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Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Behind the Scenes at the "Flying A," & Silents on the Islands

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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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Exhibitors Herald, July 16, 1927

The Blood Ship*


This movie about a captain-from-hell was released on July 18, 1927. It was filmed on or around California's Santa Catalina Island.


An African-American actor, who had a small part in the film, received a special mention from a film magazine that was probably unusual for the time.
"There is a colored gentleman in "The Blood Ship" cast who rejoices in the name of Blue Washington, and who certainly can act . . . I wondered why producers do not provide more prominent parts for negroes . . . Quite often we see white men playing blackface parts, which becomes ridiculous when you consider how many clever fellows we have who could play them without makeup." – Film Spectator, December 24, 1927

 

This film still exists.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: screenshot from Man's Genesis

Man's Genesis*

 

This D.W. Griffith movie was released on July 11, 1912. It's a caveman story filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island that starts off with the theme "might makes right" and then evolves into "but brains are better." Two cavemen love the same woman (actress Mae Marsh), and it seems like the one named "Bruteforce" will win the love contest against his rival named "Weakhands" – until, wait for it – Weakhands invents the stone hammer and overcomes Bruteforce.

 

*You can find a shortened version on Youtube and see what you think, but it did get some good reviews at the time, such as this one: "A most remarkable picture, and one which should create some stir. It is an effort to supply the 'missing link,' and it is a consummately clever effort." – Bioscope (London, England), July 18, 1912

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Reel Life, October 31, 1914

The Dream Ship

 

This one-reel "Flying A" period drama was released on June 16, 1914, and was filmed on two of the millionaire estates in Montecito, California. It was inspired by a poem which says that in dreamland, a king and a pauper can change places.

 

According to the story, a woman prefers a man who she believes to be a pauper, but when it is revealed that he is actually a rich guy in disguise, she manages to adjust. C'est la vie, and all that jazz.

No copies are known to exist.

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