Unpardonable Sin (1919)

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Based on the Rupert Hughes novel, this film concerns the German atrocities committed in Belgium at the beginning of the Great War. Blanche Sweet plays two American girls: gentle, passive Alice Parcot and her sister, the adventurous Dimny. Alice and her mother (Mary Alden) are caught in Belgium when the war breaks out; they are raped by the Germans and eventually die. Alice, still in America, goes to Europe to search for them, aided by a young man, Noll Windsor (Matt Moor). Wallace Beery does one of his villainous turns as Colonel Klemm. Although this was one of Marshall Neilan's more serious films (he was better known for more lighthearted fare, such as his work with Mary Pickford), he did add a few comic touches here and there -- unfortunately they were not wholly appropriate. There was much criticism about this film when it was released -- Americans were trying to heal from the recently-ended war and did not want to be haunted by the past behavior of their former enemy.

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atrocity, rape, search, sister, war-atrocities