Volume II: Filmography



Production still from THE FLYING TWINS. From the Moving Picture World (M-7-X-1)

July 1, 1915 (Thursday)

Length: 4 reels

Character: Drama; Mutual Masterpicture

Director: John Harvey

Cast: Madeline and Marion Fairbanks (the flying twins), Boyd Marshall (Vinald Marshall, their father), Ethel Jewett (Lucia Marshall, their mother), Eleanor Spaulding (Aunt Sally), Harry LaPearl (Fred Morris, the acrobat), Bertha Leon (Stella, his wife), Lorraine Huling (Cousin Carolyn), Morris Foster (Peter Goddard, the clerk), W. Ray Johnston (the ringmaster)


ADVERTISEMENT, Reel Life, June 26, 1915:

"This four-act Mutual Masterpicture represents the Thanhouser conception of the so-called 'thrill picture.' It abounds in novelty both in situation and in the exploits of the characters. There is enough exciting incident to more than satisfy, and the tension throughout is high. At the same time, however, the story is so absorbing and the action so well balanced that The Flying Twins win interest and sympathy by their charming performance, well supported by a strong Thanhouser cast. An unusual feature of this production is its genuine circus atmosphere, which helps portray the lure of the saw-dust ring. The Flying Twins is a thriller-classic."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, June 26, 1915:

"Informed of the coming of the circus by a handbill presented to them in town, the twins (Madeline and Marion Fairbanks) have asked their aunt (Eleanor Spaulding) to take them to the performance. Having a horror of such things, the puritanical aunt refuses. On this refusal hinges the story of The Flying Twins. Disgruntled, the twins run away with the circus and in time become famous for their performance in the air. A villainous acrobat, who rules them with an iron hand for personal gain and revenge, is finally outwitted by a clever detective and the penitent girls are returned to their parents. The Flying Twins will shortly be released as a Mutual Masterpicture."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, June 26, 1915:

"With the presentation of The Flying Twins, a four-part Mutual Masterpicture, strikingly staged and acted, the Thanhouser studios have screened three of this group of motion pictures deluxe, which are creating such a furor from one end of the land to the other. As in the screening of God's Witness and The Patriot and the Spy, the preceding Mutual Masterpictures filmed by the Thanhouser studios, Edwin Thanhouser, who, in person, superintended the greater part of the staging of The Flying Twins, spared neither money nor time, in what has been a successful effort to make this Mutual Masterpicture one of the most realistic and interesting ever shown on a screen.

"The Flying Twins, as the title implies, centers to a great extent around the sawdust rings, so dear to the hearts of young and old alike, realism being added to the scenes taken under the great spread of canvas by the special engagement of the circus's wonderfully equipped menagerie. A gripping plot, hinging on the perils and adventures faced by two young girls craving the exciting career of circus performers, runs throughout the piece, the story being revealed in such a way as to hold the close attention of the audience. Marion and Madeline Fairbanks, the ever popular young Thanhouser stars, probably better known as the 'Thanhouser Twins,' are featured in this extraordinary screen production, assisted by an all-star cast comprised of Morris Foster, Boyd Marshall, Harry LaPearl, Lorraine Huling, Ethel Jewett, Eleanor Spaulding and Bertha Leon."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, August 14, 1915:

"Two fascinating little actresses who have charmed photoplay lovers the world over, are Marion and Madeline Fairbanks, the Thanhouser Twins. These beautiful, refined little girls, are thirteen years old. Their expressive dark eyes and oval faces, framed in soft, dark, curling hair, are familiar to thousands who have followed their screen work for several years at the New Rochelle studios. The Flying Twins, a Mutual Masterpicture in four reels, has been produced especially for these youthful stars. The Flying Twins is a thrilling, laughable, also pathetic story of two little daughters of wealthy parents, who ran away with a circus and became trapeze artists. There are plenty of vivid emotional moments when the Twins hold their own with more mature actresses. And throughout the four reels, their winsome personalities delight all ages in the audience."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, August 14, 1915:

"Boyd Marshall, Thanhouser leading man always in demand, very realistically portrays a young father on the verge of insanity in The Flying Twins, a stirring four-part Mutual Masterpicture of circus life. Marshall loses his beautiful twin daughters, played by Marion and Madeline Fairbanks, who run away to become trapeze performers under the big top. The situation calls for some pretty intense scenes in which the distraught father is featured. Marshall was the popular lead with the Princess playlets, and enjoys the reputation of being one of the handsomest men on the screen. He has appeared in opera, musical comedy and in Elmira, N.Y., musical stock, where he was a great favorite. He was baritone juvenile at the Hippodrome for one year. More than a hundred Thanhouser dramas stand to his credit. When a film featuring Marshall goes to Elmira, they bill it like Forepaugh's [a leading circus of the era - Ed.]."


ARTICLE, Reel Life, August 28, 1915:

"Lorraine Huling, the pretty little leading woman who has recently come into her own at the Thanhouser studios, makes a fascinating 'Country Cousin' in The Flying Twins, a four-act Mutual Masterpicture of circus life. Miss Huling's winsomeness none can resist. Her smile already is famous the country over. An earlier triumph, In the Valley, released on the Mutual Program, gave the public a deliberate foretaste of the charm of this dainty, little actress, who, in The Flying Twins, stars in a romantic role. Cousin Carolyn is an unsophisticated young woman who attracts many lovers simply because she cannot help it. Miss Huling makes the part convincing. The blending of roguery, demureness, fun, sentiment and intensity in her temperament is baffling, and at the same time delightful. Her prettiness grows upon one. And her admirers are multiplying with every new Thanhouser and Falstaff subject in which she is starred, so, that if well wishes from admirers continue, a private secretary will be necessary to handle her correspondence."


SYNOPSIS, Reel Life, June 19, 1915:

"It had been a very exciting winter for the twins, largely because of Cousin Carolyn. Romantic things always were happening to their pretty country cousin whom their father had given a position in his office. The twins were just thirteen. Perhaps the most thrilling adventure of all had been their acquaintance with the acrobat. Never had the twins seen anything so wonderful as this young man, who hung fearlessly in mid-air, twisting his supple body into the strangest shapes. And when, after the performance, a man whom Carolyn knew, actually brought to them this prince of contortionists and introduced him, Marion and Madeline were overcome by the honor. Fred Morris - the acrobat - saw Cousin Carolyn many times after that. She made the twins her confidantes, and they loyally kept everything she told them a secret. It was not their fault that their father discovered Carolyn's romance, that in a single hour their hero was banished, and their pretty cousin plunged into an abyss of woe. But this was all over, months ago. And now Carolyn and Peter Goddard were engaged. The twins had overheard their father say that at last Cousin Carolyn had a suitor who was worthy of her. And yet, Peter never in his life had swung from a trapeze. He was only a clerk in the office.

"In June, the twins' father was called on a business trip to California, and it was arranged that Mrs. Marshall should go with him. 'Aunt Sally's is the best place for the twins.' Marion and Madeline heard their father say. And their mother replied: 'Yes, on that big farm they'll be in quiet, wholesome surroundings, and Aunt Sally can keep an eye on them.' The twins were delighted with the prospects of a summer in the country, and when they reached the Connecticut homestead they went wild with joy and the sense of freedom. But after two weeks of simple farm pleasures, their enthusiasm began to lag. There were no matinees, no vaudeville or motion picture shows - and after the unusual gaiety of the winter the twins missed them.

"On a certain Thursday - the day when Aunt Sally drove to town to do her weekly marketing - as circus arrived in the village. While Aunt Sally was bustling in and out of the stores, the twins watched the procession. They fell in with the crowd and followed them to the circus grounds. Peeping in under the big tent, they saw the ring performers rehearsing their stunts, and were filled with the zeal of emulation. So absorbed were both in their own antics that, when they suddenly heard somebody call them by name, they fell over in the grass - and lay there, staring up at their old friend, Fred Morris. Morris took the little girls into the tent. The circus people flocked around them. Marion and Madeline told them that they were tired of life in the country. Then a beautiful creature in a short, pink dress, whom Morris called Stella, his wife, told Madeline and Marion what an exciting life they might have if they would join the circus. The next night, when the show left town, the twins disappeared with it. Aunt Sally spent the worst week of her life trying to trace the runaways. At the end of that time she telegraphed Mr. and Mrs. Marshall. But the cleverest detectives in the city could make nothing of the case.

"Meanwhile, the twins had reached the height of their ambition. They had developed, under Morris's tutelage, into daring, graceful little trapeze performers, billed as 'The Flying Twins.' Night after night they astonished and delighted hundreds of people. The show was touring the Middle West. Had they been nearer New York, their fame and their identity would have reached their parents. Marion and Madeline were the stars of the troupe. Their guardian watched their progress greedily. He was reaping a rich revenge against Vinald Marshall for the latter's interference in his affair with Carolyn. Then came the fatal fall which crippled the master acrobat, and his interest in the twins became one not only of revenge, but of self-preservation. He depended upon them for his own support. The children became miserably homesick. But in answer to their pleadings that they be allowed to return, Morris only threatened them should they try to run away. Finally, the ex-acrobat overreached himself. He wrote an anonymous letter to Marshall, taunting him with the loss of his daughters. At last the detectives had a clue. Safe again in their parents' arms, the two little girls cried until they couldn't squeeze out another drop."


REVIEW by Louis Reeves Harrison, The Moving Picture World, July 3, 1915: This review is reprinted in the narrative section of the present work.

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