Friday, January 25, 2013

The World and the Woman (1916)

When world-weary Mary (Jeanne Eagels) passes by a restaurant one day, she is invited in to a party by playboy James Palmer (Thomas Curran) and later offered a job as a maid on his country estate.  Her first instinct is to decline, but Mary soon changes her mind and agrees so she can get away from the streets.  She arrives at the country place, and meets kindly couple Mr. and Mrs. Rollins (Wayne Arey, Grace DeCarlton) and their little daughter (Ethelmary Oakland) who invite her to come along with them to church.  Mary at first doesn’t think herself very religious, but then becomes a changed woman after the service.  After Palmer attempts to make love to her, Mary runs away and accepts an invitation to live with the Rollins family and become housekeeper and governess.  When the little daughter falls down the stairs one evening and is paralyzed, Mary prays for her.  Miraculously, the child is healed.  Mary soon gets a reputation as a faith healer, until skeptics threaten to expose her past.

The World and the Woman is a powerful tale of finding redemption and purpose through faith.  It’s also noticeable for being Jeanne Eagels’ film debut.

She was best-known for her stage work, and in fact very few of her limited screen appearances survive today.  I’d only seen two prior to this impressive early performance.  In the beginning she appears so jaded.  But as the story progresses, she soon becomes filled with light and purity after finding herself redeemed and gifted with divine purpose.

I haven’t seen very many stories that deal directly with the healing powers of religion and prayer, so it was really interesting to see this take on such a subject.

I particularly liked the picture’s cinematography and screen compositions.  There are lots of outdoor scenes against such beautiful scenery – fields of flowers, forests, and mountains.  These moments were so very lovely and memorable!

♥ ♥ ♥

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