Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Don't let that title fool you: Male and Female is really James M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, as interpreted by Cecil B. DeMille. Thomas Meighan plays Crichton, the very proper butler in the British household of Lord Loam (Theodore Roberts). When masters and servants go on a yachting excursion, the vessel is destroyed in a storm, marooning everyone on a desert island. The helpless aristocrats must turn to the resourceful Crichton for survival. Before long, Crichton is ruling the roost, while his masters are cheerfully performing the most menial of tasks. Haughty Lady Mary (Gloria Swanson) foregoes her class-conscious upbringing and falls in love with Crichton. Once the castaways are rescued and brought back to England, however, the original class distinctions are restored. Lady Mary goes ahead with a marriage to stuffy Lord Brockelhurst as scheduled, but it is obvious that she will be unhappy in this "socially correct" union. Meawhile, Crichton finds happiness with scullery maid Tweeny (Lila Lee), who has loved him all along. Feeling that the Barrie play didn't have sufficient "punch" to go over with 1919 filmgoers, DeMille interpolated a dream sequence in which Gloria Swanson imagines herself a Babylonian princess; this gave the actress the opportunity to share a scene with a live and none-too-docile lion. One would think that critics of the era would haul DeMille over the coals for taking so many liberties with The Admirable Crichton, but such was not the case. One reviewer of Male and Female even congratulated DeMille for making Barrie "filmable"!
butler, class-consciousness, island, social-classes, stranded, aristocracy, Britain, rescue, yacht, love, role-switching, survivor