Stella Maris (1918)
Stella Maris is a beautiful, crippled girl, who is cared for by a rich family. They shield her from the harsh realities of the world, so that she has no idea of the cruel things that some people do. Unity Blake is a poor orphan all too familiar with the harsh realities of the real world. These two young women both fall in love with John, love which is complicated by the fact that he is still married to (though separated from) a bad wife.
Two young women - a paraplegic girl sheltered by her wealthy guardians and a more experienced orphan - fall in love with a man separated from his violent wife.
- Stella Maris ( Mary Pickford ) born with a crippling paralysis, lives with her kind and wealthy Uncle Sir Oliver ( Herbert Standing ) and Aunt Lady Blount ( Ida Waterman ). Stella lives a lovely fairy tale existence, as her guardians have sheltered her from all the misery and realities of the outside world. Although confined to her bed, her days are surrounded with all things beautiful and sweet. Handsome John Risca, ( Conway Tearle ) a journalist and a relative of Stella's aunt, is encouraged to pay daily visits, which bring much happiness to Stella. John also shelters Stella from the fact that he has a wife, Louise ( Marcia Manon ) who is an abusive alcoholic. Instead he has painted a picture of living in a grand palace, to which Stella hopes to visit someday. In another part of London, living in an orphanage, is the pitiful Unity Blake ( Mary Pickford ). She lives an ugly existence, never being loved or wanted. One day, Louise visits the orphanage, under the guise of adopting a daughter. Unity is the choosen one, believing she is going to live with a loving mother. Instead the abusive Louise uses her as a servant, and one day in a rage, she savagely beats Unity near death. While Louise is sent to prison, Unity is visited in hospital by John, who is so appalled by the vicious beating inflicted by his wife, that he adopts the poor girl. Unity lives briefly at Stella Maris's home, but it becomes increasingly difficult to keep her hidden, from the protected Stella. John and Unity move in with his fussy, elderly Aunt who takes control of Unity's care. Meanwhile Stella has been examined by a surgeon and a successful operation is performed. As Stella recovers and is able to walk, her joy becomes increasingly dimmed, as the harsh world is revealed to her. Louise has served her prison sentence and returns home even more malicious. One day Stella decides to visit John's palace, and is shocked at being greeted by his sneering wife. She leaves shattered, completely disillusioned by everyone and the world. John is saddened by the hurt he has caused Stella, and becomes despondent. Unity loves John, for he has been the only kind friend she has ever known. Seeing him depressed, she takes it upon herself to seek justice for John and Stella. She goes to Louise's home and kills her with a pistol, then takes her own life. When Stella learns of the shocking tragedy, she goes to comfort a grieving John. They both realize Unity has sacrificed herself for them. Soon after, John and Stella are married, and begin a new life's journey together.