Love's Law (1918)

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Although she is not remembered today, Gail Kane was enough of a star in the 1910s to form her own production company under the auspices of Mutual (the same company that, for a while, had Charlie Chaplin). The reason her stardom did not endure can perhaps be guessed by the anemic story to this film -- the first she made as Gail Kane Productions. Sonia Sarlioff (Kane) is the orphaned daughter of two renowned musicians. Ivan (Walter Deming), Sonia's guardian, is a mill hand who views his ward as useless since all she does is play her father's old violin. There is a chance that Ivan's wages at the mill will be reduced, so to make ends meet, he sells Sonia's violin to the mill owner, Andrew Hamilton (Courtney Foote). When Sonia finds out what Ivan has done, she rushes over to Hamilton's home and demands the return of her violin. Hamilton has her play a few notes to see if it really is hers, and is stunned by her talent. He insists on sending her to Europe to study and she makes a successful debut. But then she realizes that Hamilton's intentions are not exactly honorable, so she smashes her violin, leaves all her luxuries behind and returns to the mill town. Hamilton follows after her and finds her working amidst the poor, and seeing the poverty and misery changes him. Sonia becomes ill but Hamilton nurses her back to health. He proves that he really does love her, and so they are reunited. The character of Hamilton was questionable as a hero in this black-and-white era; back then men either made a pass at a woman or proposed marriage -- they didn't do both.