K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Old Wives for New/The Whispering Chorus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mart Sander on February 7, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Yes, gorgeous costumes, broad acting, hearts exploding with passion, grief and rage - you get it all! Old Wives for New is quite an exciting pic, though it has its narrative flaws and not everything that is being shown can be accepted without questioning. It has a good (modern) soundtrack played on a movie organ and compiled of period songs (and uses one authentic recording for a record that is actually shown being played in a key scene). The print is in overall good quality, though it has been digitally sharpened a bit too much. The second film is a morality tale, and there's just so much suffering and sacrificing to make this film balancing on the razor's edge without quite falling into the category of camp. The picture quality is very good, smooth and stable, one of the best prints I've seen in a while. The small film orchestra does a very good job playing what sounds like an authentic period score. A very enjoyable double feature.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Underwood on January 24, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is the last of three DVDs showcasing Cecil B DeMille's early work in silent films from around 1918 to 1920, and as I generally prefer pre-1920 films, I was especially delighted with this great DeMille double feature: two 1918 films on the one DVD with good (though not actually great) picture quality and very good musical accompaniment. My favourite DeMille film has always been "The Whispering Chorus", the second film on this DVD, and while it is much the same as my old VHS version, I thoroughly enjoyed it once again, mostly for its more complicated plot and rather dramatic story about a man whose one seemingly small mistake leads him to ever bigger problems. As in many pre-1920 films, I also enjoy some of the points or principles the film tries to show or teach the audience, such as in this case the man's financial struggle which tempts him to first gamble, then steal money from his workplace because he listened to those voices in his head - that `whispering chorus' of first temptation and then our conscience speaking to us as we try to make a decision.

"Old Wives for New" is very similar in many ways to "The Whispering Chorus" in that it has a more complex plot than one might expect, especially after viewing the other two DeMille productions which also focussed on the theme of husbands and wives (namely "Why Change your Wife?" and "Don't Change Your Husband", both with Gloria Swanson) Like these other two, "Old Wives" lingers on a few details in the beginning to show the husband's unhappiness and displeasure with his wife's messy, slovenly habits. Once a pretty slim girl, we now see her plump, mean and bossy, and always with a tray of chocolates at hand. As expected, the husband meets a much more attractive woman, but is trapped in his marriage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anyechka on August 16, 2008
Format: DVD
Of the two films on this disc, my favorite was 'The Whispering Chorus.' It starts out seeming straightforward enough; John and Jane Trimble are having a lot of money problems, and, feeling unable to deal with the humiliation of poverty and the devil on his shoulder any longer, John goes for the short-term solution by embezzling some money from his company. Afraid that the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of this money will implicate him, John goes on the lam and finds a body in a creek, which he uses to fake his own murder, leaving a note which claims he was murdered by Edgar Smith, the man who supposedly made him falsify the books.

Things seem to go well for awhile, but John soon discovers that one problem leads to another, and that what started out as a relatively minor criminal matter (his embezzlement) is now a major catastrophe, as he has to tell lie after lie to stay one step ahead of the authorities and keep up the lie he's forced to live. It gets even worse when Jane eventually decides to remarry, in spite of John's mother believing her son is still alive. Things come to a dramatic head when John can't take it any longer and returns to town. After six years away, with his appearance so changed, with everyone believing he was murdered, is anyone going to recognise him or believe his incredible story? What will be the final outcome of the massive lie he's been living? What will happen to Jane's unknowingly bigamous remarriage? It's amazing that this film was only made in 1918, since it just seems so much more complex and modern than the typical film of the late Teens. It even has the feel of film noir, a genre which was some time yet in coming.

'Old Wives for New' is a much lighter picture, in spite of a dramatic turn the plot takes at one point.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on January 9, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This release marks the end of the recent silent Cecil B. DeMille double features for the time being and in many ways is the best of the lot thanks to the study in contrasts it provide. It features two films made back to back by DeMille in 1918. One is a moody psychological drama with expressionistic overtones while the other marks the beginning of a series of films which would explore the changes in society brought about by World War I.

OLD WIVES FOR NEW takes a look at postwar mores and suggests that the status quo is no longer so. As the title implies this is a film about divorce and divorce as a solution to marital problems, a then unheard of idea which clearly sets the stage for what took place during the 1920's regarding public morality. Basically a domestic drama with moments of comedy, WIVES charts the course of six characters whose interactions propel the story along while making shrewd observations that are still with us today. The scene where the lead character remembers his wife as she once was is both poignant and honest in its emotions. The cast is uniformly fine with Theodore Roberts a standout as the philandering business partner who comes to a bad end.

Just before WIVES DeMille released his most startling and revolutionary film THE WHISPERING CHORUS which shows him following D.W. Griffith's lead in trying to expand the boundaries of contemporary cinema. The story of a poor bookkeeper who embezzles funds to provide for his wife only to fake his death to avoid detection sets the stage for the cruel twist of fate that resolves the film.
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