The Art of Ian Keith (1925) 🇬🇧

February 16, 2024

And who, in the name of all art, is Ian Keith? Where have we seen him? What parts has he played? These are the questions that I expect nine out of every ten of the readers who come upon this title to ask, almost before they know that the questions are out of their mouth. But the tenth reader, who has seen “Her Love Story” and “My Son” and “Enticement,” and remembers the tall, romantic figure with the clean-cut profile and the” sensitive hands, will, I think, understand my title well enough. For the tenth reader I write this study.

by E. R. Thompson

Ian Keith is a comparative newcomer to the motion picture world. He was a stage actor when Gloria Swanson saw him and persuaded him to play a part with her in Manhandled. He has made less than half a dozen pictures, and has seldom been billed outside the theatres, let alone starred. But in every film in which he has appeared his has been the life, and the spirit, and the romance, of the production.

I first saw him myself in “Her Love Story,” as Gloria’s dashing soldier husband. I was bored hopelessly by a Mormon feature in which everyone showed his Mormonism by making horrid faces. But as soon as Ian Keith appeared on the screen I sat up as if I had been shot. Here was something very new, very strong, very telling; the most original and engrossing personality that had come my way since Goetzke.

I made a mental note of Ian Keith, and waited.

I saw his name nowhere.

I heard of no film in which he was playing.

And then one day I dropped into a picture-house to see Nazimova in My Son, and was greeted on the screen by a familiar figure in the rig of a Portuguese fisherman, a familiar face under the brave tasselled cap. The supporting players in this film were billed as Jack Pickford and Constance Bennett, but the player who backed Nazimova as a trained ballet master does his partner, was none but Ian Keith.

I have only see Ian Keith once again, but that was in a part that sticks in my memory as a little masterpiece. The film was Enticement. The star was Mary Astor. The leading man was Clive Brook. The triumph was Keith’s.

And what is the secret?

Frankly I do not quite know.

It is not his technique nor his movements only, though both are full of a ripening power. It is something in the man’s personality that will out. A dominant personality, so strong that it can show itself in a level of quite unusual gentleness.

To my mind, Ian Keith could make or break the romantic kinema between those expressive hands of his to-morrow.

But the kinema doesn’t know — yet.

The Art of Ian Keith (1925) |

Above: Ian Keith, with Alla Nazimova in “My Son,” in which he scored a great success.

Above: lan Keith as Gloria Swanson’s soldier husband in “Her Love Story.”

Below: With Gloria Swanson in Manhandled.

Collection: Picturegoer Magazine, December 1925


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