The Films
A Celebrated Case
director: George Melford?
year: 1914
country: USA
French soldier is unjustly convicted of the murder of his wife and sentenced to the galleys, while his daughter grows up not knowing that she is the heir to a title, who the villain who murdered her mother is trying to usurp.
Greta de Groat, 21.04.2011
Kalem Co. Distributor: General Film. Co., Special Features Dept. Director: George Melford? Scenario: Gene Gauntier? camera: Arthur D. Ripley. Cast: Alice Joyce, Guy Coombs, Marguerite Courtot, James B. Ross, Harry Millarde, Alice Hollister. 4 reels
Greta de Groat, 21.04.2011
Source notes
Greta de Groat, Stanford University, 21.04.2011
This was Alice Joyce's first four-reel film. Kalem had already been featuring her in two and three reel films, and announced on May 1, 1914 that they planned to release a two-reel Alice Joyce "feature" every other Monday. This film, like all her other 1914 films and all features up to 1920, seems to be lost.

Review from Variety, May 8, 1914
A Celebrated Case

Alice Joyce is featured in this four-part Kalem, which has the battle of Fontenoy as its main support. It's a French story with a soldier man suspected of the murder of his own wife, and who is imprisoned in the galleys on the statement of his little daughter, who was in the next room when a gory-eyed bandit forced her mamma to tell her it was papa and for her to remain quiet. There are some interesting scenes, and the battle is fairly worked up. The photography as a whole is up to the Kalem standard, but the part Miss Joyce has to do with the picture is disappointing. She does not appear until the third part and then does not exert herself. In truth, Miss Joyce failed to put forth her best efforts, and again the picture did not call for a true demonstration of her ability. The actor playing Jean Renaud gets a good workout and was satisfactory. Especially noteworthy was his acting in the galley slave character. Miss Joyce is in the picture long enough to warrant the exhibitor playing up her name in front, but it's the battle scene and Renaud that keeps the feature from failing. Some excellent exteriors and the battle scenes had realistic atmosphere.

Review from Moving Picture World, February 14, 1914

"A Celebrated Case"
A Four-Part Kalem Production of the well Known French Play Loses None of the Virility of the Original.
Reviewed by W. Stephen Bush.

This is a most ambitious and altogether creditable effort to produce a famous French play in films. The effort is on the whole successful. The spectacular effects are very strong, well conceived and well executed, while the settings are superb throughout. The pictures were made in Florida, but the scenes are so well and artistically chosen that one is, throughout, reminded of La Belle France.

In the course of the action scenes from the battle of Fontenoy are introduced. They afford eloquent testimony of the gigantic progress that has been made in the reproduction of historic battles. The situations in this feature are at times very tense. Indeed, the story was originally written for the legitimate stage and is said to have had a remarkable run in France. The acting is up to the true Kalem standard. Alice Joyce, who never fails to grace and adorn the picture in which she appears, has a comparatively small part but displays her best skill in the rendition of it. The plot, woven by a practiced hand, grows more interesting not to say mystifying as the action advances, and this surely is a good test of its quality.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the fine points of the production within the limits of this review, but one or two may be mentioned as typical of the general excellence of the play. The scene showing the interior of the gallery [sic?]in which the innocent father of Adrienne is toiling his life away is most impressive and novel. It reminded me of a leaf taken from the book of human cruelties and barbarities. A word of praise is due to the correctness of the military uniforms of both the French and the British contingents in the historic battle. Historic accuracy is rarely found in motion picture films--the more's the pity--but the Kalems have always aimed at perfection in this regard and it is common knowledge that their aim has been uniformly good.

It is but just in appreciation of this feature to give a special word or two to the powerful climax in the last scene. The last two reels all work toward this strong denouement, which comes with a most dramatic suddenness. There are some minor defects. I believe that the early portions of the feature might have been compressed, but it may well be urged that the condensation would have resulted in the loss of atmosphere.

The story told in outline is as follows: Jean Renaud, a soldier in the French army, is married to Madeline Renaud, a foster-sister of the Duchess d'Aubeterre. Madeline, on her marriage to Jean, has received a precious locket as a wedding present from her noble foster-sister. Jean Renaud is called to the front and his company takes part in the battle of Fontenoy. Count de Mornay, a nobleman, has been exiled by the king. His life is in danger and he decides upon a hasty flight. Before leaving he places his infant daughter in the care of the Chanoinesse of the College d'Hyereo. On his flight the Count de Mornay is caught between the fires of the two contending armies at Fontenoy and falls mortally wounded from his horse. A hyena of the battlefield seeks to rob him, but is frightened away by Renaud, who comforts the dying moments of the Count. The latter gives him his purse as a reward and asks him to preserve for the future heir of the house the jewels and papers of the House of Mornay. Renaud accepts the mission and steals away from his command to place the papers and jewels in the are of his wife. Lazare, the foiled hyena of the battlefield, has seen all and follows Renaud to his home. Renaud delivers the precious objects to his wife commanding her to keep them sacredly against his return and then hurries back to his place in the ranks. Lazare steals into Renaud's house and demands the jewels and papers. Madeline, though no match for the burly villain, refuses and resists. Her cries of help are heard by her five year old daughter who jumping out of her bed, rushes to the door of her room and joins in the cries of her mother. The villain under horrible threats compels the mother to quiet the girl by saying: "Keep still, your papa is with me." The child then keeps quiet and the villain renews his demands for the jewels. A struggle ensues and Lazare stabs the unfortunate Madeline to death. The next moment the child enters and sees her mother dead on the floor. She is disconsolate and as the neighbors arrive, attracted by her cries, she tells them that "papa was the last person with mamma." Renaud in the meantime has captured a British standard in the battle of Fontenoy and has been commended in the ranks for his bravery. A few moments later a magistrate appears from Renaud's native village, accompanied by little Adrienne. Renaud is accused of murder and his little daughter unwittingly is the most damning witness against him. A kindhearted Irish sergeant assumes the care of Adrienne, while poor Renaud is condemned to serve in the galleys for life. Adrienne is adopted by the Duchess d'Aubeterre and her life is under this black shadow of her father's supposed crime. Lazare, the villain, how thinks the time is ripe to claim the estates of Mornay, whose exile has been revoked by a royal order. Lazare seems to triumph until confronted by the Chanoinesse of the College d'Hyereo. The Chanoinesse remembered Count de Mornay and she exposes the imposter. The locket on the bosom of little Adrienne establishes her identity. She recognizes in the wretched convict, who is allowed a little rest in the gardens of the d'Aubeterres, her own father. The guilt of Lazare is then discovered and everything ends very happily.
Greta de Groat, 21.04.2011
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