About the Film
Jim Warren is awaiting death by hanging for the murder of Harry Silvers though his attorney, Lawrence, believes he is innocent and is shielding the guilty person. In a flashback to 1904, Jim recalls the events leading to the present: his new bride, Norma Drake, discovers their marriage is technically invalid and that she is pregnant. Jim decides to reform and legalize his marriage, but Norma is arrested and found with some stolen money. To insure her freedom, he agrees to marry Millie Burke, a saloon owner. Phil, a faithful friend of Norma’s, persuades her that Jim has deserted her, and for the child’s sake she agrees to marry him. Years later, little Norma has grown up, and on the eve of her wedding, Jim, accompanied by Silvers, a crook, confronts Phil with Norma’s letters and suggests blackmail. When Silvers abuses her dead mother, Norma shoots him with Jim’s revolver. As Jim is being led to execution, Norma appears and confesses, but he denounces her; at the last minute Phil corroborates Norma; Jim is then freed, and Norma is absolved by a jury. American Film Institute
About the Restoration
For decades, Silence was considered lost until last year when a 35mm nitrate print surfaced in the collection of the Cinémathèque française. It initially appeared complete, however, there was a significant difference between the length of the original American release (8 reels, 7,518 feet) and the surviving French version (6 reels, 5,033 feet). U.S. studios commonly produced separate export negatives for foreign distribution, but it is unknown if this film was abridged by the studio prior to export or shortened by the French distributor.
We found no definitive records such as the original film script or cutting continuity, but we did locate an original cue sheet for the music, censorship records, film reviews, and trade press synopses, as well as the 1924 play on which the film is based. All these sources indicate that the excised portion, from early in the film, involves a subplot of the saloonkeeper, Mollie Burke, blackmailing thief Jim Warren into marrying her instead of Norma, the woman he loves. The entire episode is conveniently papered over in the French print by the single intertitle, “Jim Warren spent six years abroad. When he returned ….” For ethical as well as practical considerations, this restored print does not attempt to explain the excised portion and represents the version distributed in France.