DeMille: The Golden Chance

The Golden Chance
R: Cecil B. DeMille. B: Jeanie Macpherson, Cecil B. DeMille. K: Alvin Wyckoff. D: Cleo Ridgely, Wallace Reid, Horace B. Carpenter, Ernest Joy, Edythe Chapman, Raymond Hatton, Mrs. Lewis McCord. P: Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. USA 1915

“A melodrama of a woman unhappily married to an alcoholic takes a position as a seamstress of a wealthy family where she meets a handsome young millionaire. Made during DeMille’s early prolific period, The Golden Chance  was the 19th film he directed in less than two years. DeMille shot this film simultaneously with The Cheat (1915), directing The Cheat by day and The Golden Chance at night. Alvin Wyckoff, who was DeMille’s chief cinematographer in the teens, photographed both of these films.  The Golden Chance stars Cleo Ridgely as the unhappy seamstress and in one of his first starring roles, Wallace Reid, as the young millionaire. Reid would become one of the biggest stars of the late teens / early twenties before his tragic, untimely death in 1923 from morphine addiction. (…) Starting in the late 1990’s George Eastman Museum started to revisit DeMille’s films and with new laboratory methods the color tinting was restored to new 35mm prints of many of these films, including The Golden Chance. Full restoration was completed on The Golden Chance in 2001 and so we now can see the film the way audiences experienced 100 years ago.”
Anthony L’Abbate
Eastman Museum

“1915 was busy for Cecil B. DeMille. The Golden Chance was one of fourteen motion pictures that he directed in the year. Of those fourteen, Carmen and The Cheat have become popular among silent film aficionados while The Golden Chance has been largely forgotten. And yet, it is the film that gets mentioned again and again when historians discuss the title that turned them into DeMille fans.  (…) The Golden Chance is a good melodrama and it touches on such diverse and controversial topics as adultery, spousal abuse, abuse of power and poverty. Unfortunately, it does have its moments of heavy-handedness. Steve Denby is such a wicked character, I am at a loss as to why an intelligent and beautiful girl like Mary would ever fall for him. Horace B. Carpenter plays Steve as a villain of the Snidely Whiplash school. No roguish charm, no motivation, just evil for evil’s sake. Just the sort of day laboror who would marry a judge’s daughter. This is likely because Mary’s extramarital flirtation would not be tolerated by audiences of the day unless she had a very good excuse. DeMille would further refine his technique of evading censors and decency leagues later in his career. (…) In spite of its flaws, The Golden Chance is worth viewing. DeMille’s use of light and shadow, courtesy of cinematographer Alvin Wyckoff, is on display. The burglary scene in particular has some stunningly beautiful moments with light, dark and smoke. In general, this is a tight little melodrama that is well worth the view.”
Fritzi Kramer
Movies Silently

“(…) director Cecil B. DeMille delivers a well-paced film focused on intimate human drama and personal relationships. The direction emphasizes natural facial and body movements, and the movements and gestures of the actors are subdued and restrained (an interesting comparison to the generally more exaggerated acting in D.W. Griffith’s films of this same time period.) (…) Scenes showing Mary dressing for the dinner party present an interesting showing of the fashions of 1915. They also show the beginnings of DeMille’s emphasis on the fashions and costumes of his leading ladies, important elements of his films with Gloria Swanson in the 1920s.”
Obscure Hollywood