Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Love Light

Another movie that I got around to watching over the New Years holiday is The Love Light. It seems to be available on DVD, but it's also in the public domain and you can catch it on Youtube if you want.

Mary Pickford plays Angela Carlotti, a young woman living in a rural seaside Italian town with her two brothers Mario and Antonio around the time World War I is just breaking out. Of course, Italy gets involved in the war and all the young men of soldiering age eventually get called or go off on their own accord to join the war effort, and this includes not only Angela's two brothers, but also the man who's had a yen for her, Giovanni.

While all the men are away, Angela is tending the lighthouse since they're right on the coast and it's a dangerous coast. Sure enough, eventually there's a shipwreck or something on the coast, as Angela sees a man being washed up along the rocky coast. Except that the man isn't dead. Angela rescues him, and finds out that he's not Italian, since he speaks the language with an accent. Joseph (Fred Thomson) is American, and it's turned out he's deserted. His boat was in port in Genoa, and he and some buddies missed getting back on the boat in time. So they tried to take a smaller boat out to their ship, but the storm came up and, well, here's Joseph along the Italian coast. But since Joseph is a deserter, won't Angela be kind and hide him from the authorities?

It's love at first sight between the two, and Angela eventually asks the local priest to marry the two of them in secret. However, it turns out that there was another reason for Joseph wanting the marriage to be a secret. It turns out that he's really not an American deserter, but in fact a German. If you know your World War I history, you'll recall that Italy was on the side of the Allies in that war, which means they were against the Germans so Joseph is actually an enemy. And when he gets Angela to send him her "I love you" signal using the lighthouse, he's actually sending a signal to the German navy to attack a ship carrying returning Italian soldiers, including Angela's younger brother, who is killed in the German attack.

The townsfolk discover they've got a German in their midst, and set up a summary trial, executing him and leaving Angela a widow. But not before she had gotten pregnant by Joseph. She carries the baby, but she's deemed to have a sorry mental state and another woman in town who lost her baby decides to take Angela's. Meanwhile, Giovanni has returned from the war, blinded, and only Angela's love can save him.

There are some good ideas in The Love Light, but the melodramatic third act regarding Angela's child and Giovanni's blindness really drags the movie down. There's some lovely photography, and the print TCM showed has some nice tinting, but if I were going to recommend a Pickford movie to start off with for people who don't know her work, I'd start with Sparrows. Peoplr who already like Pickford's work will probably enjoy this one, however.

As I said at the beginning of the post, The Love Light, being in the public domain, has made its way to Youtube:

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