Cecil Hepworth was a major British filmmaker of the early days. Only a few of his feature films have survived. TANSY is a straightforward story of a country lass (Alma Taylor) who is taken in at a sheep farm where she becomes the romantic target of two brothers. Neither brother seems to realize the other's attraction for Tansy. Nor do they realize the secret she has.
Set against the beautiful Sussex Downs, Hepworth's simple style may seem flat even to seasoned silent film buffs, but his art is in telling a story and not in fancy camera angles and editing techniques. Indeed, his camera never moves. Each scene is set up and the actors go through their paces. Next set up.
But Hepworth captures an England of long ago, ancient farming techniques, and simple lifestyles that even in 1921 must have seemed quaint. In some ways, Hepworth was a British version of D.W. Griffith, but he seems to have lacked Griffith's energy and innovation.
Alma Taylor, a major star of her day, is quite good as Tansy and was Hepworth's most frequent leading lady. Gerald Ames is good as Clem. Hugh Clifton and James Carew are the feuding brothers. And Rolph Leslie is Tansy's pathetic grandfather.
Worth looking for to see Cecil Hepworth's work, the beautiful countryside, and Alma Taylor.
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