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Film / The Love Light

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The Love Light is a 1921 film written and directed by Frances Marion, starring Mary Pickford.

Angela Carlotti (Pickford) lives in a small Italian coastal village with her younger brothers Mario and Antonio. They keep some farm animals but the family's main job is maintaining the lighthouse that helps passing ships avoid the rocks. Local villagers Tony and Giovanni both are attracted to Angela, but budding romances and domestic happiness are brutally cut short by Italian intervention in the Great War. Giovanni and both of Angela's brothers go off to fight in the war, while she tends the lighthouse alone.

One day Angela rescues Joseph, an American sailor who has washed up on the rocks. Joseph tells Angela that he's a deserter and asks her to hide him. They fall in love and are secretly married—but Joseph has a secret.

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The Love Light was one of only two films directed by Frances Marion, who had a hugely successful career as a screenwriter. Marion directed this film at the insistence of her good friend Mary Pickford. The Love Light was something of a departure for Pickford, being a drama instead of Pickford's usual romantic comedy fare, and being a film where she played a character close to her own age rather than her more usual child character or ingenue.

Shot on location around Monterey, CA, and featuring the real Point Pinos Lighthouse.


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Tropes:

  • Batman Gambit: So...just what was Joseph's plan? Plant himself on the rocks with the hope that a lonely female would find him and fall in love with him, and that said female would have access to the lighthouse?
  • Chekhov's Gun: "Gott mit uns", seen on a German bayonet and pointed out as a motto of the German armed forces. This nugget of info later becomes how Angela finds out about Joseph (see Talking in Your Sleep below).
  • Department of Child Disservices: Apparently the nuns fill this role, and they are all too willing to assist Maria in stealing Angela's baby in the belief that Angela is mentally unfit.
  • Disney Villain Death: Joseph, having been discovered and exposed as a German spy, falls to his death off the sea cliff.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Well, let's see. Both of Angela's parents are dead at the start of the story. Both of her brothers are killed in the war. Her impulsive marriage to Joseph the sailor is rather spoiled when Joseph turns out to be a German spy. She has a breakdown. Her baby is literally stolen. And her old Love Interest Giovanni comes home from the war blind. But in the end she does get her baby back and she and Giovanni settle down to domestic happiness.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Tony has a monkey sidekick, and the monkey knows how to pull on the scales that Tony uses to pay farmers for their produce.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Angela marries Joseph after hiding him in her house for a while. It turns out to be a pretty serious mistake.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Lorenzo, "comforter of his tiny flock". The father is willing to marry Angela and Joseph in secret, although he wonders if Angela knows Joseph well enough.
  • Heroic BSoD: "Angela's mind lay sleeping", as she has a breakdown after Joseph dies.
  • Intoxication Ensues: For the barnyard animals after the cow manages to bite off the cork to a cask of wine.
  • Lighthouse Point: Not just a romantic setting but plot relevant, as Joseph is a German spy who's very interested in that lighthouse.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Angela delivers this after one of her brothers steals the chicken off of Father Lorenzo's plate during prayer.
  • Mood Whiplash: "And then the storm broke," as the light comedy of the opening scenes gives way to the men leaving town to fight in World War I.
  • The Plot Reaper: Maria decides to blow town with little Dolora after Angela figures out that Maria's baby is actually hers. Having gotten into the boat which sailed into the storm and wrecked, Maria—dies, for no apparent reason. This makes it pretty easy for Angela to board the wrecked ship and retrieve her live baby from Maria's dead arms.
  • Promotion to Parent: Happened at some point in the backstory, apparently, as Angela lives with her two younger brothers. They're grown men by now but Angela still does stuff like clean out their ears.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Maria, whose baby died and whose husband died in the war, winds up looking after Angela's baby while Angela goes through her Heroic BSoD. Eventually Maria snaps and steals the baby back from Angela's house.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: "Pietro, once so strong and brave," sits in his chair and gives a Thousand-Yard Stare after returning home from the front.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: A relatively uncommon villainous example of this, as after Joseph the German spy does his swan dive off the cliff, Angela delivers his baby, which she names "Dolora" because the events around the child's birth were such a bummer.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Discussed Trope in the opening titles, which talk about "when great storms rage at sea" and how those storms disturb places far away, and how the coming storm of war is going to disturb the little town in the story.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Joseph mutters the German motto "Gott mit uns" in his sleep, which is how Angela finds out he's not actually an American at all, he's a German spy.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A mob assembles after the theft of Tony's chocolate is discovered. This eventually leads to that mob chasing Joseph to his death.

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