The Silence of Dean Maitland (1914)

Countries - Australia  |  
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Among the earliest feature films produced in Australia was this first screen adaptation of Maxwell Gray's best-selling novel The Silence of Dean Maitland. Henry Thomas starred as village minister Maitland, who succumbs to the temptations of the flesh and seduces the town flirt. The girl's father shows up at the minister's doorstep, thirsting for revenge. A fight ensues, and the father is killed. Through a fluke, the village doctor is accused of the crime. Though Maitland wants to confess, the doctor, who is in love with the minister's daughter, refuses to let him do so. Maitland's guilt becomes a moot point when he suffers a heart attack, which prevents him from showing up at the doctor's trial. Convicted, the doctor spends twenty years in prison, during which time he develops an intense hatred for Maitland. Upon his release, the doctor seeks out the minister, intending to get even with the man who ruined his life. But he changes his mind when Maitland, who has spent the past two decades consumed with guilt, confesses his sins to his entire congregation, then dies of a second heart attack. This final scene was originally intended to be accompanied by a live "spieler," who recited the words spoken on-camera by Rev. Maitland in perfect synchronization with the actor's lip movements. The Silence of Dean Maitland was remade several times; the best known version, directed by the prolific Australian filmmaker Ken G. Hall, was released in 1934.