Criticism of the Films: The White Heather



Brilliant adaptation of a well-known Drury Lane melodrama by Cecil Raleigh and Henry Hamilton -- Masterpiece of production, mounting and photography -- Original submarine climax -- British atmosphre vividly and accurately realised.

Finding himself seriously embarrassed financially, Lord Angus Cameron asks his father, the Duke of Shetland, for a loan, but is refused until he consents to marry a girl of his own class. Meanwhile, Marion Hume, whose marriage to Angus on board a yacht in Scottish form has been disavowed by the latter, brings an action against her husband to establish the legitimacy of her child. The suit fails because the documentary proofs of the alliance are at the bottom of the sea in the wreck of the yacht upon which the ceremony was performed. In order to destroy this evidence, Angus visits the wreck in a diving suit, whither he is followed by Alec, Marion's champion and would-be lover. In the fight under water which ensues Angus is drowned, and Alec, having secured the missing evidence, delivers it to Marion, whom he asks to become his wife.

Adapted from the well-known Drury Lane melodrama by Cecil Raleigh and Henry Hamilton, this remarkable film may justly be described as a masterpiece of the producer's art.
Maurice Tourneur, the celebrated picture-maker who has produced notable screen versions of several Drury Lane successes, is the creator of this brilliant photoplay, which reaches as high a level as has ever been attained in skill of spectacular scene construction and photographic effect.
As a story, The White Heather is a characteristic melodrama of a rather old-fashioned school. The emotional colours are laid on thickly, and the plot is essentially theatrical. Although the play does not entirely conform with the severely naturalistic demands of the screen, however, it has been presented by Mr Tourneur with such a wealth of striking and imaginative pictorial effect, and by his players with so much force and finish, that one quite forgets its dramatic deficiencies in one's admiration for the outstanding artisctic and technical ability with which it has been mounted.
The action of The White Heather passes in London and Scotland. In both cases, Mr Tourneur's settings are extraordinarily convincing both in general atmosphere and in detail. The scenes in a spacious Scottish castle, the Highland exteriors and the wonderful London Stock Exchange interiors could scarcely have been done better in England. Save for one or two trifling errors, the same vivid realism prevails throughout the production, whilst the remarkable scenes acted on the sea bottom (photographed, it is stated, by the aid of the Williamson submarine apparatus) constitute a thrilling and original climax to a story which is laden throughout with sensational incidents. As an example of Mr Tourneur's meticulous attention to detail, mention may be made of the care he has taken in one brief scene that a motor car should travel on the left of the road and not on the right, as is the rule in America.
Within the limits set by the authors in their rather luridly limned characterisation, the acting is exceptionally good. As Lord Angus, H.E. Herbert draws a thoroughly sound and convincing portrait of an English nobleman. It is, in fact, rather difficult to believe that the black dishonour of Angus' nature could have been concealed beneath so manly, dignified and well-bred an exterior -- but that, of course, is in no way the actor's fault. Mabel Ballin makes a pleasant, conventional heroine, whilst Spottiswood Aitken contributes an emotional picture of the latter's aged father who dies of grief and shame when the villain of the story gets him "hammered" on the Stock Exchange. Among smaller part characterisations, T.H. Gibson-Gowland's powerful and vigorous etching of a rough sea captain stands out prominently.
The White Heather is decidedly film melodrama in excelsis, and to everyone who appreciates that class of entertainment, it should make the strongest appeal.

TitleCriticism of the Films: The White Heather
Date1919-06-19
Comments
SourceThe Bioscope