An important early silent feature set in New York City’s Lower East Side where Ma Birdsong, her son Jimmie, and daughter Essie live together. Essie is allured by the city’s nightlife, theaters, and restaurants, and finally she becomes an usher in a cheap theater, where she falls in love with Joe Ullman, a crooked ticket broker. Her mother, in failing health, repeatedly begs to meet Essie’s fiancé, but Ullman declines to pay visits. When Ma Birdsong is seized with a heart attack and pleads to see him, Essie finds him in a poolroom, but he sneers and refuses to accompany her. She then encounters a stranger and in despair tells him her story; he agrees to visit her mother and represent himself as her fiancé. Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures and shot on location in New York City. The script was based on a short story by popular writer Fannie Hurst.
Frances Marion was a screenwriter, journalist, author and ﬁlmmaker and one of Hollywood’s most proliﬁc women creators. Her career spanned from 1915–1946. She both adapted texts and wrote original scenarios, sometimes as a freelance writer but most notably under studio contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Marion also taught screenwriting and wrote the textbook How to Write and Sell Film Stories. She played a major role in getting the Screen Writer’s Guild to address serious working conditions in 1933. Today, Marion is known for her friendship and collaborations with actress/producer Mary Pickford. In addition to also directing The Love Light (1921), she wrote many celebrated ﬁlms from the silent era, including Stella Maris (1918), The Toll of the Sea (1922), Stella Dallas (1925), and The Scarlet Letter (1926), and a number of well-known sound ﬁlms like Min and Bill (1930) and Dinner at Eight (1932). She won two Academy Awards for her screenwriting (the ﬁrst writer to do so) for The Big House (1930) and The Champ (1931).