For Better, for Worse (1919)

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Director Cecil B. DeMille tones down his usual elegance and instead focuses on the drama of America during the Great War. Sylvia Norcross (Gloria Swanson) is being courted by two men, Edward Meade (Elliot Dexter) and Richard Burton (Tom Forman). Both Edward and Richard have enlisted, but Edward, a children's surgeon, is asked to stay home by his boss. Thinking him a coward, Sylvia decides to marry Richard. Only after her husband has left for France does she realize the sacrifice that Edward made in staying home. When she is informed of Richard's death, she agrees to marry the surgeon. But Richard isn't dead after all -- he returns home, his face horribly scarred. Husband and wife stay together, but Richard can tell that Sylvia no longer loves him. However, a girl (Wanda Hawley), has been pining away for him all along, battle scars and all. So Richard finds happiness with the girl, leaving Sylvia and Edward free to marry. While not one of DeMille's landmark films, the romance of For Better, For Worse, along with its timely material, helped him (and star Gloria Swanson) keep a high public profile.

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Keywords

coward, happiness, love-triangle, marriage, military, reunion, sacrifice, surgery, war