Should a Mother Tell? (1915)

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Betty Nansen, one of Denmark's leading actresses, spent most of 1915 and 1916 appearing in American films for producer William Fox. One of these was Should a Mother Tell?, directed by J. Gordon Edwards, the grandfather of future producer-director Blake Edwards. Nansen is cast as Rose Baudin, the much-abused wife of the scurrilous Gaspard (Stuart Holmes), an innkeeper. Ordered by her husband to put their daughter Pamela (Runa Hodges to work, Rose refuses, taking the child to live with friends. They immediately fall in love with the girl and agree to pay Gaspard a weekly sum to permit the child to remain with them. Years later, the grown-up Pamela (now played by Jean Sothern) has fallen in love with her foster parents' natural son Louis (G. Baldwin). While wedding plans are being drawn up, a rapacious Baron (Arthur Hoops) shows up at Gaspard's inn. His tongue loosened by drink, the Baron offers Gaspard 20,000 francs in exchange for Pamela's hand in marriage. The innkeeper agrees and sends for the girl, who of course doesn't want to have anything to do with the Baron. Before the girl can arrive, however, Gaspard has discovered that the Baron is carrying 100,000 francs on his person. As Rose looks on helplessly, Gaspard murders the nobleman, disposing of the body in the woods. The body is later discovered, and a man whom the Baron has been blackmailing is accused of the crime. Meanwhile, the father of Pamela's sweetheart Louis demands that Rose "prove" that the girl is of good character. Knowing that she will ruin her daughter's happiness by revealing that Gaspard has committed murder, Rose does not divulge this information, thereby allowing an innocent man to be sentenced to death for the killing. At the very last moment, Rose tells the truth, Gaspard kills himself, the wrongly accused man is saved, and Louis' father -- undoubtedly overwhelmed by this sequence of events -- decides to give his blessing to his son's marriage despite the sins perpetrated by Pamela's parents. As noted by the reviewer for the trade magazine Variety, the only melodramatic plot device overlooked by the screenwriters was the "missing papers" bit.