WOMAN SUFFERS, THE (Raymond Longford, 1918, Australia, 77m, BW)
Directed by Raymond Longford
Written by Raymond Longford
Starring Lottie Lyell
Cinematography Arthur Higgins
Southern Cross Feature Film Company
23 March 1918 (Adelaide)
61 mins (8,000 feet)
Language Silent film
The Woman Suffers is a 1918 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford. It is a melodrama starring Lottie Lyell. Two-thirds of the movie still survives.
The movie consists of eight acts. A woman, Marion Masters (Connie Martyn), runs away from her drunken husband with her baby son. Her husband falls on a knife and dies, their home is destroyed in a fire and she collapses in the bush. By the time she is rescued her son has been found by another family. She remarries a station owner, Stephen Manton (Charles H Francis), and becomes step mother to his two children, Ralph and Marjory. The missing child grows up as Philip Stockdale, the adopted child of the owners of Kooringa Station, who already have a daughter Joan.
Twelve years later, Ralph Manton (Roland Conway) is sent to Melbourne by his father, but a flooded river forces him to take refuge at the Stockdale's station, where he seduces Joan (Evelyn Black). He goes to Melbourne and lives a playboy lifestyle, and Joan drowns herself in despair. Her brother Philip (Boyd Irwin) finds the body and vows revenge on Ralph.
He decides to seduce Ralph's sister, Marjory (Lottie Lyell) and abandons her after she becomes pregnant. She becomes mad and tries to abort her baby. Ralph discovers this and vows revenge on Philip – but is shamed when he discovers Philip's identity. Mrs Manton tells Philip the whole story and realises he is her long-lost son. Philip decides to marry Marjory.
The film was lost for over half a century. In February 1983, Michael Cordell of the Australian National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA, now Screensound Australia) discovered a decaying print in Adelaide, South Australia. The film was in a collection owned by Murray Matthews who did not know that the film was a missing film of the Australian Silent Cinema. Cordell was a Field Officer employed within the NFSA's "Lost Film Search" Programme.
This has been called ‘Australia’s first feminist feature’ but many of its female characters are ruined by men, a common theme in melodrama. In this period there was a variety of ways in which music was used with films. In some instances, though rare in Australia at this time, a score would be provided with the film. More often a song would be released as sheet music and/or a record, but may not have been played during the film screening. Usually, music was selected from sheet music books produced especially for accompanying films, such as 'Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists' by Erno Rapee, and either the film's producers would indicate the recommended music from the book, or the accompanist would make the selection.
The Woman Suffers is a complicated silent melodrama of revenge and betrayal, only part of which survives. In the first two reels, which have been lost, a woman caught in an abusive marriage runs away with her infant son from her drunken husband. He falls on a knife and dies and she collapses in the bush. The child wanders off and is found by one family; the mother is rescued by another family and is unaware that her son lives.
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