As noted by trade publication Wid’s Year Book 1921, by the end of that year, the Hollywood film industry was suffering a bit, as it grappled with a postwar slump at the box office and growing competition from overseas. Despite the cinematic triumphs of Charlie Chaplin‘s "The Kid" and Rudolph Valentino’s "The Sheik," theater owners in 1921 had faced a glut of "bad" movies and tepid ticket sales. An influx of prestige foreign films, including Germany’s "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," as well as threats of censorship also had exhibitors sweating. However, in their speculations for the 1922 film market, many Wid’s of contributors predicted that theaters would see a return to "normal," with more high-grossing, quality American pictures and fewer big-screen duds.

As it turned out, 1922 was a pretty good year for Hollywood movies. In December, Wid’s Film Year Book 1922-1923 issued a mostly positive assessment of the industry, and its annual list of the top 10 films, as voted on by critics from around the country, reflected the optimism. (One of the list’s films, "Tol’able David," opened in November of the previous year and is generally considered a 1921 release.) In the years before the Academy Awards, making the Wid’s list was a prestigious distinction for filmmakers. And not unlike a typical roster of Oscar Best Picture nominees, the 1922 list includes a number of opulent costume dramas, ballyhooed releases by distinguished directors, star vehicles, groundbreaking novelties, a happy little comedy, and no foreign productions.