Romance (1920)

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United Artists had only been in existence for a few months when D.W. Griffith decided to bring this Edward Sheldon play to the screen, and he showed bad judgment, both financially and artistically, in doing so. The play had been a success in England, running for six years with Doris Keane and her husband Basil Sydney starring. They also held the rights to it and made a lucrative deal with Griffith to film it. But the story lacked any sort of cinematic quality: A young man (Arthur Rankin) comes to his grandfather, Bishop Armstrong (Sydney), for advice on love. The bishop tells the story of his long-ago doomed romance with an opera singer (Keane), and the rest of the film is a flashback of that relationship. It worked on stage, but it was not real exciting stuff on celluloid, and most Americans had never heard of Doris Keane. Griffith, in fact, wound up passing the direction to his assistant Chet Withey instead of doing the job himself. Not surprisingly, the picture lost money and left Griffith on shaky ground financially. He was saved -- albeit temporarily -- by the success of his next feature, the classic Way Down East.