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First Born, The (1928)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Sir Hugo Boycott is a would-be reforming politician married to Madeleine, a young woman of the upper classes. As she fails to produce an heir, they quarrel and he leaves the country to travel to Africa where he frequents a drinking club where he has an African mistress and child.

At home, Madeleine drifts around with her society friends and is courted by Lord Harborough, whom she rejects but retains as a friend. In an effort to regain her husband's love, she is persuaded by a jealous friend to adopt her manicurist's illegitimate child as her own.

For a while the reunited pair are reconciled and Boycott dotes on his new son and heir. They eventually have another child, but he is strangely uninvolved with her baby.

Boycott stands for Parliament, very much supported by his wife, who is popular with the people. But as the marriage deteriorates, again due to his philandering, tensions build. They quarrel again and Boycott discovers that the 'first born' is not his child. On the night of the election, he flees to his mistress, and they also argue. As he leaves he walks backwards towards the open lift door and plunges to his death.

On hearing this, his wife is distraught but, discovering from the manicurist that Hugo (she knows him by another name) was the father of the first born all along, feels that her ties to him are finally severed and that she can pursue her romance with Lord Harborough.