At 10 years old, Owens becomes a ragged orphan when his sainted mother dies. The Conways, who are next door neighbors, take Owen in, but the constant drinking by Jim soon puts Owen on the ... See full summary »
Anna Q. Nilsson,
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.
Leila Porter comes to dislike her husband James, a glue king who is always eating onions and looking sloppy. But after she divorces him and marries two-timing playboy Schuyler Van Sutphen the now-reformed James looks pretty good.
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Edith Hardy uses charity funds for Wall Street investments in hopes of buying some new gowns. She loses all the money and borrows from wealthy oriental Tori. When her husband gives her the amount she borrowed, Tori won't take it back, branding her shoulder with a Japanese sign of his ownership. She shoots him. Her husband takes the blame. In court Edith reveals all to an angry mob. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
America was not at war yet, even though WWI was well under way in Europe. So there is a detached charm to the events--Red Cross charities, parties, men heading out for a game of golf. And the characters, part of an early Long Island set: a stock broker happily trying to make money, his rich wife who isn't rich enough (she wants more gowns!), and an Asian ivory merchant. The wife is played with early frank energy by Fannie Ward, pretty well known in her day, and in fact married to the man playing her husband.
More eccentric is the Asian man, legendary Japanese actor Kintaro Hayakawa. The title cards originally had him as a Japanese merchant, but when Japan protested (they were allies with the US in wartime), it was altered in the 1918 release to a Burmese merchant. This is a little stretching it because he is so obviously Japanese (the tatami mats, the paper sliding doors, etc.) but since he's really just a Long Island eccentric it works out okay.
At just under an hour, the movie never has a chance to catch its breath, which is great. There are nice sections tinted yellow/orange or blue. The score is a bland small orchestra accompaniment, neither here nor there (this is what the Netflix streaming copy has). The plot is slight, in reality, with money lost and a desperate and sometime scandalous effort to get it back. A shocking moment two thirds of the way is its famous climax, a bit early maybe, followed by a trial. The movie didn't cost much to make (the same year as the hugely expensive "Birth of a Nation"), but it went on to great success, and is well preserved.
See it, yes. A great, straight up entry into silent films about domestic upper class problems, and therefore without historical or exotic quirks that would otherwise dominate. An early Cecil B. De Mille film.
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