Pauline Frederick home

Sleeping Fires (1917)

Sleeping Fires (1917) Famous Players Film Co. Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corp. Presenter: Daniel Frohman. Director: Hugh Ford. Scenario: Hugh Ford. Story: George Middleton. Camera, Ned Van Buren. Cast: Pauline Frederick, John Sainpolis, Thomas Meighan, Maury Stewart, Helen Dahl, Joseph Smiley. 5 reels. This film appears to be LOST

Still Photo on The Silent Film Still Archive

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World
Review from the New York Times

Review from Variety, April 20, 1917

Zelma Bryce Pauline Frederick
Edward Bryce John Sainpolis
"The Little Fellow" Maury Stewart
David Gray Thomas Meighan
Helen King Helen Dahl
Joe Giles Joseph Smiley

Pauline Frederick, in the character of a wronged wife and loving mother, presents an extremely attractive picture and makes an effective showing of her versatility in this five-part Famous Players-Paramount production. In fact, it seems a little hard to believe that John Sainpolis would desert her for his secretary, but he did, in the play, and it cost him his life (a bit of poetic justice which many will think served him right). The story is that Edward Bryce wants to be rid of his wife and take up with his secretary, and knowing that her religion will not sanction a divorce, uses their own son (Maury Steuart [sic]) as a bribe--she can have him for a divorce. Bryce has a factory, the workers strike. Mrs. Bryce, passing in her car, sees one of the girls roughly handled, and in the girl's behalf goes to the magistrate's court, meeting there a young lawyer (Robert Gray). In talking with him the whole affair comes out. A detective employed by Bryce sees them talking, reports, there is a quarrel and she leaves him. She asks Gray to help her get her boy, and in desperation steals the lad from her old home. The husband, in turn, hires the detective to steal the boy away from his mother and hide him somewhere, and again the mother goes to her old home after him. There she meets Miss King, his secretary, who has been installed as mistress of the mansion. Bryce comes in, there is a quarrel, and the husband is shot. The detective and the secretary allege that she came to the house to kill Bryce because she is in love with Gray, who defends her. The detective's wife, however, suspects that play by showing him that the boy, who is in her care, is the son of the woman on trial, and the detective's testimony that the shot was accidental clears the wife. The inference naturally is that she and Gray are married, and it is a nice touch to the plot that that point is left to the imagination. The story was written by George Middleton and directed by Hugh Ford. Miss Frederick has shown that she can do other things than "vamp," and do them well: Helen Dahl as the siren secretary is a success in the part, and although we are not told how the strike came out, the production should be a winner on any program.

Reviews from Moving Picture World

April 28, 1917

"Sleeping Fires"
Reviewed by George Blaisdell.

The Famous Players will release on April 16 "Sleeping Fires," a story by George Midleton. The subject is directed by Hugh Ford. Pauline Frederick has the leading role, that of Zelma Brice, a wife tied to a husband who bears that relation in name only. It is the story of the battle of a mother for the custody of her child, of a wife who has submitted to many indignities at the hands of a man whose name she bears. The picture has interest, enhanced by the portrayal of Miss Frederick, and strength as well.

[Omitted, illegible photo. Caption: Scene from "Sleeping Fires" (Famous Players)

Thomas Meighan is David Gray, a lawyer who by accident meets Mrs. Brice and becomes her counsel and her friend. Mr. Meighan has a personality that fits the role. He makes a splendid opposite for Miss Frederick and plays his part with marked skill. John Sainpolis is Brice, the husband who, after the departure of his wife from her home, installs his "secretary" as his "housekeeper." Mr. Sainpolis makes of Brice a good, all-around, polished reprobate, deserving sympathy of no one. Helen Dahl is the unscrupulous "secretary," who, in a scuffle with Mrs. Brice, so guides a pistol that when discharged it kills the head of the house. Joseph Smiley is the detective whose testimony at the trial of the wife brings about her acquittal. Maury Steuart is the child of the mismated pair.

There are situations that stand out. One of these is the suggestion to the attorney by the husband that the interest displayed by him in Mrs. Brice may not be wholly professional. It is an invitation to break the peace--and the invitation is accepted. The court scene is well staged. It is likely, though, that had the script been written by a lawyer he would have had a second attorney in charge of the case of the defendant. The first one was so deeply concerned in the outcome that he was not in a mental attitude to get the best results for his client. It is all interesting, nevertheless, even to the spectacle of witnessing Miss Frederick in a submissive, non-combative mood--something of a novelty.

April 28, 1917

SLEEPING FIRES (Famous Players--Five Parts--April 16)--The cast includes Pauline Frederick, Thomas Meighan, John Sainpolis, Helen Dahl, Joseph Smiley and Maury Stewart.

Edwin Bryce is in love with his secretary, Helen King, and wants to get rid of his wife so that he can marry again. Zelma Bryce, his wife, refuses to grant him a divorce, saying it is against her religion

There is a strike going on at this time among the workers in a manufacturing concern of which her husband is the president. The strike leaders gather in the streets and a riot starts. Mrs. Bryce passes in her automobile and sees a strikebreaker handling one of the girls roughly. In behalf of the girls who are employed in the factory Mrs. Bryce goes to the magistrate's court. There she meets a young lawyer, Robert Gray.

During her conversation with him she makes known conditions of her matrimonial relations, which, shortly, result in a divorce. Wishing to gain possession of their little boy, she appeals to Gray for help. She finally steals the boy from the house. Her husband secures the services of a detective to bring him back.

Mrs. Bryce, going again to the house to get the boy, meets Miss King with her husband. A quarrel follows in which she kills her husband accidentally. The only witnesses are the detective and Miss King. Mrs. Bryce is forced to swear that she killed her husband because she is in love with Gray.

At the trial, which comes later, it is sworn that she came to the house purposely to kill her husband. Gray defends her and later produces witnesses who completely vindicate her.

Review from The New York Times, April 16, 1917

George Middleton, who writes serious plays, is the author of the scenario of "Sleeping Fires," the new photoplay shown yesterday at the Strand. In it Pauline Frederick acted the conventional role of a wronged wife whose heartless husband continues to punish her through their small son.

Back to Filmography
Back to Pauline Frederick Home

Last revised, April 14, 2007