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The Flirting Widow

(1930 b 72')

En: 5 Ed: 4

An older sister invents a fiancé named Smith so that her younger sister may marry; Smith arrives and pretends he is a friend when he is supposed dead.

Phyllis (Flora Bramley) tells Bobby (Anthony Bushell) she couldn't marry him until her older sister Celia is married. Bobby asks her father William Faraday (Claude Gillingwater). Bobby tells the foolish Raleigh (William Austin) to marry Celia, and he realizes that he loves her. When Phyllis suggests that Celia (Dorothy Mackaill) marry Raleigh, she refuses. Celia says she is engaged to Col. John Smith. Phyllis has Celia write to him in Arabia; but Celia tells Aunt Ida (Emily Fitzroy) there is no Col. Smith. Col. Smith (Basil Rathbone) gets the letter and asks an officer about the Faraday family. Celia and Ida put Smith's death notice in the London Times. The family sees it; but they let Celia find it herself, and she cries.

Col. Smith arrives. When Raleigh mentions Smith's death, he says he is Col. Vaughn. Phyllis tells him she is married now. Vaughn tells Celia Smith's last words and gives her mementos. He puts a watch on her breast and drops it down her dress. He reprimands Celia for going out already and not in black. Ida collapses when Vaughn tells her he knew Smith. Vaughn tells Celia about the battle and Smith's death, saying that Smith told him to take his place with Celia. Vaughn tells Celia that Smith got her letter. He is about to kiss her when the others come in to say goodnight. Celia gives Vaughn the watch back and has Raleigh take Vaughn to the train station. Ida tells Celia that Vaughn is Smith.

Vaughn returns and is invited by Faraday to stay the night. Celia tells Ida that they must take the midnight train to London, and she calls Raleigh for a ride. Faraday offers Vaughn brandy and gets a call from Raleigh about Celia leaving. Celia tries to get the drunk Ida going, as Smith hears. Celia is dressed in black and is leaving alone. By the fireplace Vaughn tells Celia that he came out of curiosity and that his name is Vaughn-Smith. He asks about the other letters, and Celia drops them. Smith embraces Celia; but Raleigh comes in and says he has been waiting for her. Smith says he has been waiting for Celia for twenty years and kisses her.

This comedy plays on the irony involving the mistaken identity. A tradition was that an older sister had to wear green stockings if her younger sister was married before her; but Celia's green-stocking days seem to be about over, as the "widow" flirting with her late fiancé has been caught in her own invented story.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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