Black Oxen

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Black Oxen
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Written byFrank Lloyd
Mary O'Hara
Based onBlack Oxen
by Gertrude Atherton
Produced byFrank Lloyd
Starring Corinne Griffith
Conway Tearle
Clara Bow
Cinematography Norbert Brodine
Edited byEdward M. Roskam
Distributed by Associated First National Pictures
Release date
  • December 29, 1923 (1923-12-29)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
Language Silent (English intertitles)
Black Oxen

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 best-selling 1923 novel of the same name by Gertrude Atherton. [1]


Described as "subtle science fiction", the film takes its title from William Butler Yeats: "The years like great Black Oxen tread the world." [1] It was produced by Frank Lloyd Productions and distributed by First National Pictures. A special Photoplay Edition of the novel was published by A. L. Burt Company, New York, illustrated with four stills from the film. [2]


As described in a film magazine review, [3] having submitted to a medical treatment which restores her youth and beauty using a rejuvenating glandular treatment and X-ray surgery, Madame Zatianny, formerly Mary Ogden of New York City, leaves Austria for the United States. Young playwright Lee Clavering meets the rejuvenated Mary and, taken by her perfect poise and serene beauty, falls in love with her. Janet Oglethorpe, an animated and precocious flapper, is also in love with Lee but he has not yet taken notice of her. Mary and Lee make plans to marry. One of Madame's former lovers, Prince Rohenhauer, arrives and convinces her of the folly of this match. In a final meeting, she makes a break with Clavering and returns to Austria. In the end, Lee discovers happiness with Janet as they ride away in a taxicab.


Clara Bow as Janet Oglethorpe, the flapper in Black Oxen, holding a copy of Flaming Youth. With Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts XBlackOxen.jpg
Clara Bow as Janet Oglethorpe, the flapper in Black Oxen, holding a copy of Flaming Youth. With Kate Lester and Tom Ricketts

In 1923 motion picture industry magazine promotions, [4] [5] Corinne Griffith was used to advertise the movie because she was a known star and considered one of the most beautiful actresses in cinema. Publications also used the W. B. Yeats couplet, "The years like Great Black Oxen tread the world // And God the herdsman goads them on behind." That is quoted on the title page of the novel in its first edition [6] and at the opening of the film.


The George Eastman House retains a print of the film which is incomplete, comprising the first seven reels, but not the eighth. In 2010, it undertook restoration of the 35mm print, funded by The National Film Preservation Fund. The Gosfilmofond Russian State Archive also holds an incomplete copy, consisting of all reels with the exception of Reel 2. The New York Public Library has a 16mm print available in three film reels. [7] A 60-minute version mastered by eBay retailer Buyers’ Gallery Video is available on DVD. No complete version of the film is currently commercially available [8]

Black Oxen is one of about ten out of 58 films starring Corinne Griffith that are available for viewing. [9]

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  1. 1 2 Woodward, Kathleen (1999). Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations. Indiana University Press. p. 96. ISBN   0-253-11384-9.
  2. See Project Gutenberg Ebook #25542, far below.
  3. Pardy, George T. (January 12, 1924). "Box Office Reviews: Black Oxen". Exhibitors Trade Review. New York: Exhibitors Review Publishing Corporation. 15 (8): 20. Retrieved June 28, 2022.PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain .
  4. Screenland, Inc. Screenland, Oct. 1923.
  5. Brewster Publications, Inc. Motion Picture Magazine, Aug. 1923, pp. 76–76.
  6. Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948. Black Oxen. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923.
    Title page (4th printing, February 1923). Viewed at HathiTrust Digital Library. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  7. Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn; Dawson, Melanie (January 1, 2012). Black Oxen. Broadview Press via Library Catalog.
  8. "Silent Era : Home Video Reviews".
  9. Tim, Lussier (2004). "Corrine Griffin: The Divine Lady". Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013.