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Film Details

Production companyIdeal Film Company
SponsorAcademy of Dramatic Art
Country of originGreat Britain
ProducerPAUL, Fred
DirectorPAUL, Fred
Script/AdaptationJAMES, Benedict
Art directionDAVIES, Willie
CastIrene Vanbrugh (Peg Woffington), Dennis Neilson-Terry (Ernest Vane), Gladys Cooper (Mabel Vane), Ben Webster (Sir Charles Pomander), Sir Johnstone Forbes-Robertson (James Triplet), C M Lowne (Quinn), Nigel Playfair (Rich), Lilian McCarthy (Kitty Clive), Dion Boucicault Jr (Colly Cibber), Henry Vibart (Burdock, Ernest Vane's servant), Gerald Du Maurier (Hunsdon, Pomander's servant), Donald Calthrop (Lovell, a servant), Winifred Emery (Mrs Triplet), H B living (Colander), J Fisher-White (Snarl), Lyall Swete (Soaper), Mabel Russell (footman), Weedon Grossmith (fiddler at Covent Garden Theatre), Mary Brough (landlady), Phyllis Hart (Pompey), Helen Haye (Dame Best), Doris Keane (Mrs Vane's postillion), Matheson Lang (Peg's coachman), Gerard Ames (fencing master), Gertrude Elliott, Stella Campbell, Lilian Braithwaite, Lottie Venne, Viola Tree, Ellaline Terriss, Charles Hawtrey (members of Rich's company), Renee Mayer (Lysimachus, Triplet's son), Fabia Drake, Joan Buckmaster, G H Rowson (Triplet's other children). Sir George Alexander, Sir James Barrie, Sir Arthur Pinero, Dame Irene Vanbrugh, Sir Squire Bancroft, C M Lowne, George Bernard Shaw, Sir John Hare, Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson (meeting of council. Academy of Dramatic Art).
Release date1917
SummaryA prologue shows Sir Squire Bancroft, President of the Academy of Dramatic Art, explain that the reason for making the film was to aid the Academy's building fund, while Bernard Shaw declares that he's in favour of the proposal as 'there's money in it'. Others in this scene are Sir George Alexander, Sir James Barrie, Sir Arthur Pinero, Dame Irene Vanbrugh, C M Lowne, Sir John Hare and Sir Johnstone Forbes-Robertson. In England in 1740, Ernest Vane departs for London, leaving his wife, Mabel, behind. In London, impoverished James Triplet, a poet and portrait painter, sends one of his children to see Rich, the manager of the Covent Garden Theatre, with some of his plays. In the theatre's Green Room, Rich introduces the other members of the company to Dublin-bom actress Margaret 'Peg' Woffington. As he is preparing to leave London, Vane is persuaded by Sir Charles Pomander to go to the theatre. He sees Peg in The Recruiting Sergeant at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and Vane is captivated by her. After her performance. Peg entertains the company with an impersonation of Mistress Bracegirdle, a well-known actress. Vane falls in love with Peg and when he returns home from the theatre he tears up a letter he has written to his wife telling her he is going back to their home in the country. Peg is also attracted to Vane, though she is unaware that he is married, and openly displays her affection for him. Pomander is also in love with Peg and writes to her offering her his protection. Meanwhile, Mabel is concerned at her husband's delay in returning home and leaves for London, sending a letter ahead that she is travelling to meet him. On arrival in London, Mabel meets Pomander, who is captivated by her, and asks his servant to find out who she is. Triplet calls at the theatre to discover Rich's response to his plays, but they are returned to him unread. On his way out, he meets Peg, who recalls how he had shown her kindness when she was an orange-seller. She promises to sit for a portrait with him, and later brings food to him. Pomander meets Vane and he tells him that Peg is going to see another lover and they follow her to Triplet's house. At Triplet's, Peg is surprised by the appearance of Vane and Pomander. To cover-up their intrusion. Vane asks Triplet to write verses in honour of Peg. Vane also organises a banquet in Peg's honour. During the dinner, Mabel arrives, and to her husband's distress, she introduces herself to Peg as Vane's wife. Vane leads Peg to another room as Mabel assumes the dinner is in her honour. Mabel meets Triplet, who produces the verses her husband has commissioned in honour of Peg. Jealous of Vane, Pomander tells Mabel the truth about the dinner and shows her the still unopened letter she sent to her husband. Pomander's zeal is repulsed by Mabel, who overhears her husband's apologies to Peg and faints. Later, Peg goes to Triplet's studio and sits for the promised portrait, but he is dissatisfied with the painting and destroys it. Simultaneously, a group of theatrical people arrive to view the portrait. They cut her portrait out of the canvas, but Peg appears and inserts her own head in the hole. When she reveals herself, she embarrasses the visitors. Upset by her husband's infidelity, Mabel decides to go to Triplet and asks him to take her to see Peg, so that she can appeal to her to finish her relationship with her husband. She sends her card to Triplet, and Peg once more inserts her head in the portrait to hear what Mabel has to say. Moved by her plea. Peg reveals herself to Mabel and promises to help her get her husband back. She devises a scheme to make Vane jealous of his wife and she sends Triplet to get him. Observing Pomander in the street below, Peg drops Mabel's card in his path and dresses herself in Mabel's cloak. Mabel hides and Pomander, thinking that Mabel has succumbed to him, makes love to Peg in disguise. When he enters the apartment. Vane assumes that Pomander is his wife's lover and, in a jealous rage, has a sword fight with him. Peg intervenes to stop the fight and produces Mabel. Contrite, Vane embraces his wife and Pomander slinks away. Suppressing her own dejection. Peg is comforted by Triplet. (V).
NoteGB Rel ca. Mar 1917. Copy: NFTVA (5,507 ft). Bioscope 9/11/1916:547 gives the following alternative actors and character parts to the ones listed above: Owen Nares (Ernest Vane), Allan Aynesworth (Sir Charles Pomander), C M Lowne (Rich), Sir George Alexander (Burdock, Ernest Vane's servant), Helen Haye (Mrs Vane's maid). See notes on PEG WOFFINGTON (GB 1912).
ReferenceBio 7/12/1916:966; Bio 8/3/1917:993; Kinematograph & Lantern Weekly
17/5/1917:228. Gifford 06397: Mar 1917
DistributorIdeal Film Renting Company
Production creditsp.c: Ideal Film Co. Produced at the invitation of the Academy of Dramatic
Art, p/d: Fred Paul, sc: Benedict James, based on Peg Woffington by
Charles Reade (1854), a novel which is based on the play Masks and Faces
by Tom Taylor, Charles Reade (1st perf, London, 20/11/1852), art d:
Willie Davies, GB distr: Ideal Film Renting Co.
Genre/CategoryFeature Film Drama
Literary Adaptation
Theatrical Adaptation
KeywordsIrish Diapora
Music Hall Entertainers
Irish in Britain

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