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The Business of Life (1918)

The Business of Life (1918) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Blue Ribbon Feature. Distributor: Greater Vitagraph. Director: Tom Terriss. Scenario: Katherine Reed. Camera: Joe Shelderfer. Cast: Alice Joyce, Betty Blythe, Walter McGrail, Percy Standing, Mrs. Nellie Spaulding, Templer Saxe, Herbert Pattee. 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, April 5, 1918

Jacqueline Nevers Alice Joyce
Elena Clydesdale Betty Blythe
James Desboro Walter McGrail
Carry Clydesdale Percy Standing
Aunt Hannah Mrs. Nellie Spaulding
Waudle Templer Saxe
Cairus Herbert Pattee

Interesting and entertaining covers "The Business of Life," the latest Vita graph Blue Ribbon feature which has Alice Joyce featured. It is about the best feature that the Vitagraph has turned out of the studio in about a year, but to those that read the story the finer sub-titles will be missing. "The Business of Life" was written by Robert W. Chambers and originally appeared in The Cosmopolitan Magazine. In its serial form the story held great interest, but in its picturized form there is much lacking that was in the original.

There is, however, the added interest of the playing of Alice Joyce in the leading role and the support that Betty Blythe gives her. This latter is not to be underestimated. She and the star hold the picture. That Blythe girl is "some girl." Miss Joyce is just about short of wonderful. The principal fault, however, in having Miss Blythe in a picture with her is the fact that in the long shots the two resemble each other so much that it is hard to tell them apart.

The production was directed by Tom Terris [sic] and he has achieved some clever results. The camera work is especially good.

One of the points is the titling. There is a novelty in this one that will strike home. The principals are introduced in action with the introductory lines appearing on the space that is blanked out by the camera iris being closed This will hit many of the directors as the most effective feature. It saves footage and helps the action.

The sets are generally effective and it looks as though the Vita took over a country home of someone or another and lighted the interior for their house scenes.

"The Business of Life" is a feature out of the ordinary run of Vitagraph program material and can be made a whale of a picture if retitled so that the action would be in keeping with the original story. As it is it is bound to have a decided value as an entertainment to the women audiences.


Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, April 13, 1918


Five-Part Drama by Robert W. Chambers, Featuring Alice Joyce. Produced by Vitagraph Under the Direction of Tom Terriss.

The Players--Alice Joyce, Walter McGrail, Betty Blythe, Percy Standing, and Templer Saxe.

The picturization of Robert W. Chambers' popular novel. The appearance of Alice Joyce in an interesting role. A story that is above the average in its appeal and plot development. A worthy production and excellent casting and direction.

"The Business of Life," picturized from Robert W. Chambers' "best seller" of the same name, provided Vitagraph with a production that meets every requirement in the way of good entertainment. Its story, concerning a girl's faith in a man of somewhat questionable habits and reputation, is well developed and constitutes an interesting diversion from the ordinary type of film. The feminine characters are particularly well drawn.

Alice Joyce as the heroine of the tale, Jacqueline of the antique shop, has a sympathetic role. As usual, Miss Joyce's characterization is one of sincerity and appeal. In addition to her great beauty, Miss Joyce possesses a charm and distinction that make any part in which she appears interesting.

"The Business of Life" was so skillfully constructed that the outcome of its story was kept secret until the very end. Jacqueline, the heroine of the drama, is a business woman both through choice and necessity. She maintains her deceased father's antique shop and so intelligent and talented is she that her opinion is held in high favor by collectors of art objects. In this way she meets Jack Desborough who--to pay his debts, contracted through generosity to "girls in blue-first row" -- is compelled to part with the family heirlooms. He asks the assistance of Jacqueline in helping him to catalogue the collection. This brings the two into close relationship and Jack falls victim to the girl's charm. She is sincere in her love for him and believes in him, though at times she is well nigh disheartened because ghosts from his past are forever appearing in the flesh. One in particular--the beautiful wife of one of Jacqueline's business friends--resents Jack's indifference to her and his attention to the "shop lady" and almost breaks Jacqueline's faith. But in the end, through her belief and trust in him, Jack is thoroughly reformed and the two embark on a ship of love, happiness, and faith.

In support of Alice Joyce, Walter McGrail was seen to advantage as Jack and Betty Blythe made a particularly pretty "ghost from the past." Percy Standing and Templer Saxe contributed excellent performances. The picture was well directed and staged and should prove exceedingly popular.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

April 13, 1918

Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature, Based on the Novel of the Same Title by Robert W. Chambers. Starring Alice Joyce. Directed by Tom Terriss. Released April 8.

Jacqueline Nevers Alice Joyce
Mrs. Elena Clydesdale Betty Blythe
James Desboro Walter McGrail
Carry Clydesdale Percy Standing
Aunt Hannah Mrs. Nellie Spaulding
Waudle Templer Saxe
Cairus Herbert Pattee

The Story: In order to raise funds James Desboro, a bachelor, negotiates with Jacqueline Nevers, who is conducting the antique business of her dead father, for the sale of his vast collection of antique armor. Jacqueline goes daily to his home in Silverwood to chronicle the pieces, and he falls in love with her. Desboro gives a house party, to which Jacqueline and Mrs. Clydesdale, a woman in love with him, are invited. At a game they play Jacqueline is hidden and is told that she shall marry the man who finds her. So that Desboro will not locate her Mrs. Clydesdale detains him in another room until the game is over. When Desboro learns of the trick he upbraids Mrs. Clydesdale and married Jacqueline. Mrs. Clydesdale poisons Jacqueline's mind against her husband, and the two are estranged. Illness overtakes Mrs. Clydesdale, who has been reconciled to her husband, and, remorseful, confesses to Jacqueline that what she said against Desboro is false, and Jacqueline goes back to her husband.

April 20, 1918

Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature Screen Version of Story by Robert W. Chambers.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

TAKEN from a novel by Robert W. Chamber, "The Business of Life," a five-part Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature, still retains its novel form. Picture novel is the correct classification for it. The motives are dramatic enough, but they are not treated as a dramatist would handle them. Most of the characters are cursed with the Chambers creations' want of red blood and their ability to suppress their emotions. Persons who are interested in the well-bred automatons to be found in the pages of this writer's greatly overrated books and are satisfied never to have their own pulses quickened will enjoy "The Business of Life."

The scenes belong chiefly to what is known as "polite society." The heroine, Jacqueline Nevers, is drawn with real charm. She is a fine specimen of young womanhood, intellectual, highly cultured, and is carrying on her dead father's business, the elder Nevers having been a dealer in antiques. James Desboro, a wealthy young fellow who has gone the pace with an number of chorus girls and who is also unfortunate enough to have excited too warm a regard in the bosom of a married woman, engages Jacqueline to catalogue the family collection of armor. The two fall in love, and Desboro finds it somewhat difficult to prevent the lady-loves of his gay past from coming between them and causing him to lose Jacqueline. Desboro has acted honorably toward the married woman, the wife of a friend, and is forgiven for his other indiscretions.

Alice Joyce is admirably adapted to the part of Jacqueline and looks lovely enough to fulfill the author's description of his heroine. Betty Blythe as Elena Clydesdale, Walter McGrail as James Desboro, Percy Standing as Garry Clydesdale and Nellie Spaulding as Aunt Hannah are entirely satisfactory. Templer Saxe as Waudle and Herbert Pattee as Cairus make caricatures of the two parts. Tom Terriss directed the picture and has given it an agreeable air of refinement.

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Last revised August 24, 2005