Mrs. Southworth at the Movies?

October 5, 2010

Considering the popularity of Southworth’s works on the stage from the late 1850s to the early decades of the twentieth century, it seems likely that some of her works would have also been used as the basis of films in the earliest decades of film-making.  So far, my searches have only turned up one such film, the 1921 Fox Film Corp. film, Hearts of Youth, which is an adaptation of Southworth’s Ishmael novels.

Here are the production details, cast list, and summary from the AFI catalog’s entry on the film:

Production Credits: Tom Miranda and Millard Webb (director), Millard Webb (adaptation), Walter Williams (Director of Photography).

Cast: Harold Goodwin (Ishmael Worth), Lillian Hall (Beatrice Merlin), Fred Kirby (Judge Merlin), George Fisher (Herman Brudenell), Iris Ashton (Mrs. Grey, formerly Hannah Worth), Glen Cavender (Reuben Gray), Grace Goodall (Countess Hurstmonceaux), Colin Kenny (Lord Vincent).

Summary: Ishmael Worth renounces his young sweetheart, Beatrice, because he believes himself to be illegitimate and does not want to bring shame to her. Later it is revealed that his mother and father had married. His father’s previous wife, thought to be dead, turns up to confront him; but the fact that the first wife was a bigamist makes her marriage to Ishmael’s father null and void and the marriage between his mother and father therefore valid. Ishmael, having a legitimate father, now can give Beatrice an honest name.

Release Date: May 1921

According to AFI, a print of the film exists. If anyone knows how one would be able to see this film, do pass on word to me. I’d love to see how Ishmael was adapted to film (even though it seems to be it would be a very long film).

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