This DVD is one of three in a series honoring the first ladies of filmmaking, and showcases two quite different films from the mid 1910s. "The Ocean Waif" has been carefully restored so that we can enjoy a light-hearted romance directed by the world's first female director, Alice Guy-Blaché, who began her distinguished career in France at the very start of moving pictures, namely 1896, before later going to the US where she directed this particular film. Although a few scenes show some deterioration and small sections of film footage are missing here and there, the story is still easy enough to follow. It is a standard `feel good' story of this period, about an unlucky orphan girl running away from her abusive foster father and finding happiness with her true love in the end, but not before some dramas in the plot with a few twists, and a dose of comedy to balance things out. It is sweet and charming, and a lovely representation of this genre from the mid 1910s.
Equally as enjoyable, and in better condition, is the second film on this DVD, "49-17", referring to the date 1849, but set in the year it was filmed, 1917. Another competent lady, Ruth Ann Baldwin, wrote the screenplay and directed this pseudo Wild West action adventure with all the elements of a great story: an unsolved mystery, interesting characters who make up the '49 Wild West troupe to recreate the past and entertain a millionaire, the suspicious gambler - impressively played by Jean Hersholt early in his career - a romance and a few twists at the end to reveal what's behind it all. It is well-balanced and a pleasure to watch, and its unusual story and overall good quality makes it a particularly fine example of silent films from this period. Both films have standard piano accompaniment, and the picture quality for the most part is also good, but above all, it is a nice tribute to the women who contributed to the development of the early film industry.