Alice Joyce home

Mannequin (1926)

Mannequin (1926) Famous Players-Lasky. Distributor: Paramount Pictures. Presenters: Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky. Director: James Cruze. Screenplay: Frances Agnew. Adaptation: Walter Woods. Photography: Karl Brown. Cast: Alice Joyce, Warner Baxter, Dolores Costello, ZaSu Pitts, Walter Pidgeon, Freeman Wood, Charlot Bird. 7 reels, 6,981 ft.

A copy of this film is preserved at the Library of Congress (16 mm viewing print and 35mm negative). This was Dolores Costello's first film after her starring debut in The Sea Beast with future husband John Barrymore. However, both films were released at about the same time. She was, of course, already a screen veteran, having acted as a child in Vitagraph pictures with her father, Maurice Costello, who co-starred with Alice Joyce in The Captain's Captain and The Cambric Mask.

A pencil caption on the back of the still reads: "I've a mind to wipe your face with this scarf!" John (Warner Baxter) upbraided Selene (Alice Joyce)." Joyce's character haunts the auction houses, and the scarf is her latest extravagant purchase. It plays a part in the unfolding of the story.Scene from Mannequin
Scene from Mannequin The first part of the film is set at the turn of the 20th Century. Joyce with Warner Baxter and a costume still. Scene from Mannequin
The couple is beginning to sense that there is something strange about their babysitter.Scene from Mannequin
Scene from Mannequin The women feel a strange affinity.
Another still Scene from Mannequin
Scene from Mannequin Scene from Mannequin
Scene from Mannequin Another still from early in the film.
A lobby card with Walter Pidgeon and Dolores Costello.Scene from Mannequin
Herald from Mannequin A herald from the film
Another lobby card.Scene from Mannequin

Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for these pictures
Click thumbnails for larger images.

See a Lantern Slide advertising this film from the collection at the Cleveland Public Library

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World
Viewing Comments

Review from Variety, January 13, 1926


Paramount Production, presented by Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky. From the Fanny Hurst $30,000 Liberty prize story, adapted by Walter Woods, script by Frances Agnew. Featuring Alice Joyce, Warner Baxter, Dolores Costello and Zazu Pitts. Directed by James Cruze. At the Rivoli, New York, week Jan. 10, Running time, 61 min.

Selene Herrick Alice Joyce
John Herrick Warner Baxter
Joan Herrick Dolores Costello
Annie Pogani Zazu Pitts
Martin Innesbrook Walter Pidgeon
Terry Allen Freeman Wood
Toto Charlot Bird

This may be a $30,000 prize story, when the advertising angle is considered, but, as a straight story, had it appeared in any magazine and then been offered for pictures, it would have been handed the medal "old stuff." It even has a courtroom scene, and that is something almost passed out of pictures.

Fanny Hurst hasn't anything to be proud of in turning out this yarn. It is a wonder Jimmie Cruze managed to turn out a picture as interesting as it is with the material at hand. From a box-office standpoint "Mannequin" ranks as an average program attraction, and the exhibitor will have to judge whether or not the "Liberty" advertising splash is going to get any added money for him.

One thing "Mannequin" does do--it brings Dolores Costello to the screen in a role in which the girl has a chance to do something, and she may be the biggest bet that has come along among the younger generation of feminine screen players. She is a walloping hit in everything she does in this picture. Alice Joyce in a mother role also stands in the fore as an actress who should be praised; while Warner Baxter as the father handled his earlier scenes very well. But the character work contributed by Zazu Pitts is outstanding, next to little Miss Costello's contribution. Walter Pidgeon as the juvenile lead rather left something lacking in his conception of the role. Freeman Wood as the heavy overshadowed him completely.

"Mannequin" is the story of a half-wit nurse girl who steals the child of her employers and hides away with her in the slums, where the girl grows into lovely young womanhood. Her beauty obtains a position as a model in New York's most exclusive shop. There she meets and falls in love with a young newspaperman, he in turn loving her. She advances the thought to him that, in the face of the many acquittals of good-looking women charged with murder, some big paper should advocate "sexless justice." He undertakes to wage the campaign.

In the face of it the girl, in trying to protect herself from the heavy, who has forced himself into her room, is charged with killing him and thus becomes the first girl to face a jury on the "sexless justice" basis. But she is turned loose, just the same, and it is then discovered that she is the long-lost daughter of the judge who presided at her trial. Not much kick to that, is there?

But James Cruze has handled it in a way as to give the young girl every change [sic] in the world to score, and she does just that.


Review from Moving Picture World, January 30, 1926

James Cruze Makes Highly Entertaining Film Based on Fanny Hurst's Prize-Winning Story
Reviewed by Epes W. Sargent.

Selene Herrick Alice Joyce
John Herrick Warner Baxter
Joan Herrick Dolores Costello
Annie Pogani ZaSu Pitts
Martin Innesbrook Walter Pidgeon
Terry Allen Freeman Wood
Toto Charlot Bird

Based on Magazine story by Fannie Hurst.
Scenario by Frances Agnew.
Directed by James Cruze.
Length, 6,981 feet.

SINCE the film success of "Humoresque," Fannie Hurst's name has been to conjure with, but in "Mannequin," the story which won the Liberty Magazine $50,000 prize she owes much to James Cruze and an exceptionally well-chosen cast of players. Working with the screen in mind, Miss Hurst developed a lot of "sure fire" situations, but with less careful development and direction the story might have gone West for all that. As it is "Mannequin" is powerful and even gripping.

The tensity has been carefully sustained to a dramatic close, and rather abrupt cutting eliminates a mass of waste detail following the big scene. But the story is secondary to the players, for the intent of the plot is to develop a situation in which the hero's editorials against a maudlin sentimentality in favor of women murderers is turned against the woman he loves. This is not action material, and the scenarist has wisely dropped this into second place, seeking to develop interest in the story through the characters rather than the situation.

Most of this interest goes to the three women chiefly concerned; the half-witted nurse girl who steals the little girl, the girl herself, grown to womanhood, and the mother.

The first part affords a wonderful opportunity to Zasu Pitts to prove that she is an actress as well as a comedienne. Her makeup suggests comedy and that she was able to force the character through this eccentric make-up speaks volumes. Not once did she get a laugh where no laugh was intended. In the later scenes, stronger in their dramatic appeal, she is not so much hampered by her make-up. These she played with restrained force that gave the necessary contrast to the flower-like child. Dolores Costello, as the girl grown to young womanhood, was very effective in what could have been made a simpering flapper. Alice Joyce, as the mother, dominated the early scenes as the auction-hunting young wife and was her better known self in the later period.

Warner Baxter was capital in a negative sort of role, and Walter Pidgeon played the newspaper man with sincerity. Freeman Wood was given a couple of chances in a tough role, and many unprogrammed characters did well enough to deserve mention.

Mr. Cruze has made "Mannequin" into a fine play, carefully building suspense and holding the tension in growing volume to the very end. He even makes a court room sequence interesting.

Viewing comments

Though Alice Joyce has top billing in this, Dolores Costello has the most footage, as this was intended as part of a star buildup. An excellent showcase for the beautiful young actress, it is Joyce in yet another mother role who provides the plot springboard and dominates the first two reels. This is a role calling for lot of acting in a short amount of footage. Here her often tense smile is even more tense as she nervously reveals to her husband one after another pricey purchase which she can't afford, then anger at her husband, and finally panic as they realize that their baby is gone. She reappears, gray haired, several reels later as the sad judge's wife who takes an intense interest in the young model and provides moral support during her murder trial. She gets the final fadeout as mother and daughter are reunited. An emotionally compelling, if not particularly plausible, story, and well directed, but it is the presence of two of the loveliest actress of the silent screen that makes this film particularly worthwhile.
Print viewed: 16 mm print at the Library of Congress. Reel 4 was mislabeled and placed out of sequence between parts 6 and 7.

Back to Alice Joyce Filmography
Back to Alice Joyce Home

Last revised June 4, 2016