Having contracted with Paramount for a several stars in 1917, Thomas Ince became responsible for a series with Enid Bennett, as I outline in my Ince biography. HER HUSBAND'S FRIEND began, "The lonely night watch for her straying husband--the burden of many a wife, the dread of all." Enid Bennett plays Judith Westover, whose husband is a popular young man-about-town, a compulsively "jolly good fellow." Judith's friend Dr. Carter, beautiful of soul if homely of visage, helps her realize she must divorce Billy (Rowland Lee) before he drags her down. Billy sadly agrees, and his friend Princeton Hadley (Tom Chatterton), whose Parisian art school training he paid for, willingly signs a bond for his friend's alimony.
While seeing Judith for the last time, Billy's broker calls to tell him that his fortune has been wiped out in a stock market panic. Billy is killed in an auto accident moments later, possibly a suicide, and Prince accepts not only Billy's debts, but the alimony obligation as well. He works desperately, turning out commercial paintings, as Judith recovers in a nearby sanitarium.
One day they meet, and soon friendship turns into love. When she hears that he must settle matters with another woman, she assumes she has a rival, but at a meeting with her lawyer she finally realizes that Prince has been supporting her, and that it was a gift he happily offered. Paralleling their coming together is the plot device of the older couple, here Drs. Carter and Olgivy, having spent fifteen years in love before acknowledging it to each other.
The fairly routine "women's"film was heightened by some striking art nouveau decor as well as the exteriors. Mae Busch as a "vamp" briefly appears, "a shrewd brain plus a huge ambition multiplied by insatiable vanity, minus heart," but her part seems to have been largely edited out. HER HUSBAND'S FRIEND cost $81,271 to produce, and grossed $178,259.
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