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The Mistress of Shenstone (1921)

The Mistress of Shenstone (1921) Robertson-Cole Pictures. Director: Henry King. Story: Florence L. Barclay. Camera: J.D. Jennings. Cast: Pauline Frederick, Roy Stewart, Emmett C. King, Arthur Clayton, Helen Wright, Rosa Gore, Helen Muir, Lydia Yeamans Titus. 6 reels.

A shortened copy of this film is held by the Filmoteca de Catalunya in Barcelona (35 mm nitrate, unpreserved, approx. 3786 feet, with Spanish intertitles).

Here is a frame capture from the nitrate print, courtesy of the Filmoteca Catalunya logo
Presumably this is from one of the two scenes in which the hero saves her life, since they seem to be at the rocky shore and she is wearing his jacket. Notice, however, that she has not lost her hat.
Frederick and Roy Stewart sitting on rocks
Click on thumbnail for larger view

Pictures from the photoplay novel

Thanks to Primrose Lockwood for these scans. Click thumbnails for larger view

Film still from Mistress of Shenstone Film still from Mistress of Shenstone
Film still from Mistress of Shenstone Film still from Mistress of Shenstone
Looks like she's finally removed her hat and gotten more comfortable. A battle of chins with Roy Stewart

And here is the dust jackete of the Photoplay novel
Thanks to Gail Orwig for this book
Color dustjacket of Mistress of Shenstone photoplay novel, Pauline Frederick seated Back of dustjacket of Mistress of Shenstone

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, March 18, 1921

Lady Myra Ingleby Pauline Frederick
Jim Airth Roy Stewart
Sir Deryck Brand Emmett C. King
Ronald Ingram Arthur Clayton
Billy Cathcart John Willink
Margaret O'Mara Helen Wright
Amelia Murgatroyd Rose Gore
Eliza Murgatroyd Helen Muir
Suzannah Murgatroyd Lydia Yeamans Titus

A quarter of a century or so ago the Laura Jean Libbey of England was Florence Barclay, who turned out romance after romance of the calibre known colloquially as "housemaid's delight" tales. They were mostly about lords and ladies, dooks and dookesses, etc. "The Mistress of Shenstone" was one of them and has now been selected as a photoplay vehicle for Pauline Fredericks, who is starring under the Robertson-Cole trade-mark.

There isn't enough action in the tale to make of it more than a two-reeler, but it has been dragged out to a full hour's length by resorting to lengthened emoting scenes for the star, photographic reproductions of surging seas and so on.

As a matter of fact, the story is over the first 500 feet, wherein it is related that Lady Inglesby's husband has been killed at war, not in battle, but through an accidental explosion during an experiment with a new invention, and the widow says she doesn't wish to know the name of the man who made the fatal error, as she could not touch his hand. She goes to an isolated inn at a quiet seaside place and there meets and falls in love with a man who had just returned from the war and is writing a book. Need it be said, he is the very man who had accidentally killed Lord Inglesby? But it should be stated that he turns out to be "a earl."

Despite the crudity of the plot and the certainty of the denouement, Director Henry King has brought to it a wealth of English atmosphere, with fine detail as to character types. The drawing-rooms, exteriors and selection of locations cannot be criticised adversely.

It was noticeable that, despite the brevity of dresses prevailing everywhere, Miss Frederick's gowns were all of the most sedate length. As "the war" is spoken of, it is presumed this refers to the recent world conflict, and this is borne out by the modern attire of the men. The only other women in the cast were characters and no period was specifically indicated.

The Whole thing lacks action.


Review from Moving Picture World

March 5, 1921

"The Mistress of Shenstone"
Robertson-Cole Picture Starring Pauline Frederick is Strongly Emotional.
Reviewed by Herbert Caryl.

Built around Pauline Frederick's emotional acting is the unusual story of a woman finding herself in love with the one man she most dreaded to meet--the man whose blunder cost the life of her husband in the world war. Lady Inglesby has a heart that is torn by loneliness as the months pass and there is no news from her husband, who is at the battlefront. Then comes the news of his death, not at the hands of the enemy but by that of a blunderer in his own command. In this situation Miss Frederick's acting is intensely gripping, and she has been provided with a role well suited to her strong emotional talents. At all times she appears to advantage.

Opposite Miss Frederick plays Roy Stewart, in the role of Earl of Airth and Monteith. Mr. Stewart brings force and dramatic action to the role. He is the mainspring to Lady Myra's heart throbs. Others in the picture are well cast. The scenes, especially the exteriors, are up to the usual Robertson-Cole standards.

Lady Myra Ingleby of Shenstone Pauline Frederick
Earl of Airth and Monteith Roy Stewart
Sir Derysk Brand Emmett King
Ronnie Arthur Clayton
Billie John Willink
Margaret O'Meara Helen Wright

Story by Florence Barklay.
Photography by David Jenny.
Directed by Henry King.

The Story:
The husband of Lady Ingleby, mistress of Shenstone Hall, away at war, has not been heard from for many months. Margaret O'Meara, a humble woman from the Shenstone lodge, has also a heart torn by waiting for news from her husband at the front. The news comes of Lord Inglby's death. Sir Derysk breaks the news to Lady Ingleby. A War Office official tells her that a comrade of Lord Ingleby had given the order by mistake to fire the shell that killed his Lordship. The man's name is to remain a secret. Sir Derysk induces her to go to Cornwall for a rest. A the inn is a young man, Jim Airth, carrying a great sorrow in his heart. He avoids everyone. Lady Myra falls asleep on the sands, the tide comes in, and Jim risks his life to reach her. The two fall in love and learn that Airth was the man who gave the fatal order. They part, but the woman goes back to Cornwall to the scenes that bring anguish to her heart. Again she is on the sands at the foot of the cliff and again the tide comes rushing in. Once again down the cliff comes Jim. This time as the escaped from death they decided that they cannot live without each other.

Program and Exploitation Catchlines: A Story of Love and Romance with Pauline Frederick.
An Adaptation of Florence Barklay's well-known story, with Pauline Frederick in the leading role.
She fell in love with the one man she dreaded to meet--the man whose blunder cost her husband his life in the world war. She the startling outcome of this unusual situation. It will please you.
A Woman in the Throes of Anguish and Then Swept by the Emotions of Love.

Exploitation Angles: Play up Miss Frederick for all she can carry, but hook in the big angle of the story with its "Suppose you lost your husband in the war through the clumsy mistake of a member of his own forces. Suppose that you fall in love with a man. And suppose that you then found him to be the person who had sent your husband to his death. What would you do? What do you suppose Pauline Frederick did?"

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Last revised, September 3, 2006