“Sold for Marriage” 1916 — Entire Film —

  • “Sold for Marriage” 1916
  • Triangle-Fine Arts Story of the Russian Peasantry.

Sold for Marriage is an interesting story of a Russian family emigrating to the United States and attempting to sell their daughter (Lillian Gish) to a wealthy, elderly suitor. The first two reels, set in the Russian steppes, are impressive in their detail, and in these reels there is at times a comic vein apparent, particularly in the titles and in Miss Gish’s looking her ugly and old suitor up and down before exclaiming, “Marry that beast!” Throughout much of the film, the actress has a pouting look on her face, but there is fine acting in the scene in which she grabs a pair of scissors and considers killing the suitor to whom she has been sold. Despite some beautiful early scenes in the snow and one brief shot of Lillian’s lover, Jim, played by Frank Bennett, on a train speeding from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Sold for Marriage is not a great film. Julian Johnson, writing in Photoplay (June, 1916) gives an accurate appraisal: “Lillian Gish puts a convincing touch on a play of Russian life which is not convincing in itself.” Oscar Cooper in Motion Picture News (April 15, 1916) also endorsed Miss Gish’s performance, noting “Her work here, as always, gives the impression that she is one of the very few who can justly be called screen stars.”

  • Marfa – Lillian Gish
  • Jan – Frank Bennett
  • Colonel Gregioff – Walter Long
  • Ivan, the uncle – A. D. Sears
  • Anna, the aunt – Pearl Elmore
  • Dimitri, the grandfather – Curt Rehfelt
  • Georg, Ivan’s brother – William Lowery
  • The American policeman – Fred Burns
  • A desperado – Bromwell
  • Marfa’s mother – Olga Gray
  • Marfa’s father – G. M. Blue
  • The undesirable suitor – Mike Siebert

Lillian Gish, Frank Bennett, Walter Long and A. D. Sears carry the principal parts excellently. The scenes in Los Angeles’s Little Russia are as suggestive of our hybrid ghettos as the wilder and more obviously effective glimpses of Russia during a Pogrom.

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