Volume II: Filmography



November 24, 1914 (Tuesday)

Length: 2 reels (1,729 feet)

Character: Drama

Director: Carroll Fleming

Scenario: Philip Lonergan

Cast: Carey L. Hastings (Mrs. Van Ruyter), Ethyle Cooke (Grace Grenell, her niece), Harry Benham (Harry Broadhurst, her young lawyer), Helen Badgley (the lawyer's little girl, Helena), Fan Bourke (the housekeeper), Ed Hoyt (the butler), Muriel Ostriche (Ruth Cloverly), H. Keishon, Louise Vale, J.S. Murray, Lydia Mead, Ernest C. Warde


SYNOPSIS, Reel Life, November 14, 1914:

"Mrs. Van Ruyter, a wealthy widow, has reason to suspect the sincerity of her relatives who are in line to inherit her fortune. Taking into her confidence her lawyer, a young widower with a child of five, she plans to exchange places with the housekeeper, and invites the relatives, who live in distant states and never have seen her, to pay her a visit. Lawyer Broadhurst's little girl, Helena, goes with her father to visit a toy factory, and is barely saved from serious injury in the machinery by the pluck and quick action of one of the employees, a young girl named Ruth Cloverly. The grateful father persuades Mrs. Van Ruyter to give the girl a position as maid in her home. Ruth goes there after the mistress is masquerading as housekeeper, and she becomes very fond of 'Mrs. Barnes' - as she supposes the older woman to be.

"Grace Grenell, a niece of Mrs. Van Ruyter's, is determined to inherit her rich relative's fortune and marry the young lawyer. She comes on a visit, lavishes many attentions upon the housekeeper disguised as her aunt, and is very domineering with the supposed 'Mrs. Barnes.' Meanwhile, the butler, who is smitten with Ruth and jealous of the lawyer, tries to work a scheme to discredit the girl and cause her dismissal. Mrs. Van Ruyter, however, overhears the plot and decides to find out just how strong the young lawyer's love for Ruth is. When Ruth is denounced as a thief, Harry Broadhurst denies the charge and says frankly that she is to become his wife. Then Mrs. Van Ruyter clears the house of relatives, gives her blessing to Broadhurst and Ruth - and makes the bride her heir."


REVIEW, The Bioscope, March 18, 1915:

"Here is one of those pleasant and entertaining stories in which all the good people are thoroughly likeable and virtuous without being unnaturally so, whilst all the bad people are entirely disagreeable and malevolent without being exaggerated beyond recognition. It follows that, apart from the excitements of an interesting and well-constructed, if slightly improbable, plot, one of the main charms of the piece consists in seeing the engaging heroes and heroines brought to happiness in the most satisfactory manner possible, while the evil-disposed ones are very properly discomfited.

"Mrs. Van Ruyter is a wealthy woman of middle age who wishes to allocate her fortune in her will strictly in accordance with the merits of the possible legatees and not on the conventional basis of close relationships. In collusion with a worthy young solicitor who is also a widower with a child, she temporarily exchanges places with her housekeeper, and then invites all her relations on a visit (the latter apparently being unaware of her appearance) in order that she may gauge their respective qualities without prejudice. This promising situation is further elaborated by the appearance on the scene of a charming young woman who has saved the life of the solicitor's child. The rest of the film is devoted to the working out of the wealthy woman's stratagem and to the manner in which the various fortune-followers receive their just deserts in spite of much unscrupulous scheming.

"The play is unusually full of excellent subject matter for a two-reel production, and it is presented with the utmost skill by Fan Bourke, Muriel Ostriche, Helen Badgley, Ethyle Cooke, Carey Hastings, Harry Benham, Ernest Warde, and other clever members of the talented Thanhouser Company. As we have said, the probabilities of the plot are just a little overstrained in places, but one can readily forgive these small weaknesses in view of the very many points of real merit which the picture contains. Altogether, Mrs. Van Ruyter's Stratagem is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy, with, here and there, quite considerable dashes of drama."


REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, November 22, 1914:

"A wealthy widow rather suspects that her relatives are after her money. She disguises as her own housekeeper and puts a young girl in her place. Thus she learns of a plot against the supposed Mrs. Van Ruyter, proves a young man's love for the girl, and makes her her heiress."


REVIEW by Elizabeth Lonergan, The New York Star, November 25, 1914:

"Mrs. Van Ruyter's Stratagem is filled with surprises. First of all, the audience is let into the secret. Mrs. Van Ruyter is rich, eccentric and wishes to be loved for herself alone. The money bags interfere, and, as she is desirous of testing her unknown relatives, she persuades her housekeeper to change places with her. That sounds conventional - but the plot is far from the usual sort of 'disguised heiress' variety. The wealthy widow takes her lawyer into her confidence and he is greatly amused at the outward show of affection for the widow's substitute. Her niece is affectionate before others, but ridicules her supposed aunt behind her back and confides in the housekeeper. Broadhurst, the lawyer, is an attractive widower with a small child.

"While visiting a factory the little one barely escapes serious injury. A young girl worker, at the risk of her life, snatches Helena from the whirring wheel that would surely have maimed her. The grateful father tries to express his appreciation by a gift of money. This is refused, so he asks Mrs. Van Ruyter to take the girl into her house as maid for the factory life is not what she is fitted for. Mrs. Van Ruyter, in her supposed role of housekeeper, takes a great fancy to the girl and cannot help contrasting her with her niece, who is selfish, indolent and ill-tempered. The butler, who is in love with Ruth, is incited through jealousy by Grace, the niece, to cause the girl's discharge for theft. Mrs. Van Ruyter overhears the plot, but she determines to let it be carried out to fulfill the test. The lawyer, however, steps into the scene and denounces the others, telling of his love for the girl who saved his child. It all ends happily, for Ruth not only marries the handsome widower, but turns out to be a niece [sic; inconsistent with synopsis] of Mrs. Van Ruyter.

"Harry Benham, who is sharing the honors in Zudora, plays the leading role with his usual finish; Carey Hastings, in the name part gives an excellent character study of the two women, mistress and housekeeper; Muriel Ostriche is a pretty picture as the factory girl whose good disposition wins her a fortune, and there are a number of scenes with genuine 'punch,' and Ernest Warde gave a fine performance as the butler. The factory scenes were interesting, and the enlargement of the large saw in operation will thrill the picture 'fans.' One of the handsomest estates in Westchester County was used for the home of Mrs. Van Ruyter. The play is a clever satire on money-loving relatives. The feature is from the pen of Philip Lonergan, and produced under the direction of Carroll Fleming, and the cast includes, among others: Carey L. Hastings, Ethyle Cooke, Harry Benham, Helen Badgley, Fan Bourke, Ernest Warde and Muriel Ostriche."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, December 5, 1914:

"A two-reel number which makes entertaining comedy out of an idea that is quite familiar in fiction. The wealthy aunt exchanges places with her housekeeper and entertains her relatives, wondering to whom she will leave her money. Of course the right person, a pretty girl, is brought into the story and turns out to be a missing niece [sic]. This is carefully constructed and carries the interest of the observer in a pleasing way. It makes a comedy drama somewhat above the average."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, December 9, 1914:

"Even if old Martin Chuzzlewit did try a similar means of ascertaining which of his relatives was the most worthy, there is no reason why that should deter the wealthy Miss Van Ruyter from adopting the device, and there are sufficient screen examples to warrant her further changing places with her housekeeper. The relatives arrive, fawn upon the ill-at-ease housekeeper, vent their true meannesses upon the heiress, and in short prove their entire undeservedness of any part of the legacy. Their demeanor while under their kin's roof will earn them a fair share of amused appreciation. Intermingled with, because of the intermittent scenes, but in reality quite a separate story, is the incident of the child of her young attorney being saved from the revolving band-saw by a very attractive factory worker. For this service he secures her a position in his client's house, where she soon earns the lady's approval and the love of the young widower. The two tales are, thus far, quite independent, and the incidents introduced are not of material assistance in welding them together nor of emphasizing any dramatic scenes further on.

"Mr. Lonergan has the best of cast to give his figures a lifelike existence, and the cooperation besides of a director who seems to have carried out the scenes as they were written. These kept him indoors, where a sufficiency of middle-class settings furnish the requisite atmosphere. The finale develops a summary dismissal of the relatives, together with the engagement announcement of the very attractive maid and the attorney, after which the old lady announces her discovery of her long-lost niece and rightful heir in the person of the newly metamorphosed maid."

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