Volume II: Filmography





May 27, 1910 (Friday)

Length: 1,000 feet

Character: Drama

Scenario: By Lloyd F. Lonergan and Gertrude Thanhouser, from William Shakespeare's play of the same name

Cast: Anna Rosemond (Queen of Sicilia), Martin Faust (King of Sicilia), Frank H. Crane (King of Bohemia), Amelia Barleon (Princess of Sicilia), Alfred Hanlon (Prince of Bohemia)

Notes: 1. The title appeared as "WINTER TALE" on the film leader. In some notices it was listed as A Winter's Tale. 2. A lengthy testimonial for The Winter's Tale, sent by Miss Dolly Spurr, treasurer of the Royal Theatre, Marion, Indiana, was printed on page 918 of The Moving Picture World, issue of June 4, 1910. 3. Breaking with tradition, Thanhouser announced the names of the players and their roles. The firm announced that "a strong series of Shakespearean releases are in order, of which The Winter's Tale is first." However, although works of Shakespeare were occasionally released later, there was no formal series. The next year, 1911, saw the release of Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest.


BACKGROUND OF THE SCENARIO: Over a period of time, Thanhouser adapted a number of Shakespeare's plays for the screen, including The Winter's Tale (released May 27, 1910), Romeo and Juliet (September 1 and 8, 1911), The Tempest (November 28, 1911), The Merchant of Venice (July 26, 1912), Cymbeline (March 28, 1913), and King Lear (December 17, 1916). William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon, and baptized on April 26, 1564, the son of John and Mary Shakespeare. Compared to what is known about modern playwrights, relatively little specific information survives today concerning Shakespeare's life. The authorship of his plays has been questioned by many, but the idea that someone else wrote his plays has no scholarly standing whatever. This popular controversy was the subject of Master Shakespeare, Strolling Player, a film created and produced by the Thanhouser Film Corporation, released on April 20, 1916.

William Shakespeare received his public education at Stratford. At the age of 22, in 1582, he married Anne Hathaway. In 1586 he traveled to London, where he may have been a schoolmaster. Later he entered the theatre, working at The Theatre or The Curtain in London. Soon thereafter he became a member of Lord Chamberlain's Stock Company, later the King's Stock Company. He was seen on stage at The Theatre, The Curtain, the Globe (in which connection he is especially remembered today), and the Blackfriars Theatre. By 1592 he was also a playwright, and by 1603 he devoted his exclusive efforts to writing. His first work was Henry VI, written circa 1591, after which various comedies and histories appeared. The Sonnets were published in 1609 but are believed to have been written between 1593 and 1596. Around the same time, 1594-1596, he wrote Romeo and Juliet. Begun in 1596 and finished the following year was The Merchant of Venice. Some of his best comedies were written between 1598 and 1600. Later he took a darker outlook and created tragedies such as Othello (1604-1605), King Lear and Macbeth (both in 1605-1606), Cymbeline (1609-1610), and The Winter's Tale (1610-1611). The Tempest, written in 1611, was his last full-length dramatic play. His passing occurred in early 1616, by which time he had gained wide recognition.


ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, May 28, 1910:

"DON'T READ unless you're an Independent Exchange man: This announcement is in the nature of another 'advance tip' - and remember we've never tipped you wrong yet. It is made to bid you prepare to handle another 'Thanhouser Classic' that will make new customers for you and hold old ones to you. That release is Shakespeare's Winter's Tale, to be released by every single 'live' Independent exchange in America on Friday, May 27, and to be pushed and advertised to their customers from most of them long before that - from today on, in fact. Be in this class. It will pay you. Show the exhibitor that his interest interests you - that his success is almost as vital to you as it is to him. Telling him now about this great release, that you will have it for him, will work effectively toward this end. Remember that The Winter's Tale has been advertised very heavily by us already. Most exhibitors have heard about it; many are looking for it...."


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, May 21, 1910. The following was printed as an editorial article, but it embodies a synopsis and is, in fact, virtually identical to a separate synopsis published in the same journal on May 28, 1910:

"The kings of Bohemia and Sicilia, monarchs of adjoining kingdoms, have been close friends since boyhood. But after each has assumed his regal duties they find that they are not able to see much of each other. Therefore at the opening of the story it has been several years since they have met, each has taken unto himself a royal spouse, and the king of Bohemia boasts a son of four years. The king of Bohemia pays a visit to his boyhood friend of Sicilia, is royally received and presented to his host queen. She, in fulfilling her duties as a hostess, unconsciously arouses the jealousy of her royal husband. Blinded by his jealously, the king of Sicilia orders his royal guest, who he considers his rival, poisoned. The king of Bohemia escapes a horrible death through the confession of the courtier who has been employed to kill him. He returns safely to his own kingdom, carrying with him the courtier who saved his life.

"Enraged at the escape of his victim, the king of Sicilia orders his queen imprisoned. From her prison the queen sends her infant daughter to the royal father, hoping to soften his heart. But the king is not to be won over. He heartlessly orders the child taken beyond the borders of his kingdom, and there left in the wilderness to perish. The queen is tried at a public tribunal, and there, overcome with grief at the false accusation, she swoons, and is pronounced dead by Paulina, her lady in waiting. The body is left in Paulina's charge, when the queen revives she is taken to Paulina's house, where she dwells in seclusion, her existence being unknown to anyone but her faithful maid.

"The infant princess of Sicilia is found by a shepherd of Bohemia, and taken to his home and reared as his daughter. Her costly robes and jewels are kept by the old shepherd in the hope that in some future time they will assist in identifying her as the child of wealthy parents.

"After a lapse of 15 years, we see at the court of Bohemia the young prince starting from the palace in a decidedly mysterious manner. When questioned by his father, the king, as to where he is going, the prince refuses to answer. He is allowed to go, but the king, accompanied by his trusted friend, follows him. The prince disguises himself as a shepherd and in disguise woos a beautiful maiden whom he supposes is not but a simple shepherdess. She is, in reality, however, the princess of Sicilia. The king arrives at the shepherd's but just in time to hear the prince announce his intention of wedding the shepherdess. The king forbids the engagement and leaves the prince in anger. His faithful courtier, however, decides to befriend the young couple, and advises them to fly for protection to the court of the king of Sicilia.

"The lovers arrive in Sicilia, accompanied by the old shepherd. Here they are glad they are received by the repentant king, who, too late, realizes that his jealousy was groundless. He mourns his lost queen and his estranged friend. The shepherd, in endeavoring to prove that his adopted daughter is of gentle birth, thus permitting of her marriage to the prince, shows the king the clothes in which he found her as a baby. The king recognizes the clothes as those his own child wore. The king of Bohemia then arrives upon the scene and is told the glad news amid general rejoicings. As a final surprise the royal party is invited by Paulina to visit her house and there view a statue of the queen. The queen comes to life before the eyes of the royal party, or rather the queen, who had made up to resemble a statue, extends her hand to her grieving spouse, who is glad to receive her whom he had thought lost and now found again."


REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, May 29, 1910:

"The story of Shakespeare's play will not be repeated here, but suffice it to say that the film is a good one and has good photography."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture News, May 21, 1910:

"Mr. Edwin Thanhouser evidently sprang from English stock. He holds the old conservative English characteristics of 'going slow, but sure.' He looks before he leaps, hence the quality of his productions. The Winter's Tale is the first Shakespearean subject attempted by an Independent American producer, and in presenting this picture the Thanhouser Company has rendered excellent service to the Independent cause. It will be unfair to our readers not to notice the fact that Trust manufacturers have produced Shakespearean subjects before, but we question if any of them have made as perfect a picture as The Winter's Tale. We were asked to inspect and criticize this film, and there was nothing for us to do but give our full approval and applause, which we do right heartily. Undoubtedly Mr. Thanhouser's long knowledge of stagecraft stood him in good stead in posing this picture. It was one long evidence of attention to detail and technique that has made the Thanhouser stock productions so popular among the trade.

"The film abounds in fine situations and incidents. This is carefully worked out and the exhibitor who asks the patronage of students of Shakespeare on the strength of inviting them to see his production need not entertain the slightest doubt but what the patrons or critics will give undoubted approval. The story will be found in our synopsis columns, but we might just mention the fact that the cast of characters are taken up as follows.... Exhibitors need no instruction from us as to the methods they should use to advertise this film, but an invitation to the heads of schools to bring their pupils on one or two special occasions will prove very advantageous."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, May 28, 1910: This review is reprinted in the narrative section of the present work.


ADDITIONAL REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, June 11, 1910:

"The review of this picture in last week's Moving Picture World was the satisfactory criticism of an excellent piece of work. The present writer can add nothing to that criticism, yet he wants to express his own appreciation of such an altogether excellent work. The pictorial characteristics of the film are made a prominent feature and are never lost sight of. Every scene was set with fidelity to the original, but always with the development of the pictorial feature as an important factor. Then the acting. It would be a captious critic indeed who could not discover a flaw in it. Every actor seems to appreciate the opportunities of his part and to make the most of them. Seldom, indeed, is the final scene, where the supposed statue comes to life, so well done, and involuntarily one rejoices with the King of Bohemia and the return of his lamented queen. Few, indeed, will be the releases of the month to surpass this, and few, indeed, are the pictures that seem so complete and in every way satisfactory. Mr. Thanhouser deserves the heartiest congratulations upon his success."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, June 4, 1910:

"Congratulations to the Thanhouser Company for the effective and quite adequate production it has given of an adaptation of Shakespeare's Winter's Tale. Not the least pleasing feature of the picture is the fact that the adaptation is most intelligently and clearly constructed. The story is easily followed, which is unusual in adaptations from Shakespeare. The acting is dignified and impressive and the film adds to the Thanhouser reputation."


REVIEW, The Nickelodeon, June 1, 1910:

"Miss Rosemond, leading woman, shows herself to be the Julia Marlowe of moving pictures in this production. Shakespearean pieces have never been given proper consideration in a motographic way and I'm glad to see such an able manufacturer bring them out. As there is no reason why tales from Shakespeare illumined and apostrophized as has been done in The Winter's Tale should not be given a better reception by the public than some of the cheap, gaudy modern productions now commanding so much attention in the moving picture field. I hope to see others of this type in the market in the near future."

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