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

SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: screenshot

Beverly of Graustark was released on May 17, 1916


Dozens of scenes from this movie were filmed at one of Montecito's grandest estates, near Santa Barbara, California. "Thirty members of the Biograph company in Los Angeles ... took about 30 scenes at George O. Knapp's estate, Arcady, in Montecito for ... Beverly of Graustark." – Morning Press (Santa Barbara, California), March 10, 1914


Although the filming took place in 1914, the movie was not released until 1916. I don't know why. But here's some good news – this film still exists and can be viewed on the Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/item/2012600253/

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: theater poster

The Love of an Island Maid was released on May 13, 1912

 

This is one of the earliest movies filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island.

 

Catalina is the name of an island maiden who sells seashells down by the seashore. While doing so, she is attracted to a visiting yachtsman. He flirts with her and this causes problems with her island boyfriend. The guys tussle in the sea, Catalina joins the tussle, and sends the boyfriend to the bottom. She then decides she doesn't want the yachtsman either, and goes back to selling seashells down by the seashore.

 

No copies of this one-reel movie are known to exist. 

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Exhibitors Herald, May 17, 1919

Miss Adventure was released on May 4, 1919

 

The leading lady had a close call during the filming of this five-reel adventure movie on two of California's Channel Islands – Santa Cruz Island and Santa Catalina Island.

 

"Fox Star Narrowly Escapes Being Hurt. Carried over a cliff and into the sea by a runaway automobile, Peggy Hyland . . . narrowly escaped drowning last week . . . The accident happened at Catalina Island, Cal., where Miss Hyland and her company were filming scenes for Miss Adventure . . . Miss Hyland, with Director Lynn F. Reynolds . . . was going to a location on the edge of a sharp bluff overlooking the Pacific. The road was narrow, but as it was straight and there were no visible difficulties, Mr. Reynolds, who was at the wheel, was driving at a rather rapid pace. Coming suddenly upon a hairpin turn, he was unable to swerve the car quickly enough . . . the machine [car] shot over the edge of the cliff, raced down the sharp incline and plunged into the surf." – Exhibitors Herald & Motography, April 12, 1919

 

There are no known copies of this film.

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Motography, May 5, 1917

Whose Wife?

 

On April 30, 1917, the five-reel film Whose Wife? was released. Some scenes were filmed at the Miramar resort in Montecito, California. (The film doesn't seem to have survived. The resort has survived, but it has been totally rebuilt.)

 

The lead actress created a minor furor by refusing to wear a swimsuit. "Star Refuses to Wear Bathing Suit. Gail Kane . . . broke the hearts of her masculine associates by refusing to wear a bathing suit in the beach scene in the picture." – Los Angeles Herald, May 11, 1917

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Motography, May 30, 1914

Neptune's Daughter


On April 25, 1914, the seven-reel mermaid fantasy Neptune's Daughter was released. Some scenes were filmed on California's Santa Catalina Island, although most of it was filmed in Bermuda.


Reviewers from as far away as Scotland were impressed by the film. "Lovers of the sea will be charmed and fascinated with the graceful movements of the mermaids." – Devon Valley Tribune (Clackmannanshire, Scotland), August 1, 1916


Copies of this film do exist.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: Exhibitors Herald and Motography, April 12, 1919

The Tiger's Trail


On April 20, 1919, the adventure serial The Tiger's Trail was released. Some episodes were filmed on California's Santa Cruz Island. Maybe it should have been called The Trail of the Spider. Read on.


"During the making of this picture, Miss Roland [the star] had to lie outstretched on the studio floor for several hours waiting for a tarantula to crawl up her arm so that the camera could register the scene." – Photo-Play Journal, April 1919


"In one scene . . . she has to let [a tarantula] climb up her bare arm . . . she says it 'stepped on her as carefully as if she had been a warm personal friend.'" – Star (Seattle, Washington), April 10, 1919


There are no known copies of this serial.

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SILENTS ON THE ISLANDS

Image: News (Chattanooga, Tennessee), May 18, 1918

The Woman in the Web

 

On April 8, 1918, the serial film The Woman in the Web was released. It had 15 episodes, some of which were filmed on California's Santa Cruz Island. The company ran into some very unusual weather during the filming.

 

"The players . . . journey to the Santa Cruz Islands [sic] to film 'sunny summer weather,' demanded in the script. But they bumped into a full-fledged snow flurry and stoutly maintain that the scenes made of snow clinging to the blossoming trees and plants are the most beautiful ever recorded." – Motography, April 20, 1918

 

There are no known copies of this film.

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: screenshot

The Dumb Girl of Portici


On April 3, 1916, the eight-reel film The Dumb Girl of Portici was released. Some scenes for the movie were filmed at an estate in Montecito, California. (A century ago, the term "dumb" meant "unable to speak.") The star was a world-famous ballerina.


The film was extremely popular. "Although Pavlowa in The Dumb Girl of Portici has been shown six times daily to crowded houses . . . there are hundreds of people who have been turned away." – Los Angeles Herald, May 13, 1916


(This film was available on Youtube the last time I checked.)

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MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN

Image: Exhibitors Herald, March 16, 1918

Cars and stars at the "Flying A"

 

Of course, if you're a movie star, you can't just drive any old car. The star ingenue at Santa Barbara's "Flying A," Mary Miles Minter had a peacock blue Packard, for example.

 

William Russell, the leading actor at the studio, also had a spiffy set of wheels. He poses here in front of the "Flying A" studio. That building is still here at Mission and Chapala, and still looks pretty much the same today as it did 100 years ago. Not sure what happened to the car.

 

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SILENTS IN MONTECITO

Image: Motography, March 27, 1915

Ancestry

 

This movie was released on March 22, 1915. It could have been titled The Didn't Wanna-Be Duchess. It was filmed on one of the estates in Montecito, California. A young American woman is asked by a real Italian duchess to masquerade as her daughter, for reasons that are too convoluted to explain here. The young woman is, of course, happy to do this. (Who wouldn't?) Both the real duchess and the wanna-be duchess return to Italy and live la dulce vita on the palatial estate until the wanna-be duchess falls in love with an American artist.

 

So, here's the catch. (You knew there had to be a catch, right?) Her amante is a commoner, and that's completamente impossibile for someone of her position. Oh, mio Dio! What to do?

 

After much hand-wringing and bosom clutching, the wanna-be duchess decides she doesn't wanna be. So, she fesses up to the young man, and suddenly life is beautiful! The movie ends as the happy couple vow to love each other yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

 

No copies are known to exist. 

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