27 Nov

Mysteries, Detectives and Westerns !

Archive, Norman Mowatt

Still in June 1913 and the Picture House is settling into regular commercial operation with success.
The composition of the film shows had assumed a regular pattern with the star pictures supported
by short films, some of which were non fiction, informative, and educational.

The advert in the Campbeltown Courier for the week dated 14th June shows the main attractions as:
A Maze of Mystery (exciting two reel drama) and the Mystery of Elm Street Bank (an entrancing detective story) – which will have to remain mysteries until someone can unearth a synopsis online or elsewhere.
I just couldn’t find them!

An article in the Campbeltown Courier the following week dated 21st June is where we get the clues as to the composition of the film shows and the confirmation that the programme was changed halfway through the week.

I have transcribed the text:
“The Picture House – At the Picture House this week some very fine films have been shewn, and the pictures on the programme this week-end are exceptionally interesting, notably the two dramas, “The Orphan’s Mine,” and “The Mystery of Elk City Bank,” while the scenic views of Lake Geneva Camp are of particular merit, and fun is well supplied by the film “Merrypimple in the Army.”
Next week during the first three days the principal pictures will be the long drama “Anguish,” “The Miner’s Justice,” “Turkestan and its Inhabitants,” etc; while in the second half of the week the star picture will be “The Vengeance of Durand.””

Interestingly there is no mention of A Maze of Mystery. There is, however, mention of The Orphan’s Mine the first Western the Picture House showed.

The Orphan’s Mine
Short Western 15 March 1913 (USA)
Plot Summary:
Grace Calvin prospected alone, independent of mans help and quite derisive of its efficacy. Ed Corbin, prospecting close by had repeatedly offered himself as her protector for life, but she scorned that sort of help. A day came when Grace hit gold, and that in the presence of Blake Williams, noted bad man. He hurried to a nearby saloon, and, from behind a partition, Ed Corbin overheard the plan. He went himself to Graces claim, and with a rifle held off the thieves. Later, after the would be bandits returned to town, stopping for a consoling drink, Ed, entering with the sheriff, saw them. With guns drawn, the bandit backed out of the saloon and scurried out of the country as fast as their horses would carry them. And then, Ed, feeling that his suit had been greatly promoted, hastened to the claim where he found Grace willing to listen to proposals.
Moving Picture World synopsis

Wallace Reid
Edward Coxen Edward Coxen    … Ed Corbin
Lillian Christy Lillian Christy    … Grace Calvin
George Field George Field    … Blake Williams

Lake Geneva Camp would appear to have been a YMCA camp in Wisconsin, a non fiction film by the Edison production company, and the oddly titled “Merrypimple in the Army” was a short Italian comedy which was one of a series of Merrypimple films by the actor and director Ernesto Vaser completed the programme.

The following week’s films were:
Anguish, for which I can’t find a synopsis. The 2016 film of the same title dominates the results from the search engines at the moment.
The Miner’s Justice, another Western, with dynamite and guns playing dramatic parts in the plot line.

The Miner’s Justice
Short, Western 1 May 1913 (UK)
Plot Summary (from the flier):
A Tale of the Great Desert
Written by Rose I Ellerbe
Dad Means, an old prospector, is rescued from death in the desert, by Bud Owens, and is taken to his shack. Eventually the cunning of the prospector strikes a vein and he and his young partner have a fair offer for their mine. The youth, who has become fascinated with a woman of the mines, is for selling out at once; and enraged over the conservative attitude of the old man, attempts to end opposition by dropping a stick of dynamite down the shaft upon his head. The old man catches the projectile in his hand, and then rounds upon the impetuous younger partner with a gun. The result is the young man gives up the girl and the partners are again friends as of yore.

Frank Clark         …     Dad Means – an Old Prospector
Eugenie Besserer     …     Minnie
Al Ernest Garcia     …     Bud Owens
Frank Richardson     …     Sacramento Joe – the Saloon Keeper
Produced by William Nicholas for Selig

The non fiction film was Turkestan and its Inhabitants.

The star picture from the second half of the week was a return to melodrama:
The Vengeance of Durand; or, The Two Portraits
Short Drama and Romance 6 April 1913 (UK)
Plot Summary (taken from the 1919 version’s flier):
“The Vengeance of Durand”
by Rex Beach
Here is one of a great author’s greatest stories made into a photoplay.
It is vibrant with emotion and drama.

The insane jealousy of Henri Durand tortures his beautiful and faithful wife.
At a costume fete she meets an old an friend, Tom Franklin. Blind with furious
rage, Durand wrongly accuses her. In despair she kills herself. Durand uses his
young daughter to wreak his vowed revenge on Franklin.

She makes Franklin love her and then repudiates him on their wedding day. When he
seeks death the real love for him asserts itself and she becomes his wife.
Director: J. Stuart Blackton
Writer: Rex Beach (story)
Stars: L. Rogers Lytton, Edith Storey, Florence Klotz

It has been interesting to look at the adverts and articles concerning the first few weeks of the Picture House after its opening in 1913. From the initial use of a 1906 film, though one from 1912 to programmes comprising recent releases from the current year of 1913 it would be reasonable to speculate that attendances were good and receipts were encouraging. In the coming months and years this enabled the Picture House to bring many of the blockbusters and popular films of the day to Campbeltown.

Image credits
1.) ‘Picture House – A Maze of Mystery and Mystery of Elm Street Bank ’  (14th June 1913, © Campbeltown Courier)
2.) ‘Picture House – article ’  (21st June 1913, © Campbeltown Courier)
3.) Flier for The Miner’s Justice
Source:    Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Attribution: Chicago : Selig Polyscope Co., Publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
4.) Flier for The Vengeance of Durand (1919)
Attribution : By Vitagraph Company of America [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Source     Shadowland (Sep. 1919 – Feb. 1920) Alice Joyce, Advertising of silent films in print media

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