Volume 2: Filmography

 

THE HEART OF EZRA GREER

 

(Pathé Exchange)

October 7, 1917 (Sunday)

Length: 5 reels

Character: Drama; Pathé Gold Rooster Play

Director: Emile Chautard

Scenario: Lloyd F. Lonergan

Cameraman: Jacques Bizeul

Cast: Frederick Warde (Ezra Greer), Leila Frost (Ezra's daughter, Mary), George Forth (Jack Denbeigh), Thomas A. Curran (Denbeigh's guardian), Lillian Mueller (Amy Devers), Carey L. Hastings (Denbeigh's housekeeper), Helen Badgley (the poor little girl), Gerald Badgley (the millionaire's baby), W. Ray Johnston

Notes: 1. Cast names varied in publicity, and some notices listed Amy LeVere instead of Amy Devers. 2. This was the final film produced by the Thanhouser Film Corporation.

 

ARTICLE, The Moving Picture World, October 6, 1917:

"Frederick Warde appears in The Heart of Ezra Greer, a five-reel Gold Rooster Play produced by Thanhouser, written by Philip Lonergan and directed by Emile Chautard. The Heart of Ezra Greer is a story of today, full of interest, suspense and surprise. Frederick Warde has the title role, that of a kindly old valet, whose one treasure is his pretty daughter. The splendid cast includes the following well known players: Leila Frost, as the pretty daughter; George Froth as Jack Denbeigh, the wealthy student; Carey Hastings as Denbeigh's housekeeper; Thomas A. Curran as his guardian; Lillian Mueller as Amy Devers, known on Broadway as The Baby Vamp; Helen Badgley as a poor little girl; and Gerald Badgley as the millionaire's baby."

 

ARTICLE, The Moving Picture World, October 6, 1917:

"Frederick Warde, the celebrated Shakespearean actor, is again the star of a Pathé feature.... The Heart of Ezra Greer is a picture full of human interest of the best type. Mr. Warde's characterization of Ezra Greer is one of the best things that he has done. Ezra will get the sympathy of any audience and hold it until the end. There is no letdown in the interpretation. The character is intensely human and very lovable."

 

SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, October 13, 1917:

"Ezra Greer worked hard ever since his boyhood days, and now in middle age had a well paid position as valet, some money saved up, and a motherless daughter to whom he poured out all his love. Mary Greer was a student in a co-educational college. At the annual commencement, Ezra was unable to attend, but he purchased a beautiful bracelet and sent it to Mary. He waited for her arrival home, but was disappointed, as romance stepped into Mary's life, and she left college with Jack Denbeigh, with the expectations of being married. However, Denbeigh did not fulfill his promise. He would be wealthy when he was of age, but in the meantime was dependent for support upon the money doled out by his guardian.

"Ezra, not hearing from his daughter, made inquiries at the school, where he learned the truth. He resigned his position and went to the city determined to find his child. In his wanderings, which were unsuccessful, Ezra found a poor, motherless child. His money exhausted, Ezra was forced to seek employment. In his hunt for work, fate led him to Denbeigh, who was seeking a valet. Ezra called to see Denbeigh, accompanied by Marie, the child he befriended, and the old man and the child won the sympathy of Denbeigh.

"Sometime later, Mary reads of the engagement of Denbeigh to some cabaret flyer known as 'The Baby Vamp.' She also read of Jack's wealth, which filled her heart with bitterness. The thought of her baby doomed to grow up a hungry dweller of the tenements, while his father lived in luxury, caused Mary to take the child to Jack's home during his absence. She leaves a note explaining her motive and demands that the child be taken care of. Jack found and concealed the note, but ordered Ezra to take the baby to a foundling asylum. Marie saw the baby and begged Ezra to keep him. Thus the kindly old man befriended his own grandchild.

"Continually seeing the child, filled Jack's soul with remorse. Unable to bear it any longer, he confides in Ezra. Ezra freely gave Jack the advice he asked, not knowing he was pleading the case of his own daughter. Listening to Ezra, Jack devoted all his time searching for Mary, forgetting all about the Baby Vamp. Unable to understand his actions, she calls for an explanation. Instead of Jack she met Ezra. Pleading with her, Ezra finally won the heart of the Baby Vamp, who promised him that she would relinquish all claims upon Jack. Later, Jack's son was injured in the street accident. Notified, Jack and Ezra rush to the hospital. Entering the room they found a nurse crying over the child. It was Mary. Ezra realized that it was his own daughter Jack wronged. He moved forward threateningly, but Mary stepped between them, and Jack said, 'Remember your words! Let me marry Mary, and after that you can kill me if you like.' Realizing that Jack's repentance was sincere, Ezra yielded to the tears of Mary. Married, Ezra never regretted once that the ceremony was performed."

 

REVIEW, Exhibitors Herald, October 27, 1917:

"As a whole: pleasing; story: pathetic; star: virile; support: good; settings: adequate; photography: clear.

"The Heart of Ezra Greer, written by Lloyd Lonergan, is a fairly pleasing film with Frederick Warde in the role of a faithful old man servant. Warde is a past master of expression, and with stronger vehicles in which he could show his worth, would soon be a factor in filmdom. In the present instance he is given no opportunity. The part is small and he is surrounded by mediocre players with the exceptions of the two Badgley children. The subtitling is weak; there is little suspense and the obvious play for heart appeal. The direction was in the hands of Emile Chautard, and aside from considerable padding in the first reel, was capably handled throughout.

"The story: Greer, a kindly old servant, has saved and stinted to put his motherless daughter through college. She falls in love with a wealthy fellow student and elopes with him, believing he means to make her his wife. When disillusionment comes she is ashamed to return to her father and supports herself and child by sewing. In the meantime the father enters the young man's employ as valet, and when the millionaire's child is left at the house, he persuades the man of wealth to save the baby from the foundling home. The young man has fallen in love with a 'baby vampire,' but the advent of the child fills his soul with remorse and he quits 'the vampire.' While out with its nurse the child is injured in an auto accident and taken to the hospital. Here, Mary, who has become a nurse, meets her father and the man who wronged her. Greer attempts to kill Jack but realizing his repentance is sincere, allows a proper marriage."

 

REVIEW by Charles E. Wagner, Exhibitor's Trade Review, October 13, 1917:

"The heart interest found in this story together with the capable characterizations by the principals in the cast makes this production an acceptable attraction for the Pathé program. The appeal in the story lies in the fact that it is true to life. The play carries a moral that is interesting and forcibly told. It is a slightly new handling of the old situation, that is, the girl who is wronged and the return of the husband through the unnamed child. It is told plainly and interestingly without any recourse to the sensational. The direction is worthy of the highest praise, and the photography is above the very best. One point that should be criticized is the realism surrounding the accident to the baby. From all appearances it seems that the real child had been left in the coach. The baby coach can be plainly seen after being struck by the auto to reel on one end, plunging the baby to the street. If this child of four had been placed in such a precarious predicament, it might cause a stir in the ranks of the children's society. Aside from the fact of placing a child in danger, the effect upon the audience will be noticeable. It will at least cause a shudder and might stir up a little comment.

"The cast is indeed commendable. Frederick Warde is supplied with a vehicle that is somewhat better than he has appeared in for some time. He offers, like he always does, a careful and pleasing interpretation of the role of Ezra Greer and surrounds the the character with a heart appeal that only he can. Aside from his acting abilities, his screen presence is such as to fill the bill entirely. Leila Frost, as the daughter, offers another clever character portrayal. While her part fails to call for any strong emotions, still what is to be done is accomplished with ease. Her work is consistent throughout. George Forth, as the young Denbeigh, and Lillian Mueller, as Amy, add the finishing touch to an already very satisfactory cast. The Heart of Ezra Greer is a satisfying offering for community theatres. It has a fair amount of action and contains enough pathos to add to the value of the play. It is free from all sexy suggestiveness and will, without a doubt, prove a strong attraction for the Pathé program.

"Balance of the program: A good two-reel comedy together with a newsreel or one-reel educational would be most appropriate. Musical suggestion: See cue sheet supplied by manufacturer for this feature."

 

REVIEW by Frances Agnew, The Morning Telegraph, September 30, 1917:

"The Heart of Ezra Greer offers the type of story that has a sentimental appeal for the average spectator. It unfolds a romantic tale that is neither strikingly original in plot nor developed with any considerable amount of suspense, but it holds enough human interest in its characters and situations to make it worthwhile screen entertainment. While it doesn't give Frederick Warde or any of the other characters exceptional opportunities, his is a sympathetic role whose influence exerts itself throughout.

"The story chiefly concerns Ezra Greer, employed as a valet, and his daughter Mary, who is lost to him by the dastardly neglect of a wealthy young college mate, John Denbeigh, who forgets his promise to marry her and becomes enamored of a 'baby vampire' of the stage. After failing to find his daughter Greer, unaware of Denbeigh's identity, is employed by him. Later, when her baby is two years old, Mary reads of Denbeigh's engagement and, going to his home, she leaves the little boy and a note to demand that he care for him. Denbeigh at first refuses, but Ezra intuitively understands and tells him it is his duty. He also convinces the 'baby vamp' that she is playing a losing game. Later the baby is hurt and at the hospital, where May is discovered as a nurse, all are reconciled and restored to happiness. The high life flashes give opportunities for many rather lively scenes, all lavishly staged. Technically the production is excellent in every detail. Frederick Warde contributes another quietly effective character portrayal. Leila Frost, a very pretty and clever ingenue, appears to good advantage as Mary and the rest of the cast are capable, not forgetting the Badgley kiddies in particular. Ezra's adoption of the orphan adds nothing to the story, but little Helen in the role makes it an incident to be remembered and also gives an excuse for several slangy sub-titles. The title and cast of this feature will make it a good program drawing card."

 

REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, October 13, 1917:

"This feature number, written by Lloyd Lonergan and directed by Emile Chautard, tells the story of an aged butler and his daughter. The latter is wronged by a wealthy young man, who afterward deserts her, and leaves her to shift for herself and child. By a series of coincidences the principals are brought together some years later in the city, and the young man sees the error of his ways and marries the girl. The plot, as may be seen, is one of the rather obvious type, but it is at the same time a type of general appeal. With the advantage of quiet, sincere acting, such as Frederick Warde does in the part of the butler, the events pictured get quite a strong hold on the sympathies. Leila Frost is also pleasing as Mary the daughter. George Forth plays the part of the wealthy young man who causes all the trouble, and Lillian Mueller appears as a cabaret girl, known as 'The Baby Vamp.'

"The story is very simple in construction. It begins with the flirtation of John and Mary at a co-educational institution, where the girl is employed as a waitress. He lures the girl to the city, where he lives with her for a time, intending to marry her, or at least promising to do so. He decides to desert her after conferring with his guardian. After the girl disappears Ezra Greer, the father, who is 'in service' near the school, gives up his work and sets out to hunt for her. Much of the story concerns the old man's pathetic wanderings and the adventures which befall him. After leaving Mary, John becomes enamored of the cabaret girl. Mary reads of their engagement and leaves her child at his apartment with a note stating that he must care for it. In the meantime Ezra has obtained employment as John's butler, not knowing of his former relationship with Mary. The denouement is reached after a number of dramatic scenes. Both of the Badgley children appear to advantage in this number."

 

REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, October 7, 1917:

"That the story of The Heart of Ezra Greer is highly improbable and that the arm of coincidence is extended almost out of joint can be excused, first, because the picture as a whole is generous in human appeal and second because this is quite too late a date to harp on the logicality of motion picture plots. If the improbabilities are not so exaggerated that they insult the intelligence of the spectator the picture is acceptable, and they are not in this one. Frederick Warde gives an excellent performance of an old butler who is educating his daughter in a fashionable private school. The girl elopes with a fellow pupil, a young man of considerable wealth, and the usual consequences follow. He does not marry her the next day, deserts her entirely, and she gives birth to a child. It happens that the butler-father secures a position in the man's household, and the climax of the story comes with the reconciliation and a belated marriage brought about by the old man, who shows the irresponsible fellow the error of his ways, with such easy dispatch that it is almost unreasonable .

"Mr. Warde in several instances, shows a tendency to halt the action while he acts scenes of anguish at great length. These are in the first reels, but once the story gets into its stride the picture runs along smoothly. Lillian Mueller as the 'Baby Vamp' appears so attractive that it would take a young man of considerably stronger character not to get himself entwined in her meshes. The rest of the cast give good performances. Emile Chautard, the director, has supplied the correct atmosphere, and he has been instrumental in making the story seem less improbable. Wherever pictures of the purely human appeal type are liked, The Heart of Ezra Greer will surely please. - F.T."

 

REVIEW, Variety, October 26, 1917: This review is reprinted in the narrative section of the present work.

 

REVIEW, Wid's Film and Film Folk, October 4, 1917: This review is reprinted in the narrative section of the present work.

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