Mother Knows Best (film)

Mother Knows Best is a 1928 American film directed by John G. Blystone, based on a novel by Edna Ferber, fictionalizing the life of vaudevillian Elsie Janis. The film was Fox's first part talkie, using the Movietone sound system which had primarily been used for synchronised music scores and effects tracks in Fox features beforehand, although as early as "Mother Machree" (1928), a single synchronous singing sequence was included in the film. The sound sections in Mother Knows Best were directed by actor Charles Judels,[1][2] whilst the silent sequences were directed by John G. Blystone. The film starred Madge Bellamy, with Louise Dresser as her domineering mother, Barry Norton, and Albert Gran.[3]

Mother Knows Best
Directed byJohn G. Blystone
Charles Judels
Produced byWilliam Fox
Written byEdna Ferber
StarringMadge Bellamy
Music byWilliam Kernell
CinematographyGilbert Warrenton
Edited byMargaret Clancey
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
September 16, 1928
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish (Intertitles with talking sequences)



  • Anne Shirley – Sally, as a child (*as Dawn O'Day)
  • Billy Schuler

See also


  1. Donald Crafton The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926–1931 1999 0520221281 "MOTHER KNOWS BEST (Fox, 1928) lobby card Judels also directed the talking sequences of Mother Knows Best (1928, codirected with John Blystone), a stage-mother story by Edna Ferber transparently based on the life ..."Fox's advertising emphasized that fans of Ferber's novel could "Hear and See the players talk their parts on Fox Movietone." In fact ... Mother Knows Best received backhanded praise: " "Several sequences of Movietone dialogue lift a very good production into something better".
  2. Hervé Dumont, Jonathan Kaplansky Frank Borzage: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Romantic 2006 0786440988 p.145 "In July 1927, the company had made a sensation by releasing the first sound news reels, “Fox Movietone Newsreel,” ... On September 15, 1928, Fox's first part-talkie full length feature was released: Mother Knows Best (John Blystone)."
  3. Michael G. Ankerich Broken silence: conversations with 23 silent film stars 1993 p.52 "After her contract was up in 1924, she was immediately signed to a four-year contract with Fox Pictures, ... Madge made her talkie debut as the star of Fox's first real dialogue picture, Mother Knows Best (1928), based on the life of vaudevillian Elsie Janis. It is considered by some to be Madge's greatest picture. Madge played Sally Quail, a budding actress who is dominated by a stage mother, played by Louise Dresser"

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