Too long by at least 3 reels, D. W. Griffith's The White Rose is nonetheless one of the best and most accomplished of the director's "pastoral" films. Mae Marsh plays a virginal young lass of modest means who pretends to be more worldly than she actually is. Aristocratic divinity student Ivor Novello, who feels he must learn more about life in order to be an effective minister, accepts Mae's pose at face value and has an affair with the girl. Tortured by guilt, Novello bids goodbye to Mae and returns home to his childhood sweetheart Carol Dempster. When Mae discovers she is pregnant, she is cast out by her family and neighbors. She is given comfort and shelter by a sympathetic black family, who look after her as she brings her child into the world. Confronted by evidence of his indiscretion, Novello, by now a respected clergyman, gives up his calling-and his fiancee-to do right by Mae. Meanwhile, Carol finds happiness in the arms of businessman Neil Hamilton. The White Rose represented something of a comeback for the extraordinarily gifted Mae Marsh, whose talents had previously been squandered in a series of cheap, unimportant vehicles. The script was by someone named Irene Sinclair-who, under scrutiny, turned out to be D. W. Griffith himself.
by Hal Erickson synopsis