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Classic Silent Film: Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925) – Ronald Colman directed by Ernst Lubitsch


In 1925 silent film, Lady Windermere’s Fan, which stars Ronald Colman, May McAvoy, Bert Lytell, Irene Rich and Edward Martindel. It was adapted by Julien Josephson and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. In 2002, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The story centers around the mysterious, scandalous, glamorous Mrs. Erlynne (Irene Rich, veteran actress and maker of a geographically-confused salad) and her relationship with Lord Windermere (Bert Lytell), a connection that has the whole town talking. In fact, Mrs. Erlynne is the mother of Lady Windermere (May McAvoy only eight years younger than her mom), who left her husband and child decades before. Lord Windermere supports Mrs. Erlynne and her return to society because she engages in a little light blackmail. Lady Windermere thinks her mother is dead, you see, and is an awful prude. Knowing that her mother is alive and slinking would be a humiliation.

Lady Windermere has been engaging in some flirtation with Lord Darlington (Ronald Colman) and our resident cad is more than ready to use the Erlynne question to press his suit. In fact, Mrs. Erlynne has set her cap at Lord Augustus Lorton (Edward Martindel), an aristocrat with more money than brains, but she needs to be more accepted in capital “S” Society before she can secure him. To do that, she must be seen at the best houses, like, say, the Windermere home…

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