Volume II: Filmography


Thanhouser Filmography - 1913


Thanhouser's Production Companies

The early part of the 1913 year saw production by three different Thanhouser divisions:

West Coast Company: On December 15, 1912, a production company went to California by train. Soon, they were set up in the old IMP studio at 651 Fairview Place in the Brooklyn Heights section of Los Angeles. Reported as leaving New Rochelle to go to California were the following Thanhouser personalities, among others: Florence LaBadie, Jean Darnell, William Russell, William Garwood, Riley Chamberlin, Fred Vroom (as studio manager), Lucius J. Henderson (director), Francis Powell (newly hired director), Arthur A. Cadwell (cameraman), and Carl L. Gregory (director and cameraman). It subsequently developed that Carl L. Gregory spent nearly all of his time for Majestic, a firm also controlled by Thanhouser president Charles J. Hite, and by early summer had travelled 9,500 miles in the American West.

Members of the California stock company left Los Angeles by train for New York on April 30, 1913, leaving behind Lucius J. Henderson, who was reassigned by Hite to be a director for Majestic, who took over Thanhouser's West Coast studio, and Fred Vroom, who became Majestic's studio manager.

Middle Western Company: On January 2, 1913 a company of Thanhouser players left New York by train for the Midwest via Chicago. Included among the travelers were the following: Harry Benham, Ethyle Cooke, Mignon Anderson, Leland Benham, Frank Urson, Thomas N. Heffron (director), and William Zollinger (cameraman). This contingent was also known as the Mid West Company. After the Thanhouser studio fire on January 13, 1913, the Midwest stock company was directed to go to Los Angeles to join the Western players.

At Home in New Rochelle: Remaining home in New Rochelle were such Thanhouser personalities as Marguerite Snow, James Cruze, David H. Thompson, Eugene Moore, Justus D. Barnes, Lila Chester, Marie Eline (the Thanhouser Kid), Grace Eline, Helen Badgley (the Thanhouser Kidlet), and Lawrence Marston (director). Later, certain players went to the West, including James Cruze and Marguerite Snow.

The most famous single event in Thanhouser film history, the fire which completely destroyed the New Rochelle studio, occurred on January 13, 1913. Fortunately, all negatives of unissued films were saved, although many release prints were lost, which necessitated delays and rescheduling. Activities in New Rochelle were conducted in various buildings around town. Within a few months, a new studio, with four stages, and said to be fireproof, was in operation. For a time, it devolved upon the California studio to create the bulk of Thanhouser output. One trade paper, The Moving Picture News, stated that it was only a matter of time when Thanhouser would leave New Rochelle completely and set up all of its operations on the West Coast.

Cape May Company: During the third week of August 1913 the so-called Cape May Company was dispatched to Cape May, a seaside resort in Southern New Jersey, where they spent two weeks. Included among those who went were Lloyd Lonergan, the scenario writer, Carl Louis Gregory, the cameraman, and players, including Florence LaBadie, William Russell, Violet Hite, Fannie Gregory, Harry Benham, Ethyle Cooke, and Leland Benham. Charles J. Hite stayed at New Rochelle, but on a weekend visited Cape May in his ocean-going yacht. The group of films made there included the following: Louie, the Life Saver (released October 7, 1913), A Deep Sea Liar (October 12, 1913), Beauty in the Seashell (October 19, 1913), The Mystery of the Haunted Hotel (October 21, 1913), The Water Cure (November 2, 1913), and Little Brother (November 7, 1913).



In 1913, Thanhouser mentioned the identities of its players from time to time in advertising. It was believed that for lobby displays pictures of Thanhouser players were a better drawing card than were stills of film scenes, and Thanhouser made available a number of such pictures, tinted in color, made by the Kraus Manufacturing Company, a firm which also produced postcards.

In the spring it was announced that Charles J. Hite had transferred William Garwood to the Majestic company, where he was billed as one of three main stars (with Francelia Billington, who was a minor player at Thanhouser earlier, and Fred Mace, a comedian). Around the same time, Maude Fealy, a well-known stage actress, was added to the Thanhouser ranks. Muriel Ostriche was signed, with her first Thanhouser film appearance being in Miss Mischief in June. Later in the year, the Princess Department was created to showcase Miss Ostriche's talents.

Toward the end of the 1913 year, the Thanhouser Film Corporation identified its leading stock players as Mignon Anderson, Helen Badgley (the Thanhouser Kidlet), Justus D. Barnes, Arthur Bauer, Harry Benham, Sidney Bracy, Riley Chamberlin, Lila Chester, Ethyle Cooke, James Cruze, Maude Fealy, Carey L. Hastings, Florence LaBadie, Adele Rey, Marguerite Snow, and David H. Thompson. The separate Princess division had as its leads Muriel Ostriche and Boyd Marshall.


Reviews and Synopses

Plot synopses were created from the scenarios each week by Bert Adler and sent to The Billboard, Motography, The Moving Picture World, The Moving Picture News (which on October 11, 1913 changed its name to The Motion Picture News), and other trade publications.

The Billboard ran Thanhouser and other film company synopses, often abbreviated, on an intermittent basis until the early summer, after which they were discontinued. Beginning with the August 9, 1913 issue, scattered reviews were printed of films by various companies. Only a few Thanhouser films were treated in detail after this time. For a long period during the year, so-called simplified spelling, much in vogue at the time, was used throughout the periodical. Thus, in a film title or review, the word looked, for example, appeared as lookt.

The Bioscope, published in England, carried numerous synopses of Thanhouser films, usually adapted from synopses issued by the company. In numerous instances, the synopses are paraphrased and are considerably shorter. The journal also printed reviews of various Thanhouser films. At the time Thanhouser films were released in England through the Western Import Co., Ltd.

The Morning Telegraph, a New York City daily newspaper, printed some of the most insightful reviews to be found during this year. In addition to general comments, criticisms were often made of specific technical matters. As such, these reviews are of special importance today.

Motography in 1913 printed a few short lines of generally favorable review comments concerning a few Thanhouser films, and printed scattered synopses, but, in general, relatively little Thanhouser news was carried. Occasionally, interviews were conducted with Thanhouser personalities, or with figures who had been with Thanhouser earlier, and these provide valuable information.

The Moving Picture World was the primary trade publication in 1913. Each week it printed synopses of current Thanhouser films and included from one to several critical reviews. In general, reviews in The Moving Picture World were gentle, especially in comparison to those in The New York Dramatic Mirror, which were more apt to point out specific flaws in direction, acting, or photography.

The Moving Picture News (which changed its name to The Motion Picture News beginning with the October 11, 1913 issue) diminished in importance in the trade in 1913. Scattered synopses of Thanhouser films were printed, as were a few scattered brief reviews. The latter were nearly always of a favorable nature, perhaps intentionally, for the review column during the early part of the year was titled A Few Words About Film Merits.

Reel Life, the house organ of the Mutual Film Corporation, appeared weekly and carried news concerning the various companies affiliated with Mutual, including Thanhouser. Typically, a given issue printed synopses of current Thanhouser (and, beginning in the autumn, Princess) films, with such synopses often having some advertising commentary included. For many films, casts were listed. Curiously, occasionally the roles assigned in the cast listings were different than those given in the accompanying synopses. Reel Life often carried information concerning players, but often this news was stale. Sometimes an article would note that a player was a new arrival at the Thanhouser studio, when the same individual had been in Thanhouser films for many months by that time. As Reel Life was a captive publication, all information printed concerning Thanhouser was of a favorable nature.

In general, in outside trade publications Thanhouser films garnered only so-so reviews during the year, with the enthusiastically acclaimed picture being a rarity. Perhaps that was due to lack of vitality in many of its scripts. Thanhouser, unlike most other film companies, bought only a few scripts from outsiders. Most scenario writing was the work of Lloyd F. Lonergan, who was Edwin Thanhouser's brother-in-law.


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