GenreDrama ProductionUniversal Studios CountryUnited States
English intertitles DirectorClarence Brown
Charles Dorian (2nd unit) Release dateJanuary 18, 1925 (1925-01-18) (Theatrical) WriterDwinelle Benthall (titles), Melville W. Brown, Sada Cowan (screenplay), Sada Cowan (story), Margaret Deland (story), Howard Higgin (screenplay), Howard Higgin (story) DirectorsClarence Brown, Charles Dorian CastPauline Frederick (Jane Vale), Laura La Plante (Dorothy Vale), Malcolm McGregor (Robert Elliott), Tully Marshall (Scotty), Wanda Hawley (Lucy) Similar moviesDancer in the Dark, Gung Ho, The Secret Life of Words, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Promised Land, Siddharth
Smouldering Fires is a 1925 Universal silent drama film directed by Clarence Brown and starring Pauline Frederick and Laura La Plante. The movie's plot is similar to the 1933 talking picture Female, starring Ruth Chatterton.
Copies of this film are archived by UCLA and George Eastman House. In 1953, the film entered the public domain (in the USA) due to the claimants failure to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication. It is available on video, and numerous prints exist in private collections.
At 40, businesswoman Jane Vale (Pauline Frederick) falls in love with a much younger Robert Elliott (Malcolm McGregor), an employee from her factory. She promotes him to the position of her private secretary, and out of gratitude and to defend her reputation from rumors, he asks her to marry him. However, before the marriage can take place, Jane's younger sister Dorothy (Laura La Plante) returns home from college and Robert and Dorothy fall in love. Lacking the courage to confess to Jane of his love for her sister, Robert marries Jane. Robert finds that the difference in ages between him and Jane are creating complications. When Jane realizes that Robert, though diligently attentive as a husband, is actually in love with her sister, she pretends that she has fallen out of love with him and seeks a divorce.
Reviewer Hal Erickson wrote that the film "is a first-rate silent 'soap opera', immaculately performed by its superb cast and brilliantly directed." While praising the American release version, he made note that the "slightly longer European version is even better, with some remarkably mature (albeit non-lurid) setpieces".
In The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era, author David W. Menefee writes that the film "presented Pauline (Frederick) in a memorable light, successfully carrying off the role of a woman business executive."
In Movies and American Society, author Steven J. Ross wrote that Smoudering Fires was "a cautionary tale of what happens when businesswomen become too successful."