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The Ocean Waif (1916)

Unrated  |   |  Short, Comedy, Drama  |  2 November 1916 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 66 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

An abused woman finds love in the arms of a famous novelist.

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(uncredited)
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Femography: Alice Guy
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carlyle Blackwell ...
...
Edgar Norton ...
Hawkins - the Valet
Fraunie Fraunholz ...
Sem
William Morris ...
Hy Jessup
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Storyline

An abused woman finds love in the arms of a famous novelist.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

2 November 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Ilha de Sonho  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(alternate)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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A surviving copy is held at the Library of Congress. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Deteriorating Beauty
13 January 2010 | by See all my reviews

"The Ocean Waif" is a run-of-the-mill production for 1916, with a simplistic romance that turns melodramatic at the bookends with an abusive stepfather. The treatment is mostly light in the middle. One especially funny moment, intentional or not, comes after the writer finds his muse in the runaway ocean waif; he claims to have written his best story and then reads this line from it: "The girl was as beautiful as a rose." At least, the leads, Carlyle Blackwell and Doris Kenyon, were attractive.

The film was directed by Alice Guy, who was the world's first female filmmaker, beginning with Gaumont in France back in 1896. It's impressive enough that she managed to remain in the business for twenty-some years during a period of the most rapid development; she outlasted Edwin S. Porter, Georges Méliès and many other of her contemporaries. If not much else, "The Ocean Waif" demonstrates that she, or at least her assistants, adopted new techniques and practices, such as quick scene dissection, closer camera perspectives and star treatment, which is what men like Porter and Méliès failed to do by the 1910s. The film isn't particularly good in any of these respects, but it's at least not outdated for 1916. I was confused, however, by the use of an oval frame masking in the opening sequences; the effect didn't appear to have a function.

More interesting than the film proper is the preservation, restoration and presentation of its, reportedly, sole surviving print. The film apparently lacks some footage, and there's considerable deterioration, but when there's not, it's a beautiful, antique fine-grain 35mm print transfer under the typical scratches and mottling. I'm, perhaps, even more impressed and thankful that one of the leaders in distributing silents to home video would risk its reputation by presenting such an aged film. I commend Kino for that. I hope they and others continue to release rare films that lack pristine prints, because most silents that survive, which is not most of them, do not exist in the great condition of some of the more popular home video presentations.


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