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A Mother's Atonement (1915)

Old Ben Morrison and his daughter, Jen, an unsophisticated girl, live on an island not far from the mainland. Jasper Crane, middle-aged sensualist of the rougher type, bargains with Jen's ... See full summary »


Joseph De Grasse


Ida May Park




Cast overview:
Cleo Madison ... Alice / Jen Morrison
Lon Chaney ... Ben Morrison
Arthur Shirley ... James Hilton
Wyndham Standing ... Wilbur Kent
Millard K. Wilson Millard K. Wilson ... John Newton
Ben Rothwell Ben Rothwell ... Jasper Crane
Mildred Manning Mildred Manning ... Dorothy Hilton


Old Ben Morrison and his daughter, Jen, an unsophisticated girl, live on an island not far from the mainland. Jasper Crane, middle-aged sensualist of the rougher type, bargains with Jen's father, in hopes of marrying and gaining possession of the girl. Morrison is willing, and explains that she is like her mother, who deserted her home and baby for a city man. Jen, hearing of her father's plan, makes her escape by swimming to the mainland, where she seeks protection from Mrs. Hilton and her daughter, Dorothy, members of a camping party. James Hilton, Dorothy's brother, falls in love with Jen. Kent, a refined sensualist of the party, covets the girl, but finds his plans checked at each turn by James. Knowledge of James' affection for Jen reaches his mother's ears, and she informs her daughter that things are going too far and the strange girl must go. Jen overhears the conversation between Mrs. Hilton and her daughter, and realizes that she is not wanted. Kent, noticing the girl's ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Drama | Short


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Lon plays a double role , as the character Ben and as a young man too. See more »

User Reviews

A Fate Worse Than Death?
22 October 2017 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

Lon Chaney wears a bushy beard, He is about to to sell his daughter, Cleo Marsden, to Ben Rothwell; her mother ran off with a city man some years ago and the girl is getting older and it tells on a man. She doesn't care for this, so she sneaks out of the shack while the two old men are plastered on jug whiskey and sneaks over to the mainland, where rich people lie around in hammocks. Arthur Shirley is getting serious about her, but his mama thinks her unsuitable, so she ... associates with other men. The story gets told in clubs, and one of them recalls the mother, also played by Cleo Marsden, and how he and she....

Only the first two reels of this Rex movie survive; one can assume that is because Mr. Chaney is not in the last. Despite its incompleteness, the estimable Jon Mirsalis preserved and scored the surviving parts, and for that he is to be thanked. Given the small survival rate of early Chaney films, this is a good thing, but even more, is the power of these images. Looking at them, stripped of the titles, they look fairly typical for the previous era, items out of D.W. Griffith or the Girl Spy; yet even with the coy language, what was only physical dangerous, fear of death, becomes sexuality.

Perhaps this has always been lurking beneath the surface, except for a few, brief moments, like the Pre-Code Era (1930-1933) in Hollywood. Perhaps it explains why modern Hollywood movies are so backwards when it comes to sex but forwards when it comes to death if, to the film-makers, they are the same thing.

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None | English

Release Date:

17 October 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Matczyna pokuta See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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