Volume II: Filmography





December 26, 1911 (Tuesday)

Length: 2,000 feet (2 reels)

Character: Drama

Director: George O. Nichols

Scenario: From H. Rider Haggard's novel of the same name

Cast: Marguerite Snow ("She"); James Cruze (Leo Vincey and also Kallikrates, his ancient ancestor; in the tomb scene, in Part II, by double exposure photography), Viola Alberti (the Pharaoh's daughter), William C. Cooper, Horace Holly, Irma Taylor, Harry Benham, Alphonse Ethier, Marie Eline (Leo Vincey as a youth)

Location: "The Thanhouser picture of She was made in several different locations, some of them requiring the company to travel 500 miles," according to a note in the January 24, 1912 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror.

Notes: 1. This is the first two-reel Thanhouser film to be released intact. However, in a few markets, Part 2 of the film, the second reel, was released on January 2, 1912. 2. Harry Benham's first name was given as "Henry" in some publicity. 3. William C. Cooper, the stage name of William C. Cowper, was identified as Cowper in some publicity. 4. Leo's surname was spelled erroneously as "Vincent" in some publicity; Amenartas appeared incorrectly as "Amenastas." 5. Marie Eline was not listed as a cast member in publicity; however, Eline family records indicate that she was a part of the production. 6. The Moving Picture News, December 16, 1911, identified Viola Nicholls in the role of the Pharaoh's daughter. Viola Alberti was intended.


BACKGROUND OF THE SCENARIO: Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was one of England's most successful writers of adventure stories. He was in colonial service in Africa at the time (1877) of the annexation of the Transvaal, and when this was transferred to the Dutch, he returned to England and studied law. In later years he farmed on his estate in Norfolk and became an authority on agricultural and land questions. He was knighted in 1912 and died in London in 1925. Haggard used his knowledge of Africa in many books.

His first great success was King Solomon's Mines (1885), which he began writing in imitation of Treasure Island. This was followed by the more fantastic She (1887), which deals with an immortal sorceress, and its sequel Ayesha (1905). These books were so successful that Haggard found almost as much difficulty escaping from them as Conan Doyle had with Sherlock Holmes, and Allan Quartermain became the hero of many books. The World's Desire (1890), a half allegorical tale involving the Egyptian Helen, written in collaboration with Andrew Lang, gave even more scope to the imagination. But Haggard also used his knowledge of Africa in more realistic novels like Jess (1889) and produced straight historical novels like Cleopatra (1889) and Montezuma's Daughter (1893). Though he was not a fastidious writer, Haggard was a sensitive and conscientious man, who gave up hunting because, without warrant for it in his devout Christian beliefs, he had come to believe that the souls of animals, like man's, were immortal. Haggard works adapted for the screen by Thanhouser include She, Jess, and Mr. Meeson's Will. (by Edward Wagenknecht for the present work)


ARTICLE by Gordon Trent, The Morning Telegraph, December 3, 1911:

"The Thanhouser Company continue with that characteristic enterprise which they have taught us to expect and send me announcement of the coming of another feature release, She, taken from Rider Haggard's book of the same title. This is to be presented by the Thanhouser Company as a holiday feature and is indeed a most acceptable present in exhibitors. I've just got to give it to the Thanhouser Company for doing things right."


ARTICLE, The Billboard, December 23, 1911:

"Bobby Burns, the poet, said 'Oh wad some power's the giftie gie us to see ourself as others see us;' but even this prophetic poet couldn't conjure a man seeing himself see himself. But James Cruze of the Thanhouser players accomplished this very miracle the other day, when, seated in the New Rochelle inspection room, he watched a first print of She on the screen. The tomb scene wherein She shows Leo Vincey (Cruze) the body of his ancestor, flashed before him, and as the ancestor was posed by Cruze and by trick studio process printed into the tomb scene, the actor was in all truth seeing himself see himself. All of which goes to prove that the motion picture is the greatest modern performer of miracles!"


ARTICLE, The Moving Picture News, January 27, 1912:

"In front of an empty lot beside the Elite Theatre, Santa Rosa, California, the advance posters for feature pictures are displayed on a three-sheet billboard. No attention was given to these advance notices until a candle was nailed in the center of the board and lit. The display was for Thanhouser's She. Through curiosity everybody stopped, and the result was a 'No Standing Room' sign."


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, December 23, 1911:

"PART ONE: The first scene shows us the outer core to the temple in Egypt in the year 350 B.C. Here Amenartas, the Pharaoh's daughter, waits to meet her love Kallikrates. He has taken the vows, becoming a priest of Isis. She orders him to renounce these vows and flee with her from Egypt. We next see them during the sacrificial ceremony in the temple. The young priest goes about his sacred office constantly feeling the eyes of the woman he loves upon him. At the close of the ceremony he can resist her appeal no longer and they make their escape. They leave the city behind them, and on a desert meet some friendly Arabs. The young priest is weak from fasting, and his wife secures for him the camel owned by an Arab chief, so that they may continue their journey. They thank their Arab friends, leave them, and on foot make their way to the water's edge. After traveling 'twice 12 moons' they land with their infant son on the coast of Africa, near a rocky precipice, known as the Negro's Head. In a cave in the hollow mountain, 'She,' the white witch of Africa, who has learned the secret of eternal youth, sees the approach of the Egyptian, by her magic power. 'She' determines that he is the perfect man, that 'She' will have him bathe with her in the fires of eternal youth, and together they will rule the world. 'She' summons him.

"In his camp in the desert the messengers of 'She' find Kallikrates, his wife and child, and bring them before 'She.' 'She' shows the Egyptian the fires of eternal youth and offers him her love, but when he remains true to the love of his wife, 'She' strikes him dead. His wife, Amenastas, escapes with her child. At the river bank, the wife embarks with her child, whom she calls Tisisthenes. She swears that this child shall return and avenge his father's death or if not he, his male descendants. Over the smoldering fires of eternal strife 'She' tries in vain to restore the vital spark to the body of the man she loved. Unable to give her loved one life, 'She,' has his body mummified by a marvelous process, which makes him look though he did but sleep. Beside her dead love, 'She' weeps and prays, that though 'She' cannot restore him to life, someday, though it be in the remote centuries to come, her love will be reincarnated and return to claim her.

"PART TWO: We now see a room in England, the year 1885 A.D. Holly, an Englishman, whose face is so ugly that has won him the appellation of 'the monster,' receives, by the will of his friend, the fortunes and custody of that friend's son, Leo Vincent. This child is a direct descendant of the priest of Isis, whom 'She' destroyed centuries before. With the child is sent a letter of instructions and an antique chest. The letter explains that Leo is to open the chest on his 25th birthday and follow the instructions it contains. Through the ages 'She' waits besides the body of her dead love, still praying for his reincarnation and return. On his 25th birthday, Leo opens the chest and finds in it the story of his ancient ancestor and the information that though many men of his family have spent their lives in seeking 'She,' none of them had ever found her. Leo also finds instructions to carry on the work, to seek 'She,' learn her secret of eternal youth, and destroy her. Leo determines to set out on the mission. Leo and his guardian, Holly, approach the shores of Africa, and note the strange rock, the Negro's Head. 'She,' in her cave, sees in a vision Leo approaching. He strongly resembles his ancient ancestor, 'She' firmly believes he is a reincarnation of her ancient lover. 'She' sends for him.

"Through the rocky caverns Leo's boat glides up the river toward the hollow mountain. At an ancient landing place, now fallen into ruins, Leo's boat is stopped by a tribe of natives, who pay allegiance to 'She.' They blindfold Leo and Holly and lead them to the cave of 'She.' 'She' welcomes Leo as her lost love. He tells her that he has come to destroy her, to revenge the death of his ancestor. 'She' gives him the knife from her own girdle and, baring her bosom, bids him strike. Before her unveiled beauty, Leo is powerless to destroy her. 'She' then bids him to follow her and leads them through a strange passage. In a rocky cavern 'She' shows Leo the mummy of his ancient ancestor, and so like is it to the young Englishman, that he feels he is gazing upon himself. 'She' then destroys the mummy as she feels she has found her living love. 'She' leads Holly and Leo over a rocky precipice to the cave containing the 'fires of eternal youth.' 'She' begs Leo to step into the flames so that he, too, will never die. Leo fears to take the step. To encourage him 'She' steps first in the flames. The quality of the fire has changed in the centuries since 'She' last bathed in them. 'She' suddenly shrivels up before the eyes of the astonished men. 'She' grows suddenly old, until she resembles an ape. With outstretched arms, and a cry to Leo not to forget her, 'She' dies. Holly and Leo, half crazed with the terrible sight they have witnessed, find their way back to the native village. They are directed, by an overland route, as to how they can leave the country and they do so. Safely returned to England, Leo, whose golden hair has been turned white from his horrible experience, destroys all records of 'She,' the mysterious. His family has been avenged."


REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, December 31, 1911:

"PART ONE: Rider Haggard's wonderful story, She, a bold subject for any picture maker to attempt, has been photoplayed by the Thanhouser Company in two reels, and to say that the makers and directors deserve the highest sort of praise is but putting the case mildly. It is indeed a wonderfully well made production which follows the story as closely as is possible and as dramatically as could be desired. The first part begins in the ancient days of Egypt, picturing the first love of Pharaoh's daughter for the young priest of Isis, his renunciation of priestly vows, and their hasty flight across the desert. He then meets the mysterious 'She,' who, on his refusal to serve her as her lover, slays him. The bereaved widow and her child vow vengeance and the spirit woman has the body of the Egyptian mummified as never a body was preserved before.

"PART TWO: Making the jump in the original tale to modern times, we meet the two young Englishmen, one the direct descendant of the original Egyptian whom 'She' had destroyed. On his twenty-fifth birthday, following his adoption by the old friend of his family, he opens the chest willed to him and learns the secret of the ancient mummy and the spirit woman, 'She.' With his companion he journeys to Africa and in the ancient cavern he meets the fatal ghost, who at once recognizes him. She bids him partake of the eternal fires of youth, as she had his ancestor, but he refuses, and she, to persuade him, goes in first and is turned to ashes. In horror and disgust he journeys homeward and on his arrival destroys everything that is remindful of the old legend. The impersonations are dramatically and delicately handled. The scenical properties and effects are exceedingly well made and the story as a whole is well worthy of its two reel featuring."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture News, December 16, 1911:

"Thanhouser has created out of the imaginative story, She, by Rider Haggard, a masterpiece in the way of film dramatization. The work of preparing the story for the film has been done with great intelligence. The thread of the story is kept intact through a series of well chosen scenes. The atmosphere surrounding the scenes is made of good stuff, and especially do the desert scenes deserve particular note as regards atmospheric attribute. The work of Miss Marguerite Snow is, indeed, excellent in the part of She. Miss Viola Nicholls [sic; Viola Alberti was intended] interprets the part of the daughter of Pharaoh with a remarkable conception, and Mr. James Cruze as Leo does his part to complete the excellency of the production. We do not know where we have seen a drama so well enacted upon the screen. There are many beautiful scenes in this story, and the beauty and lithesomeness of Miss Marguerite Snow adds not a little to the success of the production."


REVIEW by W. Stephen Bush, The Moving Picture World, December 23, 1911:

"A story, like She, the weird and mysterious tale from the gifted pen of Rider Haggard, was a natural temptation to an ambitious and capable maker of films and to the eventual profit and prestige of the Independent exhibitor. The Thanhouser Company has succumbed to the temptation in a two-reel production. About two years ago, when the two- and three-reel production was still regarded as a curiosity, the Edison Company made a motion picture version of the story in one reel. It was an artistic masterpiece, and despite the fact that only the few who had read the story could thoroughly understand and enjoy the picture, it gained no small popularity and was justly considered one of the early moving picture classics.

"The Thanhouser people, in filming popular fiction and well-known dramas, such as David Copperfield, A Doll's House, and The Lady From the Sea, are guided by a controlling desire to make the story clear to the general public, only a small portion of whom may safely be presumed to have read Ibsen or Haggard or even Dickens. In the present production they have succeeded in making a mysterious and complicated novel very plain to the average moving picture patron and in so doing they have at the same time kept up their high standard of art and dignity in rendering this strange piece of fiction into moving pictures.

"The story deals with the mysteries of Egyptian worship, with the tricks and wonders of that magic, which even in the most ancient times has surrounded the land of the Pharaohs with a certain indefinable awesome spell. Of course there are scores of stories touching upon the strange worship and veiled ritual of old Egypt, but none of them has the bold stroke of the English writer who, himself a traveler in the Dark Continent, joined the old and the new together by giving the main story a distinctly modern setting and introducing besides mysterious high priests and priestesses and savage tribes, a blind young Englishman of 25. Very much a child of his own days, he has invested the novel with an unusual interest. Before we realize it we have forgotten the improbabilities of the tale and begin to relive the reincarnation and the fires of youth and the flames of death and actually enjoy being mystified.

"The skeleton of the story is something like this: a daughter of the Pharaoh's, Amenastas, is in love with the young priest of Isis, Kallikrates, and induces him to foreswear his vows and elope with her. They journey a great distance to the desert and to a place on the coast of Africa where they are discovered by a strange and ancient people and taken before the queen, a woman of mystic power and who lives forever and who is known as 'She who must be obeyed.' She falls in love with Kallikrates and, because he will not kill his wife, the daughter of the Pharaohs, and espouse her instead, she kills him with a blast of her mystic power. Amenastas defies 'She' and escapes with her child, whom she christens Tisisthenes, the Avenger, and wills that he, or his descendant, at some time shall return and avenge the death of Kallikrates.

"For several thousand years the record of the death of Kallikrates is passed on by his descendants until it reaches a young Englishman, Lionel Vincey, the adopted son of a Mr. Holly, who has accepted the post from the father of the boy with instructions to open the casket containing the evidence of the crime, which is to be opened when the boy reaches the age of 25 years. When this strange mission is explained to the young Vincey, he decides to undertake the task of finding 'She' and revenging his ancestor. Holly and a servant accompany Vincey and, after a remarkable series of adventures, they are brought to the presence of 'She who must be obeyed.'

"'She' is cognizant of the mission of the young Englishman, but when she bears her breast and invites him to complete his work of vengeance, he is unable to do so, having come so completely under the spell of her marvelous beauty. 'She' insists that he is the reincarnation of Kallikrates and that he has returned to become her spouse. She leads him to the tomb of her ancestor, whose body she has kept in a perfect state of preservation for more than 2,000 years. Vincey is shocked at the resemblance of the ancient priest to himself. 'She' then destroys the mummy and declares her undying love for Vincey. He, in turn, acknowledges his love for her and the loss of his desire for vengeance.

"Hoping now to endow Vincey with eternal life and make him as imperishable as herself, 'She' leads him to the hidden cave of fire and bids him to bathe in its mystic flames. Vincey hesitates, and to encourage him 'She' steps into the flames herself. As she stands there in all radiant beauty with the flames caressing her form, suddenly an awful change occurs. From a figure of youth and beauty she turns into an old and shriveled hag and falls shrieking to the ground, where she dies. Vincey and his companion, Holly, make their way out of accursed cave of fire with great difficulties and through many dangers, finally returning to their home in London. But he awful experience has turned Vincey's hair from gold to snow-white and made a lasting impression upon his memory.

"To picture this weird tale in its entirety would be impossible. The Thanhouser Company has not attempted this, but has taken the thread of the story from the initial causes and has pictured the events in a logical sequence, giving us a better interpretation than could be otherwise obtained in pictures. Thus, the first reel, where is shown a scene in the temple of Isis with the daughter of Pharaoh endeavoring to seduce the young priest and turn him from his vows. It is a pretentious scene and well staged. The setting suggests, with great realism, the massive Egyptian architecture of ancient times, remnants of which still exist. Finally yielding to the importunities of Amenastas, the young priest, Kallikrates, leaves the temple with her and, later, they are seen traveling across the desert and embarking in a small boat by which means they finally arrive in the domain of 'She,' and are escorted to her presence. The Oriental atmosphere is simulated with unusual effects. As the priest and his paramour depart from the temple the towers and domes of the city are to be seen in the distance. A camel, with attendants in Bedouin attire, has been provided for the fugitives and the spot where this scene was taken suggests an Egyptian desert.

"The second reel introduces Holly and the incident of his acceptance of the son of his friends and the casket containing the record of the death of Kallikrates, to be opened when the boy reaches the age of 25 years. When the casket is opened at the appointed time the chart showing the location of mystic city of Kor, the abiding place of 'She,' is shown and then we see the adventurers upon their way through the ancient canal where they are met by the messengers from 'She' and led to her palace in the mountain. Unquestionably, great care has been taken by the Thanhouser Company in selecting the settings for these scenes. A more faithful portrayal of the scenes described in Rider Haggard's story could scarcely be imagined. Omitting several adventures and horrible events which occur to the travelers before they reach the presence of 'She,' the Thanhouser version takes us, with impressive ceremony, directly to her cave palace. The scene in the Cave of Fire is most convincing and an excellent interpretation of the storied description of that awful climax. Passing over the terrifying adventures attending the escape of Vincey and Holly from the City of Kor, the reel concludes with Vincey seated in his London home, melancholy figure, as he consigns the records of Kallikrates to the flames of his hearth fire. There can be no doubt of the solid popularity, even at this day, of the strange fancies embodied in the printed page and set free again by the picture in motion. I think one reason of this popularity lies in the fact that the story points no moral and does not seek to preach. We get so much cheap moralizing and preaching nowadays, but a tale, which is nothing more than a narration of events and episodes and a description of characters and scenery, is on occasions a most welcomed relief."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, January 3, 1912: This review is reprinted in the narrative section of the present work.

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