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Movies Way Back When, Silents on the Islands, & Silents in Montecito, etc.

SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: American Cinematographer, September 1924

Captain Blood


This pirate movie was released on September 21, 1924. One of the ships was blown up for a spectacular scene near California's Santa Catalina Island.

 

"Off the shores of Santa Catalina, great pirate ships rested in quiet waters. On the island's rocky vantage points and a small patch of land just off the isthmus, groups of studio folk and photographers gathered to watch developments . . . Then – a terrific explosion rent the waters. The ships staggered as though a tropic typhoon had spent its fury in this compact space . . . Falling wood, the grindings of splinters, bits of iron and all that goes to make up a sturdy ship descended in clouds, threatening the lives of the cameramen . . . On the tide-washed shore of Santa Catalina, the little groups stared aghast. That doughty vessel, 168 feet long . . . was no more." – Mercury (Madera, California), January 29, 1925

 

No copies are known to exist.

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MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: Moving Picture World, June 28, 1919

No permits; no problems! Oops!

 

Way back when, movie crews did not need permits to film out in the open, and this caused a problem when the American Film Company was filming in 1919. "An unsophisticated milkman, out in Santa Barbara, precipitated a whole wagonload of blue-coats upon the sleepy troupe which was working in Margarita Fisher's forthcoming American picture Trixie from Broadway."

 

The local paper reported, "They were making some night scenes out in the open, behind the stages at the 'Flying A' studios, and at 5 a.m., a new milkman passed on an adjacent street. He promptly detected burglars and notified the police. Ten minutes later, Santa Barbara's finest swooped down on the unsuspecting director and his players." Oops!

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Cinema News & Property Gazette, January 15, 1913

The Law of God


This movie was released on September 12, 1912. Jim, an atheist, falls in love with a minister's daughter. (You can see where this story is headed.) She and her father give him the heave-ho, so he joins a gang of robbers, which pretty much confirms their assessment of his character, I'd say. But don't worry, folks! Jim reforms before the credits roll.


Many of the 60+ silent movies filmed in Montecito, California were set in exotic locales such as Hawaii, Ancient Rome, or France in the 1500s. But The Law of God, actually took place in Montecito somewhere along the train tracks. Not the most picturesque spot in the community, but this one-reel movie dealt with a would-be train robber who got religion at the last moment.


This was one of several silent movies filmed in Montecito with a religious theme. It was filmed by Santa Barbara's "Flying A" (American Film Company) studio.


No copies are known to exist.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Selig Polyscope

How Algy Captured a Wild Man

 

This movie was released on September 4, 1911 – one of the earliest movies filmed on California's Channel Islands. It was filmed on Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island.

The movie involved a group of people who encountered a caveman while yachting around the islands. The actor who played the part of the caveman caused a bit of a disturbance while traveling to the islands.

 

"Wild Man in Moving Pictures. Passengers returning from Catalina . . . reported having seen a wild man on the edge of the breakwater . . . the long flowing hair garments of fur plainly indicated that the man was out of touch of civilization . . . The 'wild' man was part of a troupe . . . To give the films a real wild touch, a part of the scenes was taken on Santa Rosa Island." – Motography, August 1911

 

No copies are known to exist.

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Motion Picture, April 1916

The Song of the Seashell


Santa Barbara's "Flying A" film studio released this one-reel romantic fantasy on August 28, 1914. Some scenes were filmed at the Gould estate in Montecito, California. The movie starred glamorous Charlotte Burton, who plays a maiden who uses a seashell to create beautiful music. Since it's a silent movie, we just have to imagine how it sounds.


No copies are known to exist.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Moving Picture World, August 11, 1917

Down to Earth*

 

This Douglas Fairbanks film was released on August 16, 1917. It was one of 18 movies that were filmed on California's Channel Islands this year. Many of the scenes of this movie were filmed on Santa Catalina Island. 

 

An athletic young man has a girlfriend who has checked herself into a sanitarium full of hypochondriacs. He believes their problems are all in their heads, so he takes them on a boat ride and then pretends that the boat is stranded on a desert island.

 

*Good news! This romcom is available for viewing on Youtube.

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Exhibitors Herald, September 15, 1923

Ashes of Vengeance*

 

This movie starring Norma Talmadge was released on August 6, 1923. It is a historical drama that takes place in the 16th-century – a time when men wore tights and short pants, and women wore fancy dresses – even when it wasn't Sunday. Much of the movie was filmed at a seaside estate in Montecito, California.

 

*Good news - this movie can be viewed here: http://www.franklloydfilms.com/FEATURE_FILMS.html

 

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Motion Picture News, August 13, 1921

Life's Darn Funny


This six-reel comedy was released on August 1, 1921. Some scenes were filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island. A female violinist decides to ditch the violin and form a partnership with a young man who is a struggling dress designer. Complications follow as their relationship develops and they struggle to make ends meet. Finally, their business is a success, and the movie comes to a happy end.


Reviewers agreed that it was a darn funny movie. "A glorious comedy drama." – Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand), December 13, 1921


No copies are known to exist.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Moving Picture World, July 27, 1918

The Fallen Angel


This movie was released on July 28, 1918. Some scenes were filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island.


As you can probably guess from the title, this movie contains a strong moral lesson, and I'm guessing that plenty of moms took their daughters to see it. A young woman who works in a department store has an affair with her boss, a married man. After he passes away, she falls in love with a young man. However, when he learns about her past, he suggests that they shack up instead of getting married.


Here's one strongly worded review. "It rips away the purple, alluring mist of tawdry romance." – Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), August 18, 1918


No copies are known to exist.

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Motography, July 22, 1916

Purity*


This controversial movie was released on July 23, 1916. It was filmed in several millionaire-estates in Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, California.


Audrey Munson, the star of this movie, was famous for posing au naturel for sculptors, so you can guess what happens in this film produced by the "Flying A" studio. To give the appearance that this is an "art" film and not porn, the movie begins with a scene from Greek mythology showing Pandora opening a box and letting evil escape into the world. This is also an excuse for actresses to traipse around in flimsy costumes that you know their mothers would disapprove of.

 

One reviewer warned theaters: "Let it be said at the start, that Miss Munson appears several times in the picture unhampered by garments of any sort whatsoever, and there is scene upon scene in which she walks about thinly and diaphanously clad . . . however beautiful and non-salacious such scenes run, their chief spectators will be curiosity seekers." – Motion Picture News, August 5, 1916


*Copies of this film do exist.

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