The Passion Flower

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The Passion Flower
Passion Flower lobby card.jpg
Lobby card
Directed by Herbert Brenon
Produced by Norma Talmadge
Written byHerbert Brenon
Mary Murillo
Based onplay The Unloved Woman
by Jacinto Benavente
StarringNorma Talmadge
Courtenay Foote
Eulalie Jensen
Cinematography J. Roy Hunt
Norma Talmadge Film Corporation
Distributed by Associated First National Pictures
Release date
  • April 3, 1921 (1921-04-03)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
Box office$182,039.88 [1]

The Passion Flower is a 1921 American drama film starring Norma Talmadge, Courtenay Foote, and Eulalie Jensen, and directed by Herbert Brenon. It is based on the 1913 Spanish play The Unloved Woman (Spanish: La malquerida) by Jacinto Benavente. [2] The play was translated into English by John Garrett Underhill as The Passion Flower and successfully produced in 1920 in New York City. [3] The plot of the film involves the forbidden love of a man for his stepdaughter which leads to tragedy and murder.



As described in a film publication, [4] Esteban's (Foote) jealousy for his stepdaughter Acacia (Talmadge) results in his servant Rubio (Wilson) telling Acacia's sweetheart Norbert (Ford) that she loves another. Their betrothal is broken, and later Acacia accepts Faustino (Agnew). Rubio kills Faustino, and Norbert is tried for the crime but acquitted. When it becomes known that Esteban was the cause of the murder, he flees into the mountains, but later returns to give himself up. Raimunda (Jensen), Acacia's mother and Esteban's wife, pleads with Acacia to accept the stepfather whom she hates. During the long embrace which follows between Esteban and Acacia, Raimunda learns of Esteban's love for his stepdaughter and her own love turns to hate. Raimunda calls for help and during Esteban's attempt to escape with Acacia he shoots his wife and is then arrested. Raimunda dies in the arms of Acacia.


Court case

Underhill, who had translated the Spanish play into English as The Passion Flower, sued in New York state court after the play was filmed without his permission. On appeal, the opinion by Chief Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo agreed that the contractual transfer of dramatic rights to produce a play did not include films, and that Underhill deserved damages but not all profits from the film. [1] [5]


The Library of Congress has a print of The Passion Flower, [2] though there is a bit of deterioration in the first scene and a "lapse of continuity" near the end of this copy. [6]

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  1. 1 2 Underhill v. Schenck, 143N.E.773 (N.Y.1924). (transfer of dramatic rights does not include making film).
  2. 1 2 "The Passion Flower". Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  3. The Passion Flower at the Greenwich Village Theatre (Jan 13, 1920 - May 1920)
  4. "The Passion Flower: Norma Talmadge Splendid and Direction Very Good". Film Daily. New York City: Wyd's Films and Film Folks, Inc. 16 (10): 2. April 10, 1921. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
  5. "Sale of "Dramatic" Rights Does Not Include Films". Variety . New York City. April 9, 1924. p. 10. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  6. Greta de Groat (Electronic Media Cataloger at Stanford University Libraries). "Woman Disputed: Who was Norma Talmadge, and why aren't more of her films available?". Retrieved September 11, 2013.