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Cecil B. DeMille
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High school students led by the Girl and Boy turn from Christianity toward secret atheistic meetings. When a girl is accidentally killed by a stairway collapse, the Girl and Boy go to reform school where they are treated brutally. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Eddie Quillan said that Cecil B. DeMille had allowed him a lot of room for improvisation and even took suggestions for script changes, rare for any actor working for the notoriously controlling DeMille. See more »
Them stripes are a target - so they can pot you if you escape!
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"It is not generally known that there are Atheist Societies using the schools of the country as their battle-ground - attacking, through the Youth of the Nation, the beliefs that are sacred to most of the people," warns our introduction, "And no fanatics are so bitter as youthful fanatics." Then, a typical American school is rocked by scandal. The trouble begins when chubby atheist Lina Basquette (as Judith "Judy" Craig) has her secret Godless Society meet after distributing pamphlets in school. She and handsome classmate Tom Keene aka George Duryea (as Robert "Bob" Hathaway) are mutually aroused, but he is a die-hard Christian...
At Ms. Basquette's "Kill the Bible" meeting, boyish Eddie Quillan (as Samuel "Bozo" Johnson) almost joins the Godless, but balks when told he'll have to give up Christmas. Later, Mr. Keene arrives with some angry Christians. They fight with the Atheists, to a tragic conclusion. These three principal players are sent to a conveniently adjacent boy/girl reform school. Basquette meets Bible-thumbing Marie Prevost (as Mame), and the two women become chums. Brutish warden Noah Beery treats everyone badly...
This, Cecil B. DeMille's last silent film, had a couple of unimaginative "talking" scenes added in 1929, but it didn't help "The Godless Girl" create much of a flock at the box office. The film promises to be about the timely "threat" Atheists pose to Christians, but is really about bad Youth Reformatory conditions. The leads seem miscast as potential teen-aged (?) sweethearts, while Mr. Quillan and Mr. Prevost perform their roles adeptly. The renowned Mr. DeMille has some exciting moments and images to share.
The version presently seen is the 2007 restoration of DeMille's 1928 original by the George Eastman House for "Photoplay Productions". The 1929 version's talking scenes are omitted. The accomplished Carl Davis contributed a new soundtrack. However well the musicians perform, it is not how the film originally sounded, making it a different viewing experience. Unfortunately, original synchronized sound was not utilized or followed; probably, it was not needed until the film was to move from the coasts to general release, by which time Pathé had withdrawn the movie for sound sequences. Both 1928 and 1929 versions survive.
****** The Godless Girl (8/23/28) Cecil B. DeMille ~ Lina Basquette, Tom Keene, Marie Prevost, Eddie Quillan
***** The Godless Girl (3/31/29) ~ synchronized sound effects track
***** The Godless Girl (5/27/07) ~ Carl Davis soundtrack
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