For the Defense (1916)

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The "ageless" Fannie Ward was the beleaguered heroine of this five-reel courtroom melodrama. Ward plays Fidelle Roget, a French convent novice who is shipped off to Quebec at the outbreak of WWI. Unfortunately, Fidelle is sidetracked during a stopover in New York and finds herself in the clutches of a white slavery ring. Held prisoner in a bordello, our heroine manages to escape, taking refuge in the backyard of the Webster mansion. Here she has the misfortune to witness the murder of Jim Webster's (Jim Dean) pal Richard Madison (Paul Madison), a deed committed by (who else?) the family butler (Horace B. Carpenter). Terrified, Fidelle flees into the night. Later on, Webster is framed for the murder and forced to take it on the lam himself. Thus it is that Webster's path crosses Fidelle's on a dark and dingy waterfront dock. The two "lost souls" team up and head to Canada, where they are arrested by the Mounties. When Webster is put on trial for Madison's murder, Fidelle finally begins connecting names, dates and places and offers to testify in Webster's behalf. Unfortunately, the police do not believe her, so she resorts to drastic and potentially deadly measures to wrangle a confession out of the guilty party. None too credible, For the Defense was kept afloat by the energetic performance of its leading lady.