Starring Charles Ray and Frank Keenan
Charles Ray is an able challenger of Frank Keenan for first honors in "The Coward," an Ince play. Not since William Elliott's remarkable but hardly appreciated study of a weak boy in "A Grand Army Man" have I seen so carefully developed, so sincere a depiction as young Ray's. Ince wrote this scenario, and the psychological side of this lad is the subtlest and biggest thing about he picture. Here is a character on whom a great big play could be written - a gentle, kindly lad to whom war is a fearful thing; whose spirit is willing, but whose flesh is weak; one who, in overcoming his weak flesh, becomes a hero of gigantic proportion.
Keenan, as the father who takes his cowardly son's place in the ranks, has a part of tremendous force, and he plays it - oh, ye aloof gods of the masque, how he does play it! Keenan still has some screen mechanics unlearned. In "registering" he winds up his intensity as laboriously as an ancient grandfather's clock.
The denouement is a bit sudden; the defi of the self-saved lad a bit grotesque in its implausibility . . . he might have gotten his battle plans less improbably, but . . . the play is a whirlwind of power with some breath-catching moments.
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