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Sally, Irene, and Mary
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MGM silent. 58 minutes
US release: 12/7/25 (premiere); 12/27/25 (general).
Cast: Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford (as "Irene"), Sally O'Neil, William Haines, Douglas Gilmore, Ray Howard, Aggie Herrin, Kate Price, Lillian Elliott, Henry Kolker, Sam DeGrasse, Mae Cooper.
Credits: From the musical play by Eddie Dowling and Cyrus Woods. Adaptation: Edmund Goulding. Director: Edmund Goulding. Camera: John Arnold. Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Merrill Pye. Editing: Arthur Johns, Harold Young.
Based on a musical comedy by Edward Dowling, this picture was Joan Crawford's breakthrough film. Her Charleston in this and other films would be defining moments for the 1920s. The worldly Sally (Constance Bennett), dreamy Irene (Crawford), and naïve Mary (Sally O'Neill) are friends who have risen up from New York's Lower East Side to become Broadway chorus girls. Sally's wealthy lover, Marcus Morton (Henry Kolker), falls for innocent Mary, and Irene, even though a decent man expresses his love for her, falls prey to one of Broadway's wolves. The man, however, has a change of heart, and sends Irene back home. She marries the right guy, but they are killed in an auto accident. Mary is shocked by Irene's death, and realizes that Morton symbolizes a world that does not really suit her. As a result, she settles down with Jimmy Dugan (William Haines), her childhood sweetheart, who has become a plumber. ~ Janiss Garza, All Movie Guide
• The original play by Eddie Dowling and Cyrus Woods opened on Broadway on 9/4/22 and ran for 313 performances.
• The film was remade in 1938, starring Alice Faye, Joan Davis, and Marjorie Weaver.
• Musical numbers accompanying the silent film at NYC's Capitol theater in 1925: Overture, "Capriccio Italien"; ballet, "Voices of Spring"; "Hawaiian Hours"; "The Slave Market," with singing and dancing; "A Peep into Slam."
Regina Cannon in the New York Evening Graphic (1925):
[The film] is pretty cheap, tawdry, sentimental stuff poorly directed. The subtle touches (?) are put on with a shovel. But anyone who likes to see backstage life as it is sometimes lived may find some amusement in watching this tale unfold. Constance Bennett makes an alluring Sally and does the best work in the picture. Joan Crawford is a lovely Irene and Sally O'Neil as Mary is a pert youngster who is busy overacting every minute.
Mordaunt Hall in the New York Times (December 7, 1925):
Edmund Goulding, who has contributed some sterling adaptations to the screen, including that of "Tol'able David," falls far short of his usual standard in the picturization of the musical comedy, "Sally, Irene and Mary," which he directed as well as adapted. This subject emerges from Hollywood as a species of "melodrama packed with trite ideas and appallingly obvious situations. It is a tawdry preachment concerned with the night life of gold-digging chorus giris, at the close of which the old-fashioned moral holds good.
The captions allude to the "wolves of Broadway." and the libertine of this picture, Marcus Morton, is designated the "leader of the pack." Judging from that which is thrown on the screen, Mr. Morton thinks of nothing else except stage beauties, and one opines that he looks in exceedingly good health considering the hours he keeps. Mr. Goulding reminds the spectators that a girl has been out all night, and he shows that she is still so full of life that she enthuses to her friends about the beautiful weather—the sun is pouring its rays through the window curtains. Mary, impersonated by Sally O'Neill, learns so much about the night life that she decides to refuse wealth and return to her Jimmy Dugan, a rather awkward young man who wears the same shirt day after day.
Irene, who is loved by a millionaire, is killed in an automobile wreck, which tragedy brings home to the girls the error of their ways, or at least, the fact that they are playing with fire.
There is quite an imposing sequence picturing a scene on the stage with the audience in the theatre. It is perhaps the best thing in this effort, and even this is spoiled at the end by a visitation of Irene's ghost.
No picture of this calibre would be quite complete without a moon. Here, through the clouds one perceives a new moon, which is followed by the frolicsome Mary and silk-shirted Jimmy embracing each other.
As contrasts there are Erte decorations and tenement house scenes. For suspense there is the telegraph operator writing a message as it comes over the wire, with long pauses between words. The senences, in the vernacular, are made to suit the occasion, and as this operator writes, the scene is switched to one of a girl and a man in a car racing with an express train, the girl leaning over and kissing the man, when a baby might have known that it was a risky thing to do.
Constance Bennett impersonates the more sophisticated of the trio of chorus girls. She is attractive and does as well as one can expect. Joan Crawford figures as the unfortunate Irene, and Sally O'Neill manifests a penchant for impudent comedy as Mary.
New York World (1925)
Sally, Irene, and Mary, the eternal showgirls, the darlings of the musical comedy stage, have gone most successfully into the movies. From a sketchy plot, Edmund Goulding has wrought a picture amusing, light, so well done that it is a pity the contents mean so little. Without any call for histrionics, Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford, and Sally O'Neil in the title roles played with a polish to their performances that usually takes more years of experience to acquire than any of the three possess.
James R. Quirk in Photoplay (1925)
One of the nicest pictures of backstage chorus girl life that it has been our lot to see. For a change, we see the tinseled creatures as they really are--hard-working, ambitious youngsters who go home to corned beef and cabbage, usually, instead of to night clubs and broiled lobster. The picture as a whole is very well cast, the title roles perfectly so...Joan Crawford, as Irene, the sentimental one, gives a good performance....
Variety (December 1925)
Transplanted to the screen, this book for a musical show is rather trashy chorus-girl stuff. It's not a good picture.
Dealing with Broadway’s back-stage angle, the script doesn’t ring true. Director Edmund Goulding has given the production one lavish stage setting for a full-stage Charleston number, but has fallen into the pitfall of having every member of the audience applaud as soon as the curtain starts to ascend.
Sally is the ‘kept woman’ of the trio; Irene can’t make up her mind whether to choose a ‘chaser’ or a boy with honorable intentions, and Mary is the innocent miss who nearly loses Sally her de luxe flat when the latter’s money man takes a tumble in her favor.
Constance Bennett gives the one genuine performance in the picture as Sally, and suffers because of an unsympathetic role. Joan Crawford makes a silly girl of Irene, with whom interest is lost when she falls for he of the evil intent, and it’s doubtful if there ever has been a chorus girl such as Sally O’Neill has been instructed to play in depicting Mary, fresh and too dizzy.
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Above: US posters.
Above: US lobby cards.
Above: A US herald cover and centerfold.
Above: A slide exhibited at theaters.
Below: A 2-page promo ad appearing in Film Daily, 1925.
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