Stepping Stone (1916)

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In her third starring film, Mary Boland was cast as Mary Beresford, the wife of unambitious law clerk Al Beresford (Robert McKim). Thanks to Mary's tenacity and carefully calculated social-climbing, Al is promoted to the position of personal secretary of prominent financier Elihu Knowland (Frank Keenan). Unfortunately, success goes to Al's head like a narcotic, and soon he has alienated everyone in New York, including Mary, who runs off for parts unknown. Led to believe that Mary has committed suicide, Knowland engineers Al's downfall, whereupon the young man kills himself. Several years later, Knowland again crosses paths with Mary, who is very much alive and still very much her own woman. Impressed by Mary's survivability, Knowland asks her to marry him. After completing Stepping Stone, Mary Boland returned to Broadway, turning down all film offers for the next two years.