Common Clay: Victor Fleming’s Pre-Code Film, Starring Constance Bennett and Lew Ayres

Victor Fleming directed Common Clay, a pre-Code film starring Constance Bennett and Lew Ayres, based on the 1915 play of the same name by Cleves Kinkead.

Common Clay

The Premise:

A young servant is seduced by the house master of the house, who will only have sex with her because of class inferiority. When she becomes pregnant and seeks recognition for her child, the family treats her as a blackmailer.

Common Clay was one of the highest-grossing films of 1930, and its success catapulted Constance Bennett into major Hollywood stardom.


If you want to know more about Constance Bennett’s career, please read my book:

A previous version (starring Fannie Ward) had been filmed in 1919 as a silent movie by director George Fitzmaurice.


Constance Bennett as Ellen Neal
Lew Ayres as Hugh Fullerton
Tully Marshall as W.H. Yates
Matty Kemp as Arthur Coakley
Purnell Pratt as Richard Fullerton
Beryl Mercer as Mrs. Neal
Charles McNaughton as Edwards
Hale Hamilton as Judge Samuel Filson
Genevieve Blinn as Mrs. Fullerton


Directed by Victor Fleming
Written by Cleves Kinkead (novel) and Jules Furthman
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation

Release date: August 1, 1930

Running time: 89 min
Box office $1,246,000