Auction of Virtue (1917)

Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Both Alice Guy-Blache and Herbert Blache were credited with the direction of this melodrama; Alice, however, was the brains of the pair (not unlike another female director of the era, Lois Weber, who worked with her husband, Phillips Smalley). When her mother dies, Phyllis (Naomi Childers) becomes an artist's model in Washington Square. One of the artists, Jerry (Leslie Austen), loves her and wants to marry her. Phyllis, however, has no desire to share his poverty, so she turns him down. This compels him to work even harder towards success, and it makes him temporarily lose his eyesight. Meanwhile, Kirke, a married man (Wyndham Standing), begins chasing after her. To help Jerry, Phyllis holds an auction of his paintings, and at its end, she puts herself up for sale as a joke. Various men place bids and she's almost tempted to follow through. But finally she realizes how tawdry it all is and puts a stop to it. Kirke still wants her and he attacks her at Jerry's studio. To save her, Jerry rips the bandages from his eyes and tosses Kirke out. His doctor has warned him that he could permanently go blind if he were to take off his bandages but luckily, his eyes had already healed. Phyllis realizes at last that love carries no price tag and sticks with Jerry.

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