Volume II: Filmography




October 18, 1912 (Friday)

Length: 1 reel

Character: Drama

Director: Albert W. Hale

Cast: Miss Taku Takagi (as O San) and the Thanhouser Japanese Stock Company, William Bowman (the Mikado), William Russell (the Russian traitor), Virginia Norden (Russian secret service agent)

Notes: 1. This film was originally advertised for release on October 8, 1912 (see The Moving Picture World, issue of September 14, 1912, for example). 2. Billed as "Next in the Japanese series." Refer to The Birth of the Lotus Blossom, released on September 13, 1912, which was the first in the series. 3. Virginia Norden's surname was listed erroneously as "Nardon" in at least two notices.


ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, October 12, 1912:

"A story of Japanese patriotism that is made the more understandable by the recent tragic ending of General Nogi, caused by the demise of his Mikado. The loyalty of a timid Japanese woman (Miss Takagi) to her husband and her country causes her to sacrifice her life without a tremor."


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, October 12, 1912:

"A Japanese nobleman was highly honored by the Mikado by being sent on a secret mission to obtain information concerning the plans of a foreign foe. Accompanied by his pretty young wife, he went to the enemy's country, where he hired residence, and expressed his intention of making his home there. The information he sought was to be secured from a soldier of the enemy, who for a large sum of money had agreed to furnish data and papers which the Mikado desired. The envoy met with unexpected success at the outset, and flushed with his victory, began to dissipate, despite the remonstrances of his meek little wife. An appointment had been made for him to meet the traitor outside the fort at midnight, when the Japanese was to exchange a bag of gold for the papers. The Japanese was not able to be there at the appointed time, being sodden with drink, and his wife, who found him helpless in the library of their home, realized that the Mikado's mission was in danger of becoming a failure at the last moment.

"The woman, although usually meek and timid, determined to take his place. She disguised herself in a suit of her husband's clothes, and kept the appointment. Unfortunately for her, they were discovered, and as she escaped, she was shot and mortally wounded by a sentry. The importance of her mission nerved her on, however, and she managed to elude her pursuers and reached her home. There she aroused her drunken husband, told him she had been successful, but that the searchers were close on her track, and urged him to flee while she would remain and delay the enemy. The man, startled into sobriety, did as she suggested, while the woman, discarding her disguise, arrayed herself in her native garb, and calmly waited for the soldiers to appear. They questioned her without result, although they knew the man they sought lived there, for the traitor had made a full confession. She laughingly told him that her husband 'was out,' and she did not know when he would return. Finally, the officer in charge, enraged because the search of the house had revealed nothing, seized her roughly by the shoulders and threatened to lock her up. He felt something warm and sticky on his hand. He looked at it and saw it was blood. Then he realized that the person he sought stood before him. The woman made no effort now to conceal the truth. She knew that death was only a matter of a few minutes, but she did not regret it. Her last moments were made happy by the realization that the mission had been a success, and she died happy because she had been able to lay down her life for the Mikado."


REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, October 20, 1912:

"The staging of this Japanese play is remarkably fine. It is acted by the Japanese actress who has appeared in two previous offerings made by the Thanhouser Company, supported by the regular members of the organization. The garden scenes are exceedingly picturesque. It is a story of intrigue in which a Japanese is sent to Russia to secure important documents for his government. He is fascinated by the wealth he is to secure, but his wife is deeply impressed with the patriotic desire to carry out the wishes of the Mikado. On the night when her husband is to secure the plans of a fortress, he becomes stupefied with wine. The wife dresses in his clothes, goes to the place of appointment, secures the plans, is discovered, shot and wounded, returns home, changes back to her own clothes, arouses her husband and sends him off with the papers. The Russian officers arrive, discover her condition, though she bravely fights off her faintness, and finally she dies at their feet. The closing scene is dramatically played and there is no anti-climax."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, October 26, 1912:

"Miss Taku Takagi, the graceful Japanese player, takes the lead in this heroic melodrama, as a girl who sacrifices her life that the Mikado's army may get plans of a Russian fort. Her husband had been detailed to get the plans; but at the critical moment he was intoxicated and she had to take his place. She is wounded by a sentry; but manages not only to escape, but to delay the search long enough for her husband to get away with the papers. The early scenes, set in Japan, are marvelously like the real thing not only in background but in atmosphere, including acting and conduct of the story. The Russian scenes are small, narrow views; but are very suggestive of Russia. It is a commendable offering, out of the ordinary in atmosphere, clear and thrilling in its story, and very pretty. William Bowman plays the Mikado. The Russian traitor is played by William Russell and the Russian secret service agent by Virginia Nardon [sic]."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, October 16, 1912:

"In Japan they say, 'for the Mikado,' and in America, 'for the flag,' and, perhaps, it all amounts to the same in stimulating patriotism. It is generally believed also that the average Japanese will welcome death for his ruler, considering him almost in the light of a god. This picture tells the story of a young couple, a man and his wife, whom the Mikado sends into Russia on a secret mission to secure plans of their fortifications. The man, becoming imbued with the foreign spirit, grows cold in the performance of his duty, and it devolves upon the woman to carry out the scheme, which she does at the cost of her life. For a picture, made in America, which is supposed to depict a Japanese background, it is remarkable."

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