Volume II: Filmography


Thanhouser Filmography - 1916


Thanhouser Players and Directors

Locations: During the year 1916, Thanhouser maintained two studio locations: in New Rochelle, and until May 25, 1916 in Jacksonville, Florida, where a studio had been completed at a cost of $30,000 in December 1915.

Jacksonville: During the second week of January 1916, the following were among approximately 55 people who went to Jacksonville from New Rochelle: (1) The production company headed by Director W. Eugene Moore with Arthur Bauer, William Burt, Barbara Gilroy, Harris Gordon, Sully Guard, Violet Hite, W. Ray Johnston, and Inda Palmer. (2) The production company headed by Director George Foster Platt with Bert Delaney and Morgan Jones. (3) The production company, known as the Falstaff Southern Company, headed by Director William A. Howell with Louise Emerald Bates, Riley Chamberlin, and Walter Hiers. (4) Boyd Marshall (for "comedy straights") and Leo Wirth also made the trip, as did Doris Grey, James Dunne (assistant director), Frank Gereghty (director), Leo Post (stunt man), George Welsh, and several dozen other Thanhouserites not enumerated here. Alfred H. Moses, Jr. was one of the cameramen who went.

The initial group of Thanhouserites arrived in Jacksonville on December 20, 1915, and within a week filming was in progress. By mid-January 1916 the studio was in full operation. The March 18, 1916 issue of Reel Life listed the following Thanhouserites who were in Jacksonville at that time: Marion Swayne (described as a recent addition), Valkyrien, Boyd Marshall, Thomas A. Curran, and Bert Delaney. Playing in comedies in Jacksonville were Louise Emerald Bates, Riley Chamberlin, and Walter Hiers. Directors were Ernest Warde, W. Eugene Moore, and George Foster Platt (directing Mutual Masterpicture and three-reel features), and William A. Howard, directing Falstaff comedies. On May 25 and 26, 1916 the Jacksonville players and personnel returned to the North for the summer, intending to return the following autumn. However, despite several announcements of renewed Jacksonville activity, Thanhouser's Southern studio never reopened. Two Jacksonville newspapers, the Times-Union (on Sunday the Sunday Times-Union) and Florida Metropolis (and Sunday Metropolis), carried much Thanhouser coverage.

New Rochelle: The March 18, 1916 issue of Reel Life listed the following Thanhouserites who were in New Rochelle at that time: Actors included J.H. Gilmour ("who has recently been added to the Thanhouser forces"), Robert Whittier, John Lehnberg, Frank E. McNish, and George Marlo. Actresses included Florence LaBadie, Ethyle Cooke, Kathryn Adams, Carey L. Hastings, Frances Keyes, Gladys Hulette, Doris Grey, and the Fairbanks twins. Serving as director was Frederick Sullivan.

Note: There was extensive interchange between New Rochelle and Jacksonville, and from time to time various other New Rochelle players were in Jacksonville, and vice-versa.


Mutual Masterpictures, DeLuxe Edition

In the closing weeks of 1915, John R. Freuler, president of the Mutual Film Corporation, announced that beginning the week of January 16, 1916, "The Mutual Film Corporation will present a new and startling schedule of feature productions to be known as 'Mutual Masterpictures, DeLuxe Edition.' THREE of these productions will be released EVERY WEEK - each in five reels.... These will be released in addition to the regular $8,000,000 Mutual Program."

The various companies comprising Mutual, including Thanhouser, American, Gaumont, and Horsley, were each to produce films of this class. Earlier, in 1915, 4- and 5-reel productions had been designated as Mutual Masterpictures, without the "DeLuxe Edition." It was the intent of Mutual to create films that were not "dated," and which would remain current for a period of many months. After their initial release, such films were listed as features for a long time on the Mutual Program, without mention of their original release times.


The Alliance with Pathé

In June and July 1916, Thanhouser distribution was in a state of uncertainty. Thanhouser's regular and Falstaff films were no longer listed in the schedule of Mutual weekly releases, and for a time Thanhouser advertisements were absent from the trade journals. Finally, it was announced that beginning on August 1, 1916 Thanhouser films would be released through the Pathé Exchange, Inc. at the rate of two five-reel features per month. Shorter films and Falstaff comedies were discontinued.

The reasons for the change did not appear in print, except that it was noted that Thanhouser "withdrew" from the Mutual Film Corporation. Still, there were ties to Mutual, for one of the largest shareholders in Mutual, Crawford Livingston, was also a major stockholder in the Thanhouser Film Corporation, and others had interlocking relationships as well. Previously-made Thanhouser and Falstaff films still in "inventory" continued to be released on a sporadic basis on the Mutual Program through the autumn. Little publicity was given to these left-over films, for in its current advertising Mutual did not desire to emphasize Thanhouser, which was, after all, now part of another distribution system. The last regular release on the Mutual program was the Falstaff comedy, Doughnuts, June 17, 1916. Later Thanhouser and Falstaff films distributed through Mutual were left-over pictures from earlier days.


Synopses and Reviews

Exhibitors Herald: This journal, relatively new to the trade at the time, was oriented toward theatre owners, and printed reviews of unusual candor, although they were, on balance, of a complimentary nature. In addition, numerous fillers, news items, and other mentions of Thanhouser were printed throughout the year. Certain reviews were carbon copies of those in The Morning Telegraph, suggesting that one publication purchased reviews from the other.

The Morning Telegraph, a New York City newspaper, printed lengthy reviews of many Thanhouser films.

Motion Picture Mail: This supplement to the New York Evening Mail contained reviews of various Thanhouser films.

The Moving Picture World: During the year, this periodical remained the most important outside trade publication. Synopses were given of nearly all Thanhouser and Falstaff films, together in many instances with listings of the cast members and roles played. Reviews of films were, for the most part, brief. Exceptions were the lengthy and rambling reviews by Louis Reeves Harrison, and the long reviews of his successor, Margaret I. MacDonald, who, unlike her predecessor, tended to emphasize the identities of specific players and analyze their performances. In general, criticisms by Moving Picture World reviewers were apt to be gentle, and what might otherwise be termed a poor or average film by a totally disinterested reviewer elsewhere was, in The Moving Picture World, given a somewhat equivocal designation, such as "only fairly strong."

Reel Life: During the first half of 1916, when Thanhouser was still releasing through the Mutual Program, this publication, the official house organ of the Mutual Film Corporation, gave synopses of various Thanhouser and Falstaff films, intermingled with news of players and production companies. After Thanhouser began distributing through Pathé, several "left-over" Thanhouser and Falstaff films were released by Mutual, and synopses of some of these were printed in Reel Life through the early autumn. For the period in question, Reel Life is the best single source of Thanhouser information in print.

Variety, the weekly show business magazine, occasionally printed reviews of Thanhouser films in 1916. Typically, these reviews consisted of an abbreviated plot synopsis with insightful, critical comments added.

Wid's Film and Film Folk printed many reviews and commentaries of Thanhouser films, most of which were unfavorable.


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