review for Mama's Affair on AllMovie

Mama's Affair (1921)
by Bruce Eder review

At this writing, in 2010, Mama's Affair is one of a tiny handful of extant Constance Talmadge movies -- most of the others are gone, lost to neglect and disintegration. And, ironically enough, it's one of the few movies in her output that holds up nine decades later without a great deal of explanation, concerning Talmadge's role or talent. She's wonderfully subdued in this movie, as the put-upon daughter of a neurotic and manipulative mother (Effie Shannon) and her equally passive-aggressive friends. And the result is a gently sympathetic portrayal by the hauntingly pretty Talmadge, who proves in this film that less-is-more. Her quietly beguiling, understated work here wasn't typical of her performances, but it is the easiest to accept by modern audiences. Otherwise, the play, which was a success on Broadway at the time, tells a now-too-familiar story that has been retold far too many times, and only Talmadge, and the somewhat over-the-top work of Shannon, plus Victor Fleming's smooth direction, makes Mama's Affair worth a look a century later.