The Story of a Story (1915)

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Symbolic special effects highlight this early one-reel morality tale directed by Tod Browning. Writer John Penhallow (Eugene Pallette) abandons his idealism and pens a lurid and exploitative gangster story. When he sleeps, he dreams of the nasty people in his fiction materializing out of the book as tiny figures that grow to human size. In his dream, the book is published and read by a desperate young woman who then goes astray, being used and degraded by a cruel man and disowned by her family. Penhallow wakes up and sees that his daughter (Miriam Cooper) is about to read his seamy manuscript. He takes it from her and throws it in the fireplace, where his evil characters writhe in the flames. He rewrites the book and makes sure to give it a moral and uplifting conclusion. 15/1rl