11 user 2 critic

Old Wives for New (1918)

Not Rated | | Drama | 19 May 1918 (USA)
Charles Murdock neglects his fat and lazy wife in favor of Juliet Raeburn but, when Juliet's name is involved in murder, he marries Viola and takes her to Paris.


Cecil B. DeMille


Learn more

More Like This 

Manslaughter (1922)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Leatrice Joy, Thomas Meighan, Lois Wilson
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Three Scottish officers, including Sir Archi, murder Sir Arne and his household for a coffin filled with gold. The only survivor is Elsalill, who moves to relatives in Marstrand. There she ... See full summary »

Director: Mauritz Stiller
Stars: Erik Stocklassa, Bror Berger, Richard Lund
The Cheat (1915)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A venal, spoiled stockbroker's wife impulsively embezzles $10,000 from the charity she chairs and desperately turns to a Burmese ivory trader to replace the stolen money.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Leila Porter comes to dislike her husband James, a glue king who is always eating onions and looking sloppy. But after she divorces him and marries two-timing playboy Schuyler Van Sutphen the now-reformed James looks pretty good.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Elliott Dexter, Gloria Swanson, Lew Cody
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Two male musicians fall in love, but blackmail and scandal makes the affair take a tragic turn.

Director: Richard Oswald
Stars: Conrad Veidt, Leo Connard, Ilse von Tasso-Lind
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An Austrian officer sets out to seduce a neglected young wife.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Sam De Grasse, Francelia Billington, Erich von Stroheim
Easy Street (1917)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
Cabiria (1914)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »

Director: Giovanni Pastrone
Stars: Italia Almirante-Manzini, Lidia Quaranta, Bartolomeo Pagano
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Robert and Beth Gordon are married but share little. He runs into Sally at a cabaret and the Gordons are soon divorced. Just as he gets bored with Sally's superficiality, Beth strives to ... See full summary »

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Thomas Meighan, Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The young village minister was not quite as discreet as he might have been in fulfilling the strange trust left by the dying mother, but it certainly worked for the common good. By the ... See full summary »

Director: D.W. Griffith
Stars: Mary Pickford, Charles Hill Mailes, Kate Bruce
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Accosted by a masher in the park and unable to motivate husband Charlie into taking action, Mabel gets him a boxing mannequin to sharpen his fighting skills.

Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Mack Swain


Complete credited cast:
Elliott Dexter ... Charles Murdock
Florence Vidor ... Juliet Raeburn
Sylvia Ashton Sylvia Ashton ... Sophy Murdock
Wanda Hawley ... Sophy in Prologue
Theodore Roberts ... Tom Berkeley
Helen Jerome Eddy ... Norma Murdock
Marcia Manon Marcia Manon ... Viola Hastings
Julia Faye ... Jessie
J. Parks Jones J. Parks Jones ... Charley Murdock
Edna Mae Cooper Edna Mae Cooper ... Bertha
Gustav von Seyffertitz ... Melville Bladen
Tully Marshall ... Simcox
Lillian Leighton ... Maid
Mayme Kelso ... Housekeeper
Alice Terry ... Saleslady (as Alice Taafe)


Charles Murdock neglects his fat and lazy wife in favor of Juliet Raeburn but, when Juliet's name is involved in murder, he marries Viola and takes her to Paris. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »




Not Rated






Release Date:

19 May 1918 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hustru - Moder - Elskerinde See more »


Box Office


$66,241 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Tom Berkeley: [after he has been shot] She didn't do it - it was the little one! This must be hushed up, Charlie - damn it all, my reputation *must* be saved!
See more »


Referenced in Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A nicely mounted soap opera of World War One vintage
30 June 2007 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

When we think of Cecil B. DeMille we tend to think of lavish spectacles in period settings, often Biblical, featuring elaborately staged orgies, dances, battles, and at least one slightly naughty bathing sequence. Typically, after entertaining the audience with this material for several reels, DeMille would diligently underscore the story's lesson by punishing the wicked and rewarding the virtuous, and then wrap up the package with some stern moralizing. The director who crafted Old Wives for New hadn't yet developed into the master of Hollywood hokum he would become, but some of his soon-to-be-familiar motifs can be found here in embryonic form. Around the time this film was made DeMille (already working with his longtime collaborator, screenwriter Jeannie Macpherson) began a new series of popular dramas focused on married life in which contemporary mores were examined and questioned. Producer Jesse Lasky encouraged this move, based on a hunch that wartime audiences wanted modern stories which challenged the status quo -- up to a point, that is. The titles of these films often suggested more daring content than the stories actually delivered, for despite the modern trappings DeMille was essentially conservative in his storytelling, but you have to give the guy credit: he sure knew how to draw cash customers to the box office. Old Wives for New turned a handsome profit and set DeMille's course for years to come.

This film is introduced with a rather startling title card addressing the ladies in the audience through the character of Sophy Murdock, wife of the protagonist. Sophy is warned not to take her husband for granted just because she's already "landed" him, and not to become dowdy or bossy. The admonition concludes: "We must remember to trim our 'Votes for Women' with a little lace and ribbon -- if we would keep our man a 'Lover' as well as a husband." Soon afterward, DeMille introduces our protagonist Charles Murdock (played by Elliott Dexter), a brooding oil millionaire who has settled reluctantly into an unhappy marriage. The other main characters are introduced with the kind of quaint cinematic device that is so satisfying in silent movies: after a title card describes them as "the Five Pairs of Hands that Were to Weave the Threads of His Destiny," we are offered close-ups of five pairs of hands, each performing a task characteristic of the person to whom they belong. The chubby fingers of Sophy Murdock, the wife who has allowed herself to become dowdy (i.e. fat), pluck chocolates out of a candy box; Viola, a woman of loose morals, dips her brush in facial powder and daubs it on her face; Juliet, a noted fashion designer, carefully cuts fabric; Bladen, conniving secretary to Murdock, taps away at his typewriter keyboard; and Berkeley, a high-stepping old roué, sticks a key into the lock of his current girlfriend's apartment, opens the door, and enters. Once these introductions are out of the way, we concentrate on the unhappy marriage of the Murdocks.

The Murdocks have been married long enough to have two children who are on the verge of adulthood, but although Charles is still youthful and athletic, Sophy has become dumpy and depressive, lounging around the house in her robe reading the funny papers. They seem to have stayed together due to inertia rather than love. (They certainly look mismatched: imagine William Powell paired off with Marie Dressler.) When Charles broaches the subject of divorce Sophy won't hear of it, so the unhappy husband leaves for an extended camping trip with his son. Out in the woods he meets fashion designer Juliet Raeburn, also on vacation, and their friendship blossoms into love. Animal lovers aren't going to enjoy their "meet cute" scene, however: Charles and Juliet are each out hunting alone, and when they both shoot at the same bear they're brought together for their first conversation over the animal's carcass! In any event, the ensuing affair is a chaste one, but when they return to the city rumors begin to circulate. The situation worsens considerably when the woebegone Charles accompanies his high living business partner Berkeley for a night on the town with a couple of good- time gals, and things get out of hand. A shooting occurs, someone gets killed, there is an attempted cover-up to avoid scandal, poor Juliet Raeburn's name gets dragged through the mud, etc. etc. In the end, after the various complications have been sorted out, the virtuous characters are rewarded and even the "bad" ones get another chance . . . with one exception, anyhow.

Old Wives for New is, in short, a well produced soap opera but no more substantial than an episode of "Dynasty." For me, the story begins to lose any claim on credibility after the crime of passion, when the plot's improbabilities become increasingly obvious. (I haven't seen this film with an audience, but I believe there are moments towards the end that would provoke unintended giggles.) On the plus side, the film is a time-capsule of its era, particularly where clothing is concerned; DeMille's movies are known for sumptuous costuming, especially for the ladies, and this one boasts a lot of great 1918 vintage outfits for viewers who enjoy that sort of thing. It's also interesting to observe the characters' casual acceptance of adultery and divorce, attitudes we might associate with the Roaring Twenties, yet already present at this time. On the minus side, while the leading players are competent enough they're not very interesting, and there's no Gloria Swanson or Wallace Reid on hand to give things a boost. Theodore Roberts, who plays the old roué Berkeley, gives the flashiest performance, but he isn't on screen long. In sum, this is a moderately engaging silent drama that never rises above the standard level. It appears that DeMille did not approach the material with any unusual degree of interest or vigor, but not long afterward, when Miss Swanson arrived on the scene, their work together would produce more exciting results.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 11 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed