Unbeliever (1918)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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This thinly disguised recruiting film for the U.S. Marine Corps was based on The Three Things, a short novel by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews. The title character is Philip Landicott (Raymond McKee), who balks at the notion of joining the Marines when America enters WWI. Eschewing the "egalitarian" philosophy of the Corps, the snobbish Landicott believes that "birth and breeding" are the most important things in love. He also believes that there is no God -- citing the horrors of war as his proof -- and cannot bring himself to embrace the notion to "love thine enemies" after they've been defeated. On all three counts, Landicott is proven wrong, and by film's end he has not only experienced a triple-decker epiphany but has also distinguished himself with spectacular acts of courage on the battlefield. The villain of the piece is German lieutenant Von Schnieditz, played with relish by "the man you love to hate," Erich Von Stroheim (here inexplicably billed as Karl Von Stroheim). Several genuine U.S. Marine officers appeared as themselves, as did the members of the Third Battalion, Sixth Regiment of the USMC.