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Stark Love (1927)

 |  Drama  |  28 February 1927 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 61 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

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Title: Stark Love (1927)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Helen Mundy ...
Barbara Allen
Forrest James ...
Rob Warwick
Reb Grogan ...
Quill Allen
Silas Miracle ...
Jason Warwick
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Drama

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28 February 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Conflagração do Amor  »

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1.33 : 1
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Filmed entirely with a non-professional cast. The two leads, Forrest James and Helen Mundy, were from Alabama and Knoxville, Tennessee, respectively, but the rest were authentic mountain people from Virginia. Despite their involvement as actors, these people had no interest in films, and never saw the movie after it was finished. See more »

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User Reviews

Mountain Justice
31 July 2005 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

STARK LOVE (Paramount, 1927), directed by Karl Brown, is an interesting as well as genuine tale about life in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina that centers upon two hillbilly families. Almost similar to the heart of D.W. Griffith's early directorial works, notably A ROMANCE OF HAPPY VALLEY (1918) with Lillian Gish and Robert Harron, it did provide Brown, formerly a cameraman who got his start under Griffith, his first real opportunity in directing a motion picture to his liking. The story is simple and honestly told, and while hailed as Brown's best work, he never did get the opportunity to develop himself as a major movie director as his contemporaries, namely Griffith.

The narrative starts off with an opening title giving indication of what's to be shown: "In their inaccessible mountains, these people remain undeveloped by culture." Women are seen as hard working people while the men do the loafing. Rob Warwick (Forrest James) is a young country boy whose ambition is to move to the big city while his neighbor, Barbara Allen (Helen Munday), an uneducated girl, helps her widowed father, Quill (Reb Grogan) with the farm chores. Unlike Rob, Barbara lacks the skills in reading and writing. Instead of applying for school to better himself, Rob registers Barbara for an education she deserves. While fulfilling his dream in the city with the guidance of the town preacher, Rob's mother dies. Intertitles describe her death as: "She hoed the field, she did the wash, she chopped the firewood, she put the children to bed, and she died." Her death leaves Rob's father, Jason (Silas Miracle) with no woman around the house to work and provide proper care for his many children. As a good neighbor policy, Barbara, offers Warwick her assistance. She does such a good job that Warwick asks Quill for his daughter's hand in marriage. Quill consents but Barbara doesn't. When Rob returns home from the city, he finds the girl he loves not only living with his father, but an abused victim, causing friction between father and son.

While not quite as successful as Brown had hoped during its initial showing, it's failure or limited interest might have been due to the casting of non-professional actors, but on the contrary, the use of authentic mountain people over top-named performers of the day such as Lillian Gish, Charles Ray, Ernest Torrence and Henry B. Walthall (prime examples as to whom might fit the roles best enacted by Munday, James, Miracle and Grogan), along with actual location scenes from the Great Smokies are what really makes STARK LOVE a watchable item. Helen Munday, whose natural performance has shown great promise, along with the rest of the cast, would never appear in another motion picture again.

In recent years, STARK LOVE has gained a reputation as a sort-after silent movie classic. Disappearing from view after its initial run, STARK LOVE had been labeled to be one of many lost movies from the silent era with no known prints to exist. However, decades later, a print of STARK LOVE was discovered in Czechslovakia in the early 1970s. Then during the summer months of 1978, public television's WNET, Channel 13 in New York City televised "Lost and Found," an eight week series broadcasting long lost and now rediscovered movies, as hosted by Richard Schickel. After the 70 minute presentation of this now forgotten drama, accompanied by a fine piano score, film historians Eileen Bowser of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, author Anthony Slide, Paul Spehr and host Schickel provided some very interesting insights during the after film discussion about the making of STARK LOVE and its actors, (Karl Brown got the idea of STARK LOVE as early as 1923, followed by difficulties in getting this project made before getting it into release in 1927; Forrest James returning to the hills after refusing retakes, etc.). History would repeat itself, however, as Channel 13 reran STARK LOVE one more time before disappearing from view after 1978 as it did after 1927. The only difference today is that STARK LOVE remains extant but continues to be a relatively forgotten movie known solely by film scholars and seen by a limited majority through private screenings, namely from New York's Museum of Modern Art film department. One can only hope that Turner Classic Movies consider adding STARK LOVE to its lineup of silent film titles in its weekly presentation of "Silent Sunday Nights" to give STARK LOVE the long overdue recognition for today's generation who may have an interest in viewing this.


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