Released 7/17/16 by Universal/Bluebird Photoplays; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: Ida May Park, from the H. Rider Haggard novel, Mr. Meeson's Will; 5 reels; Print Source: George Eastman House (~2.6 reels)

CAST: C. Norman Hammond (John Meeson), Jay Belasco, (Eustace), Louise Lovely (Alice Gordon), Gretchen Lederer (Lady Holmhurst), Lon Chaney (Jimmie)

SYNOPSIS: John Meeson is a skinflint publisher who has acquired the copyright to a book by Alice Gordon for a small sum, which she is forced to accept because she desperately needs money to care for her invalid sister. When the book becomes a best-seller, Alice tries to get more money from Meeson. Meeson tells Alice that not only this work, but all future works belong to the company at the agreed upon price, as specified in the contract. Alice bursts into tears, and Meeson's nephew Eustace, who arrives during the meeting, berates his uncle for his cruel treatment. Meeson is furious that Eustace defied him, and rewrites his will to disinherit him. Alice returns home to find her sister has died. Eustace visits Alice and learns of her sister's death, but when he returns a month later, he finds that Alice has left the country. Alice has taken a steamer to Australia and, coincidentally, Meeson is traveling on the same boat. Alice is befriended by Lady Holmhurst, who learns that Alice is the author of that highly acclaimed book the social set is all reading. During the voyage the ship is wrecked, and everyone scrambles for life boats. Alice saves Lady Holmhurst's son, Dicky, while Meeson tries to buy a place in one of the lifeboats. Meeson dives into the ocean and Alice persuades the sailors to save him. The boat lands on a desert island and Meeson is taken ill. He expresses a desire to rewrite his will, leaving his estate to his nephew, but has nothing to write with. Alice has Jimmie, one of the sailors, tattoo Meeson's will on her back before he dies. The sailors gamble away their winnings, then gamble for possession of Alice, but in a fight they all fall off a cliff and are killed. Alice and Dicky are rescued by a passing steamer and arrive in Liverpool. Alice goes to court to display Meeson's final will and Eustace receives his inheritance. Eustace proposes marriage, and they settle in the old Meeson home.

"...The joker will not overlook the opportunity for a laugh when the judge orders (the will) to be produced in court, considering that it is tattooed on a young lady's shapely back...The characterization has been nicely handled and presents some fine types. The settings of the production, which are at times very pleasing and appropriate, exhibit at other times a carelessness of detail which is noticeable especially in the cheap quality of curtains, draperies, etc." ---Moving Picture World

"Louise Lovely appears as the heroine and it is on her back that the important will is inscribed...Lon Chaney in a comedy role is excellent, while the supporting cast is capable to a satisfactory degree." ---Motion Picture News

"THE GRASP OF GREED is one of the very best examples of how a scenario reader can go wrong and the one that picked this novel for the purpose of having a picturization made should be taken into a back yard with the rest of the live stock and penned up there so he can do no further damage in the future." ---Variety

NOTES: The film earned $20,088. About half of the film survives at George Eastman House Film Archive. All of the Chaney footage appears to be extant. He has a small role in an office at the beginning of the film. In one brief scene he does a little dance on the office floor, demonstrating quite a bit of agility and grace.

Also, check out this magazine art Lobby card #1 and Lobby card #2 on my Poster Gallery.

© 1996,2017 Jon C. Mirsalis

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