To Have and to Hold (1916)

Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

A typical fanciful silent screen romance based on a bodice-ripping pulp novel, To Have and to Hold marked the screen debut of Mae Murray, the dancer with the bee-stung lips who had made quite a name for herself in several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. Murray played Lady Jocelyn Leigh, who rather than marry Lord Carnal (Tom Forman), a man she loathes, changes places with her maid and sails to the New World as a mail-order bride. She is escorted by the dashing Captain Percy (Wallace Reid) and they fall in love. Lord Carnal, of course, isn't far behind and soon all three are shipwrecked and at the mercy of Robert Fleming's band of pirates. Mae Murray found filmmaking bewildering this first time out. Not expecting To Have and to Hold to be made out of sequence, she constantly turned to the more experienced Reid for advice. Happily, director George Melford never asked the dancer to do much more than strike ornamental poses while Reid performed his patented derring-do. A disillusioned Murray was all set to return to Broadway but Famous Players director Cecil B. De Mille persuaded her to stick around. She did and would eventually become the archetypal tempestuous silent screen star, the basis, some sources suggest, for the character of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1950). Paramount remade To Have and to Hold in 1922 starring the rather more sensible Betty Compson.