Better Times (1919)

Run Time - 55 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Comic actress ZaSu Pitts got her first really big break when she starred in this King Vidor-directed feature. Ezra Scroggs (Jack McDonald) is a shiftless gambler who has let his hotel, the Lakeview, fall on hard times. Finally his daughter Nancy (Pitts)) gets fed up seeing all the business go to his rival, Si Whittaker (William Devaull) at the Majestic, and she decides to do something about it. She takes the old Lakeview jalopy to the station and grabs a potential guest who introduces himself as Peter (David Butler). When he explains that he's supposed to be on a special diet, Nancy poo-poos this with a Christian Science quote. He finds the meal he's served so delicious that he brags about it all over town and the Lakeview is once again in the money. What Peter doesn't tell Nancy before he leaves is that he has fallen for her. Ezra's bad habits continue and he gambles away his fortune and the hotel. He drowns during a drunken spree and Nancy receives six thousand dollars insurance money. She takes the funds and goes to finishing school. Since all the girls are getting letters from their sweethearts, she makes one up, using the name of a famous baseball player. One of the girls becomes suspicious and takes her to a box party at the next game where the ballplayer will appear. It turns out that he is Peter, and he and Nancy are happily reunited. Vidor used the Christian Science reference only because his investors insisted on it -- they wanted to repeat the success of Turn in the Road, Vidor's prior film with them, which had a Christian Science theme.