Lest We Forget (1918)

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Having survived the real-life sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, French actress Rita Jolivet re-created this harrowing experience in her 1918 vehicle Lest We Forget. Produced by Jolivet's husband, Count Giuseppe de Cippico, the film was shot over a six-month period, with the all-important "sinking" scene lensed in the dead of winter, which was hardly conducive to the health of the actor. Not content with merely rebuilding and submerging the Lusitania (yes, there were James Cameron types even then), the producer and director contrived a propagandistic plotline in which actress Rita Herolt (Jolivet) is captured by the Germans and sentenced to the firing squad ("No blindfold, s'il vous plait.") She manages to escape this fate then conducts a search for her estranged fiance Harry Winslow (Hamilton Reveille), who has been led to believe that Rita is a German sympathizer. She offers dramatic proof that she is virulently anti-German in the final scene, when she strangles the nominal villain, a Prussian baron, with his own bedsheet. Critics lavished praised on the film's meticulous re-creation of the Lusitania disaster but felt that the hokey plot which followed was anti-climactic. Modern audiences may never know if this is true or not: Lest We Forget is considered a lost film.