Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 February Films

In the Jury Room, a two-reel drama released on February 2nd, featured Sidney Bracy, Mignon Anderson, Arthur Ashley, and other players, including Jacob Ruskin, a local attorney. Ruskin's entry into films as a bit player occurred during the filming of The Missing Witness, a 1913 release. He was employed as a consultant to the film, and when the actor playing the part of an attorney failed to appear, Ruskin acted the role. Now in 1914 he was again before the cameras. Nell's Strategy, a Princess film distributed on the 5th, starred Boyd Marshall and Reenie Farrington. Unlike the earlier Ostriche-Marshall duo in Princess pictures, the Farrington-Marshall combination did not catch on with audiences.

The Shoplifter, released on February 7th, featured Mignon Anderson, Ethel Jewett, Arthur Ashley, and Nolan Gane. Reviewers overlooked it, as they did for numerous other one-reelers of the period. The Smuggled Diamond was issued in two reels on the 9th. The Moving Picture World commented:

A two-reel detective story, Flo LaBadie being the lady secret service agent. She trails Diamond Bill, who smuggled in a large stone on the Ruritania. Many of the scenes are mechanically put together. The heroine does some clever work in climbing out on the ladder of the high building and holding up Bill and his pal single-handedly. This makes altogether an offering of about average strength.

Next on the Thanhouser release schedule was Across the Way, a Princess film, on the 12th, The Gratitude of Conductor 786 on the 14th, and the two-reel A Man of Iron on the 16th. The Moving Picture World considered the latter film to be "better than the average in theme and construction.... It should have wide appeal." Who Got Stung?, the Princess release of February 19th, was found by The Moving Picture World to be very funny in places. The same periodical commented on His Sister's Kiddies, the comedy release of the 21st, noting that: "The situations in this are natural and quite enjoyable, though the plot is of course slight." Perhaps by this time the reviewer was conditioned to expect substandard plots from Thanhouser, but more likely the commentary referred to comedies in general not having in-depth plot construction.

Apart from this notice in the New Rochelle Evening Standard, February 15, 1915, little is known concerning the intended production of Uncle Jeremiah:

The "Uncle Jeremiah" Company Thanhouser forces leave today for Niagara Falls enroute to California to be gone perhaps a couple of months. They are to make scenes in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Texas, San Diego, and other places enroute. It is to be a comedy-educational film. The company may even go down into Mexico if they have time. They intend to make pictures at the Panama Exposition and at the San Diego fair. Note

The company consists of Harris Gordon, Mildred Heller, Mary Turner, Frances Keyes, George Welsh, James Murray, Charles W. Swan, and Roy Hauck, son of former fire commissioner and Mrs. Harry Hauck, known as the "McCoy Kid" because he is a nephew of Nellie and Bessie McCoy (Mrs. Richard Harding Davis). Will H. Stevens is to direct, assisted by James J. Dunne, who is to be treasurer of the party. Lawrence Williams is to be the cameraman. Dunne and Williams are New Rochelle boys who have made good in their new professions and have been honored by this new responsibility.

The Adventure of Florence, distributed in two reels on the 23rd, showcased Florence LaBadie and was an effort to capitalize on her popular appeal gained the preceding year when she was the star of The Million Dollar Mystery. "This is well constructed, in good tone, and has an enjoyable touch of romance in it," wrote a reviewer in The Moving Picture World. Then came $1,000 Reward on February 26th, a picture featuring the Thanhouser Twins. On Account of a Dog, the Princess release of the 26th, was followed on the 28th by A Newspaper Nemesis. Reviews of Thanhouser films were few and far between by this time, as most periodicals were concentrating their commentaries on the four- and five-reel features issued by other studios. The New Rochelle studio was out of step with the new and more aggressive companies, and no longer were the Thanhouser Film Corporation's pictures described as among the best in the industry.


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