Completed as a silent film, Cecil B. DeMille's The Godless Girl was quickly converted into a part-talkie by the simple expedient of tacking on a 10-minute coda, wherein the characters discuss the weather. The film begins as a condemnation of the atheistic movement then prevalent on high-school and college campuses. Heroine Judith Craig (Lina Basquette) and hero Bob Hathaway (George Duryea, later known as western star Tom Keene) hold secret anti-religious meetings with their friends. During one such meeting, the police stage a raid, whereupon a stairway collapses and a young girl is killed. Arrested for complicity in the girl's death, Judith and Bob are sent to reform school, where they suffer mightily at the hands of their sadistic jailers. Likewise brutalized is hard-boiled Mame (Marie Prevost), who in one of the film's most notorious scenes is strung up by her wrists and beaten (DeMille claimed that he was only mirroring "real life," but he was always saying things like that). Somehow, their horrible experiences serve to renew Judith and Bob's faith in God. In a harrowing climax, Bob rescues Judith from a fire, a scene so realistically staged that, for the rest of her life, the actress retained vivid memories of how close she came to being genuinely incinerated. Featured in the cast are Noah Beery Sr. as "The Brute" and Eddie Quillan as "The Goat." The Godless Girl represented Cecil B. DeMille's final production for Pathe; shortly afterward, he moved to MGM, thence to Paramount.
by Hal Erickson synopsis