Few actresses suffered so magnificently on-screen as Pauline Frederick. In The Spider, Frederick is first seen in the role of errant wife Valerie St. Cyr, who leaves her husband and wife behind as she runs off with dyspeptic nobleman Count Du Poissy (Frank Losee. Years later, Valerie comes back into the life of her look-alike daughter Joan (also played by Frederick) when she falls for Joan's young artist sweetheart. Meanwhile, Joan is lured into the boudoir of her mother's "protector," the count, where she is forced to stab the rapacious old man in self-defense. Finally aware that she is responsible for her daughter's plight, Valerie takes the blame for the count's murder. Pauline Frederick would play this same sacrificial role, with variations, time and again throughout her screen career.
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