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Welcome to the Movies!


  The Cast:    
Sara Adler ... Laura Henderson
Paul Doucet ...  
John Webb Dillon ...  
Ralf Henderson ...  
Mabel Wright ...  
Louis Corbin ...  

(The Sins of the Parents)

Written and directed by Ivan Abramson
 B & W, silent
Released in the United States on August 25, 1914.

As was typical of Abramson's potboilers, Sins of the Parents involves complicated and often contrived plot twists arising out of family relations of the primary characters. Laura Henderson (Adler) is an orphan, raised by her aunt Mary Sherman. Sherman runs a boarding house, and boarder Angelo Angelini (a musician) is the apple of Laura's eye. They are engaged to be married, but Angelo claims he must leave for a concert tour—but in truth he returns to his wife and child in Italy, crushing Laura. Laura gives birth an illegitimate child, Ruth, but is forced to abandon her and moves to New York, where she falls under the care of Reverend Henry Bradley. Bradley and Laura later marry, and Laura keeps the existence of Ruth a secret from Bradley. Shifting 19 years later, Bradley (now a prison chaplain) and Laura now have a daughter (Aline) who is about to become engaged to the well-to-do Walter Jordan.

Meanwhile, Ruth, now twenty years old, who had believed Mary was her mother, finds out that her real mother is Laura and departs for New York to find her. Meanwhile, Angelo is now living in New York under the name Angell with his son Tony, a general ne'er do well. Tony befriends Ruth (of course not knowing she is his half-sister) under false pretenses, and plans to sell her into white slavery in New Orleans. Ruth tries to escape him, and in the ensuing struggle Tony is shot dead just as Angelo enters the room. Ruth is arrested, and meets Chaplain Bradley in prison, where she divulges her story. Mary Sherman visits Ruth in prison, and then tells all to Laura. Laura breaks down when she learns that her first child is in prison, just while she had been celebrating Aline's engagement to Walter. This causes Aline, apparently out of learning of her mother's disgrace, to break off her engagement and commit suicide. Moving to Ruth's murder trial, Angelo is about to testify as a witness to his son's murder just as Laura bursts into the courtroom and recognizes Angelo. Learning that his own daughter killed his son, Angelo despairs and refuses to speak. Laura is removed from the courtroom in hysterics. The jury subsequently finds Ruth is not guilty by reason of self-defense and she is freed. Bradley brings Ruth to their home, but Laura feels unworthy of his love and plans to leave with Ruth. Bradley resigns as chaplain and insists that Laura stay. Bradley's employer refuses his resignation due to his noble acts, and Laura begs forgiveness ...

The Sins of the Parents was the first film produced by Ivan Abramson, for his newly created Ivan Film Productions. The storyline is based on a Yiddish play titled God's Punishment (Gots shtrof), by Zalmon Libin. Lead actress Sara Adler was a star of the Yiddish theatre and the wife of Jacob Adler, who Abramson had previously managed. The film is one of only two movies in which Sara Adler appeared. The film reportedly opened to large crowds at the Grand Theatre in New York City, with Adler in attendance on opening night.

-- Wikipedia

This silent, black-and-white film was shown at the Garden Theatre (photo of theatre from 1940 below), Brooklyn, New York, for one night only on Monday, September 21, 1914. Below is the synopsis of the film, as it appeared in the program for the film, as well as six photographs that were included within the aforementioned program.

Laura Henderson (played by Sarah Adler), an orphan, is brought up by her aunt Mary Sherman, who keeps a boarding house. Among the boarders is Angelo Anglini, an Italian violinist. Laura is infatuated with the handsome Angelo, who loves her, they are engaged to be married. Angelo betrays the girl and later leaves her, with the explanation that he is to make a concert tour.

 A month later, the poor girl receives a letter from Angelo, telling her that he has returned to Italy, where he has a wife and child.

Later a daughter is born to Laura, who is named Ruth. Unable to obtain employment in her own town, the unfortunate mother abandons her child to the care of her aunt, Mary, and goes to New York. Ill and weak from hunger, the poor young mother is picked up in the street by Reverend Henry Bradley, who takes her to his home. Dr. Bradley and his mother offer Laura a home, and work as secretary to the minister.

Later Dr. Bradley falls in love with Laura and asks her to become his wife. Laura accepts his proposal, and she marries Dr. Bradley, without telling him that she has an illegitimate child.

Nineteen years later, Dr. Bradley is now chaplain of the city prison of New York. They have a daughter Aline, who is about to become engaged to Walter Jordon, who comes from one of the finest families in New York.

Ruth, now has a girl of twenty years, believes that Mary is her mother. One day she happens to find out through a letter that Laura sent to Mary, that she is not Mary’s daughter. Ruth forces Mary to tell her who and where her mother is, and at last Mary confesses the truth. Ruth is determined to go to New York and seek her mother.

Meanwhile, Angelo has returned to America under the assumed name of Angell, lives in New York with his son Tony. The boy refuses to work and becomes one of the vilest of all human creatures, a “cadet.” Tony pretends to rescue Ruth from an attack by one of his pals, prepared by himself, and the poor girl believing him to be a decent man, accompanies him to a restaurant. Then Tony take Ruth to his own room, telling her it is the home of his “highly respectable aunt.”

A letter sent by Tony to an accomplice, offering to sell the girl to him for a fast house in New Orleans, is seen by Ruth, who realizes her perilous position. She tries to escape from the room, and in the struggle that follows, Tony is shot dead. Angelo enters the room just as his son has been shot. The poor girl is arrested and taken to prison, where she meets Chaplain Bradley, and tells him her sad story.

Unaware that it is his own wife’s daughter, the Chaplain is helping Ruth. He takes Mrs. Sherman to visit Ruth in prison. Mrs. Sherman is confronted with a terrible situation.

Laura’s legitimate child, Aline, is celebrating her engagement to Walter Jordon in the magnificent home of the latter’s parents. Mrs. Sherman decides that it is her duty to the unfortunate Ruth to acquaint her mother with the terrible facts.

In a tremendous dramatic scene, Laura while celebrating the betrothal of her younger daughter, learns that the child of her first love languishes in prison charged with murder. The unfortunate mother becomes temporarily deranged. Aline, the younger daughter, on learning of her mother’s disgrace is heartbroken, breaks off her engagement with Walter, and later her dead body is found by her father and lover (the second victim of the “sins of the parents.”)

At the trial of Ruth for the killing of Tony, Angelo appears as a witness. The father is about to speak the words that will condemn his own daughter to the electric chair, when a commotion in the rear of the courtroom causes him to be silent. Laura, the mother of the prisoner, has escaped from her nurse and has forced her way into the courtroom. She goes to aid her child, and in the midst of her appeal, such as only a mother could make. She recognizes Angelo, the man who betrayed her twenty-two years ago, and who is now about to condemn his own daughter. Here follows what we believe to be the most powerful dramatic scene that can be found in any photo-drama of modern life.

Angelo now learns for the first time that his own daughter killed his son. He suffers keenly and refuses to speak. The half-demented mother is led out of the courtroom by her husband and court officers in a hysterical condition.

The jury, moved by the terrible revelation that has come to them, brings in a verdict of acquittal, on the ground of self-defense. The unfortunate Ruth (another victim of her "parents' sin") is free, but alone in a great city. Who will befriend her now? Here the splendid character of a true disciple of Christ manifests itself. Dr. Bradley takes Ruth into his home to her mother. Laura, realizing the noble stand of the minister and the feeling that she is unworthy of the husband she has deceived, decides to leave the house with her daughter Ruth, in hope that the disgrace she brought upon her husband will be forgotten, but Bradley resigns as minister of his congregation and insists upon Laura staying where he will stay. He folds both mother and daughter in his arms, gives them his blessing, thanks the Lord that to him it has been given, the honor to help two suffering souls into the light.


1 -- From the play program of the aforementioned production. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

2 -- From Wikipedia.


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