The Single Standard


1h 13m 1929
The Single Standard

Brief Synopsis

In this silent film, a free-spirited debutante tries to prove that women can love as carelessly as men.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Silent
Release Date
Jul 29, 1929
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Single Standard by Adela Rogers St. Johns (New York, 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric System) (musical score and sound effects), Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6,474ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Arden Stuart maintains that the set of moral principles applying differently to the sexes should be altered in favor of a single standard of conduct applying equally to men and women. She refuses to take seriously the marriage proposal of Tommy Hewlett, of her own social set, and steps out with Kendall, the handsome family chauffeur; but Kendall commits suicide in despair. Then she meets Packy Cannon, an ex-prizefighter turned artist, and takes him on her yacht to the South Seas, where their romance develops over a period of months; but when Packy fears she is interfering with his creativity, she returns home and marries Hewlett. After the birth of their child, Packy returns, realizing that his love for her is stronger than his devotion to his art. Arden plans to leave with him, but her love for the child persuades her to remain with her husband.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Silent
Release Date
Jul 29, 1929
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Single Standard by Adela Rogers St. Johns (New York, 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric System) (musical score and sound effects), Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6,474ft (8 reels)

Articles

The Single Standard


Concerned about Greta Garbo's Swedish accent, MGM kept its most alluring leading lady in silents longer than any of its other stars. The year before Garbo broke the sound barrier with Anna Christie (1930), she appeared in her next-to-last silent film, The Single Standard (1929). Garbo's role in this adaptation of the 1928 Adela Rogers St. John novel is that of Arden Stuart, an independent woman who challenges the social credo that "men do as they please and women do as men please." Arden, a San Francisco socialite, has a fatal affair with a chauffeur (Robert Castle), then engages in a sultry shipboard romance with a handsome artist (Nils Asther) before settling into respectability with a long-suffering millionaire (Johnny Mack Brown). The role, originally intended for Joan Crawford, marked Garbo's first attempt at playing a truly American character.

Asther, a fellow Swede, had just appeared opposite Garbo in the very successful Wild Orchids (1929). The two shared an intense friendship that, according to Garbo biographer Barry Paris, inspired Asther to lyricism: "When she laughs, it's a silent, breathless kind of laugh, that shakes her whole person but makes very little noise." Brown, a former football player from Alabama, is described by Paris as "the oddest of Garbo's many co-stars." Despite his lack of sophistication and thick Southern accent, Brown ranked fourth among Garbo's most frequent leading men, just below John Gilbert, Lewis Stone and Melvyn Douglas. The Single Standard was his third role opposite Garbo after The Divine Woman and A Woman of Affairs. Later Brown became the popular star of some 200 cowboy movies. Future stars Joel McCrea and Robert Montgomery appear in uncredited bits in The Single Standard.

Dorothy Sebastian, then romantically involved with frequent Garbo director Clarence Brown, had formed a rare friendship with the standoffish star when they acted in A Woman of Affairs six years earlier. Garbo then requested that Sebastian be cast in The Single Standard. Paris relates a story about Garbo visiting Sebastian at a rented house before it was fully furnished. Sebastian said that she and Garbo "ate our luncheon -- baked beans and Boston brown bread -- sitting on the floor. Greta seemed to enjoy the grand confusion.... She enjoys herself most when she can romp about and not have to give a thought to how she looks."

Director: John S. Robertson
Screenplay: Josephine Lovett, Marian Ainslee (titles), from the novel by Adela Rogers St. John
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: William Axt
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Costume Design: Adrian
Principal Cast: Greta Garbo (Arden Stuart), Nils Asther (Packy Cannon), Johnny Mack Brown (Tommy Hewlett), Dorothy Sebastian (Mercedes), Lane Chandler (Ding Stuart).
BW-71m.

By Roger Fristoe
The Single Standard

The Single Standard

Concerned about Greta Garbo's Swedish accent, MGM kept its most alluring leading lady in silents longer than any of its other stars. The year before Garbo broke the sound barrier with Anna Christie (1930), she appeared in her next-to-last silent film, The Single Standard (1929). Garbo's role in this adaptation of the 1928 Adela Rogers St. John novel is that of Arden Stuart, an independent woman who challenges the social credo that "men do as they please and women do as men please." Arden, a San Francisco socialite, has a fatal affair with a chauffeur (Robert Castle), then engages in a sultry shipboard romance with a handsome artist (Nils Asther) before settling into respectability with a long-suffering millionaire (Johnny Mack Brown). The role, originally intended for Joan Crawford, marked Garbo's first attempt at playing a truly American character. Asther, a fellow Swede, had just appeared opposite Garbo in the very successful Wild Orchids (1929). The two shared an intense friendship that, according to Garbo biographer Barry Paris, inspired Asther to lyricism: "When she laughs, it's a silent, breathless kind of laugh, that shakes her whole person but makes very little noise." Brown, a former football player from Alabama, is described by Paris as "the oddest of Garbo's many co-stars." Despite his lack of sophistication and thick Southern accent, Brown ranked fourth among Garbo's most frequent leading men, just below John Gilbert, Lewis Stone and Melvyn Douglas. The Single Standard was his third role opposite Garbo after The Divine Woman and A Woman of Affairs. Later Brown became the popular star of some 200 cowboy movies. Future stars Joel McCrea and Robert Montgomery appear in uncredited bits in The Single Standard. Dorothy Sebastian, then romantically involved with frequent Garbo director Clarence Brown, had formed a rare friendship with the standoffish star when they acted in A Woman of Affairs six years earlier. Garbo then requested that Sebastian be cast in The Single Standard. Paris relates a story about Garbo visiting Sebastian at a rented house before it was fully furnished. Sebastian said that she and Garbo "ate our luncheon -- baked beans and Boston brown bread -- sitting on the floor. Greta seemed to enjoy the grand confusion.... She enjoys herself most when she can romp about and not have to give a thought to how she looks." Director: John S. Robertson Screenplay: Josephine Lovett, Marian Ainslee (titles), from the novel by Adela Rogers St. John Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Original Music: William Axt Editing: Blanche Sewell Costume Design: Adrian Principal Cast: Greta Garbo (Arden Stuart), Nils Asther (Packy Cannon), Johnny Mack Brown (Tommy Hewlett), Dorothy Sebastian (Mercedes), Lane Chandler (Ding Stuart). BW-71m. By Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A version of the film with musical score and sd effects was released at a length of 6,574 ft.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1929

Released in United States on Video June 19, 1991

Released in United States 1929

Released in United States on Video June 19, 1991