Saturday, October 01, 2016

Who's Guilty? No. 1: Puppets of Fate

Who's Guilty? (US 1916). The Moving Picture World 17.6.1916, photo: Media History Digital Library. Please do click to enlarge.

Who's Guilty? No. 1 Puppets of Fate / Кто виноват? 1 – Игрушка судьбы. US 1916. D: Lawrence B. McGill? or Howell Hansel? Incomplete: 252 m /20 fps/ 11 min
    A Gosfilmofond print with Russian intertitles
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Who's Guilty?
    Screened at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Sub-Ti, grand piano: John Sweeney, 1 Oct 2016.

Anna Q. Nilsson stars as the wife of a surgeon (Tom Moore) in the middle of a triangle tragedy. The surgeon is in love with another woman, the rich widow Sylvia Sands. An abscess is discovered in the back of Anna Q's skull. Her husband should perform the operation, but medical ethics forbids him to do so. He must do it all the same. There is a quasi documentary quality in the operation sequence. The doctor is nervous. His hands are shaking. Anna Q. dies in his hands. Sylvia dumps the doctor. Cut: years later. The derelict ex-doctor retreats to his miserable shack. He keeps seeing Anna Q's ghost. There is no "The End" title, but: "Who's guilty?"

There is a quality of over-acting, a fast edit, and a blunt sense of urgency in this serial of social consciousness.

This serial only survives in a Russian version at Gosfilmofond. This episode is missing the first reel of two. It's choppy and duped but watchable.

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