Empty Cradle (1923)

Genres - Drama  |   Run Time - 67 min.  |  
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This emotional melodrama was based on the novel Cheating Wives, by Leota Morgan. Mary Alden (who played Senator Stoneman's mulatto mistress in Birth of a Nation) is Alice, a society woman who is disowned by her parents when she marries blacksmith John Larkin (William Welsh). Business does not go well for Larkin, and he, Alice, and their three children (Edward Quinn, freckled Mickey Bennett, and Helen Rowland) live in abject poverty. The wealthy Robert Lewis (Coit Albertson) leaves his wife because she refuses to have children. To win him back, Mrs. Lewis decides to adopt a baby and then claim it as her own. She hires a lawyer who finds Alice and offers her 50 thousand dollars for her infant girl. After struggling with the decision, Alice decides her baby would be better off growing up in privileged circumstances and accepts the offer. The Lewises are reunited, and Alice spends a lot of time at their home so she can see her baby. Larkin, believing that Alice is interested in Lewis, becomes jealous and storms over with a gun. In his attempt to shoot Lewis, the baby is hit. As she is dying, Alice reveals that the baby is hers. But just as things are getting unbearably sad, Alice wakes up -- it was all a terrible dream. She goes to the lawyer and turns down the offer. A rich aunt then offers to help the Larkins out financially.

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Keywords

blacksmith, blindness [physical], child, family-disapproval, forbidden-love, love, marriage, poor-family, poverty, rival, surgery