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An Unexpected Guest (1909)

Consequences result when a father breaks up his son's engagement.
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Young Dr. Fletcher is in love with Alice Chalmers, a young nurse of much refinement who through unfortunate circumstances has been obliged to earn her own living. They love not wisely but too well. Dr. Fletcher writes to his father asking his consent for his marriage with the young nurse. The father, however, has higher plans with his son and at once comes to visit him. He refuses to give his consent and visits the young lady. After a stormy interview she writes to her lover as follows: "My Dear Robert: Your father has just told me of his plans for your future, also that marriage with a girl of wealth and social position can alone assure your rapid advancement. Hence, in view of your father's objection to our marriage, I leave you free to act as you may judge best. Helen. P.S. However I must see you again as there is something you should know and which may affect your decision." The father takes the letter, tears off the postscript and tells his son that his sweetheart has given him ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Drama | Short

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12 August 1909 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Solid & Rather Effective Melodrama
17 February 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This short melodrama is rather effective in telling its story, and also in evoking an emotional response from the viewer. Within just a few years, this kind of story would become one of the most common in silent cinema, and the techniques and conventions would become much more polished and well-defined. The technique and pacing in this film are not very refined, but it is a pretty good effort for its year.

The movie starts with a young couple of different social classes courting each other, and they are obviously in love with each other. Soon, though, they run into a roadblock, in the form of the young man's small-minded father. The couple's innocent joy and optimism in the early scenes set the stage quite effectively for the more serious events that follow. Even though the characters in themselves are never developed very far - that is the kind of thing that later film-makers would refine in this kind of picture - the way that the opening scenes are filmed makes the couple wholly sympathetic to the audience, just because it is so easy to identify with them.

While, like many features of its kind, "The Unexpected Guest" is probably going to be of interest only to devoted silent movie fans, it represents a solid effort for its time and genre. Even if most of the techniques are still basic, the construction of the film shows that the film-makers and cast had an understanding of how effective it is to make their characters sympathetic before exposing them to difficulties.


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