This is the film that bankrupted Cecil Hepworth, one of England's first great filmmakers. Over budget, under financed, the film was dealt a major blow with when leading man Shayle Gardner contracted typhoid fever. Production stopped for a few months, but Hepworth eventually released the film with Gardner's role slightly reduced.
As it stands, the film is a superb melodrama of the old school with blameless heroine (Alma Taylor) caught in the web of deceit cast by a crazed rival (Eileen Dennes) for the attentions of Gardner.
Shot against the beautiful English countryside, the film meanders with the story of two young women and their beaux. Scheming Sylvia (Dennes) goes after every man in the county while innocent Helen (Taylor) is a victim. So is a would-be suitor who kills himself (Francis Lister). Steadfast George (Ralph Forbes) hovers about, trying to undo the damage caused by Sylvia. Even after Sylvia seems to have lost Paul Vasher (Gardner) to Helen, she continues to scheme after he goes to Rome on business.
Sylvia will stop at nothing. She places a spying maid in Helen's home. She intercepts mail. She even places a phony story in the newspaper about the engagement between Helen and George and mails a forged letter to Paul in Rome.
Implausible? Over the top? You bet. But it makes for a grand story and gives us an epic villainess to hiss and boo. And on top of that are the stunning visuals of rye fields and country villages.
Despite its excellence the film flopped in England and again in the US in 1924. Co-stars include Hepworth regulars James Carew, John MacAndrews,and Gwynne Herbert, as well as Nancy Price (as Mrs. Titmouse) and Christine Rayner as the sneaky maid.
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