The Choice Between Love and Wealth in a Woman's Film
The Cup of Life (1915), "a Mutual Masterpicture," was written by C. Gardner Sullivan and directed by Raymond West in five reels. Barriscale starred as Helen, a woman who is unwilling to marry a poor man, raise children, and lose her beauty. While her sister Ruth (Enid Markey) accepts all of these in order to have a family, Helen becomes the mistress of a wealthy man, Dick Ralston (Frank Borzage). Mixing in society with men who accept her for what she has become, Helen decides to mock the sincere offer of marriage from Kellerman (J. Barney Sherry), discarding Dick for a richer man (Arthur Maude).
He takes her overseas, quickly drops her for a new woman, and after a succession of partners over six years, the "inevitable" occurs, making Helen "old before her time," desperately clinging to men who are weary of her. Returning to America, Ruth now has a home and two adorable children, and is secure in the constant love of her husband (Charles Ray), a mechanic. Helen tries to interest Kellerman once again, but only awakens his pity, and he is more attracted to her maid. Realizing the error of her ways, Helen takes to drink.
The cautionary tale of two women, and the one who takes the easy path that leads "to hell" seeks to demonstrate the simple virtues; the birth of Ruth's first child is titled "the one priceless treasure of poverty." It is Helen who suffers the loss of beauty and the humiliations she had predicted came with husband and family. Such melodramas, focusing on the position of women in society, were becoming increasingly typical of the output of producer Thomas Ince, as I outline in my biography, and would remain so through the end of his career.
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