"MOTHERS OF MEN"
(Robards Players–Five Reels–State Rights)
Reviewed by Joseph L. Kelley
Motion Picture News, Nov. 10, 1917
With a strong title, a timely theme and presenting, as it does, a subject in which millions of our women are interested, "Mothers of Men," produced by Robards Players, under the direction of Willis Robards, and released on the state rights market by Sheppard and Van Loan, is entitled to a good bit of consideration from every exhibitor and in proper turn will, in the opinion of the reviewer, receive praise from the patron, regardless of his or her status in life. Its timeliness will strike home. Although the author has looked a long way into the future and placed a woman as the presiding judge in a court of law, there are thousands who will praise his efforts, especially the ardent suffragettes and all womankind who are optimistic concerning universal victory for woman suffrage. Assuming that all women of the United States had the vote, and the problem which the author seeks to expound in this propaganda play be sound reasoning, there are none who can deny that women would take their places beside the men in our courts of law, as presiding justices.
The author has been original in weaving his theme, but the director has been very commonplace in transferring some of the author's ideas to the screen. Incidents which should have received only a passing notice or a flash on the screen, Director Robards has run to noticeable lengths, thereby creating in his production a certain offensive element. This is particularly true of the scene depicting the condemned man's last hours before going to the death chamber. He makes too much of the religious aspect of the situation and not enough of the real purpose for which his production is screened –to disseminate the doctrine of women suffrage.
Dorothy Davenport does very well in the principal role. She so far outshines exhibitions of some members of her supporting cast that an audience is given the impression that she does super-excellent work. Willis Robards, enacting the principal male role, insists upon being too much of an "actor." At times he displays true artistic talent but more often he either "flies too high" or falls into a coma, failing to appreciate the fact that he is interpreting an emotional role. (*)Every one in the audience will know that Katherine Griffith is "Clara's blind sister." She insists upon this, and therefore registers the "stone" blind expression throughout the scenes in which she appears. Arthur Tavares [most likely referring to Harry Griffith] "overdoes" the "heavy" part. He impresses as being over-anxious to convince. Hal Reed and Mrs. Hal Reed are in evidence because of their very amateurish performance. Mr. Robards's legal procedure is not according to best authorities.
"Mothers of Men" is timely, has a good title and should not meet with disappointment with any exhibitor. He can book it and "cash." The photography and lighting effects are "up-to-the-minute."
The Story and Players
Clara Madison (Dorothy Davenport) is an ardent suffragist and leader in the cause. She is elected judge of the Supreme Court. She meets Worthington Williams (Willis Robards), a lawyer, and they are married. Williams, because of his activities to pass legislation to insure Prohibition and his work against the saloonkeepers, is looked upon as an enemy by the saloon men. They plan to "get" him. He is accused of being implicated in a dynamite plot, tried and convicted and sentenced to the death chair [actually hanging]. His wife is elected Governor of the State, and the whole community waits to see how she will employ her power to pardon a condemned man. She remains passive and does nothing. A few hours before the death penalty is to be exacted, a confession is made by a gangster which proves Williams's innocence.
** Marcella Russell "Mrs. Hal Reid" plays Clara's Blind Sister. Katherine Griffith plays Maida (Leader of Women’s Party).
"EVERY WOMAN'S PROBLEM"
Plymouth Pictures Presents
Strong and Timely Story of Women in Politics
Reviewed by C.S. Sewell
Moving Picture World, Mar. 19, 1921, p.312
Dealing with the timely subject of woman in politics, though it is in no sense a propaganda picture, Plymouth Pictures Inc., is distributing on the state right market an interesting feature with a strong dramatic theme in which Dorothy Davenport (Mrs. Wallace Reid), is featured. The story revolves around a woman in a western state who is elected a judge and afterward governor, and the big situation comes when her husband is convicted of murder, and she is faced by the alternative of following love or duty.
The picture has been edited in such a manner that the interest is held throughout and is cumulative. In the main, the story is consistent, and although certain scenes in connection with the approaching execution are necessarily unpleasant, it is a production that should prove a good attraction. The theme, as well as several situations arising between the husband and wife, both of whom are lawyers, presents strong exploitation possibilities.
The star, while not the ideal type for the role, handles it satisfactorily and with dignity. The supporting cast is adequate.
Clara Madision...Dorothy Davenport
Grant Williams...Willis L. Robards
"Big Bill" Deavitt...Maclyn King
Dan Channing...Wilson DuBois
Story by Hal Reid
Directed by Willis L. Robards
Length, Five Reels.
Clara Madison, a lawyer, is nominated by the woman's party for a judgeship and is elected. A yellow newspaper opposes her to such an extent that her husband threatens the life of the editor. Bootleggers whom the paper has also opposed concoct a scheme by which the newspaper office is destroyed by a bomb and the editor killed. Circumstantial evidence overwhelmingly points to the guilt of Clara's husband, and with the two bootleggers, he is sentenced to death.
Clara, in the meantime, is elected governor and is now faced with the question of allowing the law to take its course or of pardoning her husband, whom she dearly loves. She decides on the former course, but he is saved by the last minute confession of one of the bootleggers.
Program and Exploitation Catchlines:
Faced With the Most Heartrending Problem That Ever Confronted a Woman–Should a Woman Governor Pardon Her Husband, Who Though Innocent Has Been Legally Convicted, or Should She Allow the Law to Take its Course?
This story points out its own exploitation lines. Work on the angle of the woman in politics and work hard. The story should sell itself to women, but you must tell them that you have such a story and arouse their interest. Play up the situation strongly and let current interest do the rest.