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From April 3-5, 1919, the Poli ran Johnny Get Your Gun, directed by Donald Crisp, and starring Fred Stone as Johnny Wiggins. The film was released on March 8, 1919, at five reels.  A complete copy is held in the UCLA film archives.

Plot:  Johnny Wiggins is a “western” film actor, as is his friend Bill Burnham.

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Bill’s father has died in Florida, and has left a large fortune. Bert Whitney, who loves Bill’s sister Janet, comes west to tell Bill that Janet has become engaged to a fortune-seeking Count. The Count is being encouraged by Bill’s Aunt Agatha. Bill wants to go east and stop the wedding, but he has just been arrested for a fight, and must serve some jail time. Bill suggests Johnny take his place, posing as Bill, to stop the marriage. Since Bill hasn’t seen his relatives in a long time, no one would suspect that Johnny is not Bill. Johnny agrees to the plan and heads east with Whitney. Johnny arrives at the Florida home, wearing a cowboy outfit, much to the consternation of everyone.

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Aunt Agatha is mortified, and fears that the Count will call off the wedding, not wanting to marry into such a family. Johnny falls for Ruth, a maid in the house.

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Aunt Agatha pretends to be nice to Johnny because he needs to sign a marriage settlement for Janet and the Count.

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Bill and Janet’s inheritance has been invested by Milton C. Milton. But Milton is a crook, getting people to invest in his railroad, while planning to wreck it. When the Burnham’s family lawyer tells Johnny about the scam, the actor devises a plan to make Milton buy back his worthless stock. Johnny tells the Count that he has permission to marry Janet, but refuses to sign the marriage settlement which would give Janet her money. However, Pollitt, who is the Count’s valet, once spent some time out west and recognizes Johnny Wiggins. Pollitt informs the Count, who, with Aunt Agatha’s help, arranges to elope with Janet. Ruth overhears the plans and informs Johnny that the pair plan to run off during a dance at the Burnham home. That night, Johnny puts on a western performance to amuse his guests.

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The Count and Janet sneak out towards a car. As they are starting to drive off, Johnny jumps into a balcony, seizes a rope, and lassoes the count, yanking him out of the car.

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He then administers a “real cowboy punishment.” Next, Johnny visits Milton and gains entry into the crook’s house through a series of hair-raising stunts. He kidnaps Milton and forces him at gunpoint to buy back all the worthless stock. By this time, Janet has become disgusted with the Count and turns her affections to Bert Whitney. Johnny proposes to Ruth, who accepts, and he explains who he really is.

The supporting cast included James Cruze as the Count, Raymond Hatton as Milton C. Milton, and Noah Beery in a bit. Ruth was played by Mary Anderson, the romantic lead in The False Faces. Hart Hoxie played Bill Burnham. A real-life cowboy, he changed his name to Jack Hoxie and made quite a few westerns, from the silent to the early sound era.

As with his previous film Under The Top, this movie was a platform for Fred Stone to demonstrate his athletic prowess. The film received mixed reviews. The Moving Picture World declared that “Fred Stone is the whole show, a genial athlete, who knocks down villains as fast as they get in his way, and the tricks he performs plainly show that he has mastered the art of motion.” However, a reviewer for Motion Picture Magazine skewered the film, writing “never had anything bored me quite so much as “Johnny Get Your Gun,” unless it were the other Fred Stone pictures. Mr. Stone is unfortunately as bad on the screen as he is good on the stage. However, this may not be his crime – but that of his producers. The plot of the present offense is too banal to bear repetition. An all around good cast is hurt by poor photography. Mary Anderson alone showed moments of promise.” Motion Picture Classic piled on with this gem: “We award the Croix de Boredom of the month to “Johnny Get Your Gun.” This is Fred Stone’s third – and most awful – vehicle. Edmund Laurence Burke has tried to fit the comedian with a story, building it around Stone’s acrobatic tricks, but the stunts fit into the plot like a bricklayer at the opera. Stone is an interesting example of a player who can’t get over in the films. Your eyes actually have to hunt all over the screen for him. Poor Mary Anderson stands out a little, but James Cruze deserves all he gets at the end of Stone’s lasso for his French count.”

One of the side-acts was “The Nakai Japs,” a group demonstrating jiu jitsu. The newspaper advertised "how attacks with gun and knife and other weapons are repulsed with seeming ease offers one of the pleasing features of this act.” I wonder if Fred Stone could have handled these guys.

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From April 6-9, 1919, the Poli featured The Poppy Girl’s Husband, starring William S. Hart as Hairpin Harry Dutton. Released on March 16, 1919, the film was five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot:  Hairpin Harry Dutton sits in solitary confinement, reminiscing about his past life.

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He envisions his wife Polly, known as the “Poppy Girl,” sitting beside him at a banquet given at an underworld hotel.

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He tells his crooked friends that he is going to be straight with Polly. Then his thoughts drift to the courtroom, where Polly, their one-year-old baby, and Harry’s friend Boston B l a c k i e await a verdict. Also present in the court is Detective Sergeant Mike McCafferty, who arrested Harry. The judge sentences Harry to fourteen years for burglary. Harry asks Boston B l a c k i e to look after his wife and child. Now Harry is being pardoned after ten years. Boston B l a c k i e meets him at the prison gate, but Polly is nowhere to be found.

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On a train ride to San Francisco, B l a c k i e informs Harry that Polly married McCafferty one year after Harry went to prison. “The man that sent me up!” exclaims Harry. “Was she getting the divorce that time she wrote and told me that she was hard up and needed a thousand dollars?” Harry checks into a San Francisco hotel inhabited by crooks, and begins to plan his vengeance. He spends most of his time in his room, working on a copper plate. Meanwhile, Harry’s son Donald is ignored by his stepfather, McCafferty. Harry locates the boy at school, and the child, not knowing who Harry is, draws close to him. He invites Harry to an Indian cave in the park, where the two can play together. Harry begins visiting with Donald every day, and the boy looks forward to seeing the “big chief.”

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Polly knows that Harry has been released, and fears his vengeance. So she persuades McCafferty to frame him. Donald overhears the conversation. The next time he meets Harry, he innocently tells him the bad man from jail is worrying his mama, and that the bad man is going to be sent back to prison that night.

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Harry learns more details of the plan from the crooks at his hotel, and is able to avoid the trap. He heads for Polly’s house. Polly, who is satisfied that McCafferty is taking care of things, dolls herself up in wait for him. Then she sees Harry standing in her doorway. He takes out the copper plate, and shows it to his wife.

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It has an engraved picture of a convict being pushed into an open grave by a woman. When Polly struggles, he uses chloroform on her.

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Then Harry heats up the plate until it glows red.

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He is about to press the plate against his unconscious ex-wife’s cheek when he suddenly hears someone sobbing. Harry drops the plate and rushes towards the sound. He discovers his son crying. Harry confesses who he really is, and the boy begs to be taken away.

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The hatred leaves Harry’s heart; he will not harm his ex-wife. Donald kisses his unconscious mother goodbye. Harry and Donald leave for the mountains, where they make their home in a cabin.

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The prison set was the largest ever used in a movie to that point. It was 100 feet long, with three tiers of cells.

The film was based on a Red Book Magazine story by Jack Boyle, author of the Boston B l a c k i e series. This movie marked the second film appearance of the Boston B l a c k i e character, here played by Walter Long as a minor character. Of Long’s performance, one critic wrote that the actor “is not my idea of Boston B l a c k i e, whom I have always credited with slenderness, insouciance, and romantic good looks. However … B l a c k i e really is out of this picture, so what particular matter?” The film marked a departure for western star Hart, and he garnered good reviews. A reviewer for Motion Picture News wrote “William S. Hart should be proud of this picture. … He will undoubtedly win the sympathy, love, and good will of the spectator. He should also make many new friends on the strength of this picture; it is entirely different than any of those in which he has appeared in the past.”

Juanita Hansen, who played the Poppy Girl, had a troubled life of drugs and attempted suicide. In 1928, while staying at the Hotel Lincoln in New York City, she was badly burned in the shower. She sued the property for $250,000, claiming that she had put the shower handle halfway between the “cold” and “hot” indicators, and a burst of hot water and steam had scalded her. In court, she showed the jury the burn marks on her body, and claimed her career as an actress was permanently impaired. The jury awarded her $167,000 in damages. In 1930, a judge set aside the settlement, claiming “the amount of the verdict is grossly excessive and undoubtedly reflects the jury’s sympathy for the injured plaintiff, a comely woman, rather than the jury’s unbiased judgment of facts.” The Los Angeles Times opined “do we understand that only homely women are entitled to receive heavy damages from juries?” Another lesson-known publication wrote that Hansen “should sex appeal the case to a higher court. … Why not order retrial, with a stipulation that the plaintiff wear long skirts? What this country needs is free beauty parlors for poor litigants.” In November of 1931, Hansen finally received a settlement of about $110,000.

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I didn't know Hart made anything outside of the western genre, but I'm no expert on his career. This one looks interesting.

I like the additional acts on the bill. "Mamie Ling & Tommy Long" sound intriguing. I also like "Stanley". Just "Stanley".

"Honey, let's go down to the show! They got Stanley!"

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9 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I didn't know Hart made anything outside of the western genre, but I'm no expert on his career. This one looks interesting.

I like the additional acts on the bill. "Mamie Ling & Tommy Long" sound intriguing. I also like "Stanley". Just "Stanley".

"Honey, let's go down to the show! They got Stanley!"

This film definitely looks interesting. I have seen one of Hart's westerns in which he played a dark, vengeful character, but I was also surprised to see him attempt something like this.

"Stanley" was a guy who did some kind of athletic act. "Mamie Ling and Tommy Long" entertained the audience with an act called "The Long and Short of It in Funland." The pair performed all over the country and were also billed as "the elongated eccentric and the dainty doll." Long, a juggler, was a tall fellow, with reports listing his height as anywhere from 6'3" to 7'. Ling sang and danced. One critic wrote "Mamie sings too much and Tommy doesn't juggle enough."

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From April 10-12, 1919, the feature at the Poli was Extravagance, starring Dorothy Dalton. The film was released on March 16, 1919 at five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Helen Douglas is married to Alan Douglas, a Wall Street investor. Helen dresses extravagantly in expensive gowns and jewelry, and spends lavishly. Billy Braden, a friend of the couple’s, decides to move to Denver, away from the fast life in the city. He urges his friends to move with him. But Alan is planning to make a big killing in the stock market, and Helen laughs at the idea that the two would move away from New York City. “I would rather be a paving stone in Little Old New York than a boulevard in Denver,” she replies. She advises Alan to stay the course, and also asks him to buy her a costly necklace. “Other husbands buy jewels for their wives,” she states.

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An argument ensues, and Alan tells Helen to use her own money to buy the necklace. Helen runs to her room, weeping. She falls asleep and she dreams that Alan has failed in his venture; he tells her he is bankrupt.

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Desperate, he has forged a check to get money. Alan then kills a policeman who tries to arrest him.

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He is tried for murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Helen begs the court for mercy, but still doesn’t show any remorse. “Some men have the nerve to steal to make their wives happy” she tells the judge.

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Helen awakens from her sleep, and discovers Alan has gone to his office. She rushes to Wall Street and finds that Alan, who has been double-crossed by one of his millionaire friends, is on the verge of being wiped out in a stock panic. Alan pleads with Helen to lend him her money so he can save himself from financial ruin. She refuses, and Alan gets violent, shaking her by the shoulders. He denounces her as a woman who has taken everything from him and given him nothing in return.

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He threatens to strike her, but Helen remains firm in her refusal. When she returns home, she has a change of heart. But it is too late. Alan comes home, bankrupt. Helen tells Alan that Braden was right; living in the city has robbed them of their ideals. She offers Alan all her money so that the two can move away, and begin useful lives. The two embrace, ready for a lifetime of happiness.

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The film garnered some good reviews, probably because of Dalton’s popularity, and the location shooting. The filmmakers used the biggest jewelry store in Los Angeles for scenes, as well as the Superior Criminal Court in Los Angeles.

The Moving Picture World featured a (now hilarious) two-page spread on how theater managers could promote the film:

On fashion: “Capitalize Miss Dalton’s popularity to the full. Tell that the part calls for the most unusual and magnificent dressing and that her frocks are revelations in the spring styles.”

On scenes at the Stock Exchange: “Tell how the progressive scenes show the growing excitement until the brokers are physical wrecks, with torn clothing, collars stripped off and even neckties torn to shreds.”

On the domestic angle: “Did you ever call your husband a tightwad?” … There never was a married couple who could plead not guilty. “Stole and murdered to please a selfish wife,” is another line that should gain attention of the reader, as well as “Don’t nag your husband,” “Do you want to kill your husband?” and similar startlers. Don’t be afraid of being sensational in the right sort of way.”

On banks: “You may hook up with them by offering a pass book with a dollar deposit and a pair of seats all for one dollar, and let the bank put a man in your lobby to make out the pass books, or have printed certificates redeemable at the bank. … Don’t let the bank argue that it does not have to advertise. Most banks know better these days. Get after them.”

On morality: “See if you cannot get a sermon preached on the story. Give the minister an outline of the story and get him interested. … Most ministers are anxious to fill their churches and this will give him as well as you a packed house.”

 

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From April 13-16, 1919, the Poli ran The Girl Who Stayed at Home, directed by D. W. Griffith. Released on March 23, 1919, the film is available on You Tube, and runs about 65 minutes.

Brief Plot:  In the days before World War I, Atoline France (Carol Dempster) is engaged to Count de Brissac. Atoline is visited by an old friend from the United States, who brings Ralph Grey (Richard Barthelmess). Ralph falls for Atoline, but she reminds him she is promised to Brissac. When the United States enters the war, Ralph tells his father he is going to enlist, but his father objects. Ralph’s brother James (Robert Harron) pretends he is also interested in enlisting, but in reality, he is pretty much a wastrel. Ralph goes off to train for the conflict, while James spends his time with a little fireball named Cutie Beautiful (Clarine Seymour).

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Eventually James is drafted, despite his father trying to use his connections to block it. The brothers meet on the battlefield.

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Count de Brissac is killed in action, and the Germans attempt to commandeer Atoline’s home. The Grey brothers and the American troops show up in the nick of time.

Review: This is an entertaining film, never dull, with some especially poignant scenes from the lesser players. In the beginning, we learn that Atoline’s grandfather (Adolf Lestina) was a Civil War Veteran who refuses to admit the Confederacy has been defeated. He has moved to France, and keeps the Confederate flag on his wall. In the final act, as the Americans march by holding the stars and stripes, we see he has finally let go of the past, wiping his hands on the Confederate flag, now little more than a rag. 

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Director Griffith wired his brother in Kentucky, and had him send the flag that their father, Colonel Jacob Wark Griffith, had rescued on a battlefield during the Civil War. This was the flag used in the initial scenes.

Another emotional scene occurs when a German soldier named Kant (David Butler) says goodbye to his mother, and she gives him some keepsakes to take to the front. At the climax, Kant is severely wounded and attended to by Atoline. As he is dying, he saves Atoline from attack by a fellow German, then makes her promise to return the keepsakes to his mother.

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Harron clearly has the better role over Barthelmess, and runs with it. When first we see Harron, he sports a pencil-thin mustache, slick hair, and slouches.

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The Army makes a man of him, and when he encounters a German soldier in the trenches, he recognizes him as someone who once bullied him back in the States. So Harron evens the score. Barthelmess is adequate, but his better days were to come. Dempster is attractive, and it’s easy to see why Griffith took a “fancy” to her.  Clarine Seymour is cute and spunky; her comedic background probably helped here. She had appeared in several shorts for the Rolin Film Company before getting her break in this film. “The luckiest thing that ever happened to me,” she said, “was in having the Rolin Film Company break a contract with me. If they had not said that I was incapable as an actress, I would still be in slapstick comedy, and I hate slapstick comedy! I sued them, tho, and won my suit, and was given a part by Mr. Griffith immediately afterward.” Griffith stated “when I saw her at the studio, the first impression I got of her was her extreme slightness. Her eyes are very, very large and dark; in fact, she looked almost all eyes. Her hair is black and very heavy. She looks to be an almost two-dimensional girl; that is, you hardly notice any physical thickness. I doubt whether she weighs eighty pounds.” In fact, The Paramount Press Book claimed she was 86 pounds, and only 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Of the four major players, only Barthelmess would have a decent career in films. Harron, who was finally escaping from playing “boyish” roles, made just a few more films before dying from a gunshot wound in 1920. Clarine Seymour’s film career was also cut short. She made three more films for Griffith, and then he cast her in Way Down East. But she never finished the film. On April 23, 1920, she was admitted to a New York hospital for intestinal problems. Following an operation, she died on April 25, at only 21 years old. According to the Los Angeles Times, she was engaged to marry William M. Merrick, a wealthy silk manufacturer. Carol Dempster made her last film in the mid-1920s, then quit the business. In 1929, she married Edwin Larsen, who was Vice President of P. W. Chapman & Co., investment bankers in New York City. When Dempster died in 1991, she left $1.6 million to the San Diego Museum of Art, enabling that institution to expand their collections. The Edwin S. and Carol Dempster Larsen Memorial Gallery is named for the couple.

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From April 17-19, 1919, the Poli featured The Sheriff’s Son, starring Charles Ray as Royal Beaudry. Released on March 30, 1919, the film was five reels, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Royal Beaudry’s father was a sheriff, killed in New Mexico when Royal was an infant. Royal is sent east by Dave Dingwell, his father’s friend. The young man graduates from college as a lawyer. He gets word that Dingwell has been taken prisoner by the Rutherfords, a gang of cattle rustlers, who also happened to kill his father. Royal has been living in fear because of what happened to his father, but he decides to return to New Mexico to help.

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While out riding, he comes across a young woman who has been caught in a wolf trap. After he sets her free, he escorts her home and discovers her name is Beulah Rutherford, the daughter of the man who killed his father.

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The Rutherfords order Royal off their ranch. Royal learns that Dingwell is being kept prisoner at the home of Jesse Tighe. In turn, Tighe orders that Royal be killed. When Beulah hears of the plot, she rides to warn Royal. Dan Meldrum, a member of the Rutherford gang, shoots Royal in the shoulder, but Beulah helps Royal escape.

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Royal returns to Tighe’s house and frees Dingwell.

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Meldrum heads for the Mexican border. While Beulah is out riding, she falls into an old prospecting hole. Her family go looking for her. Royal and Dingwell join the search.

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But Royal becomes lost and wanders away from the search party. Meldrum finds Beulah but decides not to help her. Royal discovers where Beulah is, releases her, and forces Meldrum into the hole. Royal and Beulah camp in the hills that night and Royal confesses his love for her. He takes her back to her ranch, and decides to have it out with the Rutherfords.

He then learns that the man he thought was Beulah’s father is really her uncle; Beulah’s father had been killed by Royal’s father. With the misunderstandings and bad blood finally washed away, Royal and Beulah get married.

A reviewer for The Motion Picture News wrote “the title should indicate to any one that it is not a society play; it is not a Western either, but a feud, staged in a fascinatingly rough mountainous country. Excitement and suspense are its predominating elements. They are so intense the attention of the spectator is held nailed on the screen.”

Of the Charles Ray films I have examined so far in this thread, this one seems the most interesting. The movie follows the typical Ray formula of the timid underachiever who rises above the odds to become the hero; but at least this film seems to have had some action. Future western star Buck Jones appeared in an unbilled part.

Director Victor Schertzinger, who worked with Ray on several occasions, was an accomplished musician and composer. His father was a diamond merchant; his mother was court violinist to Queen Victoria. “My mother taught me to play the violin when I was hardly big enough to hold up the instrument,” he explained. “When I was ten I toured the world with Sousa’s band.” He once told silent film pioneers Mack Sennett, Thomas H. Ince, and D. W. Griffith that “the trouble with the movies is that nobody’s put music into them.” In a 1941 interview, shortly before his death, he stated “It was not long before I found a niche in the silent picture business writing orchestrations to accompany the talkless film. The next thing I knew, I was musical director for the old Triangle Film company. A director was a director of everything in those days and I soon was at work turning out pictures as well as music.”

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From April 20-23, 1919, the Poli featured Her Code of Honor, starring Florence Reed in the dual role of Helen and Alice. Released in March of 1919, the film was six reels, and is presumed lost. It was very difficult to locate stills for this one, but I did find some in newspaper ads. However, I may be placing the pictures out of context.

Plot:  Helen, an art student, is studying in Paris when she falls in love with Jacques. She then discovers Jacques is married. Dejected, she turns to Tom Davis, another American art student. Then Davis inherits a fortune and returns to America. Years go by, and Davis now lives on a Long Island Estate with young Alice, who is the image of Helen. Alice believes Davis is her father. Alice falls in love with Eugene La Salle, and the two have an affair.

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La Salle goes abroad for a few months, and upon returning, learns that Alice is pregnant. He agrees to marry her. At the engagement party, one of the guests suggests a marriage rehearsal.

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Eugene obliges by taking a ring from his finger.

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Alice stares at the ring in horror and runs upstairs. Earlier, Davis had told Alice that he was not her father; her real father was Jacques.

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In her deathbed note, Helen had written that a certain ring would identify Jacques or someone related to him. Alice now realizes that Eugene must be Jacques son. She tells Eugene that she is his half-sister.

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Alice decides the only honorable way out is for Eugene to shoot her. But before he pulls the trigger, Eugene suspects there is some mistake. He tells Alice that Jacques was only his step-father; he had never known his actual father. With the specter of incest removed, the two lovers find happiness.

The film’s working title was The Call of the Heart, but it was changed before its release.

Reed, primarily a stage actress, reviewed good reviews for her work. “If Miss Reed gave more generously of her time to the studio,” wrote one critic, “she would become a screen figure of tremendous account. … It is the actress herself who makes “Her Code of Honor” the powerful thing it is. Without her it would be the old worn-out story, done a hundred times before, and likely to be done a hundred times in the future.” The Los Angeles Times wrote “in this production, she excels many of her past efforts, playing two distinct roles and scoring heavily. Miss Reed’s gowns, too, demand attention.”

Theater managers were also enthused with the big business the film brought in. Harry Crandall, who managed Crandall’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., wrote that the film was playing to capacity crowds. The Harding Brothers, who ran the Liberty Theatre in Kansas City, stated “we ran Florence Reed in ‘Her Code of Honor’ all week. The first three days the weather was stormy, but even under these conditions we played this attraction to capacity business.” “Receipts 25 per cent over normal. Miss Reed without doubt has proved herself one of filmland’s biggest stars,” came word from the Tivoli Theatre in San Francisco. “The climax is clever and strong, and when we show we expect to have some of the handles of the seats squeezed off, for the suspense makes you grip your seat,” chimed in the Washington Theatre in Dallas.

As for the other acts on the Poli bill, “Leipsig, the Mysterious” did card tricks. Ed Gringas was “a powerful fellow who juggled cannonballs and things.”

Also included was a two-reeler entitled Beresford of the Baboons, which was a spoof of Tarzan.

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Olin “Make me a Sergeant in charge of the booze” Howland plays Beresford, the missing son of the Earl of Swank. He has been raised by baboons and lions, and has chickens which lay square eggs. He also has a jungle taxi. Professor Choate, a famous English explorer looking for Beresford, arrives in the jungle, along with a charming girl named Cissy and a “silly a s s” named Lord Archy (also played by Howland). When Beresford and Cissy meet, it is love at first sight. The players have “many hazardous, ridiculous experiences with Beresford and the animals.” Lord Archy is so distraught at losing Cissy that he commits suicide. Apparently no one cares.

James Montgomery Flagg, who wrote the script, sent a telegram to The New York Tribune in February of 1919, promoting the film at the Strand Theatre:

In eighteen hundred and eighty blank

 a yacht belonging to Earl of Swank

 was shipwrecked on a desert isle,

and the Earl and his wife and their baby chile

were washed up on the sandy beach;

and the baby, of course, let out a screech.

They grabbed the kid and he’s here to-day

a man brought up in the baboon way.

This will be easy to understand

if Sunday you will go to the Strand.

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I'm kind of surprised at the casualness of the snooty Lord committing suicide because he can't have the girl in the Tarzan spoof. And the heroine in Her Code of Honor deciding the only solution was to have her fiancé shoot her when she thought they were half-siblings. I guess these were things that made sense to audiences then, but would be head-scratchers for audiences now.

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5 hours ago, DougieB said:

I'm kind of surprised at the casualness of the snooty Lord committing suicide because he can't have the girl in the Tarzan spoof. And the heroine in Her Code of Honor deciding the only solution was to have her fiancé shoot her when she thought they were half-siblings. I guess these were things that made sense to audiences then, but would be head-scratchers for audiences now.

Yeah, I know what you mean.

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3 hours ago, laffite said:

Finally clicked on this thread. Wow, I am bowled over. Great thread, Rich, and thanks for all the work. Superb screen shots and commentary..

*****

////

Thanks, and thanks for stopping by.

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From April 24-26, 1919, the feature at the Poli was Three Men and a Girl, starring Marguerite Clark (as Sylvia Weston) and Richard Barthelmess (as Christopher Kent). Released on March 16, 1919 at five reels, the film is presumed lost.

Plot: Christopher Kent and Julius Vanneman have had bad experiences with women, so their friend Dr. Henry Forsyth, who has also sworn off women, joins the pair at a club where they hope to escape from the fair sex.

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However, the trio are constantly disturbed by female callers, so they rent a country home owned by a man named Weston. Weston’s daughter, Sylvia, is promised to a rich old man whom she despises.

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She runs out on her wedding ceremony and decides to hide out in her father’s country home. When she arrives, she finds food on the table, and after a hearty meal, wraps herself in her wedding gown and falls asleep on a couch. When the three men return to the home, they find Sylvia and are beside themselves.

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They cannot throw the girl out of the house, so they decide to let her stay the night.

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The next morning, Sylvia’s nurse arrives, and the two women move into a small building near the main house.

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The three men create a “dead line,” marked off with a rope, between the houses, with the understanding that no one is to encroach on the other’s property.

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But one by one, the men soften and spent more time at the dead line with Sylvia than avoiding her.

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Sylvia falls for Kent, whom she calls her “little bear,” while she refers to the other two men as “big and middle sized bears.” Although the men become jealous of each other, Sylvia and Kent end up happily together.

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As with many of Clark’s films, this one sounds cute. If the plot reminds you of the Goldilocks story, it’s probably because the film was based upon a stage play entitled “The Three Bears,” which premiered on Broadway in October of 1917.

The National Juvenile Motion Picture League of New York apparently looked askance at films with “questionable” title cards. In this instance, they suggested cutting the lines “How the devil did I know it was a woman” and “Good Lord, just like a woman.”

Exterior scenes were filmed at Loon Lake in the Adirondacks.

The two other “bears” were played by Percy Marmont (the light-haired fellow in the stills) and Jerome Patrick (the dark-haired gentleman with the mustache). Both were born outside the United States, and both had appeared in the 1917 stage version of “The Three Bears.” Marmont, a native of Great Britain, lived into his 90s. Patrick, a New Zealander, suffered a loss when his father William died in New Zealand, a few months before the film opened. Then Jerome died in 1923, after making only a handful of films. Some newspapers claimed the cause of death was a “nervous disorder.” However, Variety reported that Patrick had died of heart disease at the Neurological Institute in New York.

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2 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

From April 24-16, 1919, the feature at the Poli was Three Men and a Girl, starring Marguerite Clark (as Sylvia Weston) and Richard Barthelmess (as Christopher Kent). Released on March 16, 1919 at five reels, the film is presumed lost.

 

Hmmm, the three bears seem a prototype of our MGTOW enthusiasts. But they couldn't stay away from that cutie. I love the picture with the parasol. Barthelmess gets the girl.

//

 

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From April 27-30, 1919, the Poli featured Captain Kidd, Jr., starring Mary Pickford as Mary MacTavish. Released April 6, 1919, at five reels, the film is presumed lost.

Plot: Mary MacTavish and her grandfather Angus run an old book and curio shop.

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They are assisted by Jim Gleason, an author. At an auction, Jim buys a set of books from the estate of the late millionaire Henry Carleton. But there is a mix-up in delivery, and the wrong box of books gets sent to the shop. One of the books attracts Jim’s attention; it is entitled “The Pirate’s Revenge.” Jim becomes engrossed in the book. Shortly thereafter, a lawyer named John Brent arrives at the shop, and offers to buy back the books. Knowing Jim had paid $4.50 at the auction, Mary, sensing a good deal, asks $75 for them. Brent agrees, but leaves behind the book that Jim was interested in. Next, Carleton’s former secretary, Marion Fisher, visits the store to purchase the same box of books, but has to leave empty-handed. Willie Carleton, heir to the millionaire, comes to the store looking for the missing book that has so interested Jim. Willie tells Mary that the book contains instructions which will lead him to a treasure left by his grandfather. Mary, her grandfather, and Jim all agree to help Willie, and the four head to Butterfield Farm, where the treasure is supposedly buried. When they arrive at the farm claiming to be geologists, the local constable, Sam, becomes suspicious, especially since the local bank has just been robbed. Sam now thinks the quartet are the thieves. Brent arrives on the scene, claiming to be a famous detective, and convinces Sam to arrest the four treasure hunters. But Mary and her group explain their true mission, so everyone joins forces to find and divide the treasure.

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Due to a complicated turn of events, Mary ends up purchasing the farm for $2000. Then, after digging up the farm from one end to the other, the treasure seekers finally discover a box.

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It contains a letter written from Carleton, stating “the richest treasure in the world is health and honest toil.” Disappointed, Mary, her grandfather, and Jim return to the city and find an eviction notice posted on the door of their store. But a businessman offers Mary $3000 for the farm. Then Willie learns he really has inherited Carleton’s money, and discovers a railroad wants the property. So he bids against the businessman for the farm and pays Mary $20,000 for it. Mary, who has been the object of Jim’s affection for some time, finally returns the author’s affection.

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Contemporaneous reviews were mainly on the neutral side. One critic, while expressing his enjoyment with the film, wrote that Pickford had little to work with, “the main amusement being derived from a parrot addicted to screamingly funny swearing subtitles. … The plot … is treated in frankly burlesque style. In fact, at certain moments I forgot whether I was viewing a Sennett comedy or the feature of the show.”

The cast worked overtime (literally) on the film. After spending eight hours in the studio, they filmed the dig scenes at night. A portable electric light generator was brought to the farm; scenes which were only supposed to take a few hours to film dragged way into the night.

Character actor Spottiswoode Aitken played Angus MacTavish; you can spot him in the Scottish garb in the stills. In 1922, he was involved in a messy divorce. He filed for divorce against his wife Marion in January, claiming she was in a relationship with another man, Theodore Wilson, which had caused Aitkin “great mental suffering.” In February, his wife counter-sued, telling the court an incredible story. First, she stated that her husband had permitted her to associate with Wilson, telling her he would not sue for divorce. Then, she alleged that her husband had told her to move in with Hay Weinstein, a rich resident of Santa Barbara. Her husband would then attempt to extort money from Weinstein. She also alleged that Aitken beat her and continually called her names, and ordered her out of the house. During the hearing, Aitken testified “I loved her but she wouldn’t be faithful. … I found her with Theodore Wilson, a man named as a correspondent in a divorce suit I brought. I shall be satisfied if I can only have my children.” His wife countered: “I still love him, yes, in spite of all that has happened. He has subjected me to a life of persecution. On December 11, he drove me out of the house. He demanded to know why I didn’t do something. He said he would not question me if I did. He suggested I get money from men. He said he didn’t care how many men I met if he could only get money. But most horrible of all, was my experience in Santa Barbara, where he forced me to live with this man for several months. He told me he could get money from the man later, that if he refused to pay he would get it by an alienation of affections suit. He it was who engineered everything with Wilson. It was done for the purpose of giving him grounds for divorce. … He used to starve me. I did not have the necessities of life. But in spite of the difference in our ages, in spite of all the terrible things he has done, I cannot help loving him. I’d go back and live with him if he’d take me.” He didn’t, and the divorce went through a year later.

The bill also included a two-reel short entitled The Law North of 65, released on September 17, 1917, and presumed lost. While the Poli advertised this as a Tom Mix film, the western star played a minor role. The story is set in northwest Canada and involves two lovers: Pierre (Wheeler Oakman) and Jeanne (Bessie Eyton). The two are engaged, when Pierre leaves for a trapping expedition. In his absence, Jeanne becomes enamored of a trapper named Niklo (Joe King) and the two get married. But Jeanne’s father dislikes the trapper, and orders him to go away and take Jeanne with him. One night, near Niklo’s cabin, Pierre hears a woman screaming and discovers that Niklo is abusing Jeanne. He rescues Jeanne, and Niklo is accidentally drowned in a scuffle with one of Pierre’s friends. Pierre and Jeanne reunite. Tom Mix plays a character named Ralph; he is probably the character who struggles with Niklo.  The film’s title most likely has to do with the 65th parallel, which runs through the northwest territories of Canada. The short played well into 1923, with newspapers advertising this as a Tom Mix film, no doubt to capitalize on Mix’s increasing popularity.

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From May 1-3, 1919, the Poli ran Peppy Polly, starring Dorothy Gish in the title role and Richard Barthelmess as Dr. James Merritt. Released on March 30, 1919, the film was five reels and is presumed lost.

Plot: Peppy Polly is a kind-hearted soul, giving soup to a sick friend.

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Polly obtains a position as social secretary to Judge Monroe, a prominent leader in town. But Polly’s sick friend, who cannot obtain work, is arrested for “misconduct on the streets” and sent to jail. Polly tries in vain to use her influence with the judge to help her friend, but the girl is sent to Melville Reformatory. Judge Monroe takes an interest in the reformatory, and heads up a committee to investigate the place. Polly, who accompanies the judge, learns that her friend has been subjected to abuse and beatings. The committee informs the judge that the reformatory is satisfactory; but Polly tells the judge what she saw. Polly and the judge decide to run their own investigation, with Polly going undercover. The next day, she steals a coat from a pawnshop, thinking it will land her in the reformatory. The owner runs out of the store and grabs her, but a good-natured policeman pushes the owner back into the store and apologizes to Polly for the way she was treated. Polly tries again, this time throwing a brick through a jewelry store window and taking two watches, which does get her arrested.

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For this crime, she is sentenced to three years. At the reformatory, Polly finds the conditions are even worse than she thought, with stool pigeons and an evil matron. Polly finds herself in solitary confinement after she is beaten. Dr. James Merritt, the resident physician, is revolted by the conditions at the institution, and makes his feelings known to the administrators. The matron is determined to have him removed. The doctor visits Polly in solitary and decides she is in no condition for such treatment.

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When he reports this to the matron, she orders that Polly be taken out of her cell and put to work scrubbing floors. The doctor and Polly begin to develop feelings for each other.

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The matron spies on them, then sends for an agent of the governor. Polly writes a report to Judge Monroe, but the matron intercepts the letter, and announces that the judge has died suddenly. Just as Dr. Merritt is about to propose to Polly, the matron and the governor’s agent descend upon them, and the doctor is arrested. Polly appeals to the agent, who agrees to take her to the judge’s home. There, the judge’s secretary corroborates Polly’s plan. Polly and Dr. Merritt are pardoned, and get married. After the honeymoon, they are delighted to discover that the governor has placed both of them in charge of the reformatory.

Gish made some unusual remarks about the cast. “This is NOT the strongest cast ever assembled,” she stated. “Some of them are weak, because that’s the way we wanted them to be. We picked each character for just what we thought that character needed in the line of playing. … As far as I am concerned, they are perfectly satisfactory and each one of them is an experienced player. That means that they give a finished performance. No more should be asked. And furthermore, I don’t want my pictures advertised as having the greatest Star on earth or the greatest supporting cast on earth. Don’t you think people get tired of hearing that sort of thing?”

For the scene in which Gish is taken to jail, a real patrol wagon from the Los Angeles Police Department was used. An officer on the street was told he should arrest Gish and call it in, as he normally would. The driver of the wagon came directly to the location, having already picked up some actual criminals. So Gish had company in the wagon: a drunken tramp, a shoplifter, and a woman arrested for fighting.

Director Elmer Clifton was able to shoot some society scenes at an exclusive residence in Pasadena. “I never saw so much silver in my life,” he reported. “And everywhere you looked, there was enough expense to break ten ordinary incomes. Everything’s gold but the door knobs, and they’re polished brass.”

A critic for The Photo-Play Journal wrote that the film “does amuse hugely and it serves to ingratiate Miss Gish – the one called Dorothy – with more anyone who really likes cleverness as a running mate of petiteness. Primarily, in every way those Gish sisters are to be admired and we would experience difficulty in undertaking to cast the die of favoritism either to Lillian or Dorothy, but if the latter keeps up the good work she has started so auspiciously in “Peppy Polly,” she is liable to make her sister step mighty lively.” Motion Picture Magazine added “the young Gish injects so much of her own spirit into the part of the young reformer who nearly gets caught in her own trap that the picture is never dull, and there are quite a few heart twangs.” Motion Picture Classic had a different take, saying the film “interested us at the start, but gradually the reformatory background oppressed all the joy out of our evening. … Dorothy improves with each picture. Richard Barthelmess is the doctor. Certainly Barthelmess would not be our choice of a safe physician for a girls’ reformatory.”
 

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From May 4-7, 1919, the Poli featured Let’s Elope, a romantic comedy starring Marguerite Clark as Eloise Farrington. The five-reel film was released on March 13, 1919, and is presumed lost. The movie was based upon a play entitled “The Naughty Wife,” written by Fred Jackson, and first performed at the Harris Theatre in New York City on November 17, 1917. I could only find a few production cuts, so I’m not sure if I am placing them in context.

Plot:  Author Hilary Farrington and his wife Eloise have been married about a year, and although Hilary loves his wife, he has become engrossed in his writing and doesn’t realize how lonely his wife has become.

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Eloise starts spending time in the company of Darrell McKnight, who neglects his own fiancée, Nora Gail. Eloise promises to go west with Darrell if her husband doesn’t take her to his bungalow, where he is beginning his new book. Darrell tells Nora that he loves someone else. Nora decides to team up with Hilary to prevent a scandal. When Hilary leaves for his bungalow without asking Eloise to accompany him, she phones Darrell and tells him she will be ready to elope with him in half an hour. While Darrell waits outside the Farrington house, Hilary returns, having forgotten something. Eloise is dressing and does not hear Hilary enter the house. While he is looking for the forgotten item, Nora arrives and tells Hilary the whole story. They agree to work together to make Eloise and Darrell sick of each other. Hilary goes to Eloise’s room and feigns surprise when he sees her preparing to leave. Darrell enters the house, and he and Eloise are taken aback when Hilary suggests the pair use his bungalow for their “honeymoon.” When the two protest, Hilary convinces them to go by pulling out a gun. Darrell and Eloise encounter another surprise at the bungalow.

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The chauffeur reports that the car is out of gas, so all three principals have to stay in the bungalow.

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After a meal in which Hilary keeps reminding Eloise of their own honeymoon, Hilary says he will try to get gas for the car. Just as he is leaving, Nora appears, pretending she is lost and her car has broken down. Now Darrell believes that Hilary and Nora have planned an elopement of their own. Eloise become jealous, and everyone goes off to their rooms except for Hilary, who remains downstairs in the dark. Eloise calls her uncle, who is a Bishop, tells him everything that has happened, and begs him to come to the bungalow to help her get rid of Nora and Darrell. After a series of misadventures during the night, Eloise awakens first, finds Hilary’s car, and discovers it has plenty of gas. She drives off and meets the Bishop at the train station. Back at the bungalow, Nora and Darrell have made up and decide to get married as soon as possible. Eloise and the Bishop arrive, and Nora and Darrell get married on the spot. Eloise and Hilary send everyone off in the car, then settle it for their own “second honeymoon.”

The National Juvenile Motion Picture League of New York suggested the following title cards be cut: “Good Heavens,” “Go to blazes,” and “It’s time we were all in bed.” They also wanted a scene cut which showed a female drinking wine.

Gaston Glass, who played Darrell McKnight, was a native of Paris. In 1917, when he was 18 years old, Sarah Bernhardt (who was in her early 70s) gave him the lead in her farewell tour. Glass had a modest acting career, making it into the sound era. But some reports suggested that because of his heavy French accent, he was not suited for talking pictures. He eventually became a production manager for 20th Century-Fox television. Glass died in 1965.

Frank Mills, who played Hilary Farrington, met with an unfortunate end. In March of 1921, he suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to an insane asylum in Michigan. He died there three months later.

Appearing on the bill was future character actor Hugh Herbert, in a vaudeville sketch entitled “The Average Man.”

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From May 8-10, 1919, the Poli featured John Barrymore as Martin Wingrave in The Test of Honor. Released on April 6, 1919, the film was five or six reels, depending upon the source, and is presumed lost. The movie was adapted from a novel entitled “The Malefactor,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim.

Plot: Martin Wingrave is madly in love with Ruth Curtis, a married woman who despises her husband. George Lumley, a medical student, is infatuated with Ruth, but she wants Wingrave. Juliet Hollis, daughter of the organist of the village church, loves Wingrave, but he is unaware of her feelings.

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At a country club, Ruth’s husband discovers his wife and Wingrave in a passionate embrace, and attacks Wingrave. Wingrave knocks him down and Curtis loses consciousness. Lumley administers first aid, and tells Ruth to get a glass of wine to help stimulate her husband’s heart. Ruth does nothing and lets her husband die. At the inquest, Ruth testifies that Wingrave made advances towards her which were not returned, and that he had killed her husband, who was defending her honor. Lumley knows that Curtis had suffered from a weak heart for years, but does not share that fact. Wingrave refuses to incriminate the woman he loves, and offers no defense. He is convicted of manslaughter and given a seven-year prison sentence. During this time, Juliet pines for him. When his term is up, Wingrave plots revenge against Ruth, who has since remarried. Calling himself John Martin, he visits Ruth and threatens to expose her past to her new husband, Judge Ferris, unless she introduces him to her new circle of friends.

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Ruth resents Juliet’s obvious affection for him. Ruth demands that Wingrave return love letters she had written to him, but he refuses.

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Judge Ferris has no idea of his wife’s past, but becomes jealous of Wingrave after he overhears Ruth telling Wingrave that she loves him. Wingrave embraces Ruth as the Judge approaches, then explains that he was convicted of killing Ruth’s first husband and was once again forcing his unwelcome attentions on her. Judge Ferris orders Wingrave out of the house, but Wingrave refuses to leave. Meanwhile, Lumley, who is now a doctor, exchanges Wingrave’s headache medicine for poison tablets, all at the request of Ruth.  Wingrave suspects the plot and confronts Ruth.

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He then tells Lumley he is risking his medical reputation over the love of a woman who is unworthy of him. Juliet arrives at the house, and Ruth heaps scorn upon her. Lumley finally tells the truth about what happened the night Curtis was killed. Wingrave then burns Ruth’s letters and advises her to return to her new husband. Wingrave and Juliet marry.

For one scene, an apparition had to appear to Barrymore while he was in jail. A large, muscular actor was hired, and Barrymore did the actor’s makeup. “I know the sort of face it would take to give me the creeps,” explained Barrymore, “and that’s the sort of face I’ll put on him.” After the makeup was applied, the crew agreed that the face was indeed terrifying. One of the supporting actors claimed “only lobster and mincepie could produce a face like that.”

Barrymore gave himself a makeover to convey the image of a man who had spent seven years in prison. He used a yellow pallor for his face, and lines to make his eyes and cheek bones appear shrunken. When his sister Ethel visited the set, he met her in full makeup and she let out a gasp.

A critic for Photoplay wrote “perhaps you’ve wondered, along with the rest of us, why that superbly serious actor, John Barrymore, has never tried anything but the thin stuff of films. Here is a thick one – murky and bitter as unrefined molasses. … The piece is very ordinary melodrama, but Mr. Barrymore’s performance is magnificent. He reminds me, here, of Caruso glorifying a song out of tin-pan alley.” Motion Picture Magazine agreed that this was a good change of pace, stating that Barrymore “who has hitherto confined his screenic efforts to farcical work, here demonstrates that he can be as serious on the screen as on the stage.” Photo-Play World declared “Mr. Barrymore dominates the situation with his magnetic personality and his wonderful acting; he is always master of the scene, infusing the atmosphere with that dynamic power, which under his sure control becomes a moving, vital force.”

Constance Binney, who played Juliet, was only around 18 at the time the film was made. Her sister Faire had played opposite Barrymore in Here Comes the Bride, discussed earlier in this thread. Constance had an interesting marital life. In 1926, she wed Charles E. Cotting, a Boston banker. (Some later reports claimed he was a World War I aviator.) Six years later, she divorced him, citing extreme mental cruelty. A month later, she married Henry Wharton Jr., a Philadelphia lawyer. In 1941, she married for the third time. Her husband was Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, of the Royal Air Force.  His father, Lieutenant Geoffrey Chevalier Cheshire, had served in World War I. The couple had met in June of 1941 at a British American Ambulance benefit, and were engaged a month later. Their marriage was shrouded in secrecy, because right after the ceremony in Canada, Cheshire boarded a bomber headed for Great Britain. Constance returned to her summer home in Old Lyme, Connecticut, then later joined Cheshire overseas. In September of 1944, Cheshire was awarded the Victoria Cross. In June of 1950, Constance gave Cheshire the heave-ho, divorcing him on the grounds of desertion.

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From May 11-17, the Poli featured Mickey, starring Mabel Normand in the title role. The film runs about 90 minutes and is available on You Tube (with a lousy score).

Brief Plot: Mickey lives out west with her guardian, Joe Meadows, who tends the mine owned by Mickey’s father. Mickey meets Herbert Thornhill, who has traveled west to check on his own mind. The two begin to develop a friendly relationship. When her father dies, Meadows sends Mickey to live with her Aunt and cousins back east. The aunt, Cousin Elsie, and Cousin Reggie are taken aback by Mickey’s tomboyish looks and ways, and reduce her to no more than a servant when they learn she is poor. Mickey is surprised to meet up with Thornhill again, who is to be engaged to Elsie. Eventually, Mickey’s aunt tosses Mickey out of the house. But just moments later, the aunt receives a telegram saying that Mickey’s mine has come in and the girl is a millionaire. The aunt races after Mickey and brings her back. Then Reggie sets his sights on Mickey, and attempts to have his way with her. It’s Thornhill to the rescue.

Review: I was a bit disappointed. This is certainly not a bad film, but for all the hoopla surrounding it, I expected better. This just came across as a standard story, with no surprises. Well, there is one surprise. Normand (or a double) goes skinny-dipping, but she is seen in a long shot, so she’s mostly a blur. Overall, Normand is appealing, and the other actors are more than competent. Of some interest is the performance by a Native American named Minnie, who plays Joe Meadows’ housekeeper. She has some good scenes, acting motherly/grandmotherly towards Normand. Trade papers described her as Cheyenne.

There are some emotional scenes that are touching, particularly when Mickey is ordered out of the house. She is abused and her clothes are torn off her; the pain and humiliation are plainly written across her face.

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But then this is followed with a wild chase scene involving a train and car, definitely played for laughs.

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There are delightful recurring shots of Mickey sliding down the banister in her aunt’s home, reveling in childlike joy. Then, there are some unbelievable developments, such as when Mickey disguises herself as a jockey to win a horse race, after she learns Reggie has “fixed” the contest to wipe out Thornhill.

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The constant shifts between drama and comedy were a bit too much for me. However, the film is worth a look. I believe it has played on TCM.

According to Robert K. Klepper, author of Silent Films, 1877-1996, the film was completed in 1916 and was scheduled for a 1917 release. However, ownership of the film was in question. The film had been produced at Normand’s independent studio (the only film her studio ever produced). But Mack Sennett had produced the film and was under contract at Triangle Films, which claimed ownership. Sennett also claimed control, since he had produced the film outside of Triangle Films. After all the legal issues were sorted out, the film was finally released in 1918 and was a huge hit, grossing millions when it had cost around $150,000 to make. (Variety reported that the film cost $204,000). Unfortunately, Normand never made much money from this effort because of the ownership debacle.

Sennett probably contributed to the delay. Going back to his Keystone comedy days, he said that for every foot of film in the finished product, four or five feet of film were cut. According to an issue of Motography, Richard Jones, who directed Mickey (the film’s third director) shot some scenes as many as twenty times, because he kept thinking of more ideas. Sennett had no problem with this, and stated “Robert Louis Stevenson said that good writing consisted not in writing, but in re-writing. Our way of re-writing, is to take a lot of film and use a little of it.” Variety reported that Sennett had at least twenty reels of film, and was planning to cut it down to eight or nine reels. Eventually it was released at seven.

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From May 18-21, 1919, the Poli ran The Money Corral¸ a western mystery starring William S. Hart as Lem Beeson. Hart also wrote the story and directed the film, with an assist from Lambert Hillyer. Released on May 4, 1919, the film was five reels and is presumed lost.

Plot: Cowpuncher Lem Beeson attends a rodeo in Montana, and takes part in a shooting contest.

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He catches the eye of Gregory Collins, president of a railroad, who is attending with his daughter Janet. Collins’ Chicago office has been robbed and his watchman killed. He approaches Lem with an offer to guard his property in Chicago, but Lem refuses.

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With Collins is a girl named Rose, a poor relative of the Collins family. When Lem meets her, he decides to accept Collins’ offer and heads east. Carl Bruler, manager of the Collins Trust Co., informs Collins that powerful rivals are behind the robberies. He claims that there are certain valuable papers that would wreck the Collins Trust Co. Lem takes over the job of guarding the vault.

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But then he receives a mysterious note, warning him to leave.

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When Bruler learns of the threat, he arranges to have Lem sent to a café on a wild goose chase. Lem comes to the aid of a young woman being abused.

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However, this is part of the set-up. He is attacked, but beats off the thugs. During a party at the Collins’ home, Janet decides to make Lem the butt of a joke, and coaxes him onto the dance floor.

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Lem is so embarrassed that Rose helps him escape. Rose is verbally abused by Janet, so Rose tells Lem what happened. Lem admits he is sick of his new life and wants to return west.

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Janet interrupts and tells Lem that her father wishes to see him. Len says he is going to quit, but agrees to go to the office in the morning. Bruler puts the valuable papers in the vault, and arranges for a new watchman that night. The office is attacked, and the watchman is overpowered; but an alarm is set off in the Collins home.  Out of the darkness of the vault, the crooks here “Stand still and get a handful of the sky.” When Collins and the police arrive, they find Lem has taken Bruler prisoner, one crook is dead and the other is wounded.

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Collins offers Lem anything he wants. Lem asks for Rose’s hand in marriage. The couple head back to Montana to live on their new ranch, a gift from Collins.

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For the opening scenes, Hart build a small western town in Hollywood, complete with stores, warehouses, businesses, and a railroad track with safety gates at the crossing. He stated “the rodeo scenes will only occupy a few hundred feet of the film, but they are worth all the trouble and time, for they mirror faithfully the real life of the West.” Shown below are some behind-the-scenes shots:

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Around 1000 extras were used for the rodeo scenes, including Indians and Mexicans. One of the bit players was the Native American actress Minnie, who had been given a more substantial role in the previously reviewed Mickey. Picture-Play Magazine was not too kind to the heavy-set woman, writing that she had “all the lissomeness of a butter tub and a width that nearly equaled her height,” and that she “waddled leisurely across the lot, pausing to eject from between her teeth a thin brown stream of tobacco juice.” If the magazine is to be believed, Minnie also had a short fuse. “I wait for that damn girl of mine,” she complained. “I sent her for my beads an hour ago. I’ll lam hell out of her when she shows up; it gets my goat having to stick around like this.”

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From May 22-24, the Poli featured The Homebreaker, starring Dorothy Dalton. The five-reel film was released on April 20, 1919, and is presumed lost.

Plot: Mary Marbury is a traveling saleswoman.

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Representing the firm of Abbott & Son, she boards a train. She encounters a male and female, who we later learn are crooks. The male forces his attention on another passenger, and attempts to kiss her as the train enters a tunnel. Mary saves the day by smashing the masher on the head with her bag. The two crooks go to New York, where the man takes the name of Fernando Poyntier, a Russian nobleman, and opens a new art school. Marcia, his female accomplice, poses as his sister. The crooks meet Raymond Abbott, the junior partner of the Abbott & Son firm, and his sister Lois. The young Abbotts become involved with their new “friends,” leading Raymond to neglect his end of the business. This annoys Jonas Abbott, their father. When Mary returns from her trip, she is met with coldness from Raymond, for whom she has deep feelings. Mr. Abbott complains to Mary, explaining that Raymond and Lois are no longer satisfied at home, but instead, desire high living. He is worried that one of his children will end up married to one of the crooks. Mary devises a plan; she will give Raymond and Lois an “overdose” of the good life, and Mr. Abbott will go along with the idea, opening his home to the high rollers. When Mary meets the “artists,” she realizes they look familiar but can’t place them because they have changed their appearance. In carrying out her plan, Mary nearly exhausts Abbott with outdoor sports, dancing, and so forth.

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Abbott’s children begin to think that Mary and their father will end up getting married, thus cutting them out of a fortune. The crooks rob Abbott’s safe and plan to get away on his yacht while everyone is busy dancing. But Abbott and Mary board the yacht just to rest for a bit.

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The yacht drifts out into the bay, and neither Mary nor Abbott know how to operate it. Mary discovers the stolen money and manages to get ashore for help, all while Abbott steers the craft in a circle until another boat comes to the rescue. Once the crooks are caught, Raymond realizes he has been a fool, and that Mary is the woman he really loves.

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Mr. Abbott goes to his upstairs room, soaks his feet in a hot mustard bath, and is relieved that the whole thing is finally over.

Paramount Studios released a press report claiming that during filming of the scene on Producer Thomas H. Ince’s yacht, the yacht broke down and none of the males on board could get the engine started. Dalton put on a pair of overalls, went through a tool box, and got the engine running after a few minutes. A reviewer for Motion Picture News wrote that during the film, Dalton does don overalls while on the yacht, and that “she looks splendidly efficient in them. She also wears a number of striking gowns.” So the still below may be a combination of publicity and perhaps an actual scene.

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Another report praised Dalton’s agility on the tennis court, stating she had beaten every member of the film company, and also several professional tennis players who were on the scene.

Director Victor Schertzinger, who was also a musician, engaged a real jazz band for the dance scene in the film.

Edwin Stevens, who played Mr. Abbott, was a veteran stage actor and received some good reviews for his comedic work in the film. The San Francisco-born actor had also appeared in some light operas, and had started his movie career about three years before playing Abbott in this film. On December 24, 1922, he played eighteen holes of golf in Los Angeles, then went home suffering from a severe cold. The cold turned into pneumonia, and he died on January 2, 1923.

 

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From May 25-28, 1919, the Poli featured Hearts of Men, starring George Beban, who also produced the film. Released on April 27, 1919, the film was five and one-half reels and is presumed lost.

Plot:  Nicolo Rosetti, a widower, runs a small flower stand, and earns barely enough to support his mother and Beppo, his son.

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When his mother’s health declines, a doctor advises Rosetti to take her to a climate in a higher altitude. He buys some land in Arizona, but when he arrives there, he discovers he has been cheated and the land is worthless.

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Some kind laborers hear of his trouble, clear the land, and build a shack for his family. But Rosetti’s mother dies and now he must look after his son. His friends advise Rosetti to get married, so he sends a letter to his cousin in Italy asking him to find him a wife. A woman named Tina Ferronni agrees to come to America, but when she reaches Arizona, she is disappointed in the condition of Rosetti’s home, and also in Rosetti’s appearance. Despite this, she marries him.

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But immediately after the wedding, she starts flirting with a grocery clerk. Rosetti receives a letter from his mother-in-law, asking him to send Beppo to Italy so she can see him before she dies. Money for the trip is enclosed in the letter. Tina convinces Rosetti to send her with the boy.

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What Rosetti does not know is that his wife is going to run off with the grocery clerk.

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When Tina arrives in Italy, she writes a letter to Rosetti, telling him that Beppo is dead. Rosetti’s friends suspect a scheme, so they begin an investigation through the American Consul. The Consul informs them that Beppo is alive, and that Tina had lied in order to inherit the fortune that Beppo’s grandmother had left him. The Consul declares that he is returning Beppo to America, in the care of a trusted woman. Rosetti’s friends hold the news from him, hoping to surprise him. Meanwhile, Rosetti finds oil on his land, and offers to share his good fortune with his friends who have helped him so much.

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Beppo arrives and Rosetti’s friends take him to meet his father, who is overcome with joy at the sight of seeing his son.

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In addition to using his son in the film, Beban also cast his wife in a bit part. As one critic wrote, “observe the stunning woman who makes a momentary appearance in the flower shop of the first reel – Mrs. Beban.”

On playing his roles, Beban said “I choose the character of a poor Italian or Frenchman or American, because the masses can understand his suffering – they can understand the tremendous struggle for daily bread for a loved one – and as for the classes, their sympathy will hold them interested in everyday lives.”

Contemporaneous reviews were positive, and the film did well at the box office. Unfortunately, Beban is probably little-known today. However, his first film, The Italian (1915), is available on YouTube. I watched it several years back and found it quite moving.

 

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Just on the basis of the storyline alone, it reads like a neo-realist film from a number of decades in the future. This is one I'd especially like to see, though "presumed lost" doesn't sound promising. I'll check out The Italian, though.

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From May 29-31, the Poli ran The Roaring Road, directed by James Cruze, and starring Wallace Reid as “Toodles” Walden. Released on April 5, 1919, the film is just under an hour long and is available on YouTube.

Brief Plot: “Toodles” Walden sells cars for J.D. Ward, aka “The Bear.” Walden is in love with Ward’s daughter Dorothy, aka “The Cub.” Toodles wants a crack at driving Ward’s racing car, but Ward refuses. When several of Ward’s racing cars get wrecked in transit, Walden and his mechanic Tom Darby make a new one out of the parts from the three old ones.

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Then Walden enters a local race and wins, and asks Walden for Dorothy’s hand. Ward says he won’t let his daughter get married for five years.

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Walden more or less tells Ward where to get off. Ward wants to enter a car in the Los Angeles to San Francisco road race, and concocts a plan whereby he will board a train for San Francisco with his daughter, and force Toodles to race after them. Unfortunately, Toodles is in the clink on a speeding violation. So somebody has to spring him from jail. Will Toodles break the speed record for the road race? Will he finally win Dorothy’s hand (and the rest of her)?

Review: This is an OK production, with nothing much new. The story goes pretty much as expected. The first race is a letdown, as the camera is stationary and we just see cars whiz by. These scenes were filmed at the Santa Monica Race course. Press reports stated that Reid did his own driving, and exceeded speeds of 100 miles per hour. “I’ve done some pretty fast driving in my time,” said Reid in an interview, “but when I hit it up at somewhere around 110 miles per, I felt that finally I was, in the vernacular, ‘going some.’ I had a good wagon – I’d been all over it, and knew it was to be depended upon. Also, I felt competent to keep her on the road at any speed if nothing went wrong.” Along for the ride was Guy Oliver, who played Tom Darby. “I knew Guy was hanging on for dear life,” said Reid, “expecting every minute to go into the ditch. But I kept my eyes glued down the stretch and my hands were busy with the wheel. Lord, how we did go … I couldn’t see the grandstand and the people in it, though I knew my leading woman, Ann Little, Theodore Roberts, and others were there, breathlessly waiting for something to happen. Nothing did – though we took some big changes, I expect. … I hope no one will think I had any doubles or that any of the scenes were inserted or faked in any way, because as a matter of actual fact I drove every inch of the way.” The climactic road race from LA to San Francisco has some decent camera work, with a driver’s-eye view, shots from the side as Ward and his daughter watch, but with the now clichéd “car beating the train across the tracks” scene.

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I’ve only seen a few of Reid’s films, and he really appears to have a slight build in this one. But this was before the accident which caused his morphine addiction and ultimate demise; so I assume he was just thin by nature. The film was followed by a sequel a year later, entitled Excuse My Dust, with the same three principal actors. For that film, I’ve read some commentary stating that Reid was clearly in the throes of his addiction by then.

Theodore Roberts, as “The Bear,” steals the show. His bluster, messed-up hair, and cigar-chewing are a riot to watch. A critic for Motion Picture Magazine wrote “this picture is supposed to star Wallace Reid, but according to the number of close-ups of Theodore Roberts smoking a cigar, I should say it was starring a new brand of tobacco.”

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Also featured on the bill was James “Fat” Thompson and Company, in what was described as a “screamingly funny blackface skit, “The Camouflagers,” a hilarious collection of odd nonsense.” When the act played on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1919, Variety wrote “Here is a real Keystone of a blackface comedy act. Thompson and his partner are a couple of house painters and the talk is all cross fire between them while they are on a painting job. The finish is a wire ordering “Fat” home as triplets have been born. The talk is full of laughs and the act will get over anywhere.” Sounds like a real knee-slapper.

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From June 1-4, 1919, the Poli ran The Knickerbocker Buckaroo, starring Douglas Fairbanks as Teddy Drake. Released on May 18, 1919, the film was five reels and is presumed lost.

Plot:  The film opens with a prologue, showing Douglas Fairbanks as a chef mixing a cake. The ingredients of the cake are Action, Mystery, Romance, and Comedy, seasoned with Pep and Ginger. As the story begins, we see Teddy Drake, a wealthy New Yorker, who is suspended from a high class club becomes of his inconsideration for others. 

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He realizes that he has become a very selfish person, so he decides to strike out on his own to see if he can make something of himself. He buys a railroad ticket for a train heading west. Once aboard, he tries to do what he can for each passenger, resulting in several misadventures. When he carries an elderly woman’s bags, he ends up missing his train and has to board another. He agrees to change clothes with a passenger named Lopez, who is trying to go home to visit his sick mother. Lopez is being hunted by a crooked sheriff because Lopez failed to pull off a crime that the sheriff wanted him to commit. Teddy, now dressed as Lopez, is pursued by the sheriff’s gang. After a series of stunts, Teddy hides out in a well. From his location, he can see into the window of an adobe jail. There, he spots a girl named Rita Allison who had been jailed by the sheriff. “What are you?” asks Rita in surprise. “I’m a Knickerbocker Buckaroo,” replies Teddy. “I’ve always wanted to meet a girl like you, but I never thought of looking in jail for her.” Rita then tells Teddy that the sheriff is also holding Rita’s brother Henry captive, as the sheriff tries to learn the location of the family’s money. Teddy ends up in the same jail, and decides to help Rita. He escapes by having a horse pull out the bars in his cell. But he is recaptured, and, about to be hanged, he is saved by Lopez. Teddy finds Rita’s money hidden in an old mission. But the sheriff and his gang surround the mission. Teddy holds them off until a U. S. Marshal arrives, who takes care of the sheriff and his gang. Teddy mistakenly believes Henry is Rita’s sweetheart. When the confusion is cleared up, Teddy takes Rita for his wife.

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Future director William Wellman played Henry.

Some of the trade journals wrote that the film was being released at seven reels, and that it had cost Fairbanks $264,000 to make. Below are publicity stills, the second showing leading lady Marjorie Daw:

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A critic for The Film Daily wrote that the film was “a typical Fairbanks offering, full of action, comedy, mystery and romance, but it is by no means the best thing that Doug has ever done. If anybody else than Doug Fairbanks had appeared in the picture it would fall flatter than a mountain lake.” The same critic praised Fairbanks for “pulling off many hair-raising stunts.”

In fact, newspapers reported that Fairbanks climbed out of the window of a speeding train, continued up the roof, and ran along the top of the train. He then jumped onto the swinging arm of a water feeder, from which he leapt onto the back of a horse. These are probably stills from that sequence:

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Motion Picture News suggested that as a way to promote the film, “a good stunt for the children would be to pull the old one about combining the two big words of the title to see how many smaller words could be written from them. If you start doing this beforehand you can stir up a lot of interest by running results on your screen. The words contain so many vowels that the title is a fine one to use in this fashion.”

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