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The Question (1917)

The Question (1917) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Blue Ribbon Feature. Distributor: Greater Vitagraph (V.L.S.E., Inc) Presenters: J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith. Director: Perry N. Vekroff. Scenario: George H. Plympton. Story: Lawrence McCloskey. Camera: Arthur T. Quinn. Cast: Alice Joyce, Harry T. Morey, Charles Kent, Gladden James, Amy Remley, Edward Davis, Mr. Wangaman. 5 reels This film appears to be LOST

Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror
Reviews from Moving Picture World

Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, June 17, 1917


Five-Part Drama by Lawrence McCloskey. Featuring Alice Joyce and Harry Morey. Produced by Vitagraph Under the Direction of Perry Vekroff.

John Stedman Harry Morey
Martha Wainwright Alice Joyce
Dr. Rundel Charles Kent
Allen Cosgrove Gladden James
Helen Wainwright Amy Remley
Rev. Nathaniel Wainwright Ed. Davis
Rundel's Servant Mr. Wangaman

Although "The Question" in this play is never answered it is presented in an original and compelling scenario which is done full justice by the excellent direction and acting. It is the problem of a woman essentially virtuous, who is faced by the alternative of leaving the man she loves to become a mental and physical wreck without her, or of sharing his struggles with him without benefit of clergy. The author dodges the issue by making the entire situation a dream but he has first made the characters so sympathetic to the audience that there could be no possible objection to the theme on the score of Mrs. Grundy.

We first see a crabbed old scientist engaged in making a will which will prevent his young assistant, Stedman, from marrying the girl he loves until he has discovered a new serum which will be of inestimable value to the human race. We are then led to believe that that old man has died and the young chemist is nearly driven to madness in his struggle between giving up his bride or his life work. The girl solves the problem by calmly remaining in his house after she has nursed him through brain fever and then begins a series of social persecutions ending in a murder and the cheerful assurance that it was all a dream.

It would be impossible to select a more appropriate combination than Alice Joyce and Harry Morey for the leads in this play. The story requires the utmost delicacy of interpretation and the subtle and genuine work of these two, do it full justice.

This is an unusual play which will be talked about by those who have seen it and is its own best advertisement in its significant theme and its combination of two screen favorites. [Omitted, one Photo].


Reviews from Moving Picture World, June 23, 1917

Harry Morey and Alice Joyce Stars of Five-Reel Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature That Has a Dream Finish.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

There are a kind of folk who take great interest in dreams and dream plays. They will like "The Question," a five-reel screen drama on the Vitagraph Blue Ribbon program. Lawrence McCloskey, the author, after treating in all seriousness a situation where a scientist must either give up the woman he loves or lose the opportunity of perfecting a new serum that will be a priceless boon to humanity, and getting all his characters into a most uncomfortable frame of mind, calmly takes a little joker in the shape of a dream finish from the pack and lets the spectator know that the scenes of violence, the sacrifice of the heroine of her good name, and the un-Christian conduct of her clergyman father, never have taken place.

The excellent acting of the entire cast, which includes Harry Morey, Alice Joyce, Charles Kent, Gladden James, Amy Remley, Edwards Davis and Mr. Wangaman, brings out the author's intent with perfect clearness.

THE QUESTION (Five Parts--June 11.)--The cast: John Stedman (Harry Morey); Martha Wainwright (Alice Joyce); Dr. Rundell (Charles Kent); Allen Cosgrove (Gladden James); Helen Wainwright (Amy Remley); Rev. Nathanial Wainwright (Ed. Davis); Rundel's servant (Mr. Wangaman). Directed by Perry N. Vekroff.

Dr. Rundel, a scientist, is devoting is life to the search of a new serum; he is aided by John Stedman, a young chemist. Realizing that his pursuit might not be concluded in his own lifetime, he decides to train Stedman so that he can carry on the work. To this end, he has made his will, leaving to Stedman all his money and the key to the formula, without which the young man could not hope to find the much-desired serum.

Dr. Rundel's only condition is that John devote all his time and energy to the work in hand, which means, automatically, that he shall not marry. John is in love with Martha Wainwright, daughter of a clergyman, and when he attends a social function at the Wainwright home against the doctor's wishes, the latter in incensed. He adds a codicil to his will specifying that John shall not inherit the money and the formula until he signs an agreement not to marry until the work is finished. After Dr. Rundel's death John works hard, secretly hoping that he will succeed in the work and be able to marry Martha.

He breaks under the strain, and Martha's father, certain in his own mind, that John never will succeed, urges Martha to marry a wealthy suitor named Cosgrove. She refuses. John collapses and she hurries to him. She realizes that he needs her, and, torn by the question of love vs. convention, she decides to remain with John. She and John suffer from the scandal her act inspires, and the end comes when she realizes that she is dragging John downward by marrying with him.

She then offers to marry Cosgrove, but he offers her only a substitute. John intervenes during a struggle between the girl and Cosgrove. The two men engage in combat. At this stage the picture turns back and shows that all of this action has occurred in a dream of old Dr. Rundel. He is shown dreaming at his table when he telephone awakens him. John at the other end of the line announces his engagement to Martha, and the old scientist, the fearful dream still vivid in his mind, readily extends congratulations to his young assistant.

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Last revised August 27, 2005