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Story of two brothers who go off to France to fight in World War I, the women who love them and an American expatriate living in France who rallies behind his former country. Written by
At the end of the U.S. Civil War, the well-named "Monsieur France" (Adolph Lestina) moved to his father's home in France, rather than submit to the Yankees. Boasting he is "the only citizen of the Confederate States of America," he sits by his old Confederate flag, dreaming of a time gone with the wind. Mr. Lestina lives with his exuberant granddaughter Carol Dempster (as Atoline France). Ms. Dempster catches the eye of Richard Barthelmess (as Ralph Grey), the older brother of a school chum; but, Mr. Barthelmess is too late in his courting -- and, so, Dempster gets herself betrothed to Syn De Conde (as the Count de Brissac). Then, Dempster goes to visit the "Grey" family in New York.
In New York, Dempster meets Barthelmess' younger brother, Robert Harron (as James Grey). Mr. Harron is more interested in continuing a partying lifestyle than settling down; he gives Dempster the once over, but finds singer-dancer Clarine Seymour (as Cutie Beautiful) more fetching. Ms. Seymour shares Harron's interest in youthful Ragtime fun. Although their father is against the Great War (aka World War I), Barthelmess and Harron eventually join in the fighting. Will the two brothers get out of the war alive, and return to the women they left behind?
Harron effortlessly steals the film, with his portrayal of the slouching, partying brother who becomes a war hero; Seymour is also delightful as his 31st conquest, and true love. That Harron's performance so outdistances the other players may be why director D.W. Griffith, as the film progresses, devotes more screen time Harron's character. In hindsight, a re-titled, re-edited "The Girl Who Stayed at Home" would have been improved by scenes from Harron's college days, and his contrasting relationship with brother Barthelmess. Old Confederate rebel Lestina's final acceptance of the United States of America is a nice touch.
******** The Girl Who Stayed at Home (3/23/19) D.W. Griffith ~ Carol Dempster, Richard Barthelmess, Robert Harron, Clarine Seymour
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