Volume II: Filmography



Advertisement from THE MOVING PICTURE WORLD, February 17, 1917 (F-1080)


Early working title: ENEMIES OF SOCIETY

Later working title: THE GIRL WHO WANTED TO LIVE

(Pathé Exchange)

February 18, 1917 (Sunday)

Length: 5 reels

Character: Drama; Pathé Gold Rooster Play

Director: Frederick Sullivan

Scenario: Philip Lonergan

Cameraman: Charles W. Hoffman

Cast: Florence LaBadie (Mary Murdock), H.E. Herbert (Ralph Howard), Ethyle Cooke (Mrs. Nan Travers), Harris Gordon, Samuel Niblack (Emmett Conger), Arthur Bauer, Gene LaMotte, Justus D. Barnes (the political boss), Joe Phillips

Location: Some scenes were filmed in Times Square, New York City on October 9, 1916.

Notes: 1. In trade notices this film was referred to as Enemies of Society until late November 1916, when its designation was changed to The Girl Who Wanted to Live. It was finally released as Her Life and His. 2. In the scene filmed in Times Square on October 9, 1916, Miss LaBadie was watching a moving, illuminated news sign which was giving the results of the second game of the World Series. Apparently, she was watching as the 10th inning results crossed the sign. The game eventually went to 14 innings, and Boston beat Brooklyn 2 to 1.


ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, February 3, 1917:

"A drama of prison reform, political intrigue and gripping romance that audiences will recommend to friends."


ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, February 17, 1917:

"The girl who wanted to live meets the man who wanted to die. You will not want to miss a single scene."


ARTICLE, The Moving Picture World, November 4, 1916:

"Florence LaBadie, the Thanhouser star, Frederick Sullivan, her director, and Philip Lonergan, authors of Enemies of Society, recently consumed nearly an entire week visiting Sing Sing, the Tombs, the New York district attorney's office, and the criminal courts, searching for color to be used in Miss LaBadie's next picture."


ARTICLE, The Detroit Tribune, November 26, 1916:

"Using a World Series crowd as the background for movie tragedy is a new one. A girl stood watching the bulletin board of a New York newspaper during one of the Boston-Brooklyn games. The inning ended, Brooklyn failed to score, and she went away weeping. It was Florence LaBadie, weeping because her sweetheart had just been arrested. On a scaffold nearby were hidden Director Frederick Sullivan and Charles Hoffman, his cameraman. They were making scenes for Philip Lonergan's play, Enemies of Society. The camera caught Miss LaBadie, the big crowd, and only the edge of the bulletin board. In the picture she will be shown weeping because the bulletin board announced the arrest of her sweetheart."


SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, February 17, 1917:

"Mary Murdock, forced by circumstances to choose between the streets and theft, is caught breaking into the home of Robert [sic] Howard. He is inclined to listen to her plea for leniency, but, urged by his cruel and selfish wife, lets the law take its course. After serving her term she is unable to secure employment, due to her prison record, and seeks the two who are responsible for her plight. She finds Howard despondent over his wife's running away with another man and about to commit suicide. To the man who wanted to die the girl who wanted to live makes a proposition - to use his fortune to better prison conditions and lending those with a prison record a helping hand. She offers her own knowledge as her half of the partnership. He accepts and the plan proves so successful that Howard is appointed warden of a large prison. But matters sail along too smoothly and cleanly to suit the corrupt political ring and they start a blackmailing scheme against Howard. Mary's intuition senses a solution to Howard's vindication that she matches her brains against the political boss and his henchmen and clears the name of the man she loves and reaps her first real happiness as her reward."


REVIEW, Exhibitors Herald, February 17, 1917:

"As a whole: mildly interesting; story: prison reform topic; star: excellent; support: good; settings: usual Thanhouser sets; photography: adequate.

"Philip Lonergan has turned to the subject of prison reform as a peg upon which to hang this story, and while it holds the mirror up to the crooked politicians who are in the habit of dethroning jail wardens, the writer cannot say whether it will bring about any reformation. As a screen entertainment it moves along rather slowly, the love scenes especially being draggy, and although carefully staged and well photographed and directed, it lacks novelty in the opening reel and is a bit obvious, too obvious, in fact, from the third reel on. Miss LaBadie's portrayal of Mary, the slum girl, who eventually marries the warden, is pleasing, and Ethyle Cooke as Nan, and Sam Niblack as Conger, make excellent crooks. H.E. Herbert was the hero, Ralph Howard, and gives his usual portrayal of the warden, although Thanhouser, it would seem, uses Mr. Herbert quite often. The prison scenes are excellent and a goodly number of 'extras' are used in the production.

"The tale: Mary Murdock is caught breaking into a house and is sent to jail. After serving her term she finds it difficult to get employment, being branded as a jail bird. On finding the home of the man she was about to rob, and for which she served a term, she is instrumental in saving his life as he is about to commit suicide over the elopement of his wife. She urges him to use his fortune to better prison conditions and lending prisoners a helping hand when they are discharged. Howard is successful, is made warden, and through a body of corrupt politicians blackmailed. Mary's intuition leads to a solution of the politicians' schemes to down the man she loves, and she reaps the first real happiness she has ever known as her reward."


REVIEW, The Exhibitor's Trade Review, February 10, 1917:

"This is an interesting screen entertainment dealing with prison reform. It is developed slowly. The story surrounding the life of this little product of the slums runs along smoothly with a comparatively easy gait, reaching gradually to a strong and powerful climax. There is a certain amount of realism. One scene appertaining to the mismanagement of the prison, however, showed the tubercular condition of one of the inmates, providing over-vividness that in a small way will cause a shudder. The story itself contains a number of interesting elements. Aside from the entertaining qualities, there lies a certain moral and human appeal that elevates this screen exposition considerably. There has always been a fund of interest in themes dealing with the matching of wits between two women, and in this release the author, Phil Lonergan, has offered it in such a masterful fashion as to overcome the few inconsistencies that occur during the early part of the story.

"Florence LaBadie as Mary is offered a role which she portrays in a capable manner. She does not overact but smoothly presents a character that is both strong and appealing. Ethyle Cooke as the villainous Nan Travers likewise is seen in a clever characterization as the tool of the politicians. To her fall a number of tense dramatic scenes which are ably handled. The supporting cast is exceptional. As it bridges a few slow spots with a number of strong dramatic situations, this photo play can be easily classed as entertainment of interest for the average picture audiences. Its lack of the sexy and melo tendencies make it an acceptable offering for the theatres catering to the family clientele. The picture in its entirety is quite up to the usual Thanhouser standard."


REVIEW by Dickson G. Watts, The Morning Telegraph, February 4, 1917:

"This picture, is a mingling of the lives of Henry Ford and Thomas Mott Osborne, told in an entertaining and melodramatic way. Its climaxes are well constructed, its human interest strong, and the acting first class. Mary Murdock, having served a term in prison for theft, finds that she cannot obtain employment. In her wanderings she meets Ralph Howard, a wealthy manufacturer about to commit suicide because of the desertion of his wife. To him she tells her story, and enlists his support in a movement to aid released convicts. Howard establishes a bureau through which convicts may find work, and gives many of them employment in his own factories. His operations bring him the enmity of a corrupt political ring, who under guise of friendship offer him the position of warden of the State prison. Through the efforts of Conger, the deputy warden in the pay of the politicians. Howard is 'framed up' and about to be dismissed not only for incompetency but with the smirch of scandal upon his reputation, when Mary clears his name by a clever matching of wits against his enemies. Mary and Howard are finally married. To the part of Mary, Florence LaBadie brings a clever technique and intelligent understanding of the requirements. Her work is entirely realistic. H.E. Herbert contributes good support as Howard, while the rest of the cast are entirely satisfactory. The production has been given the best of settings with the exception of an occasional painted backdrop displayed too prominently."


REVIEW by Laurence Reed, Motion Picture Mail, February 17, 1917:

"When any important dramatic story consumes valuable space in the papers, it naturally follows that it will find its way eventually to the screen. Not very long ago we read of a plan fostered by Henry Ford, whereby convicts, upon their release, were to be given an opportunity to be of service to humanity. As an experiment, he announced that he would give them employment in his automobile factory. Then came the report that a certain wealthy manufacturer, Thomas Mott Osborne by name, had interested himself in prison reform, and to make this reform effective, studied criminal psychology at close range, first as a self-appointed 'convict' and later as warden at Sing Sing. Her Life and His might be termed a representation of these worthy efforts at uplift. While the author has followed his newspaper reports accurately he has not presented them as briskly as might be desired. However, with careful pruning the moments of tedium can be eliminated.

"The story unfolds around Mary Murdock, a thief, who is caught burglarizing the home of Ralph Howard and sentenced to prison as a result. When freedom is restored to her, she discovers that work is unobtainable owing to her prison record. After much discouragement, Mary decides to enlist Howard as a possible benefactor and visits him at a time when he is contemplating suicide, because of his wife's misbehavior. She discourages him in this idea by comparing her life to his and incidentally he learns her history. Impressed by Mary's story of prison life, Howard resolves to foster a movement in bringing about prison reform, as well as obtaining work for released convicts. Being a manufacturer, he places a large number in his factories, and employs Mary as his secretary. His influence threatening to upset the political machine, they decide to offer him the wardenship of the state prison, believing he will eventually be disgraced as his predecessors were before him. So Warden Howard carries on his humanitarian uplift and things are progressing finely, until Deputy Warden Conger of the machine starts pulling the invisible wires. Howard is suspended pending investigation with charges of gross neglect and misconduct and general inefficiency. After undergoing a severe arraignment at the trial, Howard's name is eventually cleared by the aid of Mary. His erstwhile mate having died in the meantime it naturally follows that Mary became the warden's wife. Florence LaBadie as Mary was natural and sincere. H.E. Herbert played Howard in an impressive manner. The picture was well staged and the photography was good."


REVIEW by Edward Weitzel, The Moving Picture World, February 17, 1917:

"Philip Lonergan is the author of Her Life and His, a five-reel photoplay produced by the Thanhouser Company. The picture belongs to the propaganda order of screen dramas, the subject being prison reform. Every class of fiction that attempts to make a special plea for the betterment of any social evils is bound to sacrifice something of the steady development of its story; also, its intimate human side. Her Life and His is no exception to the rule. It starts off in a promising manner, and much which follows is the logical outcome of the resolve of Mary Murdock, the heroine, to live down a prison record and to help those who are the victim of a vicious political system. The interest around her private life is sufficiently strong to maintain its position as the main thread of the plot, but perfect drama cannot be achieved if the mind of the spectator be diverted at frequent intervals by object lessons and short preachments, however much they advance the moral purpose of the play. It is the opinion of the writer that people go to the theatre because they want drama, and the nearer a screen play comes to supplying this demand the better it will fulfill its mission. Narrative fiction in works that betray their didactic nature sacrifice a portion of the emotional appeal that is so great a factor in the drama's power to captivate an audience. Frederick Sullivan has directed the production of Her Life and His with excellent judgment, and Florence LaBadie brings real feeling and a well-schooled method to her acting of the part of Mary Murdock. Ethyle Clarke [Cooke was intended] is an admirable contrast to Miss LaBadie, as the revengeful Mrs. Nan Travers, and H.E. Herbert, Sam Niblack, and Justice D. Barnes play the leading male roles with skill."


REVIEW, The New York Dramatic Mirror, February 10, 1917:

"Prison reform, the problems of liberated convicts in securing work, politics and graft in prisons and romance are so neatly interwoven and deftly handled that Her Life and His becomes a highly interesting and commendable photoplay. And in each department in the making of the film fine work is accomplished. In the first place the story is not only reasonable, but is appealing, and from it was drawn a carefully worked out scenario. The acting is excellent and Frederick Sullivan, the director, has accomplished something for which he should be congratulated. There are so many good points in this picture it would take a long, exhaustive review to tell just what they are, so in this short space only generalities can be dealt with. Undeniably the outstanding feature of Her Life and His is the fact that the attention of the spectator is never allowed to lag for a moment; it is cemented to the screen. The plot is unfolded so logically and the director has realized all the dramatic possibilities so thoroughly, and the cast performs so well that there is no chance for a lack of interest. There is a powerful dramatic touch when the surprise is sprung at the time Ralph Howard discovers his unfaithful wife ill in the hospital ward of the prison.

"Florence LaBadie is excellent in the role of the young girl crook, who finds it practically impossible to obtain a position and turn straight on account of her criminal record until she stops the wealthy man who convicted her of her last crime from committing suicide, because of the unfaithfulness of his wife, telling him that he can better mankind, with her assistance, by turning his wealth towards prison reform and helping criminals when they have been liberated. She gives a performance that is convincing because of its artistic and truthful portrayal of a character that she makes reasonable. H.E. Herbert, as the man who takes the girl's advice and is finally appointed to the office of prison warden, and who is persecuted by a gang of crooked politicians, but in the end wins the confidence of the public and the girl for a wife, is uniformly good. The balance of the cast, which includes Ethyle Cooke, Sam Niblack and Justus D. Barnes, in their turn, help materially. This picture will please any class of audience. - F.T."


REVIEW, Variety, February 2, 1917:

"The Pathé concern leans to the conservative side in the naming of this five-reel Gold Rooster featuring Florence LaBadie. It was first called The Girl Who Wanted to Live, but that title probably seemed to have a sex angle and was changed. The picture is one of those stories with a purpose, but in this case the purpose is to illuminate prison reform rather than the time-worn subject, why girls go wrong. Both as to its text and the matter of the story the feature is interesting. It is rich in incident and has plenty of material to fill out the length of footage. Photography is fine, some of the light and shade effects, particularly in the early part, are striking.

"The story: Mary Murdock (Miss LaBadie), forced by circumstances to choose between the streets or theft, is caught breaking into the home of Robert [sic] Howard. He wants to let the girl go, but his wife insists that she be punished and she is sent to prison. When she serves her term she seeks Howard out and asks him to aid her. He is despondent and about to commit suicide because of his wife's desertion with another man, and the girl is able to interest him in a novel scheme. She persuades him to use his large fortune for the reclamation of convicts. The plan proves so successful that Howard wins the wardenship of a large prison, but a corrupt political ring, dissatisfied with the honesty of his administration, tries to blackmail him. Mary's institution finds a way to Howard's vindication and she wins in a battle of wits with the dishonest politicians and leads to the victory of the man she loves over the forces of evil, and the finale leaves the spectator with the prospect of a happy ending."


REVIEW, Wid's Film and Film Folk, February 8, 1917:

"For the average program release this holds rather well, but it will never impress as anything worthwhile, because the story is the old plot about the prison-reform hero who is 'framed up' by politicians and saved by the heroine, who makes the 'willuness' [sic; villainess] jealous, so that she'd confess to the 'frame-up.' I believe this is Formula No. 103.

"Director Sullivan has provided rather a good atmosphere for most of the scenes, and many of the individual bits were worthy of a much better cause. Miss LaBadie was quite pretty in many of the lightings, and, as a whole, she registered a very favorable impression. The other members of the cast were rather good types, but their scenes called for only the routine political melodramatic stuff, and none of them did anything which stood out in a distinctive manner.

"In one or two of the titles there was a suggestion that this was intended to take a shot at the New York situation, in which Thomas Mott Osborne figured, but, of course, the 'frame-up' carried the plot away from anything resembling the actual facts of the New York case. The handling of the investigation in the district attorney's office was rather commendable, this being the best scene in the offering. In the supporting cast were H.E. Herbert, Ethyle Cooke, Sam Niblack and Justus D. Barnes.

"The Box Office Angle: This is a safe bet as an ordinary program release, but is hardly worthy of any specific promises of merit. Because of the fact that it deals with prison reform, you may be able to center the attention upon that point and do fairly well with it. If you have had any success with Miss LaBadie in her various offerings, I would mention particularly those which have gone well, so as to remind your patrons of the fact that this is the same girl. The audience of average intelligence - particularly one which accepts melodrama - will possibly be greatly impressed, because it isn't a roughhouse action melodrama of strenuous moments, but it is one of those clever-heroine-wronged-hero things, in which those who like to hate the 'willuness' can glory in the hero's triumph over her in the investigation scene. The more intelligent, discriminating patrons may protest against the obvious elements of this plot, but, as a whole, I believe you can feel fairly safe in playing this for an interesting, rather well-done political melo."

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