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The Mothering Heart


A 1913 drama about marriage and infidelity directed by D W Griffith.

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The Mothering Heart is a 1913 short film drama film directed by D. W. Griffith. A print of the film survives in the film archive of the Museum of Modern Art.< name="silentera"></>


The film opens by showing a young woman (Lillian Gish) in a garden. She is tender hearted , demonstrated by her appreciation of the flowers and the rescuing of a puppy. A melancholic young man (Walter Miller (actor)) woos her and she is foolishly swayed more by his pain of rejection than her love for him and eventually agrees to marry.
Later in their new home together she takes in washing to help support them when her new husband has little income. Things change when he finds some success in a well paid job. He insists they celebrate at a restaurant where there is an Apache (dance) cabaret. He wears a new suite but she her plain street clothes. Her husband's eye is caught by a sophisticated single woman (Viola Barry) at the next table. Later encouraged by the woman the husband begins to deceive his wife and have clandestine meetings with her. She is rich and has a chauffeur driven car at her disposal.
The wife, now pregnant, as evidenced by her interest in baby clothes, discovers a glove in her husbands coat pocket. She follows him and uncovers his deceit. After confronting her husband she leaves him and returns to the home of her mother(played by Kate Bruce) where the baby is born.
We now see the husband being dropped by the sophisticated woman for a new richer male companion (Charles West (actor)). The dejected husband sitting alone at home receives a letter from the wife telling him of the birth. He resolves to make it up with her.
We learn next that baby has becomes ill and is attended by a doctor (Adolph Lestina). The husband arrives at the wife's mother's house and she allows him to see the wife and child. However the wife wants non of him and angrily rejects him. While the husband sits dejected in the garden the baby dies. The wife vents her anger on the bushes in the part of the garden in which the film opened.
She returns to find her husband bent in grief over the crib. He is tenderly holding the baby's dummy. Their hands touch and the husband sees she is still wearing her wedding ring. They are reunited in an embrace and the film ends.


  • Walter Miller (actor) - Joe - the Young Husband
  • Lillian Gish - The Young Wife
  • Kate Bruce - Young Wife's Mother
  • Viola Barry - The 'Idle Woman' / Outside Club (as Peggy Pearce)
  • Charles West (actor) - The 'New Light' / Among Waiters
  • Adolph Lestina - The Doctor / Club Patron
  • Jennie Lee (actor) - The Wash Customer
  • Charles Murray (actor) - Male Apache Dancer
  • Gertrude Bambrick - Female Apache Dancer
  • William J. Butler - Club Patron
  • Christy Cabanne - Outside Club
  • Donald Crisp - Undetermined Role (unconfirmed)
  • Josephine Crowell - Woman Collecting Ironing
  • Edward Dillon (actor) - Club Patron
  • John T. Dillon (actor) - Club Patron
  • William Elmer - Doorman
  • Dell Henderson - Club Patron
  • Harry Hyde - Outside Club
  • J. Jiquel Lanoe - Outside Club / Club Patron
  • Charles Hill Mailes - Club Patron
  • Mae Marsh - Undetermined Role (unconfirmed)
  • Joseph McDermott (actor) - Among Waiters
  • Alfred Paget - Club Patron
  • Gus Pixley - Club Patron
  • W. C. Robinson - Club Patron
  • Henry B. Walthall - Club Patron

See also

  • D. W. Griffith filmography
  • Lillian Gish filmography

Category:1913 films
Category:Films directed by D. W. Griffith
Category:American films
Category:1910s short films
Category:American silent short films
Category:1910s drama films
Category:Black-and-white films
DW Griffith

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