HEART’S HAVEN (1922)
Article 4848 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Benjamin B. Hampton
Featuring Robert McKim, Claire Adams, Carl Gantvoort
What it is: Domestic melodrama
A young man with an unsatisfied wife, two kids (one wearing a brace on his leg) and a dog becomes the secretary of a tycoon with a hypochondriac butler, and moves his family into a nearby cottage. Things happen.
Let’s get the fantastic content out of the way first. The Walt Lee guide says the story involves “faith healing”. The way it manifests itself in this movie is that the young man’s saintly mother decides to pray that her grandson’s leg will heal so he can take off the brace; later, she does the same for the daughter of the tycoon, who has fallen from a tree and has to wear a back brace. There’s no laying on off hands; she just sits next to them, and they both heal. To these eyes, this is a little ambiguous, but that’s the full extent of fantastic content in the movie.
As for the rest of it, it’s one of those movies I found very difficult to describe, as you can probably tell by the clumsy plot explanation above. It’s not that what is happening is confusing in any way. It’s more that the movie seems to lack what I would call a “center”. By this, I mean I’m not sure what the MAIN storyline is. There are roughly four arcs: the wife’s dissatisfaction with her marriage, the injury of the tycoon’s daughter, the disappearance of the family dog, and the butler’s hypochondria. All the stories intersect somewhat, but I never get the feeling it gels into a complete whole. I suspect that the script largely consists of highlights of the Clara Louise Burnham novel on which it was based, which means there may be a lot missing here. Unfortunately, another side effect of this is that many of the characters never really adequately develop; only the unhappy wife and the butler really register in this regard, and they’re both partially caricatures. In the end, I found the movie odd and not quite satisfying.