The first feature-length treatment of the life of Nell Gwynne, the lusty 17th-century actress who became the mistress of "merry monarch" King Charles II, was produced by the Sawyer film company in 1914. Nellie Stuart starred as Nell Gwynne, while the identities of the other actors have been lost to history (as has the name of the director). Running five reels, the film relied totally on the charms of the leading lady to keep afloat; according to contemporary reviews, the production was singularly lacking in action or excitement. This is curious, inasmuch as the story of Nell Gwynne had enough drama (and comedy) to fill at least five films. Later versions of Nell Gwynne, produced by Herbert Wilcox and starring the likes of Dorothy Gish and Anna Neagle, were far more satisfying.
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