Scars of Jealousy, released on March 5, 1923, was written and directed by Lambert Hillyer from an Anthony Rud magazine story entitled "Brotherhood of Hate," the original title of the production. Most interesting is the prologue, on which $20,000 was spent. Count Cartier de Jacques warns King Louis XV that the people's growls may end a dissolute court. Sentenced to the Bastille, Jacques is rescued by sympathizers who escape with him to New France, where they must begin their exile. Although publicity promised more on the Acadians, and their expulsion by the British from Nova Scotia, Scars of Jealousy next opens in the back hills of Alabama. There, Jacques's descendants "degenerate into a peoplefeared by both blacks and whitesand known as 'Cajans'," although the intertitles go on to pronounce them "A people still vaguely conscious of their origin and somehow retaining the indomitable spirit of their forebears." One such is Coddy Jakes, played by Lloyd Hughes.
Nearby, despite good breeding, Jeff Newland (Edward Burns) carouses at home, opening the mansion to a theatrical troupe, to the dismay of the servants and his father, the Colonel. As played by Frank Keenan, the role was reminiscent of his part in The Coward (1915); Ince welcomed him back "in what I consider one of the biggest characterizations of the screen." The colonel's forbearance is at last exhausted and he sends Jeff away from the Oaks, saying he is is lower than a Cajan. Jeff responds by challenging his father to adopt a Cajan, believing that will change his mind. Instead, when the colonel happens to meet Coddy in the backwoods, the lad's curiosity proves persuasive. He is soon dressed appropriately, his hair cut and feet shod, and his tutor marvels at his rapid progress.
When the prodigal returns and sees Coddy save neighbor Helen (Marguerite de la Motte) from a runaway horse, Jeff starts a fistfight with Coddy. Helen is furious with the Colonel for his treatment of Jeff, and tells Coddy that the Colonel already had a son. Unaware of this, his dreams crumble. Overhearing Jeff and the Colonel quarrel, Coddy compels Jeff to work on the Cajan farm. Jeff's resentment gradually fades, resuming regarding himself as a Cajan. However, learning that Jeff and Helen are not in love, Coddy is about to return to the Colonel when he is arrested for the murder of a Federal agent. While Coddy's own family has framed him, to prevent his lynching they set the woods aflame. Jeff reaches the Colonel, convincing him to use his cars for Coddy's rescue. Coddy saves Helen by finding a stream amidst the forest fire, despite hounds on their trail. Jacques's spirit looks down proudly on this descendant with this climactic "Ince punch."
The northern California Sierras, which had previously been the setting of Ince's "Flare Up" Sal in 1918, now doubled for Alabama and the scenes of the mountaineer life. The company made a daily trek over rough mountain roads to the nearest hotel, 23 miles away. Backwoodsmen and mountaineers were secured for the extras, many of them with beards which no amount of makeup could have duplicated, and they lent particular atmosphere to the lynching scene. When Scars of Jealousy was near completion, the studio learned that forest rangers were preparing to burn out a big tract. For seven days the Ince company joined the fire, using the principals to get authentic scenes, and on several occasions all had to hastily move camp to escape the advancing flames. While the clothing of de la Motte and Hughes was saturated with a chemical to resist sparks, when the wind shifted Hughes found himself helping his costar through real flames and suffocating smoke, barely reaching and clearing and sustaining severe burns.
Nonetheless, for all the location effort, the setting and its customs received only perfunctory treatment in the assembled film and was scarcely convincing. The sometimes preposterous plot follows the convention of the dissolute rich boy whose journey to manhood is assisted by the more rough-mannered social inferior. Hughes carries off the difficult acting assignment, but many details remain sketchy and loosely connected, lacking sufficient narrative to fill its seven reels. The fistfights between Coddy and Jeff seem repetitious, when they are meant to show the latter's maturing. Shot from December 29, 1921 to March 22, 1922, the total cost was $204,329, and despite Ince's strongest backing, but after a year in release Scars of Jealousy had grossed $237,555, and was noted on the books as a financial failure as revealed in my Ince biography.
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