Volume II: Filmography



Madeline and Marion Fairbanks, the Thanhouser Twins, in FAIRY FERN SEE. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research (Q-40)


May 25, 1915 (Tuesday)

Length: 2 reels

Character: Comedy-drama

Director: John Harvey

Scenario: Gertrude (Mrs. Edwin) Thanhouser

Cameraman: Carl Louis Gregory

Cast: Ethel Jewett (Susanna Cross), Peggy Burke (Rosalie Wood), Mrs. Burbank (her daughter), James Cooley (James Porter, Rosalie's husband), Madeline and Marion Fairbanks (Rosalie's daughters, Madeline and Marion), John Lehnberg

Notes: 1. In certain mentions of this film in the press it was referred to as The Fern Seed, with "Fairy" omitted. In other mentions, an extraneous "the" was added to the correct title. 2. This was the last Thanhouser picture directed by John Harvey prior to his leaving for Universal.


ARTICLE, The Moving Picture World, May 29, 1915:

"One of the most charming comedies released in the Mutual program this year is offered by the Thanhouser Company under the title of The Fairy Fern Seed. The Thanhouser twins, Madeline and Marion Fairbanks, are starred in this production. Appearing with them are Ethel Jewett, Peggy Burke and James Cooley. The story pictures Susanna Cross intriguing until Rosalie Wood, whose home she shares, finally elopes with James Porter. Unable to forgive her daughter, Mrs. Wood now lavishes all her affection on Susanna. For the Porters' life grows harder, year by year. Finally Mrs. Porter dies, leaving the husband with two little daughters. When they are twelve their father also passes on, and the two girls are told they will be sent to an institution. Their hearts are full of fairy lore. They had been reading of the princess who put fern seed in her shoes that her spiritual self might be transported to the care of the fairy prince. The two girls decide to reach the grandmother they have never seen in just this way, and the result of their action is all their trusting hearts could desire."


SYNOPSIS, Reel Life, May 15, 1915:

"Susanna Cross, envious of her wealthy girl chum, Rosalie Wood, whose home she shares, encourages Rosalie to elope with James Porter. Mrs. Wood, unable to forgive her daughter, now lavishes everything upon the unscrupulous Susanna. Rosalie's husband is poor, and each year life becomes a more bitter struggle. At last, Rosalie dies, leaving Porter heart-broken. When his twin daughters, Marion and Madeline, are twelve, the father also dies. They are told that they are to be sent to an institution. The two little girls have their heads full of fairy lore. Remembering the story of the princess who put fern seed in her shoes so that she could send her spirit self with a message of love to her dear prince, they decide that they will do the same, so that their spirit selves may find the grandmother whom they never have seen, and win her love and protection. Everybody - whether they believe in fairies or not - should see the happy conclusion of one of the sweetest playlets Thanhouser has produced in many a day."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, August 7, 1915:

"It has always seemed quite proper to accord extended space to large productions, solely for the reason that their very magnitude warranted it; but it is not often that a one- or two-reel picture gets more than its proportionate share of space. However, one of Thanhouser's recent two-reel films has been so favorably received that an additional amount of comment here at this time may not be amiss. The title of this release was The Fairy Fern Seed, and it measures up to what has come to be called a standard for short films of the better kind, solely because it does not falter in plot or action. Mrs. Thanhouser wrote the scenario, Carl Gregory looked after the photography, and Jack Harvey directed. Gregory's double exposure work in the second reel is quite unusual and exceedingly well done. This was Harvey's last picture before he joined Universal's staff, and he has left a splendid example of his painstaking work. A capable cast, headed by Ethel Jewett, does some sincere work that gains in effectiveness as the story progresses. Miss Jewett, by the way, is showing a steady improvement in her interpretations. She seems to enter into the spirit of her parts as a real screen star should."

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