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“Counterfeit” (“Temperament,” “Flirting with Love”)

The Perfect Flapper
was completed towards the end of April and released by the end of May. The end of the production marked the end of the first fifty consecutive weeks of her May 18th, 1923 contract. Flaming Youth had made her famous and made First National a load of cash, and so First National did not want to let her go. She was given the option on one additional year at $1200 per week, in increase of several hundred dollars per week. Painted People did not perform as well as Flaming Youth, but Youth had been a break-through film, unlike anything that had been popular before. Painted People's disappointment relative to the success of Flaming Youth did nothing to dampen First National's enthusiasm for Colleen. For the first film of her revised contract, the studio purchased LeRoy Scott's Counterfeit, an unpublished novel. As the title implies, false identities played a part in the story, making it attractive for what was rapidly becoming the Colleen Moore formula.


Counterfeit would be one of two “lavish productions,” along with Single Wives. First National had found a niche in glamorous stories with a bit of danger and spice set among the upper classes. These were called stories of “modern society.” Playing the part of Gilda Lamont, Colleen played an actress who had worked hard to achieve her fame. Her latest production, The Lost Kimono, is blocked by a local psychiatrist, Wade Cameron (Conway Tearle) “alienist, playwright, and busy little protector of public morals”  of the local Better Plays Committee. He orders the play shut down. Seeking revenge , Gilda poses as a mental patient with amnesia and a split personality (a counterfeit patient). Cameron puts her under observation where she falls in love with the doctor. The doctor pitches his own play to the theater’s manager , who is facing financial hardship . Cameron suggests his amnesiac patient play the lead. The manager agrees, but he plans on presenting the drama as a comedy. To preserve the doctor's reputation Gilda feigns the symptoms of memory-loss and personality disorder she had earlier displayed for the doctor. In the end, she ends up with the doctor.
“So Big”
After a string of successful films that exploited Colleen's sudden popularity as a flapper, it became evident that if the public was overexposed to the same subject matter with the same actress, the novelty might vanish. A patter that would develop over time was to intersperse Colleen's flapper films with other genre of films, an idea that likely came from her husband John but was embraced by the studio as well. John had a good feel for what the public wanted.
 
When the studio purchased the rights to the book So Big, Colleen lobbied for the role. The story was very different from Colleen's last few films, but when considering the whole of her career prior to Flaming Youth, the idea of Colleen playing Selena Peake was not so far-fetched. She had played mothers before, played drama, and was well regarded in that respect. The fear was that the audence would not see the character, but Colleen as a flapper, playing a mature role.
 
To capitalize on the move, stories began to appear in the papers that Colleen, who had come to embody the new woman and her new-found independence, had decided that she would do no more flapper roles. “’No more flappers!’” Colleen was quoted as saying by Myrtle Gebhart in the story  “Colleen Forswears New Role," in the  Los Angeles Times of May 18th. The public wanted more than soda-pop romance. Charles Brabin, who had been the original director for the epic Ben-Hur until Metro-Goldwyn went back to square-one and replaced him with Fred Niblo, was slated to direct So Big. Work began on the film at the United Studio lot under the supervision of Earl Hudson. The book is about a woman who marries a farmer and lives a hard life, but invests her son with an appreciation for life. As her son Dirk, nick-named "So Big," grows into aduylthood he becomes materialistic, looses interest in life and grows estranged from his mother. Edna Farber described it as a book with no real plot, just a portrai of life, and life often has not plot. This made adapting the story to film more difficult, as films are plot-driven to keep the interest of the audience.
 
Among the changes made for the film were the elimination of a few characters and making Dirkinto a more attractive character. He gorws up to become an architect, a more creative career. He leaves his girlfriend Dallas and meets Paula, a more alluring woman. In the book, Dirk ends up a casualty of a materialistic society. In the movie Dirk returns his mother, reconciling with her, and reuniting with Dallas.  Colleen’s performance as Salina was more fiery than the character in the book, hinting at Colleen's flapperish characters.
 
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