Volume 2: Filmography

 

A DEBUT IN THE SECRET SERVICE

 

April 7, 1914 (Tuesday)

Length: 2 reels (1,998 feet)

Character: Drama

Director: Frederick Sullivan

Scenario: Lloyd F. Lonergan, from a story by Clarence Herbert New

Cast: James Cruze (Lord Trevor), Florence LaBadie (Nan Tremaine, his ward), Nolan Gane (Jones, a dissipated clerk), Justus D. Barnes (Abdul), Arthur Bauer (Pfaff, agent for Germany), Frank Farrington (Pierce, an Englishman), David H. Thompson (Sir Edward Wray, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs), Claude Cooper

Note: This was the third film directed by Frederick Sullivan and with scenarios by Lloyd Lonergan, derived from Clarence Herbert New's Adventures of a Diplomatic Free Lance series, which had been running for the previous five years in Blue Book magazine. The entire Thanhouser series comprised the following: A Leak In the Foreign Office (released February 17, 1914), The Cat's Paw (March 17, 1914), A Debut In the Secret Service (April 7, 1914), and A Mohammedan Conspiracy (May 12, 1914).

 

SYNOPSIS, Reel Life, April 4, 1914:

"Lord Trevor and his ward, Nan Tremaine, occupy a townhouse in London connected by a secret passageway with that occupied by Abdul who poses as a wealthy East Indian merchant, but who, in reality, is a secret service agent in the employ of Lord Trevor. A well-dressed woman is injured in an accident in front of Abdul's home and is carried inside where she receives medical attention. In her delirium she reveals that she is a spy in the employ of Col. Pfaff, a German officer representing the Kaiser in London. Lord Trevor, who is in the confidence of Sir Edward Wray, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is told that the plans of certain coast fortifications have been stolen from the government's files and that they must be recovered. Nan is introduced to the Secretary of State. The men smile when she declares that she will recover the documents. Nan, however, takes up the trail she has uncovered in Abdul's house, and, in a game of wits in which she out-guesses Col. Pfaff's spy, the documents are regained and England is saved from losing precious plans which would be of incalculable value to an enemy in time of war."

 

REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, April 12, 1914:

"A Debut in the Secret Service is a story of the cleverness of a young girl in outwitting a German spy, and in recovering for her guardian, Lord Trevor, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, some important plans which had been stolen. The drama shows the latent hostility which seems always to exist between England and Germany, and is staged and acted with fine regard for correctness of setting. Flo LaBadie, as Lord Trevor's ward, Nan, looks fully as young upon the screen as she is supposed in the play to be, and takes her part with an artistry which seems to show some experience. In order to clear himself of a debt which he has incurred through his propensity for gambling, Jones, a dissipated and weak-kneed clerk in the employ of the government, steals valuable fortification plans from the safe and turns them over to his debtor. These papers are to be delivered by Pfaff, the German, to a young lady agent of the Kaiser whom he is to meet at a ball that night. In an automobile accident the woman is badly hurt and is carried into the house adjoining that of Lord Trevor. In her delirium she reveals her identity and errand. Nan, despite the incredulity of her guardian and the Secretary, takes the woman's ring, by which Pfaff is to identify her, and goes to the ball. Here she recovers the plans and returns them safely into the hands of the Secretary."

 

REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, April 18, 1914:

"A two-reel release of the 'Diplomatic Free Lance' series. The author is Clarence H. New. James Cruze interprets Lord Trevor in connection with the head of the Secret Service. Government files have been stolen, which includes plans of coast fortifications. Flo LaBadie in the character of Nan through clever subterfuge regains them for the government. This picture-play is interesting and splendidly acted. The direction and photography are also well done. A good feature."

 

REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, April 29, 1914:

"There is ample plot material here for the two reels utilized in telling the story of diplomatic intrigue, treachery, and the good fortune of a girl, who comes to play a part in the affairs of nations. The development is coherent, and the subject matter is not farther removed from life than must be expected in melodramas of the type - a type, by the way, the audiences seem to enjoy. It appears that a German spy is intent on securing certain plans of a fortress, and luck favors him by placing the plan in the possession of a clerk, who gambles beyond his means. In exchange for the papers, the spy frees the clerk of a bothersome debt, and is prepared to pass the plans onto another spy, a woman, who is to meet him at a German Embassy ball, and whom he will recognize by a ring of odd design, which she wears. Injured in an automobile, this woman is carried into the home of the heroine of the story. Being delirious, she divulges the plot, the girl takes the ring, impersonates the feminine spy at the ball, and regains the plans. All this is unfolded with much detail by an able company of actors. Settings and photography are satisfactory."

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April 10, 1914 (Friday)

No Thanhouser release because of the two-reel film of the preceding Tuesday.

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