Hell Morgan's Girl

Hell Morgan's Girl is a 1917 American silent drama film directed by Joseph De Grasse, and starring William Stowell, Dorothy Phillips and Lon Chaney.[1] The screenplay was written by Ida May Park, based on the Harvey Gates story entitled The Wrong Side of Paradise. The film's working title was The Wrong Side of Paradise.

Hell Morgan's Girl
Hell Morgan's Girl.jpg
Advertisement (1917)
Directed byJoe De Grasse
Produced byBluebird Photoplays
Screenplay byIda May Park
Story byHarvey Gates
StarringDorothy Phillips
Lon Chaney
William Stowell[1]
CinematographyKing D. Gray
Distributed byBluebird Photoplays
Release date
  • March 5, 1917 (1917-03-05)[2]
Running time
5 reels (50 minutes)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The film's tagline ran: "This is "Hell Morgan's Girl". You Doubt Her. You Accuse Her. You Pity Her. You Condemn Her. You Hate Her. You Love Her. SHE'S WONDERFUL!"

Despite the film's earning a $450,000 profit,[3] it is today thought to be lost, as no prints have turned up anywhere.[1] A still exists showing Lon Chaney in the role of the villainous Sleter Noble.[4]


The action takes place in 1906 San Francisco. Roger Curwell (William Stowell) aspires to be an artist, an ambition at odds with the wishes of his wealthy father (Joseph Girard). Cast out by his father, he soon falls on hard times. His ex-model Olga had been interested in him because she thought he would some day inherit his father's millions, but when he is cast out penniless, she deserts him.

In a Barbary Coast saloon called "The Sailor's Rest" which is run by Hell Morgan (Alfred Allen), he is rescued from a beating by Lola Morgan (Dorothy Phillips), Hell's daughter. She gives him a job as a piano player, he paints her portrait, and a romance evolves between them. A tough politician named Sleter Noble (Lon Chaney) is also interested in Lola, but has been rebuffed by her.

Olga, formerly a model for Roger, finds him and tells him that his father has died and made him a millionaire. Olga tries to rekindle her relationship with Roger and comes onto him. Angered on seeing Roger with Olga, Lola leads Noble on, but then regrets doing so and tries to distance herself from him. Noble threatens to shoot Roger if Lola doesn't agree to become his woman. When he hears his daughter screaming. Lola's father comes to her aid and is shot by Noble just as the famous earthquake hits. Sleter Noble is shot dead in the melee. Lola manages to get her wounded father out of the building by way of a fire escape. In the aftermath of the disaster, Hell Morgan dies of his injuries, and Lola and Roger are reunited.



The New York Daily Mirror opined: "It is no exaggeration to place Hell Morgan's Girl among the best five-reel melodramatic photoplays of the year. The action is fast and furious... If an exhibitor wishes to have a thrilling melodrama, he could not do much better than to book Hell Morgan's Girl."[5]

Wid's Film Daily stated "As a characterization study, this will rank very high. Being an underworld theme, it will be exceptionally interesting to many."[6]

Moving Picture World said "We could not recommend it...for exhibition before refined audiences or before children; for while it may be a perfect typification of that hole of vice, the realism of its staging makes it the more unwholesome. Those looking for maudlin types will be attracted to the picture, for it abounds in them."

Motography opined: "It will be found too rough for fastidious patrons, unless they are in the mood for a slumming expedition. However, the picture is really less suggestive than many polite society dramas. Its very frankness and force keep it from being salacious...It is well acted and well produced."[7]

Photoplay reviewer Julian Johnson stated: "Worked successfully: a rich man's son, disowned by his father because he refuses to forsake art for business, fails to make art go, and becomes a multiple-reel drunkard. His redemption must (be met) by a bad woman, according to the formula, or at least by a woman who has the externals of wickedness. Keep your eyes on Dorothy Phillips, the temperamental eyeful who plays Lola. She is coming up like a Fourth-of-July rocket, and if her crude talent is properly developed, she will be a supreme mistress of melodrama."

Variety said "...the scenes depicting life in Frisco just prior to the earthquake rank with the best of that sort of motion picture work. The 'dive' stuff is so vivid that its realism is positively startling." --- Variety[8]


  1. ^ a b c Carl Bennett, ed. (April 2, 2009). "Hell Morgan's Girl". Progressive Silent Film List. Retrieved March 13, 2016 – via Silent Era.
  2. ^ "Hell Morgan's Girl". Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  3. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 70. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  4. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "Hell Morgan's Girl". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  5. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 70. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  6. ^ Blake, Michael F. (1998). "The Films of Lon Chaney". Vestal Press Inc. Page 70. ISBN 1-879511-26-6.
  7. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "Hell Morgan's Girl". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  8. ^ Mirsalis, Jon C. "Hell Morgan's Girl". Lonchaney.org. Retrieved December 11, 2020.

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