True Heart Susie is one of D.W. Griffith's "pastoral" films, wherein plot takes second place to characterization and romance. Lillian Gish plays Susie May Trueheart, who so loves local boy William Jenkins (Robert Harron) that she secretly finances his education. Returning to his home town as a minister, Jenkins never catches on that Susie is crazy for him. While Our Heroine pines away, Jenkins marries The Wrong Woman, young temptress Betty Hopkins (Clarine Seymour). Betty begins indulging in affairs with other men, but Susie loyally keeps this information from the reverend Jenkins. Even when Betty dies of pneumonia, Susie refuses to reveal all she's done on Jenkins' behalf. Finally, Susie's Aunt (Kate Bruce) can stand no more: she tells Jenkins the whole story, whereupon he takes Susie in his arms and pledges eternal devotion. In the hands of a lesser director, True Heart Susie might have been impossibly maudlin (and unbelievable; after all, can anyone be as much of a blockhead as Reverend Jenkins seems to be?) As it stands, the film's dramatic and heart-tugging value has not diminished, not even after the passage of nearly eighty years.
by Hal Erickson synopsis