Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 Falstaff Films

In its April 10th issue The Moving Picture World told of a new Thanhouser entry:

The Thanhouser Film Corporation, beginning Friday, April 16th, will inaugurate a new brand of single-reel comedies. They will be released under the designation "Falstaff." Note A single reel comedy bearing the Falstaff brand will be released every Friday in the Mutual program and will replace the Princess dramas, formerly a Mutual Friday release. The Princess brand will be discontinued until further notice.

The name of the first Falstaff release is The Actor and the Rube, a quaintly amusing farce with a distinctly clever and original turn to it. It will be followed on Friday, April 23rd, by The Handicap of Beauty.

The Morning Telegraph in its issue of April 11th added its commentary:

Beginning with the release of Friday, April 16, the Princess releases from the Thanhouser studios at New Rochelle will be replaced by a new brand known as Falstaff.... Mr. Thanhouser wishes to employ a high type of comedy. To name the brand after Shakespeare's famous punster means that a definite policy is laid out for the Falstaff releases. Mr. Thanhouser himself has this to say about them:

"I do not want to create the impression that I am trying to compete with or imitate any kind of comedy which is now on the market. I am satisfied to leave the knockabout style of laugh provokers to my confreres. I shall content myself with putting out a very even brand of comedy which will just about keep a continuous smile spread over one's face. Of course it is very likely that I will go further, but I am satisfied to make only modest claims at the beginning, and if the effect of these pictures proves this statement modest I shall certainly be much more content and so will the exhibitors."

This is about in line with the series of changes which have been expected for weeks, since Mr. Thanhouser himself returned to take charge of the forces at New Rochelle. Those who remember his comedies of three years ago know what to expect, while exhibitors to whom the Thanhouser brand of comedy is new will no doubt watch developments with interest. The Falstaff brand will be released every Friday.

Edwin Thanhouser signed an advertisement for the new comedies. Readers of the April 14th issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror read the following:

Hear about Falstaff? That's what's making Friday the big comedy day. Every Friday I am releasing a Falstaff, and you just ask those who used Thanhouser films before I took my vacation whether I ever broke my promise. They'll tell you that you can swear by a film that's got Edwin Thanhouser's guarantee on it. Thanhouser and Falstaff - Quality and Consistency. That's all you need to remember, and your house receipts will never let you forget Thanhouser.

The Actor and the Rube, directed by Arthur Ellery and featuring Riley Chamberlin, Boyd Marshall, and several others, was released as promised on Friday, April 16, 1915, thus marking the debut of the first film to be produced under Edwin Thanhouser's new regime.

The New York Dramatic Mirror reviewed the comedy:

The reason for naming these pictures by so jocular sounding a name is quite apparent when it is learned that only comedy is to be released under this brand, and if one may judge, good comedy. For it is high-class material that depends largely on clever situations and legitimate comedy acting. The inserts are well and tastefully arranged and it is, as well, nicely produced.

It relates the story of a farmer who goes to town to see the sights. An actor, on a bet, goes to the hometown of the visiting country gentleman and makes up as the farmer. As his double has played poor poker and lost at love, the deceiver takes advantage of it to win a lot of money and to make a favorable impression on the girl. Then, when the metropolitan visitor arrives back home, he is surprised with a huge wad of money and the affection of the girl, while the actor leaves happy in having won the bet. The acting was consistently good.


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