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Tyrone Power Sr. shoots his wife and the man she has betrayed him with.
Twenty years later, the man's son is framed for embezzlement so another
man can take the money and his wife. He flees and as a school teacher,
boards with Power and marries his daughter.
It's a mess of a plot from a novel by the man better known for writing "When Knighthood Was in Flower" but it's handled pretty well, if a bit telegraphically in this short feature from 1915. The movie makers were still learning how to make features at this point and producer William Selig was a bit wary of the form. Nonetheless, the acting is good and if it is apparent that large amounts of plot wound up chopped out of the treatment, the acting is pretty good.
The first half, in fact, is excellent, with the plot being carried almost entirely by the acting. If in the second half there is a bit of a drop-off in an effort to get as much of the book in as possible, well, that's a problem that some movies still have.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although Colin Campbell wrote (63 credits) and/or directed (179 credits, many of them shorts) a staggering number of movies from 1911 through 1924 (he died in 1928), he was not to judge by this effort particularly inventive, but a firm follower of the nail-that-camera-to-the-floor school of film-making. Even when the action cries out for a pan, Colin Campbell always prefers using a different camera set-up. This makes the action appear somewhat jerky and even difficult to follow if you don't keep on your toes and realize that some shots don't necessarily represent a shift in time or locale but are actually a continuation of the character's previous action like starting to walk from a sitting room (one shot) and I emphasize "starting" and ending up in a bedroom (next shot). I don't recall seeing any close-ups either. Given the primitive direction and the primitive script which is neatly divided into two separate halves, the actors, led by Tyrone Power, do wonders with the preposterous material authored by Gilson Willets of Anita, the Cuban Spy, The Days of the Thundering Herd, The Double Cross, When May Weds December, The Lady or the Tigers and many other similar stories. Sad to say, the adaptation with its pasteboard characters and neat division into two acts was the work of Charles Major, author of one of my favorite movies, When Knighthood Was in Flower. Sweet Alyssum is available on a good Grapevine DVD.
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