lyric and music by 'Arthur A. Penn', c. 1919
'introduced in Joseph M. Schenck's Motion Picture Version of the Fantastic Play "Smilin' Through" featuring Norma Talmadge A First National Attraction' See more »
This first film version of the hit play (which starred Jane Cowl) was a big hit starring Norma Talmadge in the dual role of Kathleen/Moonyeen.
The story is partly told in flashback to explain John's (Wyndham Standing) hatred of the Wayne family, which includes Kathleen's love Kenneth (Harrison Ford, who also plays Jeremiah in the flashback).
Years before, John was about to marry Moonyeen when her spurned lover Jeremiah burst into the wedding and fired a shot at John. Moonyeen jumps in front of her intended and is killed. From that day John has lived in bitter hatred of the Wayne family. So when Kenneth comes calling on Kathleen, John refuses to let Kathleen see him. But World War I is imminent and Kenneth goes away, swearing eternal love.
The melodramatic storyline is helped by the idea that the ghosts of John's youth watch over the living, waiting for them to join them. John is told by his friend (Alec B. Francis) that the hatred in his heart will always drive away the love Moonyeen had for him. She hovers but can't connect to the hateful old man.
Will the young lovers be united? Will John see the error of his ways? Norma Talmadge, with her dark eyes and expressive mouth is excellent here as the tragic heroine but also has a few light moments as when she's trying to ditch a young man (Glenn Hunter) at a dance. Harrison Ford gets to play the mooning lover but also the deranged Jeremiah. Standing seems pretty unappealing but he handles his acting chores well. And yes that's Gene Lockhart as the village rector, in his film debut.
This is a very nice production of the old fashioned and delicate story of love everlasting. The ghost of Moonyeen tells us that if people only lived their lives knowing what awaits them after death, they would go smilin' through life.
The title of this film in the opening credits is actually SMILING THROUGH.
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