Released 9/03/17 by Universal/Bluebird Photoplays; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: Fred Myton, from a story by Samuel Hopkins Adams; 5 reels; Print Source: reels 1-3 were preserved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
CAST: Dorothy Phillips (Nell Baxter), Lon Chaney (Paul Neihoff), William Stowell (Dudley Weyman), William J. Dyer (David Montieth), Claire Du Brey (Lillian Du Pont), Clyde Benson (Rupert Vincent), Helen Wright (Character Woman), Ruth Elder (Second Woman)
SYNOPSIS: Nell Baxter, an aspiring actress, in enticed into leaving her home town and going to Broadway where she has been told she will surely triumph as a great star. At the station, she meets a company of road-show actors and becomes friendly with Dudley Weyman, an actor with the company. He urges her not to go to New York, but she does not heed his advice and soon finds herself unemployed in the big city. In a theatre on Broadway, Dudley Weyman, the leading man, and the show manager have just learned that one of the actresses has been married and is leaving the stage. Nell is hanging around the theatre looking for work, and is spotted by Dudley who takes her to the manager. She fills the vacant role perfectly, and Dudley soon falls in love with her, but she shows only friendship for him. David Montieth, the manager, is also quite taken with Nell, but she only has eyes for Paul Neihoff, a cold-blooded dramatic critic who is trying to get a play published. Using Nell's affection for him, Paul gets her to entice Montieth into reading his play. Montieth, thinking Nell is in love with him, agrees to stage Paul's play, with Nell in the lead. Another actress is jealous of all the attention Nell is getting, and she arranges for Montieth to see Nell and Paul embracing in her dressing room. Montieth announces that he will not open the show, and he knocks Paul to the ground. Nell goes to Montieth's apartment to plead with him not to drop the show. He attacks her, and she stabs him with a prop knife. She gives Paul and Dudley the news and Paul tells the, they must go on with the show. Paul's doctor has told him he only has months to live, so Paul writes a confession to the murder, then poisons himself. Nell is told during the performance of Paul's sacrifice. She goes on stage for the final scene where she is to stab herself, and instead of using a trick dagger, she plunges a real dagger into herself, dying in Dudley's arms. The scene fades back to the train station where Dudley is telling Nell that this is the story of another girl named Nell that he once loved. As the train pulls away, Nell remains in her small town, and she kisses her sweetheart when she meets him on the road.
"The audience is cheated at the beginning of the story within the story...The tragic story within the story would make a very good photoplay without the outside story." ---Moving Picture World
"The finish is altogether unexpected because the visualization of the actor's narration is not suggested in any way and its enactment is vivid and stirring. A very good program feature." ---Variety
NOTES: Long believed lost, the film was discovered in a trunk of films from a British collector by long-term Chaney buff and collector, George Wagner, who arranged for the film to be preserved by the archive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Only the first 3 (of 5) reels survive, and reel 3 has significant nitrate decomposition. The restored print uses a few explanatory titles to explain the concluding reels of the film.
© 1996,2000,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
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