Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925)
Ronald Colman is the title character by the name of Lord Darlington in this Ernst Lubitsch silent gem. Early on Coleman tells Lady Windermere (May McAvoy) that he is in love with her. Her husband Lord Windermere (Bert Lytell) receives a letter from Mrs. Erlynne (Irene Rich) a social outcast that she must see him. When he does he is told by Mrs. Erlynne that his wife is her daughter (out of wedlock? the reason she’s a social outcast?) and blackmails him for hush up money. The well dressed Erlynne is shunned by all the society women wherever she goes. However at the racetrack one day she is followed out by Lord Augustus Lorton (Edward Martindel) who begins a clandestine affair with her. Emboldened she summons Lord W. again in order to secure an invitation to Lady W.’s birthday party. Fearful that she’ll reveal her secret he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile Colman because of his love for Lady W. tells her that she will find a check to Mrs. Erlynne in her husband’s desk. When she does she is convinced that her husband is having an affair. When she confronts him shortly before the party he tells her that he is just helping the woman who is “down on her luck” but then sends a letter to Mrs. Erlynne asking her not to come. However Mrs. Erlynne doesn’t open the letter assuming it is an invitation and rushes to the party. At that time she learns she is not on the guest list but Lord Lorton shows up and escorts her inside. Initially furious at her husband Lady W. greets Mrs. Erlynne who then proceeds to overcome everyone’s initial reaction to her and becomes the life of the party. Colman attempts to woo Lady W. again and is successful such that she departs for his apartment.
*** SPOILERS ***
When Mrs. Erlynne realizes what has happened not wishing the same fate for her daughter she follows Lady W. to Colman’s apartment to convince her not to go through with it. Just as she succeeds however the men from her party arrive at Lord Darlington’s (Colman’s) to continue their evening. Mrs. Erlynne decides to make her presence in the apartment known to the men which include Lord Lorton in order to allow Lady W. to escape unnoticed. In the end Lord & Lady Windermere are happily back together. They receive Mrs. Erlynne’s well wishes who upon her departure from their premises runs into Lord Lorton. He cannot help but forgive her and so they leave together. The end.
Added to the National Film Registry in 2002.