A House Divided (1919)

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Herbert Rawlinson plays Englishman Philip Carmichael, an M.P. on his way up. A gentleman who is helping Philip's political career has a young ward, Mary (Sylvia Breamer), who has a crush on him. Philip, however, ignores the young girl. During a wild party that Philip attends, he takes part in a mock wedding ceremony to an actress, Sheelah Delayne (Sally Crute). The party, and Sheelah, are forgotten soon enough. Mary eventually becomes the wife of her guardian and Philip, upon meeting her again, takes a fresh interest in her. This angers her elderly husband, who denounces Philip, then conveniently drops dead from the excitement. Mary and Philip are married and a while later, they see a play in which Sheelah is performing. She has discovered that the "mock ceremony" she and Philip had is, in fact, legally binding, and forces Philip to stick to it so that her child will have a name. Mary, to save Philip grief, claims they were never married and lets Sheelah have her way. Sheelah's son dies, and she goes to France to work for a canteen. While there, she runs across Mary, who has gone mad from misery. Sheelah has her marriage to Philip annulled and calls him to see Mary. His presence brings her mind back to order and they are reunited. Don't laugh at the plot to this ridiculous melodrama -stories like this one were quite popular in the late 'teens!