Cult Movies

Cult Movie Essentials: Black Oxen (1932)

Black Oxen is a 1923 American silent fantasy/romantic drama film starring Corinne Griffith, Conway Tearle and Clara Bow. Directed by Frank Lloyd, the film is based on the controversial and best-selling 1922 novel of the same name by Gertrude Atherton.

Described as “subtle science fiction”, the film takes its title from William Butler Yeats: “The years like great Black Oxen tread the world.” It was produced by Frank Lloyd Productions and distributed by First National Pictures. A special edition of Atherton’s novel was released featuring stills from the film.

The plot follows Lee Clavering (Tearle), a playwright in New York, falls in love with an Austrian countess, Madame Zatianny (Griffith). Janet Oglethorpe (Bow), an animated and precocious flapper, is also in love with Lee but he hasn’t noticed yet. Unbeknownst to Lee, Madame Zatianny is actually 58 years old, and has retained her youth through a rejuvenating glandular treatment and X-ray surgery. Lee’s plans to marry Madame Zatianny are thwarted when one of her former admirers reveals her embarrassing secret and, in the end, Lee discovers happiness with Janet.

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