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"Stella Maris" is a moving drama, in which Mary Pickford plays two roles very convincingly - one of Stella Maris, a rich paralyzed girl and the other of Unity, an uneducated orphaned girl.
Stella lives in a fantasy world, being shielded from the ugly side of life. She especially enjoys the company of John (Conway Tearle), a famous journalist. He lives separately from his alcoholic wife called Louise, but this truth is also hidden from Stella.
Unity lives in an orphanage and one day is picked for adoption by Louise. Unity is surprised to learn that she was chosen not to be a daughter, but a servant. One day Unity's groceries are stolen and she returns home empty-handed. Louise has a fit of rage, beats the girl almost to death, and is sentenced later to three years in prison. John adopts Unity to atone for her suffering.
In the meantime Stella gets an operation and starts walking. She gradually discovers poverty, war, death and other unpleasant life realities.
One day Stella and John declare their love for each other. She then decides to visit his "deserted castle" and is shocked to find there Louise, John's wife, fresh out of prison. Stella is very disillusioned with life when even John lied to her.
Unity is in love with John secretly as well, but realizes he is only interested in Stella. She witnesses John's distress after being rejected by Stella and later realizes that these two can never be together as long as Louise lives.
The film is ranked number 99 in the list of The Top 100 Silent Era Films of the influential website Silent Era. It has a strong 7.7 rating in IMDB.
Directed by Marshall Neilan
Produced by Mary Pickford
Scenario by Frances Marion
Based on the novel Stella Maris by William John Locke
Starring Mary Pickford, Conway Tearle
Cinematography Walter Stradling
Distributed by Artcraft Pictures Corporation
Release date January 21, 1918
Running time 83 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film, English intertitles
You can see a slideshow of stills from this film and other interesting stuff on our website silent-hall-of-fame.org.
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