The Affairs of Anatol

USA 1921. Dir Cecil B. DeMille.

With Wallace Reid, Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels. Costume design by Clare West. c.103min

Loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler’s ironic play about the affairs of a love-obsessed bachelor in fin-de-siècle Vienna, DeMille’s film is more of a spectacular sex comedy that reflects on Jazz Age morality. It is DeMille at his best – good comedy, luxurious Orientalist décor and extravagant costume, with sequences originally coloured by the Handschiegl process (sadly, not this print). Bebe Daniels is the most theatrical of Anatol’s love interests as a mock-vampire called Satan Synne. She steals the show in an ‘Octopus Gown’ designed by DeMille’s costumier Clare West. The sets are designed by the French illustrator Paul Iribe in a blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.