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Leatrice Joy Gender-Bending Silent Movie Actress: 'The Clinging Vine' Screening

Leatrice Joy in gender-bending movie role: 'The Clinging Vine' at The Silent Society

Starring popular silent film actors Leatrice Joy and Tom Moore, The Clinging Vine will be the Los Angeles-based Silent Society's next “Silents Under the Stars” presentation. Directed by Paul Sloane, this 1926 comedy-drama featuring Leatrice Joy in a gender-bending role will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, August 29, 2007, at the Paramount Ranch – north of Mulholland Drive, in the Agoura Hills area of the San Fernando Valley.

Leatrice Joy in gender-bending role

In The Clinging Vine, Leatrice Joy plays a mannish woman who runs a business operation until she falls in love with the Big Boss' grandson (Tom Moore). Joy's is the sort of role that Rosalind Russell would often play in the 1940s: the desexualized, masculinized woman who discovers evening gowns and negligees after the Right Man comes into her life. Having said that, I should add that no Rosalind Russell character was ever nearly as androgynous as Leatrice Joy's gender-bending businesswoman in The Clinging Vine. In fact, forget Russell. Think Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry.

Written for the screen by Jack Jevne and Rex Taylor, from a play by Zelda Sears (who also happened to be a screenwriter at MGM) and with titles by John W. Krafft, The Clinging Vine is no masterpiece. But Leatrice Joy, who goes through much of the film wearing manly attire and sporting a butch haircut reminiscent of some modern-day lesbians, is quite funny when trying to act feminine. In one hilarious scene, she learns that in order to win a man she must flutter her eyelashes while saying, “Do go on!” and “Aren't you wonderful?"

Though best remembered as one of MGM superstar John Gilbert's wives, Leatrice Joy deserves to have her work as an actress rediscovered. The Clinging Vine would be a good introduction, especially considering that Joy played a few other times what I've described above as “gender-bending” characters.

'The Clinging Vine' cast, live musical accompaniment

Besides Leatrice Joy and Tom Moore, The Clinging Vine features Robert Edeson, Snitz Edwards, Toby Claude, and Dell Henderson.

The Clinging Vine will be presented with live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla. More information and directions on the Silent Society page.

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