A True Story of 1784
Christmas Eve At Sunset (1908)
Categories18. Century Based on True Story Black and White Brother-Sister Relationship Capital Punishment Child Out of Wedlock Christmas Death of Child Drama Duel Family Relationship Historical Drama Murder Pardon Prison Quaker Short Silent Film DramaShort18. Century, Based on True Story, Black and White, Brother-Sister Relationship, Capital Punishment, Child Out of Wedlock, Christmas, Death of Child, Duel, Family Relationship, Historical Drama, Murder, Pardon, Prison, Quaker, Silent Film
BESSIE LEAVES HOME. Bessie, the daughter of a Quaker family, leaves home to go to town.
THE INDIAN QUEEN INN. Arriving in town she stops at the Indian Queen Inn, which is owned by her uncle. There she meets a young officer with whom she falls in love.
BETRAYED. The young officer takes advantage of the innocent country girl and betrays her. Eight months have passed. Bessie is pale and broken in health and spirit. Her uncle shows her the door. She approaches her lover. He laughs at her and drives her in the cold winter snow.
"OH HAD I NEVER LEFT YOU." Slowly Bessie made her way to her home where she arrived in the dark of the night. At her father's step she breaks down. Mother opens the window, they carry the young girl into the house where they find her to be their daughte.
ONE MONTH LATER. BETRAYED FOR THE SECOND TIME. Bessie, a baby upon her arm meets her lover, presumably to give the baby an honest name. He, however, takes the baby and throws it down a precipice forcing the mother to swear not to reveal what has happened. He then leaves her for the second time.
ACCUSED OF MURDER AND CONDEMNED TO BE HANGED ON CHRISTMAS EVE AT SUNSET. More dead than alive she arrives at home. She will not explain where she as left the baby. The dead little body has been found, she is accused of murder and as she refuses to speak is condemned to be hung on Christmas Eve.
BROTHER, I AM INNOCENT. William, Bessie's brother, hearing of her plight, visits her in the prison cell, to him she confides the truth. He promises to save her. He visits the officer and forces a confession from his lips. They fight a duel whereby the officer is mortally wounded. In his dying hour he writes a note exonerating Bessie.
NOW TO THE GOVERNOR. William mounts his horse to get a pardon from the Governor. He forces his way into the Governor's office and pleads his cause so well that he receives the pardon he so anxiously asked for.
THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS. 140 MILES FROM HOME. Nothing can prevent William any more to reach his home. Through woods and waters, over mountains and stony roads he rides changing horses wherever his own breaks down.
AT SUNSET. The wagon carrying Bessie to the scaffold is on its way. One minute more and she will be doomed. Suddenly there is a commotion. William is coming galloping. He now reaches the scaffold and holds up the pardon. Bessie is freed, everybody is wild with joy.
GLORY TO GOD. William takes his siter by the hand and brings her home where she is received with open arms by her parents. It is a happy Christmas Eve at the Quaker family home.
Source: Lubin Catalog
This is said to be a story of life in 1784, but it might have been any other year and Christmas has little to do with it. Some of the scenes are strong, while others are weak. The scene of the murder of the child is strong and brings involuntary cries of horror to the lips of the audience. The dueling scene is equally weak and brings mostly contempt. The brother's actions in undertaking the rescue of the girl and securing her pardon are marked by undue deliberation. It would seem as though the actor should have shown feverish haste here, at least but he moves with as calm a demeanor as though nothing of importance depended upon it. Staging and technique are both good and the film deserves a long run.
Source: The Moving Picture World, January 9, 1909