The Courage of the Commonplace
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. B: William E. Wing. D: Charles Bennett, Mary Charleson, Myrtle Gonzalez. P: Vitagraph Company of America, USA 1913
“The Courage of the Commonplace (…) contains elements of the ‘Cinderella narrative.’ The short and relatively uneventful film centres on a young Irish-American girl named Mary (Mary Charleson), the eldest daughter of a large family that includes three younger sisters and two brothers. Mary works on the family farm but dreams of a better life while completing her monotonous daily chores. She wants to go to college, get married and have children. Yet the film ends with Mary giving up on her dreams and realising that her place is on the farm. It is likely that the ending of The Courage of the Commonplace was a result of the period in which it was made. While Irish representation began to improve during this period, it would be a few more years before upwardly mobile Irish women regularly appeared in American films.* According to the information included in the listing on the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s online catalogue, the film was shown at a sermon in San Francisco during a time when the church demonised the film industry. A Fresno minister claimed that god was present in Mary’s sacrifice. This rather unrewarding conclusion was a rarity, however, with the cheerier and more Cinderella-like ending far more common.”
Thomas James Scott: The Irish in American Cinema 1910–1930: Recurring Narratives and Characters. University of Ulster (2013 Conference Issue), p. 126/27
*Mary Charleson was born on May 18, 1890 in Dungannon, Ireland.