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Film / Ella Cinders

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Colleen Moore, looking cute.

Ella Cinders is a 51-minute long comedy film from 1926, directed by Alfred E. Green, starring Colleen Moore. It is a modern-day reimagining of the Cinderella story based on the comic strip of the same name.

Ella Cinders is a young woman who lives in the small town of Roseville somewhere in Flyover Country. She is treated as a domestic slave by her stepmother, Ma Cinders, and her step-sisters Lotta and Prissy. The only person that ever bothers to be nice to her is Waite Lifter, the ice man. One day flyers pop up announcing that the Gem Film Corporation is holding a beauty contest to find their next movie star. Ella manages to escape the clutches of her stepmother and show up at the "Movie Contest Ball". She wins the contest, only to find out upon arrival in Hollywood that the contest was a scam and there is no film contract awaiting her. Ella won't quit, though—and neither will Waite, who wants to marry her, and has a secret of his own.


  • Adapted Out: Ella's younger brother Blackie (from the comic strip) is nowhere in the film.
  • Babies Ever After: The final scene shows Ella and George with their cute little boy who drives a miniature ice truck.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Seen when Ella steals a "how to act" book from her stepsister and tries to imitate the dramatic looks therein.
  • The Cameo: Ella blunders into a film shoot starring comedian Harry Langdon. Langdon helps her hide from studio security.
  • Cinderella Plot: A plucky young heroine, abused and basically enslaved by her stepmother and two stepsisters, who eventually finds a handsome "prince".
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: Ella practices crossing her eyes when she reads that it's a good comic stunt for actresses. See Fish Eyes below.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Alfred Green plays the movie director whose shoot Ella interrupts.
  • Deus ex Machina: See Rebel Prince below.
  • Disappeared Dad / Missing Mom: Ella's parents are both long dead.
  • Fish Eyes: After reading a passage in the book that says crossing your eyes is a good look for actors, Ella actually splits her eyes out for a Fish Eyes effect. Then she crosses them. Then they start rolling around independently. (It's a split-screen effect.)
  • Impairment Shot: The screen goes blurry after Ella is badgered into smoking a cigar on the train.
  • Ladyella: Ella Cinders, the whole story being a 1920s spin on Cinderella.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Of the comic strip Ella Cinders, which had been in newspapers for barely a year at that time, but which ran until 1961.
  • Mythology Gag: Ella leaves a shoe behind as she dashes out of the Movie Contest Ball. It's not important.
  • Nice Kitty...: Ella accidentally kicks a power cable out of a light socket, then picks up a lion's tail and plugs it into the socket. The lion that the tail is attached to is not pleased.
  • Rebel Prince: It turns out "Waite Lifter" the ice man is actually George Waite, former football star and the only son of a very rich father who is appalled that his son is working as an ice man.
  • Say My Name: The first scene has both Ella's stepmother and two step-sisters screaming "ELLA!" at the top of their lungs, as they are all summoning Ella to do menial tasks.
  • Secretly Wealthy: "Waite Lifter" comes from money, and that isn't his real name.
  • Secret Test of Character: Accidentally. George finds Ella at the train station—she is dressed in rags because she's playing a part in a movie. He asks her to marry him.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Ella after she steals her step-sister's dress in order to go to the ball.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Most of the town other than her family sees Ella off. The mayor is still reading from some speech after the train is gone and everyone has left.
  • Twice-Told Tale: A modern spin on "Cinderella".
  • Wicked Stepmother: She sure is mean, bossing Ella around, refusing to let her go to the ball, insulting the memory of her father.