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What's Worth While? 1921
Description: The Library of Congress holds a copy.
Released: 27 Feb 1921 Director: Lois Weber Writers: Lois Weber Actors: Claire Windsor, Arthur Stuart Hull, Mona Lisa, Louis Calhern Genres: Drama
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What's Worth While? Reviews:

Lois Weber was one of the nice girls directors of the silent era - a time when girls directors weren't such a rarity. She began her career as a scene actress in Fresh York. It is there where she met her husband, Phillips Smalley, the manager of the street company in which she was playing. By 1911, Weber and Smalley began working in film: acting, writing scenarios, producing and directing. In the mid-teens, Weber became a top salaried director at Universal Studio. She directed 18 pictures in 1916 alone, including the controversial pro birth-control detail Where Are My Children? The movie was banned in Philadelphia and tried by censorship boards across the country. Proving the adage "any publicity is nice publicity," the uproar attracted crowds to the theater and made for nice box office.Known primarily for "message" films, Weber, a one-time road corner evangelist, only accepted to helm a production if she approved of its moral stance. Her topics matter included political corruption (Hypocrites, 1914), the evils of kid labor (Shoes, 1916) and capital punishment (The Folks vs. John Doe, 1916). Several of her movies survive, though The Blot, made the same year as What's Worth While? is actually accessible on DVD from Milestone Movie & Video. Both movies utilize two of the same featured players, macho Louis Calhern and luminous Claire Windsor. By this time, Weber's social commentary had moved to domestic cases (snobbery of the upper class and "don't test to change the one you love" in WWW) and her popularity was waning. Audiences of the jazz age wanted fun and light entertainment – they were tired of being preached to. In a several years she divorced the alcoholic Smalley, lost her movie company and suffered a nervous breakdown. In the years before her death in 1939, Weber's work was largely forgotten and she should only search employment as a script doctor.****************************************************************The heroine of What's Worth While?, Phoebe Morrison (Claire Windsor) is a spoiled upper-class southern belle, bored with life. When her father (Arthur Stuart Hull), the owner of an oil field out west, shows her a image of his partner the rough and rugged "Square Elton," Phoebe likes what she sees and decides to accompany her father on his next trip to meet Elton. In spite of their differences, the pair are attracted to every other. Elton senses though, that his uncultured methods are offensive to Miss Morrison and that a match between them would only embarrass her. He decides to travel to London to become educated and refined. They meet again two years later, and while she still has feelings for him, Phoebe discovers that she prefers her boy the method she found him.Critics of the day were not especially type to the film, finding it slow moving and overly long. The performances were praised however ("…the acting is perfect in general." – Motion Picture World) and Exhibitors Trade Review lauded the photography and lighting: "There are few fine interior views, with luxurious settings, perfect Western shots of rolling plains and woods, and excellent lighting controls each scene." Indeed, close-ups of the fair Miss Windsor will take your breath away.The restoration of What's Worth While? has been a work in-progress for the Library of Congress for a number of years, using both 16 and 35 mm source material. This movie had long been considered too incomplete to show. One reel found in the vaults was misidentified as The Blot. Extra scenes and other reel was preserved under a spurious game and only recently was correctly identified as being from What's Worth While? While the print you will see today is nearly complete, the opening scenes still have not been found. To create up for the missing footage, games have been created to introduce the characters and to set up the story. Cinesation 2005 in Massillon Ohio will be the first screening of this restoration.



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