After spending her youth taking care of her invalid father, Esther Carey ( Ethel Barrymore ) finds herself alone after his death. She soon marries John Martin ( Reginald Carrington ) a cold-hearted man. They move into John's home, that has always been run by his sister Ruth, ( Ricca Allen ) who now resents the intrusion of Esther. She becomes depressed due to John's neglect and Ruth's spitefulness, her only happiness is the birth of her baby. Therefore when Esther runs into an old suitor, Dr. Henry Grey ( Alan Hale ) they fall in love, but when Henry must leave for the battlefields of France, he realizes the gravity of the situation, and when he sends Esther a letter, Ruth shows it to John. Enraged, he throws Esther out of their home, meanwhile an angry farmer whom John has ruined, enters the house and kills John. Ruth casts suspicion upon Esther and she is arrested for his murder. A detective finds the farmers crumpled hat and traces it to the owner, and he obtains his confession. Esther is released from prison and finally finds lasting happiness, when Henry returns and they reunite.
Life's Whirlpool was written and directed by Lionel Barrymore with sister Ethel Barrymore in the starring role. This lost film was the brother and sister's only collaboration on a silent film as director and star. Released through Metro Pictures in 1917, the loss of this film is a tragic one for silent cinema.
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