Kreutzer Sonata (1915)

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Based -- loosely -- on Leo Tolstoy, this film starred feted stage star Nance O'Neil but is rather better remembered as Theda Bara's follow-up to the sensational A Fool There Was (1914). The success of that film took the producer, William Fox, by surprise, and he had no new Bara film waiting in the wings. Bara -- playing the supporting role of O'Neil's wicked sister -- was reportedly in awe of the formidable leading lady, but that didn't stop her from stealing the film outright. The Kreutzer Sonata told the story of Miriam Friedlander, an Orthodox Jew forbidden to marry the gentile father of her child. She finds solace with a Jewish violinist, but he is lured away by her scheming sister. The long-suffering Miriam loses her mind and kills the sister, the violinist and, finally, herself. Directed by Irish-born Herbert Brenon, The Kreutzer Sonata was silent film at its nostril-flaring, bosom-heaving worst.