A war picture, "The Common Cause" had the misfortune to be released just as The Great War (aka World War I) had ended. The box-office returns for these movies was plummeting, as a war-weary public suddenly lost interest in seeing battle pains replayed on the big screen. After watching war films empty theaters, producer/director J. Stuart Blackton and the folks at Vitagraph added prologue and epilogue footage to this film, and promoted "The Common Cause" as something it wasn't, a post-war film. It's really another in the box-office battle lines drawn by D.W. Griffith's "Hearts of the World" (1918), and others.
Contemporary film critics didn't like the story, either. In "Motion Picture Classic" (February 1919), reviewer Frederick James Smith called it as "a wandering story which possesses no grip." Unfortunately, the survival status of the film in unknown; presently - it's lost. The story is an ordinary war-time "love triangle" with a typical comic sub-plot. Mr. Smith describes:
"Vaguely the story revolves around Orrin Palmer and his pretty wife, who have drifted apart through the young woman's interest in another man, Edward Wadsworth. Finally, of course, the young people are reunited in a field hospital; Wadsworth, now tested and proved worthy by battle, himself bringing them together. There is an incidental comedy vein running thru, of the filtration between English Tommy and a dashing 'blue devil' for the heart of a saucy French tavern maid. This interlude is made to stand out vividly thru the able comedy playing of Lawrence Grossman as the Tommy with a penchant for Hun helmets.
"The battle scenes are adequate. Sylvia Breamer is singularly beautiful at times as Mrs. (Helene) Palmer - when she isn't wearing singularly ugly costumes. Herbert Rawlinson is a masterful Palmer and Huntley Gordon a rather colorless Wadsworth. Little Charles Blackton makes a tiny part stand out." He and sister Violet appear as cute kids with page-boy haircuts in this film, produced and directed by their father. Most of the cast and crew reappeared in Blackton's forthcoming "A House Divided" (1919).
***** The Common Cause (1/5/19) J. Stuart Blackton ~ Herbert Rawlinson, Sylvia Breamer, Huntley Gordon, Lawrence Grossman
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