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The Love that Lives (1917)

The Love That Lives (1917) Famous Players Film Co. Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corp. Director: Robert Vignola. Story, Scodder Middleton. Cast: Pauline Frederick, John Sainpolis, Pat O'Malley, Joseph Carroll, Violet Palmer, Frank Evans, Eldean Stewart. 5 reels.

A copy of this film is preserved at George Eastman House (35 mm., some minor decomposition). The title of the story on which the film is based was Flames of Sacrifice. Moving Picture Worldreported that Frederick suffered from smoke inhalation during the filming of the final scene, while costar Pat O'Malley suffered burns and Violet Palmer fainted during her rescue scene.

Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World
Viewing Comments

Review from Variety, July 13, 1917

Molly McGill Pauline Frederick
Harvey Brooks John Sainpolis
Jimmy (Older Fellow) Pat O'Mally
Jimmy (Boy) Joseph Carroll
Dora Palmer Violet Palmer
Little Molly Eideen Stewart

It isn't always the expensive production with "big" scenes, or a large supporting cast, or wonderful lighting effects, that counts for success in picturizing. In "The Love that Lives," Famous Players (Paramount) release, there are lacking all such "essentials," and in addition not a single comedy scene. Yet despite this series of "discrepancies" it is one of the most artistic and human productions ever turned out by Famous Players, and moves Pauline Frederick, its star, a niche higher in the histrionic firmament. When the photoplay opens Miss Frederick is seen as a scrubwoman in an office building. She is the wife of a drunken loafer and has two children. Husband is killed in a gambling row. A bit of unconscious comedy is perpetrated when a character rushes home to the wife and says "Pete's been shot in the crap game." It must have been a vital spot, for Pete cashed in. One of the little children has been killed by a passing auto and this leaves Molly (the wife) with her boy, who shows a disposition to follow in his father's footsteps. A wealthy broker, whose office she is engaged in cleaning up, offers her ease and luxury, which she indignantly rejects, but when it comes to the point where she must do something to save her boy from growing up into a duplicate of his father, she accedes and sends the boy to a technical school. Years pass and an inconsistent point in the tale is that after acquiring a technical education the boy becomes a fireman. Anyhow the mother, having quarreled with the man who tempted her, sinks lover and lower until she becomes a frequenter of poor dives. Her boy doesn't know what has become of her. She determines to once more earn an honest livelihood and applies for a position as scrubwoman. Her son is engaged to be married to a stenographer who is employed by the libertine who lead the mother from the straight and narrow path, and when he attempts to ravish the young girl the mother stabs him in the back. At this juncture a fire occurs in the office building, the young fireman rescues his sweetheart and the mother is left to die in the flames without the boy ever learning her identity, saying: "I saved them both. It isn't much, but I owed it to Jimmy." The whole thing is a vivid and unexaggerated arraignment of the life struggle in New York among the poor.


Notice and Review from Moving Picture World

July 7, 1917

"The Love that Lives," a drama by Scudder Middleton, has been completed at the Famous Players' studio with Pauline Frederick in the stellar role and will be released by Paramount on July 9. The picture, which shows Pauline Frederick in the novel role of a scrubwoman, was produced under the direction of Robert G. Vignola, who has directed several of Miss Frederick's previous Paramount pictures. Though Miss Frederick has played a number of roles that are distinct characterizations, such as Bella Donna, Zaza and Sapho, this is by far the most remarkable character study which she has ever been called upon to present.

In the opening scenes Miss Frederick is nothing more or less than a scrubwoman working in an office building as a common drudge. Later she becomes a bird of paradise, in order to give her son an education, and then reverts to the pail and mop in her later years when she is broken down in health and in spirit and is a white-haired old woman struggling to keep body and soul together.

Among those in support of Miss Frederick are John Sainpolis, Pat O'Mally, Joseph Carroll and Violet Palmer.

July 28, 1917

"The Love That Lives"
Five-Part Famous Players Photodrama Gives Pauline Frederick Fine Opportunities for Forceful Acting.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel

There is nothing half-way about "The Love That Lives," the five-part Famous Players-Paramount production written by Scudder Middleton. It belongs the realistic school of screen fiction, and mother love is its theme. A scrub woman with the beauty and refinement to attract the advances of a man of wealth and breeding is not meet with every day, even in mimic life. Granting her existence, however, it is quite likely that she would act as does Molly McGill when she finds temptation in her path. "The Love That Lives" shows Millie selling her soul for money with which to educate her son. When the man whose protection she accepts grows tired of her, she drifts rapidly downward. After her son has grown to manhood and thinks her dead, the chance is given her to work out her own redemption. She does so at the cost of her life. To accomplish this the author has taken full advantage of dramatic license, but the lesson is made none the less impressive.

[Omitted, photo of older Frederick observing John Sainpolis harassing Violet Palmer; caption: Scene from "The Love That Lives" (Paramount)]

Pauline Frederick is the Molly McGill. The part is an unusual one for her, but she meets the test with well-founded assurance. The three stages in Mollie's life are distinct and it is in the last stage that Miss Frederick does her most forceful work. She looks the broken-down, sin-worn woman with pitiful perfection and acts with equal skill. John Sainpolis is finished and satisfying as Harvey Brooks and Joseph Carroll is uncommonly clever as the boy, Jimmy. Pat O'Mally, Violet Palmer, Frank Evans and Elden Stewart fill the remaining roles with credit. The production is up to the Famous Players standard.

Viewing Comments

An unusual film for Frederick at this period in her career, but it looks forward to her role of the twenties. It almost seems a run-through for her most famous film, Madame X, but is in fact superior to that film. Frederick plays the scrub woman as a tired drudge with a slow, stooped walk, mechanically moving the chairs to clean under them. She is devoted to her children, and is still alive enough to light up when smelling a bouquet of flowers. The latter does not pass unobserved by John Sainpolis, a distinctive actor appearing in generally villainous parts in several of her films. She approaches her career as a kept woman with much the same attitude as toward her janitorial work, with occasional flashes of anguish when unobserved. She finally explodes, tearing off her jewelry and walking out on him. We next see her years later in a dive, as a tired older woman doing her best to ignore the men her friend urges her to play up to. She snaps to attention when she sees a newspaper reporting the exploits of her son, now a fireman. She returns to work in her old office building, down the street from the fire station so she can be near her son, who does not know her identity. There, bucket in hand again, she mechanically moves the chairs, coming full circle from the beginning of the picture. She is not recognized by her former lover, who is now making unwelcome advances to his stenographer, who happens to be the fiancee of the fireman. What he can't get by persuasion he's willing to take by force, apparently unconcerned at being observed by the scrub woman, and even undeterred when a fire breaks out in the building! It takes Frederick, armed with a letter spindle, to stop him. In a powerful scene, she dies quietly while the building is consumed in smoke and flames, content that she has rescued both her son and his fiancee. Frederick gives one of the great silent performances, and this little known film deserves to be much more widely seen.
Print viewed: Eastman House 35mm print screened at the Pacific Film Archives.

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Last revised, September 16, 2005