Volume II: Filmography



Poster Image Courtesy Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.

December 23, 1910 (Friday)

Length: 1,000 feet

Character: Drama

Scenario: Lloyd F. Lonergan, from a boys' story character


BACKGROUND OF THE SCENARIO: Jack Harkaway was the hero of a series of boys' adventure stories written in the 1870s and 1880s by S. Bracebridge Hemyng. Born in London in 1841, S. Bracebridge Hemyng was the oldest son of Dempster Hemyng of the British bar. He was educated at Eton, and was called to the bar in 1860. In the meantime, he had begun writing in 1860, and disliking the life of a barrister, he eventually decided to become a full-time novelist. During a span of about 25 years he turned out 50 novels. His first Jack Harkaway story, Jack Harkaway's School Days, appeared serially in the weekly magazine, Boys of England, in 1871. During the same decade Hemyng moved to America, where he stayed for a few years before returning to his native land. Eighteen stories featuring the character were created, including The Adventures of Young Jack Harkaway and His Boy Tinker, Jack Harkaway in Search of the Mountain of Gold, Jack Harkaway in the Transvaal, Jack Harkaway Among the Malay Pirates, Jack Harkaway Among the Brigands, and many others, the last of which featured the youth in combat with the Boers in 1899. Boyish pranks, violence, and sensational episodes were part of these stories, but the young people in the stories maintained an aspect of purity, even though they were dealing with adult drunkards, criminals, and other unfortunate elements of society. Hemyng wrote other works, including Eton School Days and a series about Dick Lightheart, but none achieved the fame of the Harkaway series. Hemyng died destitute in 1901. In the early 1900s, a number of his works were reprinted and enjoyed a wide circulation in England and America. The Childhood of Jack Harkaway was a popular stage play in the 1890s.


ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, December 17, 1910:

"Full of tip top adventure comedy and pathos. The ludicrous school experiences of the Harkaway boy appeal to your fancy as effectively as do his serious efforts, like the one he makes to head off the housebreakers, for instance. Jack Harkaway was just a real boy, with his share of a real boy's weaknesses and a share of his good points. As such, he attracts the many who like the humor and youth in their holiday entertainment who care for nothing so much in the film as an old fashion story well done."


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, December 24, 1910:

"Jack Harkaway is of aristocratic birth, being the son of a wealthy Englishman's daughter and a poor young man, with whom she has eloped. Her parents bring about a separation and compel her to place the child in the hands of strangers, who are bribed to keep his whereabouts a secret from his mother. At the age of 12 Jack is placed in a school, the master of which is prejudiced against him, owing to the boy's mischievous disposition. After having received severe and unjust punishment from the schoolmaster, Jack decides to run away from school, and escapes from the room in which he is locked, through the window.

"Wandering along a country road, he accidentally overhears two sneak thieves planning to rob a house. Jack makes his way to the house in time to warn its mistress of the proposed robbery. Two men servants are placed in hiding, when the would-be thieves put in an appearance there and are immediately captured. Jack is given a fine supper by the lady of the house, who is very grateful to him. And when the schoolmaster, accompanied by Jack's guardian, arrives, she is touched by the boy's appeal not to be turned over to his rough-looking 'friends.' Upon getting a closer view of the man who calls himself the lad's guardian, she realizes that he is the man to whom she was forced to give over her child. The man admits that Jack is her own boy, and the picture ends with the men being turned out of the house and Jack restored to his mother's arms."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, January 7, 1911:

"The story of a boy taken from his mother and brought up among strangers. He escapes from the school where he is confined and, seeking refuge in a house by the way, discovers his mother. When they come after him, the mother forces them to allow the boy to remain with her. It is a heart story which will interest because it presents more or less unpleasant possibilities of this character. The acting is well done, and the film will prove popular with most audiences."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, December 28, 1910:

"While the lost child returned to its parent and the overhearing of burglars is not by any means a new situation, this story creates lively interest, because Jack is a boy - a lively, mischievous boy - and one must follow his antics and adventures with delight or not be human. He was well played. Jack's mother on his father's death was forced to give him up by her father, against whose will she had married. Jack grew up to be a very troublesome fellow, and when he was fifteen years old his parents by adoption were obliged to send him away to school. His treatment there was not at all to his liking, so he made his escape. He overheard two men plotting to rob a house, and he went to the owner. It proved to be his own mother, and when the master of the school came with the foster father she refused to let him go. It would have seemed more natural had she not recognized him as her son until the appearance of this man, into whose care she had given her child. If two of the scenes had been broken it might have been more consistent. The men came up to plot their robbery too soon after Jack's hiding. They also appeared in the house immediately after the plan laid to capture them. They surely would have seen the light and would not have ventured so soon."

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.