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A Mormon Maid (1917)

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This silent melodrama is set against the 1840s westward migration of the Mormons. Dora, a young woman, and her family are saved from an Indian attack by a Mormon community traveling to Utah... See full summary »

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Hobart Bosworth ...
John Hogue
Edythe Chapman ...
Nancy Hogue
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Richard Cummings ...
Lion of the Lord
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This silent melodrama is set against the 1840s westward migration of the Mormons. Dora, a young woman, and her family are saved from an Indian attack by a Mormon community traveling to Utah. They join the wagon train. Dora is pursued by two men, one a recent convert, the other a scheming elder with a stable of wives. The Mormon elder wants her in his harem. When the mother kills herself from revulsion toward polygamy, the daughter must consider her own future and the man she loves. One of Mae Murray's few surviving films, this was intended by Robert Leonard to be a thoughtful drama about the goods and evils of Mormonism, but today it is generally considered pure anti-Mormon propaganda. Written by Fiona Kelleghan <fkelleghan@aol.com>

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Drama | History | Western

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22 April 1917 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Exciting, visually impressive silent melodrama
4 October 2006 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

Report from Cinesation 2006: A MORMON MAID (****) Mae Murray and parents are taken in after an Indian attack by a Mormon community co-led by a lustful Noah Beery, who has eyes on making Mae the fifth or sixth Mrs. Beery. In a long career that included the likes of The Great Ziegfeld and Esther Williams, Robert Z. Leonard was never accused of an excess of personal style. Yet even he had enough skill and instinct to take full advantage of the visual opportunities provided by an army of ominously hooded religious zealots, lined up at night in gleaming white, or marching in lockstep with a defenseless young girl as their prisoner.

The Variety review quoted in the program guide inexplicably suggests that a short running time kept this 1917 film from achieving all it could. To modern eyes it's the fact that it races along at such a ferocious clip that is its greatest strength, along with the effective use of visuals which make the religious zealots more ominous and convincing villains than the usual rake lusting after the virginal heroine. In fact, for a change, the big strapping father is as much a victim trying to protect his chastity as the girl is, since he's ordered, to his horror, to take a second wife-- a sequence you haven't seen before in a silent movie, and one that's played for all it's worth.


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