The Voice of the Violin
THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN: A DRAMA. 1915

Director: Ben Turbett

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The Voice of the Violin The Voice of the Violin: A Drama (1915) is a half-hour tragic romance of Marjorie (Helen Fulton) & Jack (Pat O'Malley). Marjorie's at the piano.

Jack's shaving & giving some affection to the terrier when he hears Marjorie's music. Herbert McClean Sr (Robert Brower) is Jack's father & Marjorie's legal guardian; he is likewise moved by her playing.

Jack finishes his morning ritual & goes in the music room with his violin to join in. In the silent film era such scenes as this were de rigour, because they invoked sound whether or not there was a musician present to actually perform what might or might not be matching or apropos music.

The film invites us specifically to hear "The Feast of the Flowers" as the film's themesong, & chances are, recordings were made available to any cinema house showing the film, or sheet music for the house pianist.

The eldest son Herbert McLean Jr (Carlton King) arrives with a bouquet of flowers & is immediately rude to the butler (Owen Moore), but puts on his good face when greeting his father, showing him the ring he intends to offer Marjorie.

Dad seems amenable to the match, being blind to the close relationship the younger son has with Marjorie. A sour note from the music room causes them to remark on his brother's musical limitations. Apparently the good son had never been the favorite son.

Herb junior breaks up the musical duet sending his young brother to their dad. Alone with Marjorie she's delighted with the flowers & accepts the engagement ring, Jack returning to the room barely in time to see his own dream squelched as quickly as that.


The Voice of the Violin The following morning when Jack is off on a walk, he encounters a street vending tie salesman (really a beggar) & gives him some change. There's also a young child who he greets in a friendly way, then wanders into a music store for sheet music.

The European salesman says he's leaving soon & has no choice but to sell his Stradevarious, a great opportunity for Jack as violinist. It's $7,000 -- which in today's money is still a gawdam bargain & a half.

Jack & Herb Jr meet with their dad & an attorney to receive their "legacy," lucky timing as Jack can now obtain the rare violin. Herb Jr. however heads off straight to the gambling tables.

When next dear old dad hears Marjorie & Jack playing together, he perks up, as Jack now seems quite the brilliant musician. The servants gaze into the music room in awe. Nevertheless, dad is angry to learn, "You squandered your legacy on a fiddle!" having no idea that his "preferred" son has just lost his in a few minutes at a dicing table, & then when on to exceed his legacy for a gambling debt.

That night Herb Jr is caught by Jack trying to rob his father's bonds, but the elder brother quickly turns the tables convincing dad it was he who caught Jack. In consequence Jack is kicked out. As he prepares to leave, the butler comes into Jack's room to say a sad farewell, & agrees to care for Jack's terrier.

The way now cleared, the elder brother takes his father's bonds to the gambling house to cover his debt & as collateral for more money to gamble. Dad rather too late discovers his eldest son's criminality & gambling problem.


The Voice of the Violin For months Jack has been on his own looking for work, finding none as a musician, practically a hobo bouncing around New York city. He has honored his farther's demand never to dark on his door ever again.

The senior McLean realizing how wrong he has been hires a detective (James Harris) to undertake "a country-wide search for him." The detective comes up empty, so Marjorie & her guardian set out for New York, Jack's last known residence.


We see Jack down to his last few dollars nevertheless responsive to the begging of a pitiful woman. But he clings to his Stradivarious even in moments of need. Fortune begins to perk up when a chance meeting with an old acquaintance gets him a position in a concert performance, recorded by the Edison company for commercial release.

In New York, Marjorie & her guardian happen to hear a recording of "Feast of the Flowers," & both perk up their ears in nostalgic recognition. They ask the owner of the record player, "Who is the first violin?" but the owner of the record hasn't a clue.

A close-up of the Edison pressing of a 78 rpm record on an Edison company film is an amusing moment of product placement. Marjorie & Herbert Sr head off for the Edison Recording Laboratory at Orange, New York, hot on Jack's trail.

Not only has the Edison company saved the day, but Jack's dad enthuses about the wonderfulness of the company. Jack gives his dad & the secret love of his life a tour of Edison Diamon Disc laboratory, & a major sales pitch is the most dialogue seen on any text card in the film.

This is followed by a panoramic view of the Edison buildings & a long text card bragging about Edison's invention, concluding not with a happy ever after marriage as would most such films, but with Jack's exclamation, "Why, there's Mr. Edison now!" This really wasn't all that bad a film, & ending it exclusively as an advertisement is a hoot.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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