splash  Evening Clothes is a romantic comedy about a gentleman farmer who — spurned by his bride, goes to the big city to loose his rustic ways and win back his new wife. A stanza printed in advertisements for the film put it this way, “He was a French hick / Who didn’t please her / So he went to Paris and / Became a Boulevardier.” Louise Brooks plays Fox Trot, a hot-to-trot Parisian.

The making of the film coincided with Paramount’s transition from its East Coast facilities to the West Coast. Evening Clothes was the first film Brooks made in Hollywood, and at Paramount’s suggestion, the first in which she did not wear her signature bob hairstyle.

Evening Clothes was made to order for its star, Adolphe Menjou. And as with his similarly-themed prior films A Social Celebrity, Ace of Cads, The Sorrows of Satan, and Blonde or BrunetteEvening Clothes proved popular with moviegoers, though less so with critics. The New York Daily News stated “There are a couple of really subtle spots, however, which brighten up the film tremendously, raising it right out of the mediocre class,” while adding “Louise Brooks is a perfect knockout as a good-natured lady of the evening.” The New York Morning Telegraph quipped, ” . . . as it stands, this latest Menjou vehicle offers entertainment value equivalent to the Paramount admission charge.” Other New York papers were more positive. The New York Telegram called the film “a delightful little comedy,” while the New York Journal described it as “an entertaining comedy, with some good situations.” All-in-all, the film received a cool critical response, though it performed very well at the box office.

Thin story-line aside, many reviewers focused on the actors as well as Brooks’ new hairstyle. Among them was Regina Cannon of the New York American, “Louise Brooks is again cast as a ‘lady of the evening’ and makes her role pert and amusing. You won’t recognize Miss Brooks at first, for she is wearing her hair curled over her head. This is too bad, for it makes her look just like a thousand other attractive girls. Louise achieved distinction with her straight-banged bob.”

Louella Parsons of the Los Angeles Examiner added, “When you see the show girl, Louise Brooks, cavorting about with a frizzled top you will see why Famous Players Lasky is grooming her for bigger and better things. She fares much better than either Miss Tashman or Mr. Beery, who only appear at long intervals.” Welford Beaton of Film Spectator echoed Parson’s remarks, “There are three girls who do very well in Evening Clothes — Virginia Valli, Louise Brooks and Lilyan Tashman. . . . I was glad to see further evidence of Paramount’s dawning consciousness that Louise Brooks is not composed solely of legs. They work her from the knees up in this picture and it begins to look as if she were headed for a high place.”

Herbert Cruikshank, who wasn’t enthused about the film, nevertheless liked Brooks. He wrote in the New York Morning Telegraph, “It seems to me that Louise Brooks deserves first place. She is charmingly piquant as a chic little gold-digger who turns out to be a pretty good fellow after all — as many of the maligned sisterhood do. While her part is merely a filler, she seems to have built it up materially, and holds center stage in whatever scenes she has.”

And front-and-center is where Brooks’ next film placed her. Rolled Stockings — which featured Brooks in the lead — went into production just as Evening Clothes was opening around the United States.

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STORY SYNOPSIS:
“Lucien D’Artois, a wealthy French farmer fond of raising horses, is married to Germaine, according to the terms of a marriage contract. When she finds his rustic interests unbearable, she leaves him. Determined to become a polished Parisian, Lucien goes to the city and assiduously studies fencing and dancing but is unable to gain her favor. He embarks on a life of frivolity and free spending and to demonstrate his powers with women deliberately steals Fox Trot, a nightclub girl, from Lazarre. When his fortune is depleted, his entire possessions are confiscated with the exception of a suit of evening clothes. Living by his wits, Lucien imagines himself still a popular and wealthy count, and returning to his bare flat, he finds his wife returned to him. “

PRODUCTION HISTORY:
Production took place January 3 through 29, 1927. The film was shot at Paramount’s studio in Hollywood, California, and at the Graf Brothers Studio in San Mateo, California and Kohl Estate in nearby Burlingame, California.

CAST:

Adolphe Menjou
Lucien d’Artois
Virginia Valli
Germaine
Noah Beery
Lazarre
Louise Brooks
Fox Trot
Lido Manetti
Henri
Marcia Harris
Miss Streeter
André Cheron
Germaine’s Father
Mario Carillo
Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Lilyan Tashman
Undetermined Role (uncredited)

CREDITS:

Studio:
Famous-Players Lasky
Producer:
Adolph Zukor and Jesse L. Lasky
Associate Producer:
B.P. Schulberg
Director:
Luther Reed
Assistant Director
Richard Blaydon
Production Editor:
Louis D. Lighton
Writing Credits:
John McDermott (screenplay), George Marion Jr. (titles), adapted from the stage play by Andre Picard and Yves Mirande
Cinematography:
Hal Rosson
Film Editor:
Eda Warren and Frances Marsh
Set Design:
Hans Dreier (uncredited — Interior Castle hall, Interior)
Format:
Silent – black & white
Running Time:
7 reels (6,287 feet)
Copyright:
March 19, 1927 by Famous Players-Lasky Corp. (LP23777)
Release Date:
March 19, 1927
World Premiere:
March 3, 1927 (Metropolitan theater in Los Angeles, California)
Country of Origin:
United States

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Under its American title, Evening Clothes, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia, British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada, China, England, India, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, and South Africa. Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Eine Pariser ehe (Austria); Un homme en habit (Belgium); Een Man in Habijt (Belgium); Las que no aman (Chile); El Fraje de Etiqueta (Cuba); Vecerní odev (Czechoslovakia); I kjole og hvidt (Denmark); In Rok (Dutch East Indies); Un Homme en Habit (France); Ein Frack Ein Claque Ein Madel (Germany); Il signore della notte (Italy); Signore della notte (Italy); Un Homme en Habit – Ein Frack, Ein Claque, Ein Madel! (Luxembourg); El traje de etiqueta (Mexico); In Rok (The Netherlands); De casaca e luva branca (Portugal); El vestido de etiqueta (Spain); El Traje de etiqueta (Spain); Vestido de Etioueta (Spain); En herre i frack (Sweden); and L’homme en habit (Switzerland).

STATUS:
The film is presumed lost.

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TRIVIA: about the film

Evening Clothes is based on a French play L’homme en habit by Andre Picard and Yves Mirande which debuted in Paris on March 25, 1920. The Man in Evening Clothes, an English-language version of the play translated by the noted actress Ruth Chatterton, had a brief Broadway run at the Henry Miller Theatre beginning on December 5, 1924.

— The play was under consideration by Paramount as early December, 1924. John McDermott finished his screenplay on December 20, 1926.

Evening Clothes had its world premiere at the Metropolitan theater in Los Angeles, California on March 4, 1927. Adolphe Menjou was in attendance at the special event, as was the noted poet and then current French ambassador to the United States, Paul Claudel. Each were introduced from the stage. It’s now known if Brooks was in attendance at the premiere.

Arnold Kent (billed as Lido Manetti), began his film career in Italy after having started as a stage actor. (Among his Italian credits were Quo Vadis and a few diva films directed by Augusto Genini.) In the mid-1920s, he moved to Hollywood and worked as a contract player at Universal and later at Paramount. He died in Hollywood in 1928 from injuries sustained from an automobile accident.

— The film’s cinematographer was Hal Rosson. The noted cameraman was once married to actress Jean Harlow (from 1933 to 1934), and is best known for his work on the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz.

— In 1931, Paramount produced two sound versions of the play at their studios in Joinville, France. A Spanish-language version, Un caballero de frac, was directed y Roger Capellani and Carlos San Martín and starred Roberto Rey and Gloria Guzmán. And a French-language version, Un home de habit, directed by René Guissart and Robert Bossis, starred Fernand Gravey and Suzy Vernon. Only the Spanish-language film was released in the United States.

— In 1938, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder outlined a treatment of the play.