THE GIRL OF GOLD is a fast-paced programmer (lasting about 50 minutes) that emphasizes melodramatic plot over any pretense of incisive character development or the ethical dilemmas presented by the story. The direction by John Ince (older brother of Thomas and Ralph) is workmanlike and largely unremarkable; the production design rather generic but not cheap-looking.
Having made his fortune in the western gold mines, Lucius Merrimore (Charles French) moves to New York with his daughter Helen (a blonde Florence Vidor). While Merrimore's successes continue as a result of ruthless Wall Street maneuvers, Helen quickly finds herself ostracized as a parvenu by the established social class who dub her "the Girl of Gold." Helen tells her father she wants to escape from her life of privilege--in which men see her only as a dollar sign--and marry the first man who loves her just for herself. This rash outburst inspires Merrimore to concoct a plan involving Schuyler Livingstone (Malcolm McGregor), a young man whose family fortune has recently been wiped out by Merrimore's manipulation of the financial markets. Merrimore feels a pang of guilt when he learns the plight of Schulyer's now destitute sister (Bessie Eyton) and her ailing son, and decides to offer $100,000 if Schulyer will marry Helen. Schulyer is outraged at such a proposal, but his sister convinces him to agree.
Meanwhile, ignorant of her father's deal with Schuyler, Helen has accepted an invitation to attend a weekend house party in Newport, seeing this as her opportunity to shed her "girl of gold" image and present herself instead as a poor cousin. When Schuyler and his sister inevitably show up at the same house party, he is of course enchanted by "Helen Wheeler," while his sister reminds him of his obligation to marry "Helen Merrimore" (whom he has never seen) and secure the $100,000. It doesn't help matters that the hostess of the party is an old flame of Schuyler's and that she is married to an extremely jealous husband...
This being melodrama, the plot continues at break-neck speed, with one twist and revelation after the next. The climax occurs in a night club built somehow into a gold mine. Of course there is never any doubt about whether all of this will end well for "the Girl of Gold," and for 50 minutes the journey is quite enjoyable. This film asks nothing more.
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