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Hail the Woman (1921)

 -  Drama  -  28 November 1921 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 28 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

Oliver Beresford is a stern, Puritanical, and uncompromisingly rigid father. When shameful stories about his daughter Judith surface, rather than determine whether the stories are true, he ... See full summary »

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Title: Hail the Woman (1921)

Hail the Woman (1921) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
David Beresford
Theodore Roberts ...
Oliver Beresford
...
Mrs.Beresford
...
Nan Higgins
...
'Odd Jobs Man'
Vernon Dent ...
Joe Hurd
Edward Martindel ...
Wyndham Gray
Charles Meredith ...
Richard Stuart
Mathilde Brundage ...
Mrs.Stuart
Eugene Hoffman ...
The Baby
Muriel Frances Dana ...
David Junior
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Storyline

Oliver Beresford is a stern, Puritanical, and uncompromisingly rigid father. When shameful stories about his daughter Judith surface, rather than determine whether the stories are true, he bans her from his house. Her brother David, a pusillanimous reprobate, has secretly married and fathered, then abandoned, a child. Judith takes care of the child and finds a way to restore her family through the love for the babe. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Drama

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Release Date:

28 November 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Respectez la femme  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A Woman's Sufferage
19 May 2007 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

HAIL THE WOMAN (Associate Producers, 1921), directed by John Griffith Wray, is one of few films produced during the silent era to be ahead of its time, considering its then daring subject mater about a pregnant woman believed to be unmarried, and the theme centering upon equality for women.

Following a brief prologue set in the Plymouth colony of 1621, the story moves forward to present-day New Hampshire where it involves two young women of different backgrounds: Nan Higgins (Madge Bellamy), a "lower class" girl, becomes ostracized when town gossip reveals her as pregnant and unmarried. Judith Beresford (Florence Vidor), daughter of a well-to-do farmer, disapproves of her father's (Theodore Roberts) way of thinking, that "a woman's place is in the home." David (Lloyd Hughes), her brother and family heir, returns home from school in the big city. As he is greeted by his father at the train station, Nan remains in the background, unable to greet David, the father of her unborn child. When Jake Higgins (Tully Marshall), better known as "The Odd Jobs Man," learns of his daughter's pregnancy and David being the father, he rushes her over to the Beresford home to break the news, demanding David and Nan be married immediately. Beresford refuses, claiming this news would ruin his son's future in the ministry. To keep matters quiet, Beresford offers Higgins money, and orders David never see Nan again. After Judith hears of this, she tells her father, "What if it had been ME!" Meanwhile, back home, Jake, who is about to punish Nan with a whipping, reveals the secret that she and David are actually married and intended to tell the family following his graduation. After producing the certificate of marriage, Jake tells her it's not valid. He takes away the marriage license and orders her out of the house. Alone and with no place to go, Nan leaves town. As for Judith, she becomes another victim of vicious gossip when Joe Hurd (Vernon Dent) notices her alone in a cabin with Wyndham Gray (Edward Martindel). When her father learns of this, he confronts Judith, who asks, "Are you going to forgive me as you forgave David?" Beresford orders Judith to pack up and never to return, which she does. The paths of Judith and Nan are brought together as they are both living in the same New York City tenement, unaware of each other's existence, until one cold evening when Judith overhears someone crying in an apartment down the hall. She enters to find Nan spending Christmas alone, with her only companion being her newborn son. As Judith comforts Nan, she finds her to be gravely ill. Before Nan dies, Judith promises she'll look after her baby. Two years later, Judith returns home to find her father has disowned her. Upset over his double standard that women should be punished for their sexual acts and not the men, she decides to take drastic steps by fighting for women's rights. How this will be accomplished remains to be seen. Hail the woman!

In synopsis form, HAIL THE WOMAN may appear trite and melodramatic. In retrospect, even with fragments of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel "The Scarlet Letter" added in, it's better than it actually sounds with more to it as described. With excellent performances by all, it's Madge Bellamy as the tragic figure whose restless soul becomes earthbound who gives one of the most sensitive performances ever enacted on screen. Vidor is equally compelling as the stronger character destined to accomplish her goal in life against all odds.

Released during the woman's suffrage movement, HAIL THE WOMAN is surprisingly timely. A movie like this might have served as a possible remake in the 1930s with Katharine Hepburn and Anne Shirley, for example, enacting the roles originated by Vidor and Bellamy. One reason HAIL THE WOMAN is virtually forgotten in cinema history is because for decades no prints were known to exist. Fortunately a print was discovered in Czechoslovakia, restored and served as the second film presented on "Lost and Found," an eight-week public television series that aired during the summer months in 1978 on WNET, Channel 13, in New York City, as hosted by Richard Schickel. As the movie begins, it's preface reads as follows: "HAIL THE WOMAN has been restored by the Department of Film of the Museum of Modern Art from the materials acquired by the Czechoslovakian Film Archive, American FilmArchive, Motion Picture Section of the Library of Promance with the cooperation of Miss Nancy Ince Probert." After the film's conclusion, Schickel and guest host, Eileen Bowser, film historian of New York's Museum of Modern Art, discuss HAIL THE WOMAN and other lost movies using the same subject matter, including MAN, WOMAN, MARRIAGE and MISS LULU BETT (both 1921). Schickel then comments on Thomas H. Ince, presenter of HAIL THE WOMAN, to be one of the Hollywood's greatest lost figures, who died mysteriously in 1924.

HAIL THE WOMAN, accompanied with piano score, with the running time of 78 minutes, is by far the best movie presented in the "Lost and Found" series. While it may never become relatively as well known as other blockbusters of the silent era, let's hope that if or when HAIL THE WOMAN is revived, whether it be on DVD or cable television, that it'll become a sort-after classic it deserves to be. (***)


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