Lady Marjorie Donegal becomes a nurse in hospital, much to the dismay of her aristocratic family. She falls in love with one of her patients, a commoner labor leader.Lady Marjorie Donegal becomes a nurse in hospital, much to the dismay of her aristocratic family. She falls in love with one of her patients, a commoner labor leader.Lady Marjorie Donegal becomes a nurse in hospital, much to the dismay of her aristocratic family. She falls in love with one of her patients, a commoner labor leader.
Britain by 1920 was in a state of immense social unrest. Many feared (while others were hoping) that a revolution like the one that had recently seen the Tsar of Russia violently overthrown was imminent here. There was also violence convulsing Ireland, the country of origin of Taylor himself and of his lead character Lady Marjorie Killonan, daughter of the Duke of Donegal (her dialogue throughout is written in brogue). Her ghastly English mother is eager to marry her off to a Tory politician, Lord Douglas Fitztrevor; but Lady Marjorie isn't having any. Instead she does her bit by working incognito at a nursing home in Middlesex, where Fitztrevor's political opposite number, the crusading Labour MP for Westhampton, John Danbury, is recuperating after cosmetic surgery on his eyes.
Considering the guy is supposed to be a socialist, his quite extraordinary boorishness towards Marjorie simply because he thinks she's the plain-looking nurse he saw before his bandages went on is particularly egregious; and Marjorie - at least at first - has no illusions about the shallowness of his attraction towards her when they eventually come off. We are told that the country is on the brink of major industrial unrest, yet "the People's John" (played appropriately charmlessly by Clyde Fillmore) is instead more interested in getting into the petticoats of his pretty nurse than back to work; and he proceeds to neglect both his parliamentary duties and the wellbeing of his country while wasting the staff's valuable time for most of the film's duration. (Nearly a hundred years later, alas, some things plainly still haven't changed much at Westminster.)
Danbury is shown reading 'The Daily Telegraph' rather than 'The Manchester Guardian', and is soon revealed to be a snob to boot, although he eventually declares himself prepared to wed a daughter of the people - provided she's hot enough. On learning that she's actually Lady Killonan his thoughts at long last return to the political vocation he's being so cavalierly disregarding for most of the film; and the means by which they are eventually reconciled is so melodramatic it smacks of desperation on someone's part.
'Nurse Marjorie' is sadly the only surviving film of William Desmond Taylor's starring his charming young protégé, Mary Miles Minter, whose career ended abruptly in scandal when Taylor was murdered two years later, probably by Minter's mother. (A still of Minter from this film is used to illustrate the scandal on page 180 of Griffith & Mayer's 'The Movies'.) The English setting is convincingly evoked and the film is as graceful, good looking, good humoured and well acted as Taylor's other surviving films from this period. Would that the same could be said of its hero!
- Mar 25, 2017