Japanese Nightingale (1918)

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In an attempt to bring interest to a tired old melodramatic plot, scenarists Ouida Bergere and Julius G. Furthman used the Far East as a backdrop. The lead role, however, didn't go to a Japanese woman -- it went to the very un-Japanese Fannie Ward. Yuki (Miss Ward) has a hateful stepmother who insists that the girl either cloister herself in a temple or marry a rich but lecherous old man. Neither of these options appeal to Yuki in the least, so she runs away to sing in a tea house. There she meets an American, John Bigelow (W.E. Lawrence), who falls in love with her. But the stepmother and rich lecher track down Yuki and try to kidnap her. Ultimately Bigelow and Yuki run off and get married, but the old man gets one of his cronies to steal the certificate. Yuki's brother returns from his studies in the U.S., and the old man claims Yuki's coupling with Bigelow is less than legitimate. When Bigelow can't come up with the marriage certificate, the brother threatens to kill him unless Yuki goes back to the temple. To save her husband, Yuki prepares to leave, but finally, the certificate is returned by the lecher's jealous henchman and all is well.