COBRA, with Rudolph Valentino, Nita Naldi, Casson Ferguson, Gertrude Olmstead, Claire de Orez, Eileen Percy, Lillian Langdon, Henry Barrows and Rosa Rosanova, adapted from Martin Brown’s play, directed by Joseph Henabery; divertissements, with singing and dancing; “M. W. Balfe,” one of the “Music Master” series; Kharum, Persian pianist. At the Rivoli. Edmund Goulding, who has contributed some sterling adaptations to the screen, including that of “Tol’able David.” falls far short of his usual standard in the picturization of the musical comedy, “Sally, Irene and Mary,” which he directed as well as adapted. This subject emerges from Hollywood as a species of “melodrama packed with trite ideas and appallingly obvious situations. It is a tawdry preachment concerned with the night life of gold-digging chorus giris, at the close of which the old-fashioned moral holds good. The captions allude to the “wolves of Broadway.” and the libertine of this picture, Marcus Morton, is designated the “leader of the pack.” Judging from that which is thrown on the screen, Mr. Morton thinks of nothing else except stage beauties, and one opines that he looks in exceedingly good health considering the hours he keeps. Mr. Goulding reminds the spectators that a girl has been out all night, and he shows that she is still so full of life that she enthuses to her friends about the beautiful weather—the sun is pouring its rays through the window curtains. Mary, impersonated by Sally O’Neill, learns so much about the night life that she decides to refuse wealth and return to her Jimmy Dugan, a rather awkward young man who wears the same shirt day after day.
Irene, who is loved by a millionaire, is killed in an automobile wreck, which tragedy brings home to the girls the error of their ways, or at least, the fact that they are playing with fire. There is quite an imposing sequence picturing a scene on the stage with the audience in the theatre. It is perhaps the best thing in this effort, and even this is spoiled at the end by a visitation of Irene’s ghost. No picture of this calibre would be quite complete without a moon. Here, through the clouds one perceives a new moon, which is followed by the frolicsome Mary and silk-shirted Jimmy embracing each other. As contrasts there are Erte decorations and tenement house scenes. For suspense there is the telegraph operator writing a message as it comes over the wire, with long pauses between words. The senences, in the vernacular, are made to suit the occasion, and as this operator writes, the scene is switched to one of a girl and a man in a car racing with an express train, the girl leaning over and kissing the man, when a baby might have known that it was a risky thing to do.
Constance Bennett impersonates the more sophisticated of the trio of chorus girls. She is attractive and does as well as one can expect. Joan Crawford figures as the unfortunate Irene, and Sally O’Neill manifests a penchant for impudent comedy as Mary.