Wife or Country (1919)

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Gretchen Barker (Gretchen Lederer) has gotten herself involved with a group of German spies in the U.S. This is particularly unfortunate since her husband, Dale (Harry Mestayer), gives up his law practice to help the government track down enemy agents. She's also jealous of the closeness between Dale and his secretary Sylvia (Gloria Swanson). She's not secure in her marriage -- she knows that Dale only married her out of gratitude because she saved him from drowning himself in liquor. Sylvia, aware of the strain between Gretchen and Dale, quits her job, and Gretchen, out of pure hatred, gets the girl a job for Dr. Stahl (Jack Richardson). The doctor is the leader of the German agents, and it is a simple matter for Gretchen to have Sylvia arrested as a spy. Sylvia knows she can get out of this fix by handing over the names of Dr. Stahl's "clients," but is reluctant to do so because Gretchen's name is on the list. Dale, however, discovers his wife's espionage, and is torn about what to do. Gretchen, knowing that her husband really loves Sylvia, solves the problem by conveniently poisoning herself. Releasing this implausible picture after the end of World War I was pretty pointless, as filmgoers had had more than their fill of spy dramas by then. Gloria Swanson, in her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, mentions this film (in an extremely negative vein), but she claims she had the part of Gretchen. Reviews and trade publications of the day, however, list Gretchen Lederer as the wife. This was Swanson's last film for Triangle; the company was facing bankruptcy around the time it was made and the actress went on to star in pictures for filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille.