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Mating Call The (1928)

Mating Call The (1928)

Produced by Howard Hughes this James Cruze directed silent film was adapted from the Rex Beach novel by Herman Mankiewicz (Citizen Kane (1941)). It stars Thomas Meighan as war hero turned farmer Leslie Hatton and features a scandalous and extremely sexy performance by Evelyn Brent as well as a nude swimming scene (though brief and not as revealing as the one in Tarzan and His Mate (1934)) with Renee Adoree (The Big Parade (1925)).

Hatton is a war hero who married Rose (Brent) between tours of duty. But when he returns two years later he finds that his marriage to Rose was annulled by her parents and that she is abroad with her husband Lon Henderson (Alan Roscoe). So he becomes a lonely farmer working the land until one day Rose shows up. She is obviously now a woman of the world and she “wants him”. However Hatton will have none of her. In a scene reminiscent of Body Heat (1981) but with genders reversed Rose still can’t persuade Hatton to have an affair with her. He literally puts her in her car and shoos her away.

When Rose returns home she finds a woman’s handkerchief with the letter “J” stenciled on it in her husband’s car door. Entering the home and concealing the handkerchief she coyly denies to her husband that she’s been to Hatton’s. He’s not sure he believes her and threatens her with “the Order” a KKK-like organization that “upholds morals” in the area. She asks if “the Order” would enforce its code on one of its own members to which he replies “of course!”. Then she waves the handkerchief in his face but he wrestles it away from her. At just that time Judge Peeples (Luke Cosgrave) and his daughter Jessie (Helen Foster) arrive for a visit. While her husband is talking to the judge Rose is able to retrieve the handkerchief which Jessie notices. When the judge apologizes for their being late he says that Jessie was the reason because “she was at tea with Hatton”. Now Rose knows that Jessie is the owner of the handkerchief.

Lon decides to get rid of Hatton by using “the Order” which pays a visit to Hatton leaving him a note which threatens him to stop associating with a certain married lady. As they are still outside his home Rose shows up determined to seduce him. Just as she is succeeding (some real heat on the screen!) the Order enters the house and begins to take him away but Lon shows up with the judge and says that he will handle this private matter. Hatton then claims that he is already married and a disgruntled Rose leaves with her husband and the judge – who says Hatton should “stay away from his Jessie” – in tow. Hatton then decides to make it so by visiting Ellis Island and striking a bargain with a French girl (Adoree) whose parents want to immigrate.

Once back home however Hatton finds that he cannot force Catherine (Adoree) to submit to him though she is reluctantly willing. We are then “treated” to some domestic scenes an inauspicious meeting between Catherine and Rose (Rose is left with the impression that Catherine is the hired help!) a spark and the beginnings of a real relationship between Catherine and Hatton and a scandal which will affect all the players introduced thus far including Hatton’s friend Marvin Swallow (Gardner James) and the Order again. But never fear everything is wrapped up rather suddenly if not entirely satisfactorily in the end.

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