Common Clay (1919)

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After a quick dose of life in the fast lane, pretty department store employee Ellen Neal (Fannie Ward) decides to work as a maid for the Fullertons. She fends off the advances of a lecherous family friend, Arthur Coakley (Fred Goodwins), but falls in love with the Fullerton son, Hugh (W.E. Lawrence). Before he goes off to war, she gives herself to him and as a result, becomes pregnant. Although Hugh writes to Ellen, his snobbish mother (Helen Dunbar) intercepts all the letters. Eventually the girl has to leave to care for her child, but Mrs. Neal (Mary Alden) insists that she go back to the Fullertons and demand her rights. Mr. Fullerton (John Cossar) thinks she is lying, so she hires a lawyer. The case is heard by Judge Filson (John Barrows), and during its course, it comes out that Mrs. Neal is not really Ellen's mother. Her real mother committed suicide after finding herself in a position much the same as Ellen's. And wouldn't you know it, but the father is the judge! So he takes in his newfound daughter. Hugh comes back and is desperate to find Ellen, in spite of his parents' protests. The judge, who knows the Fullertons quite well, brings about a reunion for the young couple. This film was a modernized (for 1919) version of a stage play by the same name which starred Jane Cowl. Various changes were made, however, to whitewash the characters and the situation, which during this era, carried a stigma that is hard to comprehend now.