Elena Evans ( Mae Murray ) is raised by her puritanical Aunt Elvira ( Martha Mattox ), who believes that because of Elena's mother, Elena possesses "the scarlet strain." Aunt Elvira reprimands Elena when she spots the youngster flirting with Van Presby ( Ralph Graves ). Elena and Van sneak out to a movie and then return home where Aunt Elvira demands that they get married. Van's uncle, Harvey Presby ( Frank Elliott ), prevents the hurried marriage and takes Elena to the home of Van's mother Edith Presby. Mrs. Presby accepts Elena and sends Van off to college. When Mrs. Presby ( Clarissa Selwynne ) discovers that Uncle Harvey, in whom she is interested herself, has developed an interest in Elena, she plans to marry Elena off to Joseph Fleming. Elena later rebels and refuses to marry Joseph. Van returns from college, and in a drunken state tries to take advantage of Elena. Uncle Harvey rescues her and marries Elena himself. "The scarlet strain" turns out to be the sin of a second marriage.
This 1919 silent romance/drama was based on a novel, produced by the Universal Film Manufacturing Company and starred Mae Murray. Sadly, The Scarlet Shadow may remain a lost silent film.
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