Released 2/24/19 by Universal Special; Director: Tod Browning; Assistant Director: Cliff Elfelt; Screenplay: Harvey Gates, from the story The Moth by Evelyn Campbell; Cinematography: Alfred Gosden; 6 reels; Print source: Netherlands Film Museum
CAST: Priscilla Dean (Mary Stevens), Wellington Playter (Kent Mortimer), Spottiswoode Aitken (Fadem), Lon Chaney (Stoop Connors), Gertrude Astor (Adele Hoyt), Kalla Pascha (Bartender)
SYNOPSIS: Kent Mortimer has been financially ruined, and while attending a dress ball with his fiancee, Adele Hoyt, he tells her that he must sell his household goods to pay off his debts. Adele cooly breaks the engagement, and returns all his gifts except for a string of pearls which she drops when she enters her cab. Mary Stevens, a woman of the underworld, snatches the pearls and flees, with the police in close pursuit. She sees an open door in a house she passes, and takes refuge inside. The home is that of Mortimer, and she learns that the pearls really belong to him. Mary gets a job as a waitress, and one day Mortimer wanders into the restaurant where they meet again. He begins to see Mary regularly, and Stoop Connors, one of Mary's fellow gang members, gets jealous and shoots Mortimer in the arm. Mary helps him home, but learns that his rent is unpaid and that he is to be evicted. She takes two of the pearls to a fence, Fadem, and gives the money to Mortimer's landlady. Fadem and Stoop search Mary's room trying to find the rest of the pearls, but she is carrying the pearls on her. Mortimer learns of Mary's true past life and orders her out of his life. Mary sends the pearls back to Adele who, in turn, returns them to Mortimer. He goes off in search of Mary to ask her forgiveness, but Fadem and Stoop have captured Mary and are trying to force her to tell where the pearls are. Mortimer breaks in just as they are choking her to death, he attacks the men, and a terrible fight follows. Mary slips from the room and calls the bartender from the cafe below, a huge brute who worships Mary, and he arrives in time to help Mortimer.
"The story is strong and interesting, the situations good, and it impresses in its apparent reality. Particularly commendable is the work of Lon Chaney as "stoop," a crook." --- Variety
"The entire cast cooperates with some of the best character work shown on the screen in a long time, Lon Chaney as "Stoop" and Spottiswoode Aiken as "Uncle Fadem" being especially good." ---Moving Picture World.
NOTES: This inauspicious little film was the first teaming of Chaney and director Browning. The film was originally scheduled to be released as THE ROSE OF THE NIGHT, and the screenplay was to be written by Waldemar Young, but the writing chores were instead given to Harvey Gates. The film had many working titles including THE GUTTER ROSE, THE ROSE OF THE DARK, and THE GUTTER BRIDE, before Browning finally settled on THE WICKED DARLING.
A print of THE WICKED DARLING was recently discovered in a film archive in The Netherlands and was shown at a 1996 Tod Browning festival in Europe.
© 1997,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
Return to Filmography