Angela maintains a coastal lighthouse in Italy, where she awaits the return of her brothers from the war. She learns they are casualties and takes solace in the arms of an American sailor washed ashore. However, the sailor turns out to be a German spy, and she is torn between her love for him and her realization that he is part of the enemy force that has destroyed her family.
Mary Pickford ... Angela Carlotti
Evelyn Dumo ... Maria
Raymond Bloomer ... Giovanni
Fred Thomson ... Joseph
Albert Prisco ... Pietro
George Regas ... Tony (as George Rigas)
Eddie Phillips ... Mario Carlotti (as Edward Phillips)
Jean De Briac ... Antonio Carlotti
Director: Frances Marion
Codecs: XVid / MP3
"The Love Light" has some very good material and gives Mary Pickford a good vehicle for displaying her range of talents. The story also is often compelling, in its look at the ways that World War I affects the lives of the inhabitants of a small Italian town. But it also has some flaws in the story and character development that detract from its effectiveness. It's a good movie, but not one of Pickford's best features.
The first part of the story is a light-hearted introduction to the town and its residents. Bit-by-bit, the war begins to affect their lives, until the tone of the movie has become quite serious. This part is done very well, with good writing and craftsmanship, and it is effective. Both the setting and characters are also very believable, helped by some very good photography. The main part of the movie, as things get more complicated, has some compelling moments, but it is hampered by having too many implausible developments that make it seem forced at times. Another difficulty is that Pickford's character sometimes makes rather foolish decisions and behaves in ways that just don't ring true with the bright, resourceful character that she has established. This and other problems detract somewhat from the emotional impact of some of the key developments.
It thus ends up being a cut below some of Pickford's other melodramas. But it's still a movie worth seeing for its strengths. Because it starts with a good foundation, it holds up fairly well despite its flaws.
With her love off to war, a young woman operates the lighthouse near her home on the coast of Italy. One day, finding an American seaman washed up on the shore, she takes him home & nurses him. Romance blossoms and they marry. But little does she know that THE LOVE LIGHT she beams to him from atop her tower every midnight will have tragic consequences she cannot begin to imagine...
While traveling in Italy with her husband, Frances Marion met a woman whose story during The Great War was so compelling that she knew at once it would make a great movie. Marion was a screenwriter on the ascendant and her best friend was motion picture star Mary Pickford. Little Mary, who liked the idea, not only had Frances write it, but direct the film as well.
It turned out beautifully, with Pickford - in a daring departure from her little girl roles - giving one of her best performances. Her emotional display at the multitude of troubles thrown her way never wallows into histrionics. One need only look at this film to be assured, if there was ever any doubt, that America's Sweetheart was an excellent artist, as well as a huge celebrity.
This movie is also testament to one of the industry's supremely talented women. The Silent Era was a time when women were given enormous freedom to display their gifts in Hollywood, not just as actresses, but also as directors & writers. Frances Marion would not direct many films, but she was the consummate screenwriter. For over two decades she was the world's highest paid individual in her profession, male or female. She was also the first person to receive two Academy Awards. She would eventually write the scenarios for over 150 motion pictures, a large number of which are still considered to be classics.
This was the film debut for Fred Thomson, who plays the American seaman. A decathlon champion & Presbyterian minister, he had met Marion during the War. It was love at first sight for both of them & they double honeymooned in Europe with Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks. Not wanting to act, he'd eventually been persuaded to take the part in THE LOVE LIGHT by the two ladies. He proved to be a natural. A very moral man, he would find an outlet for expressing his ethics through Hollywood Westerns. With Thomson rapidly becoming one of the most popular cinema cowboys, he & Marion built a huge mansion in the Beverly Hills and began raising a family. Tragically, Fred Thomson would die on Christmas Day, 1928, from tetanus caused by a scratch on his ankle from a rusty nail. He was only 38 years old.
THE LOVE LIGHT enjoys excellent production values, sets & photography. It has been restored to a pristine condition and will be enjoyed & appreciated for many years to come.
The collaboration between Mary Pickford and Frances Marion is one of the more interesting in the early history of Hollywood. Pickford helped define "movie star"--with the help of Marion, who wrote the screenplays for 'The Poor Little Rich Girl' and some of her other early vehicles--launching Pickford to stardom. In turn, Pickford surely helped Marion gain power in a trade (writers) notoriously powerless (during much of film history) over the finished product of Hollywood pictures. And, they were, of course, both women in a business dominated by men.
Here, with 'The Love Light,' Marion makes her directorial début, a career path that'd soon end. Judging by this film, that wasn't a bad thing. It is a competently made production, with the exception of the poorly realized and unrealistic storm climax. The photography and landscapes are pretty; there are some nice silhouette shots; and the different lighting effects, overall, display expertise.
The film's plot can be divided into three parts. The first part is light entertainment, which recalls similar moments in other Pickford and Marion fare, such as in 'Armarilly of Clothes-Line Alley,' or the childish interludes in 'The Poor Little Rich Girl.' The comedic set pieces are set against the backdrop of a picturesque Italian village and surrounding countryside--a good, if unoriginal, setup, I think--although the drunken farm animals bit falls flat.
The second part, with the war and espionage, isn't bad, either. But, it begins to seem that the story is going nowhere at times, and it becomes rather melodramatic, which are the problems with the third and final part of 'The Love Light.' Pickford's battle for sanity and her child is pure lurid melodrama of the kind that ruined 'Stella Maris,' another film by Pickford and Marion. In the end, 'The Love Light' is an episodic, formulaic and melodramatic picture, which doesn't feature Marion's best writing, but did demonstrate that she could have been a competent director. As for Pickford, she's a professional, even though she sometimes didn't choose the best roles.