Fun Size Review: The Heart of Humanity (1918)

A real curio from the First World War, this movie is a ripoff of a D.W. Griffith film (the heroine spins and twirls and is a squirrel aficionado) with a heavy dose of Erich von Stroheim (as actor and uncredited assistant director) and his patented sleaze thrown in, making this a very strange film indeed. And, yes, this is the one where he tosses a baby out of a second floor window. Much like real war, moments of horror punctuate extreme boredom. Historically important but no picnic to get through.

heart-of-humanity-dorothy-and-the-squirrel

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

The heroine, a devoted squirrel fancier who is also prone to kissing socks, goes to war as a Red Cross nurse, is attacked by Erich (who throws the baby in her charge out the window) but thwarts him with this thing called a “door” and is rescued by her husband, a square-jawed Canadian soldier. All ends with the heroine going home distributing war orphans like party favors. No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

If it were a dessert it would be:

Off-brand “Twinkies.” The original isn’t gourmet or anything (though it is bathed in nostalgia) but the rip-off is kind of awful.

Availability: Released on DVD by Grapevine.

Read my full-length review here.

4 Replies to “Fun Size Review: The Heart of Humanity (1918)”

  1. The baby out the window scene is just the epitome of tasteless propaganda. At least von Stroheim seemed to be aware that he was in dreck and tries to inject some black comedy into the sequence, smoothing down his hair like he’s getting ready for a date before lunging at the Lillian Gish wannabe. It’s alternately horrifying and idiotic.

    1. Yes, von Stroheim knew exactly what he was doing. I’m not his biggest fan but I give him props for understanding the propaganda and manipulating it to serve his own purposes.

    1. It wasn’t meant to be anti-war, it was meant to gin up anti-German sentiment and portray the war as a righteous crusade against evil. The whole thing is rather slow, with too little plot spread across too many minutes with von Stroheim adding interest when he appears.

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