In the Heart of a Fool

In the Heart of a Fool is a 1920 American silent drama film directed by Allan Dwan.[1] It is based on a novel by William Allen White.[2]

In the Heart of a Fool
Film still with James Kirkwood and Mary Thurman
Directed byAllan Dwan
Produced byAllan Dwan
Written byLillian Ducey (scenario)
Based onIn the Heart of a Fool
by William Allen White
StarringJames Kirkwood
Anna Q. Nilsson
Mary Thurman
CinematographyH. Lyman Broening
Distributed byAssociated First National Pictures
Release date
  • October 1920 (1920-10)
Running time
6 reels
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[3] in a small town lives Dr. Harvey Nesbit (Burton), who knows of the scandals of the community. His daughter Laura (Thurman) loves Grant Adams (Kirkwood), the editor of the local newspaper. Margaret Muller (Nilsson) arrives in town to teach at the school and takes lodging at Grant's mother's house. She desires to dethrone Laura as a social leader, and decides to use Grant to obtain her desire. Laura, to arouse Grant's jealousy, flirts with another man, and they quarrel. Laura returns to her boarding school, and when she returns after her term she discovers Margaret as the mother of Grant's illegitimate child. Grant's mother, to shield Margaret's reputation, assumes the parentage of the child. As Dr. Nesbit knows differently, this places a barrier between him and his daughter. Grant's mother dies and with Margaret, in pursuit of Henry Fenn (Crane), a young lawyer, refuses to mother her child. Fenn's partner Tom VanDorn (McCullough) marries Laura, and Fenn marries Margaret. Eventually Laura's husband succumbs to Margaret's wiles, their affair leading to the divorce of Fenn and Laura from the guilty couple. Grant quits his paper to become foreman at a coal mine. A terrific explosion happens and, while attempting to rescue his men, Grant is badly injured. He is taken to Dr. Nesbit's home and Laura, tired of VanDorn, arrives at the same time. She nurses him back to health and the fires of love are rekindled. They decide to work to better the condition of the miners, but the issue of Grant's parentage remains a barrier between them. A strike is called and "Hog Tight" Sands, the owner of the mine, engages a horde of strike breakers to run Grant out of town. In the melee VanDorn holds up Grant's little son as a threat to make Grant give himself up, and the child is shot. Margaret then hates VanDorn and kills him, and then goes insane. On the deathbed of the child Grant confesses to Laura that the child is his, admitting this was a barrier between them. They come to an understanding and happiness.



  1. Carolyn Lowrey (1920). The First One Hundred Noted Men and Women of the Screen. Moffat, Yard. p. 48.
  2. Jessen, Kenneth (2015-07-17). "William Allen White cabin preserved in Rocky Mountain National Park". Reporter-Herald. Loveland, Colorado.
  3. "Reviews: In the Heart of a Fool". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 11 (17): 91. October 23, 1920.
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