So Big (1924)
P-29-20 Joseph De Grasse with arms outstretched
P-29-71 Joseph De Grasse and Colleen Moore
P-29-75 Joseph De Grasse and Colleen Moore
P-29-127 Jean Hersholt, Charlotte Merriam, and Colleen Moore
P-29-138 Gladys Brockwell and Colleen Moore
P-29-174 Colleen Moore
P-29-175 Colleen Moore
P-29-206 Dot Farley, Ford Sterling
P-29-280 Colleen Moore and Dorothy Brock
P-29-317 Colleen Moore, John Bowers
P-29-10 Colleen Moore
From Pete Smith and Harry Wilson
You would never recognize the perfect flapper in Colleen Moore as she appears in the leading role of Edna Ferber's famous book, "So Big", now being produced by First National. Here's Colleen as she looks in her first starring vehicle, the most ambitious characterization of her career.
Star of "So Big" Gives Greatest Performance of Career
"SO BIG." First National Photoplay. Author Edna Ferber. Director, Charles Brabin. Length 8,501 Feet.
CAST AND SYNOPSIS
Reduced to poverty by the suden death of her father, Selina DeJong becomes a school teacher in a dutch settlement on Chicago's outskirts. She weds a dull youth named Purvis, who finds all his relaxation in hard work. Finally labor on the farm kills him. Selina is left with her baby boy to face the world as best she may. For his sake she works doggedly, runs the farm, sells the produce, educates him, sees him grow to manhood, recognized as a successful architect. Then a Mrs. Storm vamps the son. He is about to elope with her when Selina desperately intervenes. The husband appears, threatens divorce suit which will ruin young DeJong, but yields to Selina's pleadings. Her mother-love saves the youth.
THE versatile talent of Colleen Moore has never been so successfully demonstrated as in the principal role of "So Big." The film is an artistic triumph is its leading lady, whose characterization of the long-suffering Selina from girlhood to premature old age is marvelously appealing. Also it is charged with remarkably effective atmosphere and well photographed.
The feature's box office value depends chiefly upon how the star's admirers will greet her transition from the saucy, bright napper roles with which she has heretofore been identified. They may resent the startling change, quite regardless of the fact that Miss Moore gives them what is undeniably her greatest dramatic performance up-todate. And if they do -- the picture is doomed to financial disaster so far as the average theater is concerned.
The story, a fiction-market best-seller, is entirely a study in personalities and the scenario follows the original plot closely. It is sombre in tone, with scant comedy relief, developing a compelling, pathetic portrayal of a mother's love for her boy from babyhood, until he reaches the "so big" stature of a man. Up to this point the tale revolves against the drab background of Selina's early struggles, her father's death, her marriage to a dull clod of a Dutch farmer, his death and the young widow's fight for a livelihood, all replete with the spirit of determined loyalty and tragic self-sacrifice.
Then comes the big dramatic moment when Selina sees son Dirk about to ruin his reputation by eloping with a married woman. This is the only flash of exciting action in the nine reels, the remainder being mostly heartache, toil and worry. But the emotional strength of Selina's intervention and rescue of her boy must be conceded.
Director Brabin has faithfully reproduced the styles, colors and settings of the last century. Besides the star's wonderfully effective work as Selina, credit must be given John Bowers for a fine delineation of the the unimaginative Dutch farmer who digs himself to death. Wallace Beery is immense as Klass Pool but Ben Lyon painfully stiff and stagey as the grown-up Dirk.
The photography is exceptionally fine, and there is a meticuolous care given to the various details of setting and atmosphere that lend a tone of sincerity to the photoplay.
Feature Colleen Moore. If her fan-following will stand for their favorite's fading into old age, "So Big" may please 'em. It would be well to make this clear in your exploitation, for fear of a comeback.
-- Exhibitors Trade Review, January 31, 1925, page 49
with Coleen Moore, Joseph DeGrasse, John Bowers, Wallace Beery, and Ford Sterling. Directed by Charles Brabin. First National.
More Information on this film...
Colleen Moore: A Biography of the Silent Film Star by Jeff Codori.
Last Modified December 29, 2021.