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"Stella Maris" (1918) starring Mary Pickford

"Stella Maris" is a moving drama, in which Mary Pickford plays two roles very convincingly - one of Stella Maris, a rich paralyzed girl and the other of Unity, an uneducated orphaned girl.

Stella lives in a fantasy world, being shielded from the ugly side of life. She especially enjoys the company of John (Conway Tearle), a famous journalist.  He lives separately from his alcoholic wife called Louise, but this truth is also hidden from Stella.

Unity lives in an orphanage and one day is picked for adoption by Louise.  Unity is surprised to learn that she was chosen not to be a daughter, but a servant.  One day Unity's groceries are stolen and she returns home empty-handed.  Louise has a fit of rage, beats the girl almost to death, and is sentenced later to three years in prison.  John adopts Unity to atone for her suffering.

In the meantime Stella gets an operation and starts walking.  She gradually discovers poverty, war, death and other unpleasant life realities. 

One day Stella and John declare their love for each other.  She then decides to visit his "deserted castle" and is shocked to find there Louise, John's wife, fresh out of prison.  Stella is very disillusioned with life when even John lied to her.

Unity is in love with John secretly as well, but realizes he is only interested in Stella.  She witnesses John's distress after being rejected by Stella and later realizes that these two can never be together as long as Louise lives. 

Directed by                     Marshall Neilan
Produced by                   Mary Pickford
Scenario by                    Frances Marion
Based on                       the novel Stella Maris by William John Locke
Starring                          Mary Pickford, Conway Tearle
Cinematography              Walter Stradling
Distributed by                  Artcraft Pictures Corporation
Release date                   January 21, 1918
Running time                  83 minutes
Country                           United States
Language                        Silent film, English intertitles

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