Idler (1914)

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Produced by the fledgling Fox Film Corporation, The Idler was based on the play of the same name by C. Haddon Chambers. Charles Richman stars as Mark Cross, a wealthy but indolent young Englishman. Mark marries Kate Merryweather (Clare Whitney), a stage actress, but keeps the marriage secret so that his parents won't cut off his allowance. Sensing a good thing, the treacherous Kate blackmails Mark, threatening to blow the whistle on their marriage if he doesn't continue lining her pockets. Ultimately, she tires of the cat-and-mouse game and reveals the truth during a fancy society party. Disgraced, Mark is shipped off to America, where he is forced to fend for himself as a gold prospector. Alas, his past catches up with him when Kate, now the mistress of a high-stakes gambler, shows up in the mining camp. This is the first of many setbacks for "The Idler," who can't seem to redeem himself no matter how hard he tries. The film was something of a curiosity, inasmuch as most stories of this nature ended with the prodigal hero finally mending his ways; in this case, however, the Idler is no better off at the end of the film than he was at the beginning.