Pathways Of Life – 1916
Starring: W.E.Lawrence, Olga Grey, Spottiswoode Aitken, Alfred Paget.
Story: Lillian loses her husband to a vamp but gets him back this time. Triangle – Fine Arts production
The plots of An Innocent Magdalene and The Children Pay are strong stuff indeed when compared to yet another of her 1916 movies, Cabanne’s Pathways ofLife, an unabashedly explicit moral allegory in which she plays a purehearted girl. Her costume is a timeless, gauzy white dress; her curls are wind-tossed. And again, her immature husband abandons her for a loose woman, only to return at the end to wife, home, hearth, and baby. With the exception of one shot that shows her reflecting on the events of her life, Lillian’s acting requires nothing but conventional gestures, appropriate to the legibility of a simple allegory in which she is an icon of virtue and natural feminine beauty. Who then comprises the audience for which Pathways of Life was intended? Who could respond to the simpleminded homilies spouted by “Daddy Good-Wisdom/’ the father figure? This was still pre-World War I America, and perhaps there were spectators naive enough or nostalgic enough to draw some satisfaction from the reductive ethics of Pathways of Life. Three years later, Griffith himself would recycle the bucolic register of allegory in two of Lillian’s vehicles, A Romance of Happy Valley and True Heart Susie. (Charles Affron)