Welcome to Thanhouser Films: An Encyclopedia and History


Author's Notes on Style .


Proper Names

Quotations from trade magazines, advertisements and other contemporary sources have been lightly edited, but in all instances the meaning has been preserved. Obvious typographical errors (Cruz and Crus for James Cruze; Mary and Maria for Marie Eline; Thanhauser, Tanhouser, etc. for Thanhouser, are examples) have been corrected, although recurring misspellings are noted under the appropriate names in the biographical section.

Thanhouser's own advertising contained numerous spelling errors, and even as late as 1915-1917 it was not unusual to see the surname of long-time Thanhouser actor Riley Chamberlin misspelled as Chamberlain, Helen Badgley's name listed incorrectly as Badgely, etc. The Thanhouser copy writer couldn't quite retain in his mind that Miss Frances Keyes, one of the more prominent players circa 1915, wasn't Francis Keyes or that Arthur Bauer shouldn't be listed as Arthur Bower.

The names of Thanhouser players appeared in print in various forms; thus David H. Thompson can be found as Dave Thompson, D. Thompson, etc. In cast listings in the present work, the name most often used by the person indicated has been used, typically a formal style, such as David H. Thompson, but not a full name (such as David Harrie Thompson) unless such full name was originally used with some frequency in print in contemporary publications.


Film Titles

Spelling of certain Thanhouser film titles was likely to vary widely, even in Thanhouser's own news releases, schedules and advertisements. Although simple or obvious misspellings are not specifically noted, in other instances in which contemporary readers were presented with a wide variety of choices, these differences are noted. For example, the December 16, 1915 release of Bill Bunks the Bandits also appeared in print in advertisements, news releases, and reviews as Billy Bunks, the Bandit; Billy Bunks the Bandit; and Billy Bunk's, the Bandit. The author has selected from among these possibilities Bill Bunks the Bandits as a reading of advertisements shows a preference for Bill, rather than Billy, as the synopsis shows that, indeed, there were multiple bandits. However, most printed, unillustrated schedules had it as Billy Bunks the Bandit, so it may have been the case that the film was originally publicized under this title, after which the title was modified.

Such a situation indeed happened with the August 1912 release of Lucile. All of Thanhouser's advance publicity, schedule information, and advertisements spelled it Lucille, which is the way that one might expect it to be spelled. However, someone realized that Owen Meredith, from whose poem the film was adapted, spelled it as Lucile, so all subsequent publicity was changed to the correct form. Another illustration of this type of error is provided by Graft vs. Love, released on January 19, 1915, a film which was billed incorrectly as Craft vs. Love in nearly all advance schedules and advertising, due no doubt to a typographical error in publicity generated by the studio.

When the title of a film is mentioned in a quotation or other text, it is given in italics for clarification; in the original copy it may or may not have been in italics.


Other Spelling and Form

AEROPLANE, AIRSHIP: In the Thanhouser era, "aeroplane" applied to a motorized heavier-than-air aircraft, while "airship" referred to a lighter-than-air balloon.

BIOGRAPH: The designations "Biograph" and "American Biograph" are used interchangeably.

DIRECTOR: The term "director" is used to designate the individual who directed a given film. However, during the Thanhouser era the term was often interchanged with "producer."

HEAVY: Designation which applies to a person acting in a secondary or supporting role; also used, particularly in later years, to designate a villain.

INDEPENDENT: This term, when used as an adjective or noun in connection with film producers not part of the Motion Picture Patents Company, is capitalized, as Independent(s).

LICENSED: This term, when used in connection with firms licensed by the Motion Picture Patents Company, is capitalized, as Licensed. The terms Trust and Patents are interchangeable, as in such usage as: Lubin was a Trust (or Licensed or Patents) company.

MOVIE(S): The terms movie and movies were often enclosed within quotation marks during the Thanhouser era, as they were new terms and some considered them to be slang. In the present text such quotation marks have been removed.

PATENTS COMPANY: See "Licensed."

PATHÉ: The designation "Pathé" is used to refer to Pathé Frères (Pathé Brothers) and to the Pathé Exchange, Inc. The terms "Pathés" and "clicking Pathés" are found in certain articles pertaining to Thanhouser, and refer to motion picture cameras made by Pathé Frères.

REPERTORY: With reference to stage companies offering stock plays, the terms "repertory company," "in repertory," etc. have been used in preference to "repertoire company," "in repertoire," etc., although during the late 19th and early 20th century both terms were used interchangeably by the press. Repertoire is used to refer to the inventory of plays used by a repertory company.

SCENARIO WRITER: The term "scenario writer" is used in reference to a person who writes film scenarios. During the Thanhouser era this term was not standardized, and such words as scenarist, scenarioist, and, especially, photoplaywright, were used, in addition to scenario writer, scenario author, etc.

SHAKESPEAREAN: The term "Shakespearean" is used in preference to "Shakesperean," "Shakesperian," etc. as an adjective in reference to the well-known playwright's productions.

STATES RIGHTS: The term "states rights" is used for films distributed on a state-by-state basis. However, in contemporary citations there was no standardization of this term, and such variants as "state's rights," "state rights," "states' rights," etc., were employed, in addition to "states rights." In his modern (1986) reference, The American Film Industry: A Historical Dictionary, Anthony Slide uses "states rights" as the preferred form.

STOCK COMPANY: The generic term "stock company," referring to a group of players employed on a steady basis by a theatre, dramatic company, or film company, is not capitalized in the present work, unless the company is known to have been incorporated or otherwise formed under that name, such as the Thanhouser-Hatch Stock Company and the Grand Stock Company. In contemporary references usage was inconsistent, and Thanhouser-Hatch Stock Company as well as Thanhouser-Hatch stock company can be found.

SUBTITLE: The term "subtitle" or "sub-title" is used to indicate a title panel or frame within a picture to describe the action and is the one used during the Thanhouser era. In modern times, the term "intertitle" has been used by some, but the present author prefers "subtitle," for this was the term used in reviews, etc. to designate a separate title panel subsidiary to the main title. The New York Dramatic Mirror, January 8, 1913, carried an article, "Function of the Interscript," which interchanged the word "subtitle" with the unfamiliar term "interscript" and also suggested that "caption," "heading," and "reading matter" were synonyms. Another writer suggested "sub-caption." However, "subtitle" remained the word generally in use.

THEATRE: The spelling "theatre" has been used in place of "theater," although both spellings were popular during the time studied.

TRUST: See "Licensed."

VAMPIRE: During the Thanhouser era this term commonly referred to a designing woman, a "vamp," a seductress.


Release Dates

Often Thanhouser would submit news information and anticipated release dates to trade publications far in advance. Later, certain schedules would be rearranged, but often the trade journals would continue to print the old schedules uncorrected. In such instances, the author has selected the dates found in Thanhouser advertisements (if such advertisements were not run significantly in advance of the release time), contemporary news articles, etc.

Among contemporary trade publications, it is the author's observation that The Moving Picture World contained the most information and, at the same time, the most errors. Thanhouser's own advertisements contained many errors as well, and in addition to the spelling mistakes noted earlier, numerous dating errors are to be found. For example, a Thanhouser advertisement informed readers that The Miracle was released on Saturday, September 24, 1915. The only problem was that September 24th was a Friday that year, and, in any event, the film was released on Sunday, December 26th!


Date Abbreviations

Film release dates in the Filmography section are abbreviated in the American style with the month first, then the day date, then the full year. Thus 3-15-1914 means March 15, 1914.



Rather than besiege the reader with thousands of footnotes, the sources of contemporary reviews, synopses, etc. have been given directly in the Filmography and Biographical sections. In the Narrative, or first section of the work, separate footnotes have been used for amplification and clarification. Wherever possible, original source material has been used. The use of modern film books, articles, etc. has been minimized and, in any event, coverage of Thanhouser in modern publications amounts to very little.


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