The Unpardonable Sin

Last updated
The Unpardonable Sin
Blanche Sweet card 5.jpg
Blanche Sweet coming attraction shot
Directed by Marshall Neilan
Alfred E. Green (assistant director)
Produced by Harry Garson
Blanche Sweet
Written byKathryn Stuart (scenario)
Based onThe Unpardonable Sin
by Rupert Hughes
Starring Blanche Sweet
Edwin Stevens
Mary Alden
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Henry Cronjager
Blanche Sweet Productions / Harry Garson Productions
Distributed by World Pictures
Release date
  • March 2, 1919 (1919-03-02)
Running time
9 reels
(2,700 meters)
CountryUnited States
Language Silent (English intertitles)

The Unpardonable Sin is a 1919 American silent drama/propaganda film set during World War I. The film was produced by Harry Garson, directed by Marshall Neilan, written by Kathryn Stuart, and stars Neilan's wife, Blanche Sweet, who portrays dual roles in the film. The Unpardonable Sin is based on the novel of the same name by Rupert Hughes. [1] The Silent Era site reports that it is not known whether the film currently survives, [1] suggesting that it is a lost film. However, at least part of it did turn up in the Dawson Film Find, so some of it at least survives.



As described in a film magazine, [2] the film follows two American sisters, Alice and Dimny Parcot (Sweet in a dual role). Alice and their mother (Alden) are stranded in Belgium when World War I breaks out. Both are raped by German soldiers. Dimny, who is still in the United States, is found by Nol Windsor (Moore), a medical instructor, in a faint on the street. He takes her to his home and learns she is bound for Belgium in search of her mother and sister. Nol is going over to Belgium for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and they apply for passports at the same time. Dimny is refused a passport because she is single, so they agree to marry in name only to facilitate their travel. In Belgium they meet Colonel Klemm, the German officer who outraged her sister Alice, and he mistakes Dimny for his victim. After undergoing many insults and affronts, Nol and Dimny finally find Alice and her mother, secure passports for them, and they start for the Dutch border. When Colonel Klemm lures Dimny to his quarters and attacks her, Nol arrives in time to rescue her, and a race to the border begins. They eventually escape and Nol and Dimny find happiness.



Like many American films of the time, The Unpardonable Sin was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, upon its release, the film was banned by the Kansas Board of Review due to its depiction of rape. [3] The censorship board of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, initially banned the film but after protests in the press authorized the showing of the film with cuts, in Reel 1, of the scene showing Blanche Sweet standing against the wall with clothing disheveled and the shadow of a soldier next to her, Reel 2, portion of scene with Belgian priest where he falls, the intertitle "On every side the cruel reminder of motherhood.", scene of soldiers using machine gun on people and people falling, Reel 4, the intertitle "At Malines they encountered Suslich, whose specialty is searching pretty women. He to whom chastity is hard should be counseled against it.", and to eliminate all searching of woman scenes where her clothing is torn off by brutal soldiers. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Hearts of the World</i> 1918 film by D. W. Griffith

Hearts of the World is a 1918 American silent World War I propaganda film written, produced and directed by D. W. Griffith. In an effort to change the American public's neutral stance regarding the war, the British government contacted Griffith due to his stature and reputation for dramatic filmmaking.

<i>Old Wives for New</i> 1918 film

Old Wives for New is a 1918 American silent drama film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Prints of the film survive at the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House.

<i>The Mystery Ship</i> 1917 film

The Mystery Ship is a 1917 American adventure film serial directed by Harry Harvey and Henry MacRae. The film is considered to be lost.

<i>The Brass Bullet</i> 1918 film

The Brass Bullet is a 1918 American adventure film serial directed by Ben F. Wilson. It is now considered to be a lost film.

<i>The Hidden Hand</i> (serial) 1917 film

The Hidden Hand is a 1917 American film serial directed by James Vincent. This is a lost serial.

<i>The Seven Pearls</i> 1917 film

The Seven Pearls is a 1917 American silent action film serial directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie. It is considered to be a lost film, though fragmentary prints are held by the Library of Congress.

<i>Riddle Gawne</i> 1918 film

Riddle Gawne is a 1918 American silent Western film directed by William S. Hart and Lambert Hillyer, and featuring William S. Hart, Katherine MacDonald and Lon Chaney. The film was co-produced by William S. Hart and Thomas H. Ince. The screenplay was written by Charles Alden Seltzer from his earlier novel The Vengeance of Jefferson Gawne. Chaney historian Jon C. Mirsalis claims that William S. Hart contributed greatly to the screenplay but all other sources credit the writing of the screenplay solely to Charles Alden Seltzer.

<i>The Rose of Blood</i> 1917 film

The Rose of Blood is a 1917 American silent drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara. Based on the story "The Red Rose" by Ryszard Ordynski, the film was written by Bernard McConville.

<i>When a Woman Sins</i> 1918 film

When a Woman Sins is a 1918 American silent drama film directed by J. Gordon Edwards and starring Theda Bara.

<i>The Fall of the Romanoffs</i>

The Fall of the Romanoffs is a 1917 silent American historical drama film directed by Herbert Brenon. It was released only seven months after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in February 1917. This film is notable for starring Rasputin's rival, the monk Iliodor, as himself. Costars Nance O'Neil and Alfred Hickman were married from 1916 to Hickman's death in 1931. The film was shot in North Bergen, New Jersey, nearby Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century.

<i>Thais</i> (1917 American film)

Thais is a 1917 American silent drama film produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and based on the 1890 novel Thaïs by Anatole France. This film featured opera prima donna Mary Garden, making her film debut at the then-lavish weekly salary of US$15,000. Other cast members include Lionel Adams, Crauford Kent, and Charles Trowbridge. This film is considered "one of the most colossal flops in movie history, both artistically and financially".

<i>Men</i> (1918 film)

Men was a 1918 American silent drama film directed by Perry N. Vekroff based upon a play by Harry Sophus Sheldon. It starred Anna Lehr, Charlotte Walker, and Robert Cain. It is considered to be a lost film.

<i>To Hell with the Kaiser!</i>

To Hell with the Kaiser! is a lost 1918 American silent Great War propaganda comedy film produced by Screen Classics Productions and distributed by Metro Pictures. It was directed by George Irving and starred Lawrence Grant as the Kaiser.

<i>The Love That Lives</i>

The Love That Lives is a 1917 American silent drama film produced by Famous Players Film Company and distributed through Paramount Pictures. The film stars Pauline Frederick and was directed by Robert G. Vignola. The film is based on the story "Flames of Sacrifice", by Scudder Middleton.

The Bride's Awakening is a 1918 American silent drama film released by Universal Pictures and produced by their Bluebird production unit. Robert Z. Leonard directed the film and his then-wife Mae Murray was the star. A print of the film is housed at the EYE Institute Nederlands.

<i>The Hungry Heart</i>

The Hungry Heart is a 1917 American silent drama film directed by Robert G. Vignola and written by Charles Maigne based upon the novel of the same name by David Graham Phillips. The film stars Pauline Frederick, Howard Hall, Robert Cain, Helen Lindroth, and Eldean Steuart. The film was released on November 5, 1917, by Paramount Pictures. It is not known whether the film currently survives, and it may be a lost film.

<i>The Law of the North</i>

The Law of the North is a 1918 American silent drama film directed by Irvin Willat, and written by Ella Stuart Carson, John Lynch, and R. Cecil Smith. The film stars Charles Ray, Doris May, Robert McKim, Gloria Hope, Charles K. French, and Manuel R. Ojeda. The film was released on September 29, 1918, by Paramount Pictures. It is not known whether the film currently survives.

<i>The Curse of Iku</i>

The Curse of Iku is a 1918 American drama film directed by Frank Borzage and featuring Borzage, Tsuru Aoki, and Thomas Kurihara in lead dual roles. It is not known whether the film currently survives.

<i>The Woman Who Gave</i>

The Woman Who Gave is a lost 1918 American silent melodrama film directed by Kenean Buel and starring Evelyn Nesbit, a former Gibson girl, "It girl" model and showgirl involved in a 1906 "trial of the century" that involved a killing and an allegation of rape – whose films often exploited the fame of her life story. The film was produced and distributed by the Fox Film Corporation. The film went into release the day before fighting in World War I ended.

<i>My Four Years in Germany</i>

My Four Years in Germany is a 1918 American silent war drama film that is notable as being the first film produced by the four Warner Brothers, Harry, Sam, Albert, and Jack, though the title card clearly reads "My Four Years In Germany Inc. Presents ..." It was directed by seasoned William Nigh, later a director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was based on the experiences of real life U. S. Ambassador to Germany James W. Gerard as described in his book. The film was produced while World War I was still raging and is sometimes considered a propaganda film.


  1. 1 2 Progressive Silent Film List: The Unpardonable Sin at
  2. "Reviews: The Unpardonable Sin". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 8 (19): 47. May 3, 1919.
  3. Butters, Gerald R. (2007). Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966 . University of Missouri Press. p.  143. ISBN   978-0-826-26603-3.
  4. "Public Sentiment Requires Censors to Approve The Unpardonable Sin: Ruling Barring Production from Showing in Milwaukee is Reversed when People and Press Voice Protest". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 8 (26): 27. June 21, 1919.