Battle of the Sexes The (1928)
Produced & directed by D.W. Griffith this average silent is actually a remake of the director’s 1914 version. It stars Jean Hersholt as a successful businessman that’s pursued by a gold digger to the point that he forgets his family. When he later catches his daughter in the arms of another man he accuses her of embarrassing the family something she reminds him he’s done already. His infidelity nearly causes his wife’s suicide but everything ends happily as did most films of the day.
Mr. Judson (Hersholt) is having a shave while Marie Skinner (Phyllis Haver) overhears his barber congratulating him on a huge financial windfall. She works quickly having her lover Babe Winsor (Don Alvarado) find out everything she needs to know in order to seduce the stodgy old businessman. Somehow she also arranges to rent an apartment down the hall from Judson’s residence. It’s Mrs. Judson’s (Belle Bennett) birthday and everyone has a present for her. Daughter Ruth (Sally O’Neil) and son Billy (William Bakewell) give their mother gifts as does her husband. It’s a happy occasion so she wishes that things will always be just so before she fails to blow out all her candles. Ruth says that means her wish won’t come true.
Sure enough while busy Judson leaves the apartment to go back to work Marie finds a way to get him in her apartment where she can promptly faint into his arms. Soon Judson is returning to work every evening to be with Marie and give her gifts. One night lonely Mrs. Judson is taken out to a nightclub by her children and a friend (John Batten). Ruth notices her father with Ms. Skinner across the room points them out to Billy and then tells her mother it’s time to leave. When they do leave Mrs. Judson sees her husband dancing with Marie and making a fool of himself kissing and otherwise doting on her. Later Judson is too tired to dance anymore and he “allows” Marie to dance with Babe. Back at the apartment Ruth comforts her mother saying that her father was probably just drunk.
Later Mrs. Judson confronts her husband who insists he has a right to live his own life. However when next he visits Marie Babe is there in her apartment. He is angry but she sends the visitor out and insists to Judson that Babe means nothing to her. Mrs. Judson is so distraught that she nearly jumps off their apartment building’s roof to her death among the cars many stories below before Ruth catches up with (& stops) her. Ruth then sees Marie leaving her apartment and joking to her friend about her fat patsy that gives her diamonds. Ruth decides to kill Marie and goes to her apartment with her father’s gun. When she is unable to pull the trigger Marie disarms her. Just then Babe arrives and shortly thereafter so does Judson. Marie ushers them both into her bedroom before she goes to answer the door.
*** SPOILERS ***
Judson sees Babe’s cane in the room and searches Marie’s apartment for him. She finds him kissing Ruth in the back bedroom and is outraged. She points out the hypocrisy of her father’s double standard while Marie takes Babe into the other room. Judson and his daughter then overhear Marie berate her lover and deride her patsy. The Judsons then decide to leave but Babe stops him. He threatens the businessman with exposure; Judson is blackmailed into purchasing some bonds to prevent a scandal. Later it is again Mrs. Judson’s birthday and after Ruth & Billy give her presents they blindfold her to reveal her last gift – it’s Judson who asks for and then receives her forgiveness as she takes him back.