Cast & Crew
Henry B. Walthall
D. W. Griffith
Russell E. Smith
Helen's parents object to her love for Manders, a poor pastor, and induce her to marry Captain Arling, a notorious rake, for his money, even though the family doctor warns that Arling may pass a venereal disease onto their children. After Helen discovers Arling's affair with a neighbor's wife, Manders instructs her to remain with Arling, and the physician keeps the parentage of Regina, the product of the affair, secret. Arling dies when Helen's child Oswald is nine. Years later, Oswald, in Paris studying art, begins to have fits of insanity. Helen, seeking a clean girl for him, introduces Oswald to Regina. They plan to marry, but the physician arrives to stop the wedding by revealing the truth about Regina's birth. Embittered, Oswald goes beyond his father's excesses, while his brain rots. Regina goes to a convent. When Helen finds Oswald on the floor playing with sunbeams, she goes for the doctor, but in her absence, Oswald swallows poison. Helen finally finds consolation with the doctor.
In 1919 this film was re-issued by Exhibitor's Film Exchange under the title The Curse. At that time, the film was distributed in a reconstructed version, with new titles, for to the state rights market. The pre-release title for the re-issued version was The Wreck. The play, which was published in 1881, had its world premiere in Chicago, where it was performed in Norwegian. The European premiere of the play did not occur until 1883. In the film, John Emerson was originally scheduled to play Oswald. According to modern sources, Emerson, who was also going to direct the film, adapted it from the play. Also according to modern sources, Erich von Stroheim was the wardrobe assistant to director George Nicholls and also played a bit part in the film; George Seigmann was an assistant director; and Nigel de Brulier was in the cast.