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The Prey (1920)

The Prey (1920) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Vitagraph Special Production. Distributor: Vitagraph Co. of America. Presenter: Albert E. Smith. Director: George L. Sargent. Scenario: Calder Johnstone. Story: Joseph Le Brandt. Camera: Joe Shelderfer. Gowns by Lucile. Cast: Alice Joyce, Henry Hallam, Jack McLean, Harry Benham, L. Rogers Lytton Herbert Pattee, William Turner, Cecil Kern, Roy Applegate. 6 reels This film appears to be LOST

Lucile Gown A Lucile gown worn in the picture (Click for larger view. Thanks to Randy Bigham for this photo)
Alice and L. Rogers Lytton in a scene from the film. Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for this and the rest of the pictures. Lucile Gown
Lucile Gown A somewhat clearer view of the Lucile gown.
Lucile Gown
Lobby card Some Lobby cards (Click for larger views).
. Lobby card
Lobby card .
. Lobby card

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, October 1, 1920


This is a Vitagraph feature in six parts, running 70 minutes and starring Alice Joyce. Primarily it is an example of why Miss Joyce is not getting further. The reason is the stories handed to her. This is one pretty crude and obvious melodrama. Josseph Le Brant is programed as the author and has written for the star just the sort of thing to make her a riot in the small town and along city byways. In the better theatres it should go well enough and did so at Loew's chain here, but as an opportunity for Miss Joyce to show her best, it does not go far.

George L. Sargent directed, and considering the script did all that could be expected. He kept this plot at high speed, saw Miss Joyce through her various situation in good style and handled the actors and the groupings intelligently, particularly when it came to getting depth and keeping the action among several characters clear and distinct. Some of the lighting seemed bad, but this may have been the projection.

Helen is the daughter of a well-to-do New Yorker, Robert Reardon. He becomes involved in a shady stock deal with Henry Lowe, and when Helen's fiance, Jim Colvis, running for District Attorney, refuses to help him continue with Lowe he passes the buck to daughter. She in turn fails to persuade the young lawyer, and the engagement is broken. Father commits suicide and brother forges Lewe's name. The result is Helen has to marry Lowe to save the yungster. Meanwhile Colvin has been elected District Attorney, and Lowe tries to save himself through is wife. How he fails is worked out ingeniously.

Even so, at the point where her brother confesses to her, Miss Joyce did a bit of supreme emotional portrayal that she has never surpassed. Elsewhere she gives her usually capable perforance, her studied, but none the less effectively graceful use of her hands standing out. The support is capable. Mr. Lytton always comes through with a real picture. Jack McLean pushed over a a good screen presence, a result Mr. Benham did not achieve with quite so much success.


Review from Moving Picture World, July 31, 1920

"The Prey"
Alice Joyce in a Vitagraph Special Production of Society, Financial and Political Intrigue
Reviewed by M. A. Malaney.

THE Vitagraph picture, "The Prey," at first gives one the idea that it is just another familiar story of politics and gambling, a district attorney and a vice ring. Before the second reel is finished the story takes an original twist, and to the very end it holds complete attention. The title comes from the situation which makes the heroine fall into the hands of the crooked big business man. He might be called "the eagle," since everything he does seems to be for the purpose of dragging her family down to ruin and ultimately marrying her.

There are some gorgeous sets and the direction is excellent. One particular incident is the wedding party. This is a jazzy bohemian affair, with a a barefooted dancer, who certainly delivers the goods. "The Prey" has a cast of fine actors. Alice Joyce as Helen Reardon looks beautiful in all the scenes and seems to work much harder than usual. Rogers Lytton as the unscrupulous business man is excellent. Harry Benham as James Calvin is an admirable district attorney. Another principal part is that of Jack Reardon. It is done well by Jack McLean.

One important thing can be added in favor of "The Prey," The author didn't use heroic actions by the district attorney at the end. Said attorney didn't have something up his sleeve to pull on the villain. Instead he lets things take their course, and that is what the average audience least expects, but nevertheless relishes. This picture belongs in the class of very good photoplays.

Helen Reardon Alice Joyce
Robert Reardon Henry Hallam
Jack Reardon Jack McLean
James Calvin Harry Benham
Henry C. Lowe L. Rogers Lytton
Nathan Sloane Herbert Pattee
Williard William Turner
Jesse Cecil Kearn
Pete Cunard Roy Applegate

Story by JOseph Le Brandt.
Direction by George L. Sargent.
Length--about 5,500 Feet.

The Story.
Robert Reardon in "The Prey" has misused funds held in trust by giving then to a friend, Henry Lowe, to invest. Lowe tells him the money is lost and he appeals to his future son-in-law, James Calvin, who is running for district attorney. Calvin refuses to allow Reardon to get depeer in debt by plunging into a financial pool proposed by Lowe and tells him that if he is elected he will seek an indictment against Lowe. Reardon becomes angry and as a result the engagement between Calvin and his daugher, Helen, is broken.

Next morning Reardon kills himself. His son, Jack, who has had the gambling fever, having got into debt, forges Lowe's name to a check and passes it. Lowe gets possession of the check and uses it to force his marriage with Helen. Howe insists upon entering his friends in debauchery notwithstanding the recent bereavement of his wife. He drives her brother from the house and then proceeds to enact the tyrant. Helen, who had refused to love him when consenting to be his wife, is the subject of attack. Next day she appeals to Calvin, who has been elected, and he tells her that Lowe is in no position to press charges against her brother, as he is hemself on the road to prison.

Lowe is confident that his wife will save him from the district attorney, and stages a frame-up against Calvin. Luring him to the Lowe home, he forces his wife into a compromising position. Calvin then feels that the only way out is to resign. Helen refuses to hear of such a course. Meanwhile she had overhead a plot of Lowe's to get two of Calvin's aids to steal evidence. The money to be paid them is in the safe in the Lowe home. Helen marks it and notifies the police, who catch the two and also Lowe's henchmen. This results in the arrast of Lowe. Helen's brother also is taken for forging the check, but Lowe dies as a result of the excitement and disgrace, and the young fellow is freed. Calvin and Helen find happiness together.

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Last revised October 1, 2010