Mingxing. B&W. Silent. 10 reels. Premiered May 3, 1925 at the Carter. Direction: Zhang Shichuan. Screenplay: Zheng Zhengqiu. Cinematography: Dong Keyi. Cast: Wang Xianzhai (Qin Renbo), Huang Yunzhen (Qin's wife, née Yu), Huang Junfu (Qin's son Hesheng), Xuan Jinglin (Qin's daughter Chunhua), Yan Zhongying (Kuang Yukang), Yong Xian (Wang Antang), Xiao Yangsu (Wang's daughter Xiuzhen), Zhao Weisan (Liu Chengde), Lin Xuehuai (Liu's son Jialin), Wang Jiting (Tian Dexiu).
When Wang Antang's business failures render him incapable of repaying his debt to unscrupulous moneylender Qin Renbo, the latter forces Wang to turn over his daughter Xiuzhen to be the future bride of Qin's dimwitted son. When the son is killed falling from a horse, the little girl is married to the son's memorial tablet, and under the feudal system is condemned to lifelong widowhood.
Qin Chunhua, the moneylender's daughter, desires another debtor's son Liu Jialin as her husband, and she gets her way. But after the wedding she constantly goes out of her way to treat him badly.
[left, poster for《The Last Conscience》. Click on image to enlarge.]
Wang Antang falls ill and, fearing he is dying, goes to the Qin mansion to see his daughter, but is not permitted to see her, and driven away. Liu Jialin takes pity on Wang and gives him a gift of money for medical treatment, but the older man foolishly loses it all gambling. When Chunhua learns what her husband had done, she curses and scolds him, so much so that Jialin angrily walks out.
[right, still photo from《The Last Conscience》. Wang Xianzhai is at center, seated, with Huang Yunzhen at far right. Chinese sources identify the actor at far left as China's future master of horror films Maxu Weibang, but neither he nor his role are listed in the surviving credits. Click on image to view full size.]
Chunhua has a lover, and one day the couple elope, taking a large amount of her father's money with them. This leads to a violent argument between Qin Renbo and his wife, during which he strikes her, injuring her fatally. Qin himself has a hysterical reaction and faints. When he regains consciousness, he is conscience-stricken about his past actions and takes his own life. But before dying, Qin makes out his will, leaving his entire estate and property to Jialin and Xiuzhen. The young couple happily look forward to a new life together.