The Unpardonable Sin

The Unpardonable Sin

Blanche Sweet coming attraction shot
Directed by Marshall Neilan
Alfred E. Green (assistant director)
Produced by Harry Garson
Blanche Sweet
Written by Kathryn Stuart (scenario)
Based on The Unpardonable Sin
by Rupert Hughes
Starring Blanche Sweet
Mary Alden
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Henry Cronjager
Blanche Sweet Productions / Harry Garson Productions
Distributed by World Pictures
Release dates
  • March 2, 1919 (1919-03-02)
Running time
9 reels
(2,700 meters)
Country United States
Language Silent (English intertitles)

The Unpardonable Sin is a 1919 American silent drama/propaganda film set during World War I. The film was produced by Harry Garson, directed by Marshall Neilan, and stars Neilan's wife Blanche Sweet whose portrays dual roles in the film. The Unpardonable Sin is based on the novel of the same name by Rupert Hughes.[1] It is not known whether the film currently survives,[1] suggesting that it is a lost film.


As described in a film magazine,[2] the film follows two American sisters, Alice and Dimny Parcot (Sweet in a dual role). Alice and their mother (Alden) are stranded in Belgium when World War I breaks out. Both are raped by German soldiers. Dimny, who is still in the United States, is found by Nol Windsor (Moore), a medical instructor, in a faint on the street. He takes her to his home and learns she is bound for Belgium in search of her mother and sister. Nol is going over to Belgium for the Commission for Relief in Belgium, and they apply for passports at the same time. Dimny is refused a passport because she is single, so they agree to marry in name only to facilitate their travel. In Belgium they meet Colonel Klemm, the German officer who outraged her sister Alice, and he mistakes Dimny for his victim. After undergoing many insults and affronts, Nol and Dimny finally find Alice and her mother, secure passports for them, and they start for the Dutch border. When Colonel Klemm lures Dimny to his quarters and attacks her, Nol arrives in time to rescue her, and a race to the border begins. They eventually escape and Nol and Dimny find happiness.



Like many American films of the time, The Unpardonable Sin was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, upon its release, the film was banned by the Kansas Board of Review due to its depiction of rape.[3] The censorship board of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, initially banned the film but after protests in the press authorized the showing of the film with cuts, in Reel 1, of the scene showing Blanche Sweet standing against the wall with clothing disheveled and the shadow of a soldier next to her, Reel 2, portion of scene with Belgian priest where he falls, the intertitle "On every side the cruel reminder of motherhood.", scene of soldiers using machine gun on people and people falling, Reel 4, the intertitle "At Malines they encountered Suslich, whose specialty is searching pretty women. He to whom chastity is hard should be counseled against it.", and to eliminate all searching of woman scenes where her clothing is torn off by brutal soldiers.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 Progressive Silent Film List: The Unpardonable Sin at
  2. "Reviews: The Unpardonable Sin". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 8 (19): 47. May 3, 1919.
  3. Butters, Gerald R. (2007). Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966. University of Missouri Press. p. 143. ISBN 0-826-26603-7.
  4. "Public Sentiment Requires Censors to Approve The Unpardonable Sin: Ruling Barring Production from Showing in Milwaukee is Reversed when People and Press Voice Protest". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 8 (26): 27. June 21, 1919.
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