Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 Mutual News

In late July and early August, John Freuler declared several times that the Mutual Film Corporation would do its best to please exhibitors. In the meantime, much acclaim was being given in trade journals and newspaper film columns to the Famous Players Film Company, the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, and other "newcomers" who seemed to be stealing the thunder from the old-line companies. The old timers from the Trust were rapidly fading, and Biograph, the industry giant of yesteryear, was reduced to reissuing films made years earlier by D.W. Griffith. The World Film Corporation, a relatively new contender, had several divisions, including Equitable and Peerless. Louis J. Selznick, the vice-president and general manager of World Film, mounted a particularly aggressive advertising campaign.

In the face of the highly-acclaimed multiple-reel features offered by some of the newer studios, loyal exhibitors who were showing pictures from the Mutual program were experiencing reduced receipts. Changes were in the wind at Mutual, and on August 14th The Moving Picture World reported:

Definite announcement is made at the offices of the Mutual Film Corporation that the program revision and expansion is now complete and that the revised and increased schedule will be in the hands of the Mutual branch offices within the next several days.... The following plans have definitely been completed: two three-reel features with Broadway stars in the leading roles will be released each week.... The Mutual Program will use such stage stars as Sarah Forbes-Robertson, Gertrude Elliott, Alice Brady and Florence Nash.

There will be five new comedy releases each week, the first being the new Cub comedies, with George Ovey as a star and David Horsley as a producer. To those will be added a new Beauty comedy release presented by a company personally recruited by President S.S. Hutchinson of the American Film Company; a new Falstaff comedy release made by a company of players especially chosen by Edwin Thanhouser, and two new comedies featuring English knockabout comedians and directed by one of the most celebrated comedy men in motion pictures. After January 1 this comedy man will appear personally in special features to be released by the Mutual. The English comedians have been brought over under contract, which gives the Mutual their exclusive services on long contracts.

The two-reel features on the program have been brought to feature quality and will be known here after as Mutual Banner features. Among those there will be each week a new Western drama brand to be known as the Mustang dramas. The Bostock Animal Pictures, produced by David Horsley, will be two reels long, and, as already announced, there will be one two-reel release each week on the regular program....

The Moving Picture World, August 21, 1915, quoted John R. Freuler on the subject of allegedly unfair criticism directed toward Mutual:

I do not for one moment believe that the great competing firms are responsible for the overeagerness of some of their employees or representations. I know them as honorable and fair men. But the actual announcements of the great things coming on the regular Mutual program have made some of the underlings afraid, and, being afraid, they have resorted to misrepresentation in order to tie exhibitors hard and fast before they can get a chance at the new benefits of the regular Mutual program. I feel sure that this frank talk will be sufficient to defeat any further efforts along this line.

On August 28th The Moving Picture World informed readers that two new brand names would appear on the Mutual program: Rialto Star features Note made by Gaumont and Clipper Star features produced by the American Film Manufacturing Company.

The Mutual program beginning Sunday, August 29, 1915, was as follows:


Sunday: Komic, Majestic, Thanhouser

Monday: American, Falstaff, Keystone, Reliance

Tuesday: Beauty, Majestic, Thanhouser

Wednesday: Reliance, Rodeo

Thursday: Cub, Gaumont, Mutual Masterpicture, Mutual Weekly

Friday: American, Falstaff, Kay-Bee, Reliance

Saturday: American, Beauty, Reliance.


In August many Mutual advertisements featured the theme that $8 million would be spent annually to create outstanding films.

Elsewhere in the industry it was announced that Pathé would release multiple-reel films in the autumn, to be known as Gold Rooster Plays, the rooster being the Pathé trademark. Directors including George Fitzmaurice, H.M. Horkheimer, E.D. Horkheimer, Donald Mackenzie, Leopold Wharton, Theodore Wharton, Edward Jose, and Arnold Daly were set to produce films which, it was hoped, would compete effectively in the market for expanded features. Note


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