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Directed by Eugene Nowland
Produced by Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated
Scenario by Charles Sumner Williams and Eugene Nowland
Based on the novel Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Starring Mrs. Fiske, Leonie Flugrath (Shirley Mason), Helen Fulton, Richard Tucker, Frank McGlynn Sr. and many others
Cinematography Otto Brautigan
Distributed by Kleine-Edison Feature Services
Release date October 6, 1915
Running time 72 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film, English intertitles
This film is part of our Silent Gems Collection and the DVD is available on Ebay.
You don't have to leave our website in order to obtain the films from our Silent Gems Collection. These gems are now available to our users in exchange for donation. For details click here.
This film is part of our series 'Hidden Gems'. It can be watched by registered users who make a donation. For more details, please click here.
We have included this film in our program to illustrate the work and contributions of our star Shirley Mason.
"Vanity Fair" is a historical drama, based on the classic English novel written by William Thackeray. Shirley Mason was 15 y.o. and played the role of the young Becky Sharp. Directors obviously took notice of her performance, because two years later she appeared in 17 feature films, in many of them playing the star role.
Viewers are advised to read the plot that follows before proceeding with the film.
Becky (Shirley Mason) studies at Miss Pinkerton's school for young ladies. She lives with her father, who is deeply in debt and likes to drink. After one late night at the tavern he is brought home in a bad shape in need of a doctor. Becky's only thought is "If he dies what will happen to me?" So she guides his father's trembling hand to write a note to Miss Pinkerton, asking her to take care of his daughter after his death. This note and the piety of the woman helps Becky install herself in Miss Pinkerton's home.
Twelve years later Becky (Mrs. Fiske) graduates and leaves school to live with her friend Amelia. Becky is an opportunistic, manipulative and strong-willed woman determined to rise in society. She tries to make Amelia's brother propose and marry her, but fails. Later Becky is hired to take care of a certain nobleman's daughters. Soon he proposes to her only to learn in astonishment that she already married in secret his son, who is then deprived of inheritance. Becky tells her husband sarcastically "I could have been a nobleman's wife instead of having a penniless husband'.
In the meantime Amelia can't wait to get married to her beau George, to whom she has been engaged for many years. The fathers of Amelia and George are long-term friends, but the friendship dies when Amelia's father loses his fortune. George's father forbids his son to marry 'a pauper's daughter'. Amelia and George are married anyway and yes, George is then deprived of inheritance.
All these events occur under the shadow of the Napoleonic Wars. George is killed in battle and later his son is born. The widowed Amelia rejects for many years the affectionate advances of George's best friend William, cherishing the memory of her late husband. At some point however, Becky tells Amelia that her husband declared his love to her. Now Amelia must decide whether to respond to William's love.
Becky is not surprisingly a poor wife and mother, but she doesn't let her failures stand in the way of her drive up the social ladder. In her path she uses, mistreats and leaves in the dust every man that she gets involved with.
Click to enlarge:
Shirley Mason pauses by the school gate in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason smiles before going to school in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason gets a doll as a present in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason is happy with the present in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason plays with the doll as her father looks on in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason reacts swiftly when her father apparently tries to sell the doll in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason slaps a man for inappropriate advances in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason's father is shocked to get a check instead of a creditor's letter in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason tries unsuccessfully to snatch the money in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason loses the fight for the money in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason sits at home alone as her father is out drinking in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason worries about herself as her father is dying in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason forces her father to write a note in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason prepares to visit the headmistress in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
Shirley Mason shows her father's dying wish to the headmistress in "Vanity Fair" (1915).
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