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Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Behind the Scenes at the "Flying A," Silents on the Islands, Way Back When: SB in 1924


Image: Santa Barbara Daily News & Independent, December 19, 1914

Christmas Saving Clubs


These have pretty much fallen by the wayside, probably because of credit cards, but ever since 1909 when the first Christmas saving club was started in Pennsylvania, they were popular with millions of Americans.


In December 1914, the Santa Barbara Savings and Loan Bank encouraged people to sign up (and pony up) to pay for holiday gifts in 1915. As many as 500 local citizens participated in 1914. You could pay $1 a week or as little as 5¢ which you then increased by 5¢ a week for 50 weeks.

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Image: 1914 Model T, courtesy of Wikimedia

Rules of the Road, ver. 1916

A new year often brings new rules, and as 1915 was ending, there were dozens of new laws in Santa Barbara concerning cars, horses, and rules of the road that would come into effect in 1916. Here are a few highlights:

        All vehicles, whether motor or horse drawn, on public highways after dark [must] carry lights.

        Must have horn, bell, or whistle, and sound when necessary as a warning, and not at other times.

        Must use every reasonable precaution to prevent frightening of any horse, and shall slack speed and stop at signal of rider or driver of horse.

        Speed shall in no case exceed 30 miles per hour, or 20 miles an hour where the territory is closely built up, or 15 miles an hour in the business district.

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Image: Motography, November 15, 1913

On December 7, 1913, the movie Sea Wolf was released. The film starred theater veteran Hobart Bosworth and was filmed on and around California's San Miguel Island.


According to the Bioscope in London, "As a virile and realistic representation of life at sea, this magnificent film has not yet been equaled, and affords a striking instance of the power of the cinematograph to set before us the greatest effects of nature." (August 6, 1914)


There are no known copies of this film.

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Image: Paramount Pep, November 6, 1922

On December 4, 1922, the movie Ebb Tide was released. Much of the movie had been filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island.


"Transportation . . . required traveling over the water in a hydro-aeroplane. Scenes on land included a reproduction of the waterfront at Papeete, Tahiti . . . On the water there was a dramatic scene in which a 330-foot schooner was burned . . . The octopus fight and scenes of pearl-diving are . . . under water through the use of a diver in a diving suit and a diving bell holding the cameraman." – Motion Picture News, September 30, 1922

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Image: Exhibitors Herald, December 24, 1921

The silent movie The Lotus Eater was released on November 27, 1921. Some scenes were filmed on California's Catalina Island.


A portion of the story takes place on an island in the Pacific Ocean where the inhabitants are shipwrecked folk who decide to stay on the island and traipse around in Grecian robes. (Sounds pretty good to me these days.)


This appears to be a lost film, and maybe that's fine with the islanders. ?

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Image: New York Public Library

Thanksgiving 2020 in Santa Barbara, California will be very much like Thanksgiving here in 1918. That year, the festivities were somewhat subdued because as the local paper wrote, "the influenza ban that puts a quietus on all gatherings – and this applies rigidly to church. As a result, the usual Thanksgiving service . . . will be lacking.


"This year in Santa Barbara, there will be no means of holding the usual organized observation of the day, starting with church services extraordinary and ending with the festive . . .  family . . . parties."


The only Thanksgiving church service that was held in the area was in Montecito. Churches had been ordered closed, but outdoor assemblies were apparently allowed. So, one church in Montecito held an open-air service. "The congregation assembled in front of All Saints Church with the doors of the church open so that the music of the organ could reach the singers without."

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Image: Exhibitors Herald, October 2, 192

On November 21, 1920, the film Dinty was released. Some scenes involving airplanes were filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island. Dinty is a freckle-faced newsboy whose fight to care for his ailing mother leads him into conflicts with the other boys on the street and then with drug smugglers in Chinatown.


"Six rushing reels of mystery, drama, romance, laughter and thrills," according to the Bemidji Daily Pioneer (Bemidji, Minnesota), December 10, 1920.


Available for viewing on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMJSjUN7dJc

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Image: Moving Picture World, July 1914

The Photoplayer


The so-called silent movies rarely lived up to their name. Here's a high-tech gizmo called a Photoplayer that supplied music and sound effects in Santa Barbara, California's Palace Theater at 904 State Street in 1915. This one cost $5,000. In addition to playing music, the operator flipped switches to change the tone of the sound, and create special effects such as pipes, drums, cymbals, bells, siren, locomotive whistle, auto horn, horses' hoofs, castanets, tambourines, etc. The Photoplayer mea­sured 17 feet wide.


As time went on, these photoplayers morphed into even fancier and more sophisticated theater organs such as the 1928 theater organ that lives in the orchestra pit at our Arlington Theatre. This organ rises out of the floor every so often to accompany a silent movie thanks to the SB Theatre Organ Society.


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Image: screenshot

Betty and the Buccaneers was released on November 12, 1917. Some scenes were filmed on California's Santa Cruz Island.


Believe it or not, portions of the film were deleted in Chicago. "Official Cut-Outs Made by the Chicago Board of Censors . . . slugging old man; rifling his pockets; flash struggle scenes between drunken sailor and girl; subtitles: 'We can chuck him down the well,' . . . throwing the captain down the well." – Exhibitors Herald, December 15, 1917.


You can view this film on YouTube and see what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSAPxyXueuY&list=PLwSPMzTpih4tpezb3MWCfJkBaEp_VCVya

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Image: Library of Congress

Guess the name!


Back in 1914, a couple of kids in Santa Barbara, California gave a collie to Vivian Rich, one of the leading ladies of the "Flying A" Film Company here. Vivian, who clearly had a sense of humor, in addition to her good looks, named the dog "Guess."


"Miss Rich takes keen delight in being asked the name of her new pet," reported Motion Picture News in its October 17, 1914 issue. "Without a smile, she will say, 'Guess,' and of course the inquirer calls to mind every conceivable name. Not being successful, the usual inquiry is, 'Well, what do you call him?'" And so, the game continues.


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