L …is for
Lucille Love, the Girl of Mystery
The plot centered around an old enemy who wants to exact revenge at any cost against his longtime rival. At West Point, Hugo Loubeque is in love with the woman who becomes the wife of his classmate, Sumpter Love. Hugo’s hatred of Sumpter is intensified when he is expelled from the Academy for cheating, the main witness against him being Sumpter. Knowing that his rival will have a successful career in the Army, Hugo becomes an international spy and starts plotting an elaborate revenge for what he believes is Sumpter’s betrayal.
Years later, Sumpter, now a general, is living in the Philippines with his daughter Lucille. (Mrs. Love, by then, is dead.) Lucille is in love with the general’s aide-de-camp, young Lieutenant Gibson, who has been entrusted with securing top-secret defense plans. But the Loves’ butler, in league with Hugo, steals the plans and plants evidence to implicate Gibson, who is arrested for the crime.
The Cunard-Ford partnership in Lucille Love reaped big rewards for the studio, which grossed over a million dollars on ticket sales and led to other successful serials on which the pair collaborated for Universal—the twenty-two-episode The Broken Coin (1915), the fifteen-episode The Adventures of Peg o’ the Ring (1916), and the sixteen-episode The Purple Mask (1916). After their collaboration ended, Cunard went on, on her own, to write, produce, direct, and perform in scores of silent films—by some accounts, as many as 150-200 total over the course of her career; and she continued to perform, albeit in significantly smaller roles, well into the 1940s.
Ads touted Lucille Love, one of a number of early productions to feature an adventurous and independent “New Woman” heroine, as a “soul thrilling story of love, devotion, danger and intrigue.” It not only established Cunard as one of the leading serial actresses of her day; it also marked a high point in her career. Yet, as Kalton Lahue has noted, the production was filled with danger, off-screen as well as on-screen. In an airship scene shot near San Francisco early in the film, one actor, Ernest Shields, fell twenty-feet onto a ledge of rocks and incurred serious injury; Cunard later suffered a fall as well, tumbling from the back of an elephant and spraining her ankle. Nonetheless, while she initially had reservations about playing a mere ingenue part (as it seemed at first, when only a few episodes had been written), she quickly grew to love the rousing role that made her a star.
Survival Status: The serial as a whole is presumed lost. But Progressive Silent Film List reports that incomplete prints of four chapters survive; and a few episodes are known to survive in the Library of Congress Moving Image Collection.
Director: Francis Ford
Release Date: April 14, 1914
Release Company: Universal Film Manufacturing Company
Cast: Grace Cunard (Lucille Love), Francis Ford (Hugo Loubeque), Harry Schumm (Lt. Gibson), Edgar Keller (Sumpter Love), Ernest Shields (Thompson, the Butler), Eddie Boland (Government Aviator), Burton Law (Native Chief), Harry L. Rattenberry (Captain), John Ford, Wilbur Higby, Jean Hathaway, Doris Baker, William White, Lionel Bradshaw, Louise Glaum, Lew Short.
Episodes: (two reels each) The chapters are numbered, not titled.