Volume 2: Filmography

 

NOT GUILTY

 

September 20, 1910 (Tuesday)

Length: 1,000 feet

Character: Drama

Cast: Frank H. Crane (Harry Martin, the unfortunate young man), Marie Eline (a newspaper boy)

 

ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, September 24, 1910:

"Not Guilty will pronounce you not guilty of failure to give your patrons a good time. Run this the day your program seems tame. It will infuse just enough life into the show to send the audience away pleased. It's not a 'thriller,' but it may thrill you through and through in parts, such as where the man who is not guilty slips into a haywagon and away from prison walls, and where, cornered in his mother's home by the police, he swings to liberty on a clothesline."

 

SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, September 24, 1910:

"Joinville, a rogue, commits a robbery. During capture he decides to part with the stolen valuables, knowing that they will incriminate him if found on his person. Moreover, he decides to place them in someone else's possession, thus turning all suspicion from him. He selects a young clerk, Harry Martin, as his victim, and slips the valuables in the youth's pockets. The police find the stuff there. Harry is brought to trial. He is convicted and sentenced. Committed to prison to serve his time, he leaves behind him two persons who are full of faith in him and who know he is not guilty of the crime of which he is charged - his blind mother and his pretty sweetheart. Convinced that all chance for correction of the gigantic error of which he is victim has fled, he determines to take matters into his own hands and force his way into the stricken home.

"While breaking stone inside the prison walls, he spies a passing hay wagon and feels his chance has come. Eluding the guard, he gains the wagon and crawls into the hay. He reaches his failing mother in time to buoy her up with a white lie - he has been 'freed.' His sweetheart keeps up the imposture until the truth is made clear by the arrival of the police. They surround the house but the boy hazards a thrilling clothesline ride to an opposite roof and safety. In the meantime, the rogue Joinville's conscience asserts itself. Long dormant, it now cries out to him and will not down. He obeys its calls and surrenders himself to the law. His confession makes clear he who is 'not guilty,' and the boy is restored to mother and sweetheart for all earthly time."

 

REVIEW by Walton, The Moving Picture News, October 1, 1910:

"The tender end, mother, is good; it's well acted. What I said about The Doctor's Carriage I repeat. This theme is far-fetched; the convict stripes unnecessary. Whoever was at the helm in this picture was just a little bit mixed - as to the course."

 

REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, October 1, 1910:

"A rather engaging and dramatic story of a young man wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit. The circumstances of his escape from prison, and then his escape from the police are told with a thrill. And then in a dramatic scene the real thief confesses and the falsely accused young man is restored to his friends. The heart interest in the story will maintain its interest, while there is sufficient action to prevent dullness."

 

REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, September 28, 1910:

"There are very strong situations in this picture story, based on the efforts of a young man and his sweetheart to prevent the young man's mother from knowing that he has been sent to prison. The mother becomes ill and longs for her son, wondering why he remains away. At this juncture he has a lucky chance to escape and takes advantage of it, visiting his mother in his prison garb, which, of course, she is unable to see. Here, in the opinion of this reviewer, the author makes a tactical blunder by having the son confess to the mother the truth of his imprisonment and escape. It would have sustained the heart interest of the story better to have had her forever remain in ignorance. In a series of melodramatic scenes that are not as convincing as they might be, we see the son elude the penitentiary officers, and later he returns openly to his home with a newspaper in which is printed the confession of the criminal who had committed the offense of which the son had been convicted. Some of the scenes were handled too abruptly for the best results, but otherwise the acting appears satisfactory."

 

MODERN SYNOPSIS

(from surviving print)

(Library of Congress)

 

HARRY BIDS HIS MOTHER GOOD-BYE

Harry comforts his mother, seats her in a chair, and bids her goodbye.

 

STOP THIEF!

A man runs down a busy city street with policemen in pursuit.

 

THE THIEF PLACES THE STOLEN PURSE IN HARRY'S POCKET

Harry captures the fleeing man and struggles with him in the street. The fugitive slips the stolen purse in Harry's pocket (in an extended close-up scene in which the two figures are standing still!). The police arrive, find the purse in Harry's pocket, and take Harry away, over his protests.

 

HARRY'S SWEETHEART VISITS HIS MOTHER

Harry's sweetheart visits his mother in the parlor of the second-floor apartment she shares with Harry. The police take Harry through the door to his apartment (which is located up a flight of stairs to the left of a vegetable market).

 

"MY MOTHER MUST NOT KNOW - SHE MUST THINK I'M GOING ON A JOURNEY"

Escorted by a policeman, Harry enters his parlor and kisses his mother goodbye, as his sweetheart buries her tearful face in her hands. Harry kisses her and kisses his mother goodbye once more, and leaves. His sweetheart reads the Bible to his mother. The scene shifts to Harry, in prison garb, in a jail cell. The jailer delivers a note:

 

"Dear Harry,

"Your mother is very ill, she grieves because you do not return. It seems impossible to prove your innocence.

"Your loving Kate."

 

Harry, in his cell, envisions his mother (who is shown in a rectangular inset at the upper right). In the prison yard, Harry and other prisoners break rocks with pickaxes (sledgehammers would have been more appropriate). Then he takes Kate's note from his pocket and re-reads it.

A wagon loaded with shocks of corn passes through the prisoners' area, and, unseen, Harry climbs on the wagon and hides beneath the corn. Meanwhile, back at home his sweetheart nurses his mother. Harry, wearing a coat over his prison stripes, visits his home and embraces his sweetheart and mother. His sweetheart, looking out of the parlor window, sees some policemen in the street.

 

"SHE MUST KNOW THE TRUTH NOW"

After frantic consultation with his sweetheart, and as the policemen draw nearer, Harry climbs out of the parlor window and hides on the fire escape. Three policemen go up the stairs to Harry's home, enter, and search the premises. During this procedure, his sweetheart stands in front of the escape window so as to keep the policemen from that area of the room. Harry grabs a wire or clothesline near the fire escape and slides down the line to another building across the back courtyard. The policemen look out the window, but Harry is nowhere in sight. When the policemen leave, Harry's sweetheart and mother rejoice.

 

OVER THE HOUSE TOPS ACROSS THE COURT

Harry, who has reached a fire escape at the other end of the rescue line, climbs up the fire escape ladder and on to the roof of the building.

 

THE NEXT MORNING

Harry's sweetheart and mother, who had been sleeping in the parlor, awake. Harry, now dressed in street clothes, approaches his home and buys a newspaper from a boy in the street. He scans the front page, then joyously dashes up the stairs.

He kisses his sweetheart and mother, and then he shows them a front-page article titled: "HARRY MARTIN - ESCAPED CONVICT HUNTED BY POLICE - IS INNOCENT - REAL THIEF CONFESSES." (A frame analysis reveals this headline was printed on a small piece of paper two columns wide and was pasted on the front page of the Herald Tribune, New York City, issue of August 27, 1910.)

Harry, his sweetheart, and his mother rejoice!

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