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An Alabaster Box (1917)

An Alabaster Box (1917) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Blue Ribbon Feature. Distributor: Greater Vitagraph (V.L.S.E., Inc). Director: Chester Withey. Scenario: A. Van Buren Powell Cast: Alice Joyce, Marc MacDermott, Harry Ham, Aida Horton, Patsey De Forest, Frank Crane. 5 reels. This film appears to be LOST

Some great advertising materials from Vitagraph's Exhibitors Plan Books from 1917 courtesy of Derek Boothroyd

A lobby card from the film with Patsy De Forest and possibly Frank Crane, also thanks to Derek Boothroyd.
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Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror
Reviews from Moving Picture World

Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, September 15, 1917


Five-Reel Drama by Mary E. Wilkins and Florence Kingsley, Featuring Alice Joyce and Marc MacDermott. Produced by Vitagraph as a Blue Ribbon Feature. Directed by Chester Withey.

The Players--Alice Joyce, Marc MacDermott, Harry Ham, Aida Horton, Patsy De Forrest, and Frank Crane.

The Acting of Alice Joyce in a sympathetic role.

Lack of faith in the members of a small community, coupled with a narrow, prejudiced viewpoint, is the framework upon which "The Alabaster Box" is built. In this particular story it is money that proves to be the soothing oil and under its influence we see a happy, contented people. Later, through its lack we find them bitter and aimless. The power of money cannot be successfully applied unless it rests upon a certain faith in mankind. Upon such a moral is this picture based . The result is a clean but none too wholesome story of small town life, though in places the director might have made it more plausible.

Andrew Bolton, through his efforts to better the conditions of his town, meets with financial failure and is sent to prison on an embezzlement charge. Seventeen years later his daughter Lydia, now a beautiful young girl, returns to the little village. There, under an assumed name and with money inherited from her uncle, she buys the old homestead and prepares it for her father's homecoming. Realizing the antagonism that still exists toward him she endeavors to keep his return a secret. However, he is recognized and a furious mob stormed the house. Though weakened by his long term in prison, he attempts a final plea for justice before the crowd--but the strain proves too great and he dies. Thereupon Lydia leaves for the city--and happiness with Jim who had proven such a staunch friend throughout the family's misfortunes.

Alice Joyce in the role of Lydia, acted with restraint and wistful charm. Marc MacDermott made a satisfactory Andrew Bolton, and Harry Ham gave a good performance as the youthful, kindhearted Jim. The setting were appropriate and throughout the small town atmosphere has been well developed.

Alice Joyce's name should be featured by exhibitor's, as patrons can rely upon her good acting


Reviews from Moving Picture World, September 22, 1917

"An Alabaster Box"
"An Alabaster Box." Five-Part Blue Ribbon Feature Featuring Alice Joyce and Marc MacDermott, and "The Fighting Trail," Serial by J. Stuart Blackton and Cyrus Townsend Brady.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

It was a foregone conclusion that a story by Mary F. Wilkins Freeman would contain sound character drawing and be wholesome of theme. Both of these qualities are found in "An Alabaster Box," a five-part Vitagraph Blue Ribbon feature, written by Mrs. Freeman and Florence Morse Kingsley, and directed by Chester Withey. The leading character of the drama is Andrew Bolton, the "big man" of a New England village, whose energy and push keep the place alive and furnish employment for nearly all the inhabitants, but whose financial failure is brought about by the refusal of his fellow townsmen to support him when he tries to enlarge his business interests, and he is sent to prison for embezzlement. Years after his daughter, who was a young child when her father was convicted, returns to the village under an assumed name, and becomes the Lady Bountiful of the place, a fortune having been left her by an uncle. Her father also returns and when his old neighbors learn the truth they turn on his daughter and attempt to wreck the old Bolton home where she is now living. Bolton tries to defend the house, and falls dead from excitement. An interesting love interest runs through the story.

Alice Joyce fits the character of Lydia Bolton to a nicety, and Marc MacDermott plays Andrew Bolton with the necessary force and finish. Harry Ham, Patsy De Forest and Frank Crane have other important roles and act them properly. The production is adequate, and Chester Withey has directed it with skill.

AN ALABASTER BOX (Five Parts--Sept. 10.)--The cast: Lydia Orr (Alice Joyce); Harry Bolton (Marc MacDermott); Jim Dodge (Harry Ham); The Child Lydia (Aide Horton); Fanny Dodge (Patsy De Forest); Wesley Elliott (Frank Crane); Authors, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Florence Morse Kingsley. Director, Chester Withey.

Lydia Bolton is only a child when financial difficulties overtake her father. His fellow townsmen do not give him support and he goes to the wall. Andrew Bolton goes to prison an embezzler, cursed by everyone. Lydia is taken in charge by an uncle and the old Bolton mansion, once a proud landmark, is left to neglect.

Time has not tempered the disposition of the community when Lydia Bolton comes back, her identity hidden in the name of Lydia Orr. She opens her purse first at a church festival, but her generosity is rewarded only by disparaging remarks and open hints of ulterior motives. She lives at the same boarding house as the young minister and tongues of scandal are at once loosed.

Then she purchases the old Bolton mansion, her childhood home, and offers to buy at unreasonably high prices all antique furniture in the town. There is a rush to get all the girl's money, but a few decent folks seek to protect her and at once the town is split in two hostile camps.

The minister has a sweetheart and she is jealous of Lydia, which adds to the complexity of her troubles. And in the midst of it all, Bolton, his prison term ended, steals back to town. Lydia and a few loyal friends seek to hide his identity, for a time, at least, but the senile old man eludes them and goes to the country store and proclaims himself.

All the pent-up hatred against him now is turned against the daughter and the townspeople utterly blind to all she has done for them and the town, rush to the old Bolton home to wreck it and lynch Bolton. The old man, aided by the minister and Lydia's sweetheart, are striving to protect the girl when Bolton falls dead. This tragedy disperses the mob and finally Lydia's enemies come to see her and her efforts in their true light.

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Last revised May 2, 2009