Kinematograph Weekly (13/Apr/1916) - Fine Film Version of "Paula"

The following is a transcription of a historic journal article and may contain occasional errors.

Fine Film Version of "Paula"

Adapted from the Novel by Victoria Cross

There has been a great deal of publicity attached to the picturization of the novels of Victoria Cross. The latest of her works to be filmed is “Paula,” and whatever there is to be said for or against those that have come before, there is absolutely nothing in this picture to which the most puritanically minded or squeamish person could possibly object. Miss Cross herself thinks that it is an admirable version of the novel, and so enthusiastic is she in regard to it, that it is quite probable that a dramatisation of “Paula“ will be seen in the near future.

A Strong Well-Acted Drama.

A private view was given by the Initial Film Service, one day last week, which attracted a good number of exhibitors and members of the trade, a particularly interesting spectator being Miss Hettie Payne, the lady who took the part of Paula. The picture was well received, and exhibitors should make a point of viewing it, and see for themselves that it is a strong, wen-acted drama which should make a striking appeal to the general public.

It is a five reel Bamforth production and was taken in Yorkshire. The photography is of the best, there are many striking scenes and the interest is well sustained. The picture follows the book fairly closely, the life of the girl who placed fame before love and happiness and afterwards bitterly regretted it, paying a terrible price for her mistake, is vividly portrayed, the final scenes being particularly tragic.

Paula on the film, with all her faults, makes a stronger appeal to one’s sympathy than ever Paula in cold print could have done. One seems to understand her better, to be able to grasp what it must have meant to her to be offered the road to fame and fortune, to have her play produced and to realise the ambition of her life. The temptation was great for the price to be paid seemed so easy — until afterwards. Paula is a woman we have all met in real life — passionate, highly strung and emotional, yet lovable withal; somewhat weak-willed and, as is so often the case, the cause of her own tragedy. Her disastrous marriage and the tragic after events were simply the outcome of her overwhelming desire for fame. She did not realise the value of a good man’s love and protection until it was too late. Still, she atoned for her mistake, giving her life for the man she had always loved.

Miss Mettle Payne as Paula.

The all-round acting is excellent, Mr. Frank McLellan as Vincent Halham, doing some particularly good work. The chief honours, however, fall to Miss Hettie Payne, as Paula. In fact one might almost say that Paula is the picture and the picture is Paula. Miss Payne gives a wonderful interpretation of this somewhat complex part. One does not feel that she is acting, she makes Paula live, and creates a character that charms and draws our sympathy and excites our admiration. Miss Payne is a pleasing personality and a finished actress. She is typically suitable for the part, having great emotional ability and acting naturally and convincingly as the character demands.

In an interesting chat with Miss Payne, we were greatly surprised to learn that this is her first “lead,” which makes her undoubted success the more to be appreciated. We congratulate her on her attainment and look forward to her future career with interest. As we remarked before, it is quite probable that the work will be dramatised shortly, and so delighted was Victoria Cross with Miss Payne's interpretation, that she has already been asked to undertake the part of Paula, for the real stage this time, not for the pictures.

Some Remarkable Scenes.

There are several sensational scenes. Paula has married Dick Reeves, a theatrical manager. It is a loveless union on both sides, both having had ulterior motives. Paula loves Vincent Halham and Reeves one day enters as she is kissing a photo of Vincent. He shows himself in his true colours, and after heaping insult upon insult on Paula, she, unable to bear it any longer, leaves him. She goes to Vincent, but he is stronger than she, and conquering his overpowering love for her, he goes away. She returns to her husband, who shortly falls, ill and Paula, repentant, nurses him day and night, but he eventually dies. Paula goes to Italy, where Vincent is staying, and then follows tragedy upon tragedy. When she arrives she finds Vincent slowly dying; now that the barrier has been removed, it is too late. The doctors say that only blood transfusion can save his life and Paula begs to be allowed to make this sacrifice. There is a weird and realistic, it somewhat ghastly scene, when Paula is seen lying on the operating table. Vincent recovers and regains his health, but after all she has gone through it is too much for Paula, and she gets worse and worse, finally giving her life as an atonement for past errors. Vincent is heart-broken, and the film ends with a pathetic theme. He sees his beloved Paula in a vision, which he follows and realises that she is at peace at last, and as the picture fades we see him looking dreamily into the past, possibly thinking of what might have been and repeating the said words of the last verse of the popular song, “The Rosary.”