Her Greatest Love (1917)

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In an unsuccessful attempt to break out of her vampire mold, Theda Bara plays a sweet young thing in this picture adapted from the 1880 novel Moths by Ouida. Bara's character, Vere Herbert, lives with her wicked mother, Lady Dolly (Marie Curtis), who is living in sin with Lord Jura (Glen White). Although Vere is in love with an opera singer, Lucien Correze (Harry Hilliard), Lady Dolly convinces her that marrying the dissolute Prince Zouroff (Walter Law) will save her father's honor. But the Prince makes her miserable and insists on having his mistress, Jeanne deSonnaz (Caille Torrez), live with them. Vere won't stands for this and packs up her nurse (Alice Gale) to go live at the Prince's Siberian estate. Lucien wants Vere to divorce the Prince and marry him. However, a duel between the Prince and Lord Jura ends up killing both men, making this a moot point, and Lucien and Vera are free to marry. The novel's original ending, in which Lucien and Vere go live together without the benefit of a marriage certificate would have been more typical of Bara's style. But she was trying very hard to play the good girl in this picture (even though she apparently wouldn't give up the heavy kohl eyeliner, as stills from the film illustrate). This effort was poorly received (in reality, the thirty-something Bara was too old for this part, anyway), and the fact that the United States entered World War I the week it was released didn't help, either.