Mother Love and the Law (1917)

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This drama was based on a real case involving a woman named Dolly Ledgerwood Matters. In fact, for an extra-added dose of reality, Dolly Ledgerwood Matters herself plays the lead. Marion Leyden (Matters) lives with her father on a debt-ridden farm. When wealthy Sylvia Marshall (Mabel Bardine) takes an interest in the girl, Leyden agrees that Marion can go live with her and her husband, since they can give her a better life. Marion becomes a beautiful and educated young woman who is loved by the rich Jimmy Harwood (O.A.C. Lund, who also helped direct). But when Sylvia dies after a long illness, Marion feels such gratitude towards Mr. Marshall (F.D. Wood) that she marries him instead. Harwood goes to Europe and drowns his misery in liquor with the help of a once-brilliant criminal lawyer, George Straight (Thomas Flynn). Back home, Marshall suddenly dies and his greedy relatives accuse Marion of murder. She goes away to another city, where her baby is born. In an adjoining hospital room, another baby dies of suffocation. The relatives try to keep their claim on the Marshall estate by convincing the court that Marion switched babies. Harwood finds out about the troubles of his erstwhile sweetheart and comes home with Straight. Together they prove that Marion and the baby are Marshall's true heirs. Once this is done, Harwood and Marion are able to renew their aborted romance.