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The Song of the Soul (1918)

The Song of the Soul (1918) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Blue Ribbon Feature. Distributor: Greater Vitagraph. Presenter: Albert E. Smith. Director: Tom Terriss. Scenario: Frederick Buckley and Tom Terriss. Story: Shannon Fife. Camera: Joe Shelderfer. Cast: Alice Joyce, Percy Standing, Walter McGrail, Bernard Randall, Bernard Siegel, Edith Reeves, Stephen Karr. 5 reels This film appears to be LOST

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

Review from Variety, March 1, 1918

Ann Fenton Alice Joyce
Fenton Percy Standing
Dr. Evans Walter McGrail
Oelsen Bernard Siegel
Butch Barney Randall
Ruth Edith Reeves
Billy Stephen Carr

This Vitagraph should supply a good program release, since its plot deals with mother-love and the right to be happy. The story in itself, however, brings forth nothing new, in fact it is reminiscent of other film yarns with the same basic plot. Yet that doesn't mean that Shannon Fife hasn't welded his own tale. Ann Fenton supposes herself rightfully married for two years, when she discovers that her union is bigamous, that being the crime of her husband. In addition, his presumed "business" is a gambling den in which he is partners with one Butch. When he discovers that detectives have trailed him on the bigamy charges he hikes for the tall grass and is for Ann going with him, though he refuses to allow her to bring their infant son along. Ann cut away from Fenton. But the bigots in the small town establish her as a fallen woman and forcibly take away her progeny. Seven years pass. The find Ann in the city working for and being loved by the well-to-do and forceful Dr. Evans, while the boy has been adopted by a cruel inhabitant of his native village. The doctor is deeply smitten with Ann and the picture could have ended in the third reel had she wished to explain her unfortunate early alliance. Instead she returns to the village as a school teacher to be near her boy, but is recognized and dismissed. Once more back in the city she comes upon Fenton, who has established a high-toned gambling establishment in one of the doctor's houses. She marries the physician and induces him to adopt the youngster without disclosing his parentage. This gives Fenton a chance to hold a whip over Ann's head unless she consents to protect him by having the doctor rescind a dispossess order on the gambling joint. The doctor learns the truth first, however, and it all comes out with a happy future in store for Ann and her son. Tom Terriss has done the directing acceptably, but one scene bit will be bound to cause unfavorable comment. That is in the school board hearing when Ann is dismissed and the school directors have refused to allow her boy in school because he was nameless. Ann points to a framed inscription and then exclaims that they forgot that God himself has no name. In such a circumstance that is overstepping the limit and the title and bit which takes but little footage might be better eliminated. Alice Joyce, a Vitagraph favorite, plays Ann well, with acceptable characterizations by her main support in the persons of Percy Standing as Fenton, Walter McGrail ad Dr. Evans and Barney Randall as Butch.


Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, March 9, 1918


Five-Part Drama by Shannon Fife, Featuring Alice Joyce. Produced by Vitagraph Under the Direction of Tom Terriss.

The Players--Alice Joyce, Percy Standing, Walter McGrail, Bernard Siegel, Barney Randall, Edith Reeves and Stephen Carr.

The fine performance given by Alice Joyce in a difficult role. Her unaffected acting and great beauty. A story based on mother-love that carries a strong appeal. A well-produced and popular type of photoplay.

The basic theme of "The Song of the Soul" is one that carries a strong appeal for it concerns a woman's devotion and love for her child. The role of the mother was given a graphic portrayal in the hands of Alice Joyce. So unaffected and sincere is the work of Miss Joyce that it is at all times a pleasure to view her performance, but in her latest release she is more than usually compelling and has given one of the most finished and artistic characterizations that we have had the pleasure of witnessing. In addition to her histrionic abilities Miss Joyce possesses great charm and beauty and in "The Song of the Soul" she is at all times appealing.

Though the story at times was implausible, and found use for the long arm of coincidence, it nevertheless provides entertainment of a pleasing order. It arouses the sympathy and interest of the spectator and through the efforts of Miss Joyce and her supporting company it had moments that were tensely dramatic.

Ann, finding her only happiness in her infant son, is crushed when she discovers that she has been the victim of a bigamous marriage. Her "husband" deserts her and the hypocritical "God-fearing" people of the community cast her out and take away from her the little boy. In despair, she goes to the city for work, and there meets and falls in love with a prominent surgeon. But feeling her past life will interfere with their happiness, she refuses to marry him and, disguising herself, takes up her life once more in the village where her son lives, as a school teacher. There, too, her happiness is short-lived, for she is recognized and sent away again.

Later she marries the surgeon and legally "adopts" her child. But her former "husband" returns and threatens to disclose their past relationship if she does not aid him in a gambling scheme. However, matters are finally cleared when the surgeon realizes the full situation and he forgives Ann for her neglect in telling him her life history, and the picture ends with the three, Ann, the surgeon, and the boy, all living in peace and happiness together.

The part of the surgeon was well acted by Walter McGrail, while Percy Standing gave a forceful impersonation of the villain. Stephen Carr was both natural and appealing as the little son of Ann and the remaining players contributed excellent performances.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

March 9, 1918

Vitagraph Presents Alice Joyce in the Five-Part Blue Ribbon Feature by Shannon Fife Telling of a Woman's Regained Happiness.

Ann Fenton Alice Joyce
Fenton Percy Standing
Dr. Evans Walter McGrail
Olsen Bernard Siegel
Butch Barney Randall
Ruth Edith Reeves
Billy Stephen Carr

Directed by Tom Terriss.

The Story: Young, innocent, confiding, it is a shock to Ann Fenton to learn that her supposed husband is not a business man, but a gambler, and that her marriage is bigamous. The child is taken from her by a Helping Hand Society and apprenticed to a brutal farmer. She is left upon her own resources. Seven years later Fenton again crosses her path, but she finds happiness in honorable marriage while her betrayer is taken away to face a murder change, and the Song of the Soul now rises in full, pure tones from the breast of the happy wife and mother.

March 16, 1918

Five-Part Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature with Alice Joyce is Full of Misfit Psychology.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

SHANNON FIFE has been writing moving picture scenarios for several years, and "The song of the Soul," a five-part Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature, is credited to him. The story might have been made interesting, but it is filled with misfit psychology. Its characters are repeatedly doing something that is contrary to common sense, and the spectator is asked to respect a heroine who tries to build her happiness upon a lie. She is weak to a pitiful degree, and shows such a want of spirit and judgment all through the drama that she is in danger of losing the sympathy of the beholder.

Ann Fenton, who believes her supposed husband is an honorable man, discovers that he is a bigamist and the proprietor of a gambling house, and is left with an infant son to face the world alone. Here commences the series of it-didn't happenings. Her child is taken away from her and she is driven out of the small place where she has been living. Seven years later she returns to the village as the teacher of the school, and finds that her boy is being starved and beaten by a brutal farmer. Her disguise is penetrated and she is again told to leave. Before she goes she sees the farmer whipping the boy. She seizes the whip and lashes the brute, but goes away and leaves her son behind.

Later on a manly young doctor asks her to be his wife, and she marries him without telling him her past history. She then keeps up her deceit by asking his permission to adopt a boy whose guardian will release him for five hundred dollars. The doctor agrees. The boy is no sooner at home than his father turns up and tries to blackmail the woman he had betrayed. The doctor owns the house where his step-son's father runs his gambling hell, and the physician has threatened to have him ejected. The doctor's wife is told that she must prevent this or her secret will be given to her husband. While she is trembling with apprehension the doctor walks in, knocks the blackguard down, sees the police cart him off an a murder charge, and informs his wife that he has just been told her story and it will make no difference with his love for her. Of course not!--being a right-minded chap, but a very unobserving one--for a doctor.

The picture is well acted. Alice Joyce makes all that is possible out of the badly drawn character of Ann Fenton. Percy Standing, Walter McGrail, Bernard Siegel, Barney Randall, Edith Reeves and Stephen Carr give her capable support. Tom Terriss directed the production.

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Last revised August 27, 2005