The First Born ★★★★

Miles Mander, a philanderer, rejects Madeleine Carroll, his wife, because of her jealousy and her childlessness. He leaves her and goes to Africa. Carroll, desperate to have him come back to her, adopts the child of her unwed manicurist and tells Mander that the boy is theirs. He comes back happily and in the next year they have a child, another boy. Mander has not stopped seeing other women and is currently sleeping with a family friend. This woman suggests that he is not the first boy’s father. Mander accuses Carroll of unfaithfulness. At the apartment of his paramour, he falls into an elevator shaft and is killed. Some months later, Carroll refuses the proposal of devoted admirer John Loder; she still feels a connection to Mander. Shortly afterwards, the mail contains a letter from the manicurist who names the father of the adopted child and sends his photo. The man in the photo is Mander. Carroll, now freed from any tie to Mander’s memory, goes to Loder to accept his proposal.

The film has an interesting storyline and an elaborate buildup to the ironic conclusion. Made at Elstree Studios, England, Miles Mander was star, directer, story writer (with Alma Reville) and co-producer.

Seen at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival