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Better Times (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Better Times
Better Times (1919) - Ad 1.jpg
Ad for film
Directed byKing Vidor
Written byKing Vidor
StarringZaSu Pitts
CinematographyWilliam Thornley
Distributed byRobertson-Cole
Release date
  • July 13, 1919 (1919-07-13)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
David Butler and Zasu Pitts look lovingly at each other while Jack McDonald glares in a still from the film
David Butler and Zasu Pitts look lovingly at each other while Jack McDonald glares in a still from the film

Better Times is a 1919 American silent comedy film directed by King Vidor.[1] [2] A print survives in the EYE Institut Filmmuseum Nederlands.[3] Produced by the Brentwood Corporation, the film stars the then unknown Zasu Pitts in an early screen appearance.[4]

The picture is the second of four Christian Science “preachment” films that represent a brief phase in Vidor’s output, championing the superiority of self-healing through moral strength, supplemented by the benefits of rural living. [5]


As described in a film magazine,[6] the plot of the film is as follows. A western Pennsylvania town has two hotels that have seen better days. Nancy Scroggs (Pitts) is the neglected daughter of Ezra Scroggs (McDonald), who is the chief reason no one visits his hotel, the Lakeview. A gambler and procrastinator, he has succeeded in diverting trade from himself to Si Whittaker (De Vaull), proprietor of the Majestic.

Nancy, finally spurred into action by lines printed on a calendar, takes an ancient automobile used in the hotel's glory days and takes a stand at the train depot. Her one and only passenger is Spike Macauley, champion pinch hitter for a baseball team, who partly for pity and partly for a lark accompanies the girl. Through Spike's advertisement of the culinary department among the summer boarders of the Majestic, the later's guests are soon transferred to Nancy's care. A sudden telegram causes Spike to leave for the city, which leaves Nancy, who believes he has gone to see his sweetheart, sad.

In the days that follow, tragedy hits when Ezra gambles away his life savings and the hotel and then commits suicide. Nancy, using the insurance money from her father, goes to boarding school. While there she writes pretend love letters to herself from a famous ball player whom she only knows as Peter, make believing to have a sweetheart. This leads to a distressing situation, not anticipated by Nancy, when she is entertained at a box party at a ball game with expectations that she will meet her "lover." However, when she looks and sees that Peter (Butler) and Spike are one and the same, and jumps onto the field with joy.



  1. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 9: “...romantic comedy...”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 28: “...a rural comedy…”
  2. ^ Progressive Silent Film List: Better Times at
  3. ^ The Library of Congress/FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Better Times
  4. ^ Baxter 1976, p. 9: Vidor “spotted [Pitts] on a Hollywood  streetcar")
  5. ^ (Gustafssson, 2016: “The film “advocated views associated with Christian Science (not to be confused with Scientology), a then relatively new religious movement that came about towards the end of the 19th century and to which Vidor claimed allegiance.”
    Durgnat and Simmons, 1988 p. 26
    Baxter 1976 p. 9
  6. ^ MacDonald, Margaret I. (June 21, 1919). "Reviews and Advertising Aids: Better Times". Moving Picture World. New York City: Chalmers Publishing Company. 40 (12): 1821, 1823. Retrieved September 22, 2014.


External links

This page was last edited on 29 December 2020, at 10:23
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