Volume II: Filmography




October 20, 1912 (Sunday)

Length: 2 reels

Character: Drama

Scenario: Lloyd F. Lonergan from Wilkie Collins' 1860 novel

Cast: Marguerite Snow (two roles: Laura and Anne), James Cruze (Sir Percival), William Garwood (Walter)

Notes: 1. The situation concerning the release of this film was quite perplexing to readers of trade periodicals at the time. Gem (a division of Universal) released a film with the identical title, on October 22, 1912, and the trade publications confused the two. A review of the Gem production appeared on page 450 of the November 2, 1912 issue of The Moving Picture World, and an expanded story based on the synopsis of the Gem film appeared in the November 1912 issue of The Photoplay Magazine. The Gem cast included Janet Salsbury, Charles Craig, Alec Frank, Lyman R. Abbe (listed as Lyman Rabbe in at least one account), and Charles Perley. Another review of the Gem film, by Louis Reeves Harrison, appeared on page 225 of the October 19, 1912 issue of The Moving Picture World. For a similar scheduling conflict between Thanhouser and Gem, refer to the entry under Thanhouser's Under Two Flags, released July 7, 1912. 2. Numerous trade schedules listed Petticoat Camp as the Thanhouser film to be released on this date, per early Thanhouser releases. This film was rescheduled to November 3, 1912, although some schedules remained unchanged. 3. Apparently what happened is that Thanhouser had scheduled Petticoat Camp for release on October 20, 1912 and Through the Flames for release on October 22, 1912. Thanhouser then learned that Gem was going to release a similar film on October 22, 1912. At that point, each of these single-reel films was rescheduled to November, and Thanhouser's The Woman in White was put on the program for release on October 20, 1912. This confused the trade publications, some printed schedules were changed and others were not, and The Moving Picture World, which had given a detailed review to the Gem version, omitted a review of the Thanhouser film, for the editor of that publication thought it had already been reviewed! 4. Thanhouser produced a five-reel version of The Woman in White, released on the Pathé Exchange Program on July 1, 1917. 5. Anne's surname appears in notices variously as Catherick and Catherine.


BACKGROUND OF THE SCENARIO. The Woman in White is a well-known production of Wilkie Collins (1824-1889). Released in 1860, it found a wide audience. From about 1906 onward the novel acquired a revived popularity, and at least one new edition came out each year from that point through 1914. Thus, the story was familiar in advance to many viewers of the Thanhouser film. Collins was born in England and received most of his education in Italy, where his family traveled. His first book was published in 1828, after which he contributed frequently to different journals, including those published by Charles Dickens, a close friend. Wilkie's first novel appeared in 1850, and by the 1860 publication of The Woman in White he was known as a writer of mysteries, with The Dead Secret (1857) having contributed in no small degree to his reputation. As time went on he became recognized as the creator of the first elaborately detailed, full length English mystery novels, stories with sufficient excitement that, to use a movie term, readers were kept on the edge of their seats. Among his other better-known novels was The Moonstone.


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture News, October 19, 1912:

"PART ONE: Walter Hartwright, a young drawing master, while in the suburbs of London, one evening meets a mysterious woman in white, who asks to be directed to the city. He informs her, and watches her curiously as she slinks off. A little later he is accosted by several men, who describe the woman in white, say she has escaped from a lunatic asylum and they are keepers who are hunting for her. Walter, impelled by pity, does not give them any information, and they continue their search in an entirely different direction. The young man is engaged by a Mr. Fairlie as instructor for his young and beautiful niece, Laura. When Walter meets her he is struck by her marvelous resemblance to the woman in white. Teacher and pupil soon fall violently in love, but Laura confides to Walter that she is bound by a pledge made to her father on his deathbed that she would marry Sir Percival Clyde. Broken-hearted, Walter resigns his position and seeks forgetfulness by taking a trip to the fever districts of central America. Sir Percival arrives to claim his bride and Laura fulfills her promise. Just before the wedding day the mysterious woman in white tracks her down and gives her a note in which she says that Sir Percival is unfit to be Laura's husband and that she (the woman in white) has been persecuted for many years because she knows his awful secret. Laura, grief-stricken at having had to give Walter up, and full of forebodings because of the mysterious message of the woman in white, still steels herself to obey the wish of her father. In her beautiful home she and Sir Percival are married, while from the outside the woman in white peers in the gaily decorated room and wrings her hands in anguish because she cannot prevent the sacrifice of the young, beautiful and innocent girl.

"PART TWO: Laura Fairlie, although deeply in love with Walter Hartwright, who had been drawing master, became the bride of Sir Percival Clyde, a wicked nobleman, because her father, on his deathbed, arranged the marriage. Laura had been warned against Sir Percival by a mysterious woman in white, who in looks was the double of the young noblewoman. The woman in white claimed to know a dreadful secret concerning Sir Percival, but her warning was disregarded. Sir Percival, who had been married solely for money, was enraged when he found that the bulk of his wife's property was so tied up that she would only enjoy the income, the money would not be distributed until after her death. He longed to have her out of the way, but wicked as he was, shrank from committing murder. While strolling around about his grounds one day he came face to face with the woman in white. She denounced him, but her agitation brought on a recurrence of the heart trouble with which she was afflicted and she fell fainting at his feet. He dragged her into a nearby summer house just in time to get her out of the observation of his wife. Sir Percival glanced from one woman to the other, noted the wonderful resemblance between the two, and like a flash realized how he could solve his financial problem. He carried the woman in white into his house, stealthily placed her in one of the bedrooms, and by his medical knowledge was convinced that she had but a few hours to live. When she expired, he drugged his wife and arrayed her in the stranger's clothes, then, still unconscious, he carried her to the door of the asylum, knowing she would be found, taken for the woman in white and placed in a cell. The dead woman was supposed by all concerned to be Lady Clyde, and when the rightful noblewoman escaped from the asylum she found that so far as the world was concerned she was dead. One faithful friend came to her aid, the young drawing master who so steadfastly loved her. They were helped by an old servant, who found the dying message of the woman in white, and through it they were able to strip Sir Percival of the ill-gotten wealth and to reveal the secret he had so long hidden from the world. In a desperate attempt to circumvent them, Sir Percival was trapped in a blazing church and his death obviated the necessity of any earthly punishment. Lady Clyde married the faithful Walter, and her later years were as happy as her early years had been unfortunate and gloomy."


REVIEW, The Morning Telegraph, October 27, 1912:

"Wilkie Collins' story is here pictured in two reels. Much of the narrative is obscure in the early action. It is handsomely staged as to interior settings and costumes, is well acted individually, and shows excellent photography. The story does not lend itself to the picture drama as well as might be expected. It begins with the escape from the sanitarium of the woman in white. It then pictures the beginning of the romance between Laura Fairlie and Walter Hartwright, the artist. Anne, the woman in white, finds refuge with friends, but who they are is not clear. Laura marries Sir Percival Glyde, who meets Anne in the interim. Their relationship is confusing at this point of the tale. Anne [sic; should be Laura] is warned not to marry Sir Percival during this period of the tale. Walter leaves England. The woman in white watches the carriage. In the second reel Anne seeks an interview with the bride. Sir Percival shows his wife a letter which states that he cannot receive more money from her estate. He then substitutes his wife for the insane woman in white by carrying her to the sanitarium from which she has escaped, the woman in white meantime dying in his own home and later being buried as his wife. The story closes by Walter's return and the discovery of the knavery of Sir Percival when the latter endeavors to destroy church records regarding his real wife. In doing so he upsets a lamp in the church rectory and is killed by the fire resulting there from. On his death he confesses his guilt and all is cleared."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture News, October 19, 1912:

"The Woman in White, in two parts, adapted from the novel of the same name, written by Wilkie Collins, is a triumph for Miss Marguerite Snow. In this story she plays a double role of singular difficulty. The entire production may rightfully be termed a triumph."


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, October 26, 1912:

"A full and descriptive review, dealing with this two-reel subject, can be found in another part of this week's issue."

Note: No such review appeared elsewhere in that issue, but on page 225 of the issue of the week preceding, October 19, a detailed review of the Gem version was printed. A week later, The Moving Picture World printed a brief review of the Thanhouser film, reprinted below.


REVIEW, The Moving Picture World, November 2, 1912:

"These two reels from the novel by Wilkie Collins are well done. They are handled in a careful manner so characteristic of Thanhouser specials. There are many fine scenes, both interiors and exteriors, revealing artistic selection. The acting is well directed and executed. There are strong situations aplenty. In fact, it is a good picture all the way."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, October 23, 1912:

"Anyone who dramatizes a novel for a photodrama with any degree of success deserves commendation. To condense a vast series of events so that the spectator can grasp and feel their relation is a difficult undertaking, accomplished by the Thanhouser producers in this picture.

"It is taken from Wilkie Collins' novel, and deals with the story of an Italian adventurer's attempt to secure control of an English girl's fortune, left her by her father. He becomes her guardian by a stipulation in the will, succeeds in marrying her to one of his friends, though she loved another, her tutor. When she refuses to sign away her rights she is drugged and sent to a private asylum, and another woman, closely resembling her and who is about to die, is substituted as the wife. The young rejected lover returns to the village after reading of his supposed sweetheart's death and meets the real woman, escaped from the asylum. They combine forces in an effort to regain the girl's possessions and, after numerous adventures, succeed."


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Review of the Gem (not Thanhouser) release, October 22, 1912, of The Woman in White, in The New York Dramatic Mirror:

"Wilkie Collins' novel of romance and adventure has been splendidly dramatized in this picture by the Gem Company. Of course, one gets only meager knowledge of the story as it is in book form during the twenty minutes the picture is upon the screen, but by revising and cutting enough it is shown to furnish a drama of intensity and force. The story, in short, is of an Italian adventurer who endeavors to gain control of an English girl's money. By a twist of circumstances he becomes her guardian, and manages to marry her to one of his friends. She loves another, but acts according to what she believes to be the wishes of her dead father. The rejected sweetheart leaves the country to return several months later, when he reads the death notice of the girl. The fact is, the adventurer has sent her to an asylum, and substituted another in her place. The last woman dies, and this gives the man the chance he sought after, for he has her buried as the real wife. The young man discovers the true state of affairs, and with the assistance of the girl who has escaped, succeeds in ousting the man and establishing the girl in the position she formerly occupied."

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October 22, 1912 (Tuesday)

Notes: 1. There was no Thanhouser release on this date, because of the two-reel production released the preceding Tuesday. 2. Through the Flames was originally scheduled for release on this date, and so appeared in numerous trade notices. However, it was rescheduled to November 8, 1912.

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