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Charles 'Buddy' Rogers,
Stella Maris is a beautiful, crippled girl, who is cared for by a rich family. They shield her from the harsh realities of the world, so that she has no idea of the cruel things that some people do. Unity Blake is a poor orphan all too familiar with the harsh realities of the real world. These two young women both fall in love with John, love which is complicated by the fact that he is still married to (though separated from) a bad wife. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
When John Riska returns to his house one night, Unity offers him a 'Sally Lun' (sic). A 'Sally Lunn' is a type of bread, from Bath in the English West Country. The recipe is said to have come to the area courtesy of a French immigrant in the 17th century. It can be served sliced horizontally and toasted, with sweet or savoury toppings such as plain or flavoured butters, jam and clotted cream. See more »
[first title card]
Stella Maris, paralyzed from childhood, has been tenderly shielded from all the sordidness and misery of life. So she dwells serenly within a dream-world created by those who love her, unaware of sorrow, poverty, or death.
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"Happiness is within ourselves" - although films like this help!
This is a lovely little film, another Mary Pickford film that has been long available to cherish as an artifact from a long forgotten era beautifully preserved by the Mary Pickford Institute. Most silent fans would perhaps think of Pollyanna, Rebecca or Sparrows as being her best work but I would put this one in there too, not only for her acting but also the production.
She plays Stella Maris - a cripple who has been completely and tenderly shielded from The World by her Uncle and Aunt, so has a few shocks when she's finally able to walk and process information for herself. She convincingly plays Stella Maris complete with pretty curls glistening in soft focus and dripping elegance. She also convincingly plays orphan girl Unity Blake adopted by the man she loves, the more elderly looking and well-chiselled John Risco (Conway Tearle). The problem was of course that rich Risco had previously married a "commoner" with a drink problem like many in the original cinema audiences perhaps one of the peripheral familiar messages here being that when the working class is teetotal they're likely to be as faithful as dogs to their masters and mistresses. Even to the death. For the plain girl Unity she plastered her hair with Vaseline and walked lopsided as though she had had to carry children for years so well that her mother visiting the film set was worried that she was turning into Unity, and also had to tell a worried Adolph Zukor that the character died early in the picture. In fact, these are 2 of Mary's finest performances ever, and in the one film. There's some nice languid photography, sometimes pretty inventive with great tinting throughout, overall engrossing stuff for 1917, and augmented in the Milestone Films release with a fantastic orchestral music score by Phillip Carli.
The 84 minutes are well plotted (even with a couple of large implausibilities, the largest being just how fast and hard the Law dealt with Mrs Risco for her violence) never drag and are additionally clean and decent would that it could still be the same for these speedier earthier techno times! If you really like silent melodrama you must see this fine romance.
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