Based on the Novel by Robert W. Chambers of New York City life among the upper-crust, Valerie West , artist/model and philosopher, undergoes much sorrow and joy, many trials and ... See full summary »



(novel), (scenario)


Cast overview:
Paul Capellani ...
Edna Hunter ...
Lillian Cook ...
Mrs. Neville
Mr. Neville (as Edward M. Kimball)
Mrs. West
D.J. Flanagan ...


Based on the Novel by Robert W. Chambers of New York City life among the upper-crust, Valerie West , artist/model and philosopher, undergoes much sorrow and joy, many trials and tribulations, and final triumph on her journey to become the living personification of sweet and noble womanhood. Written by Les Adams <>

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Drama | Romance





Release Date:

15 October 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La loi commune  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Version of The Common Law (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

Review from Variety, September 29, 1916
15 August 2017 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Lewis J. Selznick has released the first of the Clara Kimball Young pictures, a seven reeler entitled "The Common Law," from the book of the same title by Robert W. Chambers, directed by Albert Capellani. From an artistic standpoint the picture is very well done, following the story of the book so closely that it contains all the weakness of the original novel as well as all the strong punches, and to Mr. Capellani must be given credit for having achieved an exceedingly artistic production from the scenic, lighting and acting standpoint. A splendid cast was assembled to support the acting of Miss Young, who played the stellar role with distinction. But the picture in itself is too long from the exhibitors' standpoint. It ran just a little longer than an hour and three-quarters at the private showing which was given at the St. Regis Hotel last week. But for that matter nearly all seven-reel pictures are too long for the big business possibilities of the usual exhibitor, and in the case of "The Common Law there are several scenes that could be cut out entirely, not only as an aid to the picture itself, but as a help to the story. It would be a simple matter to cut at least a thousand feet from the picture, and this would speed up the action, which at times is draggy and help the picture from the exhibitor's standpoint by shortening the running time. At the very start of the picture there is entirely too much cutting back and forth in the scenes leading up to the real action of the pictures's plot. Valerie West (Clara Kimball Young) is a girl of refinement and education who left practically destitute through the death of her mother, is forced into accepting a position as a model. The most thrilling scenes are those in the studio of Neville, where Valerie is posing "in the nude." Here the director has done his best work. He has worked out an idea of showing but part of the form of the woman and leaving those who view the picture to use their imagination as to the rest. They are scenes that could have easily been overdone and made salacious and suggestive in the hands of an overzealous producer, but Mr. Capellani has given just the required touch. At this time Valerie is in demand and Querida (Paul Capellani), a Spanish artist, becomes infatuated with her. His law in regard to women is "the common law;" no marriage for him. His life is "just one woman after another." However at this point Stephanie (Lillian Cook), Neville's adopted sister, who is in love with him and who, it is generally conceded by relatives and friends, is to wed him enters the picture. She has been neglected by Neville, who has fallen in love with his model. She pleads with Valerie to leave him before he ruins his career, and Valerie promises that she will never marry him. Then to crush down her emotion she joins Querida at a New Year's Eve party. (Here is where a slight doubt enters the mind as to how a girl who has been naught but a model and who a short time before was poverty stricken, managed to gather so many wonderful clothes in so short a time by simply posing.) Neville sees her at the party and takes her from it to his studio, proposes to her and is put off, after being refused, by Valerie promising to give herself to him on the first of June without the formality of a ceremony. In the intervening months the tangled threads of the plot are straightened out and after Valerie manages to kill Querida by throwing him out of the window of her apartment when he attacks her, the Neville family give their consent to the marriage of the son and his mode. As a money-getter "The Common Law" will prove a box-office attraction of the first rank, but it is a picture that one will have to play for more than a day in order to get the benefit of the cumulative advertising value.

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