THE MARK OF CAIN

Released 8/07/16 by Universal/Red Feather Photoplays; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: Stuart Paton; Cinematography: King Gray; 5 reels

CAST: Lon Chaney (Dick Temple), Dorothy Phillips (Doris), Frank Whitson (John Graham), Gilmore Hammond (Jake), T. D. Crittenden (Mr. Wilson), Gretchen Lederer (Mrs. Wilson), Lydia Yeamans Titus (Dick's Mother), Marc Fenton (Dick's Father), Georgia French (Baby Wilson)

SYNOPSIS: Dick Temple is serving a five-year prison sentence because he took the blame for a robbery his father committed. His father promises to go straight, but dies two years later, before he can reveal Dick's innocence. Doris lives in a prison of her own...her uncle Jake forces her to steal for him until one night when she flees from her life of crime. Dick is released on parole, but is unable to locate his mother or find work. Doris refuses to steal again, and out of desperation decides to drown herself in the river. She is rescued by Dick who came for the same purpose, and they quickly become friends. One day Doris rescues a baby from the burning house of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, and is given a job as nurse to the child. Dick, deciding to steal so that Doris can eat, is caught snatching a watch from John Graham, but rather than turning him in, Graham gives Dick a job as bookkeeper in his firm. A detective calls on Graham to notify him that Dick is an ex-con out on parole. Graham is in reality the head of a gang of crooks, and tells Dick that he will tell Doris of his past if he does not help him rob the Wilson home. Jake has also tracked Doris down, and forces her to help his gang rob the Wilsons. The night of the robbery, Doris is alone with the elderly housekeeper when Dick arrives. She confesses her past life of crime to him, but he tells her he loves her just the same. He recognizes the housekeeper as his mother and decides to thwart both groups of crooks. Jake and Graham are given their prearranged signals, and when the two gangs come face to face, a fight ensues in which Jake is killed and Graham seriously wounded. Before dying, Graham confesses Dick's innocence, and the police release him. Dick confesses his past life to Doris and they decide to start life anew.

"The story would have been much more effective if it had not been given such a sordid atmosphere throughout. The friendship of the two unfortunates appeals to the sympathies, but the picture, as a whole, has an unpleasant effect. Some of the construction is also weak and unconvincing. The subject is hardly up to Red Feather standards." ---Moving Picture World

NOTES: This is the first feature film in which Chaney received top billing. The working title was BY FATE'S DECREE. The film was produced for $6,289.


© 1996,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis


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