Triumph (1917)

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Triumph was adapted from a story by Samuel Hopkins Adams, originally serialized in the pages of Collier's magazine. Arriving in New York in hopes of becoming an actress, country girl Nell Baxter (Dorothy Phillips) immediately catches the eye of rapacious theater manager Paul Nelhoff (Lon Chaney Sr.). The manager casts Nell as the leading lady of his latest production, with the implicit understanding that she will repay him for his kindnesses in the boudoir. But upon discovering that Nell intends to retain her virtue, Nelhoff spitefully threatens to close the show. The girl rushes to Nelhoff's apartment, hoping to persuade him to change his mind. When he refuses unless she agrees to sleep with him, she stabs him to death then escapes to the home of her true love, playwright Dudley Weyman (William Stowell. Nell confesses her crime to Dudley, who advises her to go on stage that night as if nothing had happened. After she leaves, Dudley writes a letter to the police taking responsibility for Nelhoff's killing then commits suicide. During Act Two of the play, Nell learns of Dudley's sacrifice. Thus it is that in the emotional final scene of the play, in which her character kills herself, Nell uses a real dagger to take her own life. The mood is abruptly shattered when it is revealed that the whole film has been a horrible dream, experienced by Nell while waiting for the New York-bound train. Scared witless by her nightmare, Nell decides not to become an actress and hightails it back to the arms of her childhood sweetheart.