Sog.: Evelyn Heath. Scen.: Lois Weber. F.: Allen Siegler. Int.: Mary MacLaren (Estelle Ryan), Girrard Alexander (Mrs Winthrop), Carl von Schiller (Wally Dreislin), Jack Holt (Jansen Winthrop), Phillips Smalley (Robert Winthrop), Harry Depp (Billie Schramm). Prod.: Bluebird Photoplays per Universal. Pri. pro.: 11 settembre 1916 35mm. L.: 906 m. D.: 44’ a 18 f/s. Bn.
MacLaren plays a very different character in Saving the Family Name, her third starring role under Weber’s direction. Chorus girl Estelle Ryan finds herself embroiled in a national scandal after a beau commits suicide because his well-to-do family disapproves of their romance. Subtitled “A Drama of Family Pride and a Chorus Girl”, the film illustrates Weber’s sustained interest in the damaging effects of gossip and ‘scandal’, suggesting that those interested in upholding conventional morality (presented here as ‘saving the family name’) often indulge in the greater immorality of spreading malicious rumors. Weber also offers a critique of the hollow feminine façade perpetuated by commercial ‘show business’, finding its hero in Robert, the only one who can see through the circus of scandal and feminine glamour to appreciate Estelle for who she truly is. Speaking with Richard Koszarski late in life, MacLaren remembered the enormous “popularity and respect” Weber commanded from everyone at Universal and the protective interest she showed in her star. “My goodness, she had very strict ideas about morality and everything, and she wanted to preserve me as I was” (Richard Koszarski, Truth or Reality? A Few Thoughts on Mary MacLaren’s Shoes, “Griffithiana”, n. 40-42, 1991).