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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>
According to journalist Dorothy Donnell, director Cecil B. DeMille spent eight months and $200,000 on research before the production began. This included the enrolling of a young male informant into a boy's reform school and a female informant into a girl's school. Two large scrapbooks were kept in DeMille's archive, containing sworn testimonials by many former inmates, with graphic descriptions of the brutalities they endured. Donnell later said, "I have seen these books, and read in them things so revolting that they will probably never be printed." See more »
Opening Title Card:
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.
Opening Title Card:
And no fanatics are so bitter as youthful fanatics.
See more »
Early DeMille morality tale...not bad at all with climactic fire sequence...
During the awkward transitional stage from silents to talkies, Cecil B. DeMille made this 1929 story about THE GODLESS GIRL. It's given a very heavy-handed treatment and the Christian values vs. Atheism may seem a bit jarring to modern audiences.
LINA BASQUETTE has the title role, a movie originally shot as a silent film but with some sound added before the film was released. It's an intimate drama, a crime story involving high school students, not the usual epic kind of film DeMille is famous for except for a climactic fire sequence.
A riot breaks out at high school when someone circulates pamphlets on Atheism and meets a lot of resistance from a religious group. Three of the students end up in a reformatory when one of the girls among the students dies when a stair railing collapses.
Treatment there seems to be worse than the average prison. Things go from bad to worse when brutal guard NOAH BEERY gets his hands on two of the male students disobeying rules. DeMille seems to relish showing the brutal treatment. The hero of the tale, TOM KEENE, devises an escape plan so he and Lina can escape the torments of the so-called reform school.
Suspense builds for the escape plan and there's a quieter interlude where the boy and girl with different beliefs fall in love. But then the action picks up again after the two are found by the authorities and returned to their prison. While she's in solitary, an accidental fire sets the stage for the very suspenseful conclusion wherein the hero has to come to her rescue.
Summing up: One of the better silent films, it holds the interest throughout and builds to a realistic fire sequence that director DeMille milks for all it's worth.
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