Willows Park Studio, Victoria, British Columbia
This is a collection of newspaper and trade journal news items, credits, home video releases, and other tidbits regarding the Willows Park Studio in Victoria, British Columbia.
Under the aegis of Kenneth J. Bishop, the studio produced 14 quota pictures for the U.K. market between 1933–1937.
The news items will tell the story, beginning with those announcing studios in Vancouver and Victoria that were never built, all proposed to take advantage of the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927. The legislation allowed films made in the Dominion, meeting certain criteria, to be classed as British.
The page ends by documenting Bishop's previous known work in the film business.
Films are presented in order of production.
Film Daily, March 16, 1927:
Canada Expects Units
Ottawa—Passage of the proposed British quota law would result in establishment of important producing units in Canada, in the opinion of the Canadian Dept. of Trade and Commerce, under whose auspices the government's studio is operated. The law requiring that pictures must be made on British soil to come under the classification of British pictures would result in an influx of American companies to Canada, it is believed. Ray Peck, director of the government studio, now is in Hollywood discussing Canadian producing possibilities with executives of several companies.
Motion Picture News, March 25, 1927:
British Quota Law Looms
Measure Introduced in Parliament Starts at 7½ Per Cent., Rising to 25 in 1935
An unexpected angle to the British film quota situation developed this week when the Labor Party decided to oppose the bill on the ground that it "compels British traders to supply goods irrespective of their comparative merit and the demands of their customers."
The President of the Board of Trade announced in a speech, however, that nothing would induce him to withdraw the measure.
The bill has been introduced in the House of Commons, and provides for a quota of seven and one-half per cent. of British films for the first year, advancing to 25 per cent, in 1935, with a yearly increase of two and one-half per cent. This applies to distributors, and exhibitors will have the same percentages, starting one year later.
Blind booking and block booking are both prohibited under the measure, as was anticipated by the trade.
A British film is to be one with British actors, author and atmosphere predominating. Scenes may not be taken outside the British Empire without special permission.
Trade paper reports indicate lively opposition to the terms of the measure among exhibitors and the more conservative members of Parliament, with the probability of amendments being introduced. Exhibitors point out that no other British industry is compelled to operate under such conditions, and that many of the terms of the measure are unworkable.
One indirect result of the present situation was the formation this week of British Incorporated Pictures, Ltd., a million-pound company headed by Ralph J. Pugh, formerly with British First National, and Rupert Mason, a Lancashire cotton manufacturer. Prominent British authors and leading figures in the theatre and the world of art are enrolled in the venture, it is stated.
Supporters in Canada of a film quota law in Great Britain are enthusiastic over the prospect of the adoption of the legislation by the Imperial Parliament, particularly because of the requirement that 75 per cent. of salaries to be paid by British producing companies must go to persons domiciled within the British Empire or to British subjects, exclusive of the salaries to the director and one star of an individual picture.
Officials of the Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce, under whose auspices the Canadian Government Motion Picture Studio is operated at Ottawa, are of the opinion that the new British law would lead to the establishment of important film producing companies in the Dominion of Canada because of the proximity of Canada to the United States, these being companies more or less affiliated with big United States producers.
Ray Peck, director of the Canadian Government studio, is at present in Los Angeles, where he has been discussing Canadian producing possibilities with executives of several companies.
Film Daily, April 24, 1927:
Hollywood—Nils Chrisander, Swedish director, has been signed to direct the first production to be made at Vancouver by Canadian National Cinema Studios, formed by a number of prominent Canadian and British financiers and headed by Sir Robert Kindserly [Kindserley], president of the Bank of England. Lord Beaverbrook is prominent among backers. The firm does not intend to compete with American companies, but intends to employ American methods in production of British films in anticipation of passage of the quota law. Eight hundred acres have been acquired for studios at Vancouver.
Hollywood Vagabond, June 23, 1927:
Promoters Flock to Canada 'Film Rush'
Talk Big Money In Movie Frenzy
Vancouver and Victoria, those otherwise sedate cities of British Columbia, are in the throes of excitement as wild as that which attended the California gold rush of '49. The movies are comin'! The movies are comin'!
Promoters from Hollywood and elsewhere have found western Canada a fertile spot to promote all kinds of wild and fanciful "second Hollywoods," and are busy talking in terms of millions of dollars.
One movie director, lately of Hollywood, has informed the Canadians that he "quit Hollywood, after being offered a salary of $30,000 a week so he could come to Canada and make "clean pictures!" The pictures he made in Hollywood were nothing extraordinary and his salary was far from one-tenth of what he claims.
One, Mr. William Lee Sherill, formerly of Hollywood, is trying to promote a $500,000 studio in Victoria and the staid "Daily Colonist" of that city has burst forth in screaming headlines with the news that Victoria is planning to put $250,000 into the project.
It might be wise for the Canadians to check up with the Hays association before becoming so liberal with their millions.
Film Daily, July 20, 1927:
Victoria Makes Bid
Victoria, B.C.—This city may make a bid for leadership as the production center of the British Empire, and a race with Vancouver may develop. Claude Fleming of Australia and W. L. Sherrill, formerly of the Frohman Amusement Co., are promoters of a $500,000 studio to be built here. The city council is reported to invest $250,000, the remainder is to be raised in England. The project is designed as the first unit of a studio city, to produce for a market throughout the empire when the quota is passed. Recently plans for a studio at Vancouver was announced.
Film Daily, August 4, 1927:
WEST CANADA BIDS FOR BRITISH FILM CENTER
Vancouver—Western Canada has become the stamping ground of various production enterprises, due largely to an agitation for films made in the British Empire. The quota discussion has had an influence on the situation.
One of the outstanding projects is that of the Lions' Gate Cinema Studios, local firm which is identified as the First National Cine Studios Syndicate. This company recently purchased studio property in West Vancouver.
A British producing syndicate has been busy in Victoria, where ratepayers have voted in favor of municipal support for the venture to the extent of $200,000, providing English distributors and exhibitors provide $400,000. This is the Fleming organization.
Matheson Lang interests in London (England) have secured an option on the magnificent Dunsmuir residence and gardens at Victoria for picture purposes. Representatives of Lang declare that this company is privately controlled and financed.
Film Daily, August 24, 1927:
Canadian Production Studio Is Organized
Ottawa—The Lions Gate Cinema Studios, Ltd., with headquarters in Vancouver, has been organized under a Canadian Federal charter for the purpose of producing and distributing Canadian pictures. Capital consists of 500,000 shares of preferred at $10 par value and 500,000 shares common no par. The company has purchased studio property in Vancouver West.
Film Daily, December 23, 1927:
Quota Bill Becomes Law in England; Curtails Market for American Films
All Distributors Made to Include British Films on Programs
London (By Cable)—The Cinematograph Films Act, 1927—commonly known as the quota bill—received the king's assent yesterday and is, therefore, a law. It becomes effective Jan. 1, 1928 and will continue in force until Sept. 30, 1938.
Film Daily, January 23, 1928:
FILMS MADE IN CANADA MAY MEET QUOTA LAW
London (By Cable)—While no definition has been officially secured from the British Board of Trade, it is understood here that a picture made in Canada will be considered British-made and, therefore, eligible for distribution under the quota law. All other clauses of the Films Bill must, however, be met.
There has been considerable speculation in American producing circles regarding the possibilities of making quota pictures in Canada, especially Vancouver in view of its comparative proximity to Hollywood. The regulations governing production factors are many.
Film Daily, May 18, 1928:
Plan Dog Pictures
Ewart Adamson and Garnett Weston, writers, plan to produce a series of dog pictures at Victoria, B.C., it is reported.
Note: This item is probably related to producer Sam Bischoff announcing in Film Daily, May 1, 1928, that he would produce six action melodramas featuring the dog "Silver Streak," who had been starred in a number of previous films by the Hollywood producer. Only one of the six announced films was known to be made, "Code of the Air," and was probably filmed at the Tec-Art Studios in Hollywood where Bischoff Productions was based.
Sam Bischoff had plans for producing quota pictures in Canada for British Gaumont, notably "The Wilderness Patrol" starring Bill Cody, which evidence suggests was never made.
Ironically, for a short time Bischoff was studio manager of Columbia Pictures, then in late 1929 became a production supervisor for the company.
Film Daily, July 8, 1928:
Plans Prepared for New Studio at Victoria, B.C.
Victoria. B.C.—Sam Maclure, architect, has prepared plans for the studio buildings here for Pacific Pictures, Ltd., of which Alfred Hustwick, formerly with Paramount, is the promoter. Hustwick secured the site for the studio at a nominal figure from the City of Victoria.
Plans call for erection of three buildings of stucco construction, the largest of which is 65 by 100 feet. The stage will have a width of 100 feet with the roof trusses 40 feet from the floor. There will be 25 dressing rooms. The projection and film cutting rooms will be of fireproof construction. Eric C. Clarkson, formerly with General Pictures, Hollywood, is associated with the undertaking.
Film Daily, July 8, 1928:
May Produce in Canada
London—Production in Canada is understood planned by Gaumont.
Film Daily, January 27, 1929:
Propose Canadian Studio
London—Richard Maitland Edwards who has been studying the possibilities of erecting a studio at Vancouver, is expected to arrive here to secure additional financial capital. In a recent letter to his father he stated that a Canadian financial company was interested to the extent of $125,000.
Film Daily, February 3, 1929:
Another Studio Promotion is Reported at Vancouver
Vancouver—This city is once more hearing reports of a studio for the production of pictures "to qualify under the British Quota Plan." An actor from Hollywood is said to be the prime mover in the project. Several promotions have been started in Vancouver and also in Victoria in recent years but, as yet, there is no actual sign of a studio. Some months ago two stock salesmen were hailed to court because of their activities in selling shares in a projected film producing enterprise.
Film Daily, September 9, 1930:
London Backing Sought for Canadian Industry
Ottawa—Mrs. Carolyn Bayfield, financially interested in the British Picture Producers, which has a studio in Victoria, is here to urge government officials to sponsor producing activities in Canada on a big scale. She says she will go to London to seek English capital for production and theaters.
Film Daily, July 11, 1930:
New Project Will Aim to Solve British Quota Problem
An ambitious program of talking features, shorts, serials and news, soon will be launched by the Canadian-American Talking Picture Studios, Ltd., a $1,000,000 corporation of Montreal, according to Ray Jackson, managing director, who recently returned from Europe, where he spent three years making pictures for Universal, Terra United Artists and British Screen Productions. Jackson said his organization will begin to utilize within 60 days its 500 acres along the St. Lawrence River, particularly as a means of overcoming the British quota.
"We have available the necessary equipment, studios and locations for American producers and distributors with British capital that are necessary to make pictures," Jackson told THE FILM DAILY.
"Under our plan, American companies will be in a position to use American writers, to supervise production, furnish the directors, stars and principal artists including cameramen and leading technician staffs.
"I have reason to believe that in view of the tariff bill just passed, the English will increase their quota on American films to 50 percent. This will not be done so much as a reprisal but because Britain feels that it deserves to take its place in a competitive market in the film industry and as a means of protecting her own producer-distributors.
"I feel that our Canadian company is the answer to the entire question, as conditions there are more ideal for making pictures than in England. Besides there will be a great saving in expense. Millions of dollars have been lost by American producers as a result of the English law passed in 1927 requiring that 10 per cent of the production be made there. Very few of these films made in England are ever shown in this country, thus practically making this much production a total loss. In Canada all this can be overcome."
Exhibitors Herald-World, October 11, 1930:
New Producing Firm Organizes in Canada; Capital Is $1,000,000
(Special to the Herald-World) MONTREAL, Oct. 9.—A new producing company, known as Canadian-American Talking Picture Studios, Ltd., has been organized to produce pictures in the Dominion which will meet the requirements of the British quota law.
Construction has already begun on a studio at Chambly Basin, Quebec. It is proposed during the coming year to make six features, one serial and 24 shorts at the plant. The company hopes to realize a profit of $495,000 from these productions, it is understood.
The capitalization is to be $1,000,000, financed by an issue of 100,000 shares of stock at $10 par value.
Dr. W. I. Whitehead of Montreal is president of the company. John Barry, fiscal agent here, is vice president and Ray Jackson is managing director.
Motion Picture News, July 12, 1930:
Build Canadian Studio for U.K. Quota Pictures
Building of a talking picture studio, designed primarily for production of British quota films, is under way at Montreal, according to Ray Jackson, who is managing director of the enterprise, which will operate as United Talking Pictures, Ltd. He plans production of two films this year. The company, says Jackson, who is in New York arranging for recording equipment, plans to co-operate with all American producers. A canteen, which will accomodate [sic] 250 persons, now is under construction.
The new studio is to be located 20 miles outside Montreal upon a former golf course. A proposed clubhouse is to cost $150,000, according to Jackson. Site of the new production plant will cost a reputed $300,000.
Production of quota films in England is unfeasible in Jackson's opinion. He believes the cost of taking American production staffs to Europe is prohibitive and says the antagonism against both British and American films is a stumbling block. This is due, he declares, to the "blow up" of British films, as a result of the American talker development. A few years ago, he says, $24,000,000 was raised by popular subscription for the rehabilitation of the British film industry. Because no market for the pictures was developed, the British public is considerably peeved at films generally, Jackson says. As a result, considerable difficulty is experienced by British producers in filming scenes, Jackson asserts.
Film Daily, January 12, 1931:
New Canadian Studio Rumored in Windsor
Windsor, Ont.—Fred W. Martin, Canadian promoter of the new Detroit-Windsor tunnel, announces that a 10-year lease has been obtained on a site here for a motion picture studio in which British Gaumont will be interested. It is planned to start production in April. Pictures will be released here and in England.
Film Daily, August 27, 1932:
Making of British Quota Films Is Aim of Canadian Studio Group
Toronto—Canada Productions, Ltd., a million-dollar motion picture production company, is being organized for the purpose of buying and operating the present Ontario Government studios at Trenton, Ont. The plan is to have the large American companies produce their British quota films at the Trenton studios, thus solving this growing problem for them. Production of enough good pictures in England to fill the quota, which jumps to 15 per cent next year, 17½ in 1934-35, and 20 per cent in 1935-36, is already being found extremely difficult, and it is believed that a studio in Canada, accessible to Hollywood, would simplify the situation. Two Canadian provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, also have film quota laws, though not as yet put into force.
The plan proposed by Canada Productions, Ltd., is to have the American companies send their stars and directors of British citizenship to the Trenton, Ont., studios to make a number of features annually to fill the English quotas. In this way, the company having its distributing organization in Canada, the United States and Britain, and employing the services of screen stars and directors well and favorably known in the American theater, will be assured of release for its film productions.
The actors, and directors, now in Hollywood, who are British subjects and who are available for motion picture production in Canada under the British quota regulations, include:
Actresses: Lilliam Rich, Elsie Ferguson, Alice White, Polly Moran, Dorothy Mackaill, Fay Wray, Doris Lloyd, Barbara Kent, Daphne Pollard, Beryl Mercer, Aileen Pringle and Marie Prevost.
Actors: Clive Brook, Reginald Denny, Montagu Love, Tom Moore, Owen Moore, Matt Moore, Ivor Novello, Walter Pidgeon, Jameson Thomas, Alan Mowbray, Walter Huston, David Manners, Ralph Forbes, John Loder and Harold Neison.
Directors: Donald Crisp, Rupert Julian, Mal St. Clair, Alan Dwan, Emmett Flynn, George Melford, Sidney Olcott, James Whale, John Robertson, Leslie Pearce and Nick Carter.
There is a report that those interesting themselves in this new Canadian film venture include Sir Herbert Holt, president of the Bank of Montreal, and E. W. Beatty, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Willows Park Years
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 4, 1932:
Kenneth J. Bishop, who is named in the draft of the lease on the Manufacturers' Building at Victoria, is a motion picture producer from California, and if arrangements are completed here, will produce six pictures at the Willows, which will be purchased by a company in England, it was learned from the solicitor of the British Columbia company.
Mr. Bishop states he is not a representative of the Paramount company, however, as was stated by Alderman H. O. Litchfield at last Monday's meeting of the City Council, and reported in the Colonist. Solicitors of the British Columbia company, in making the announcement yesterday, stated they wished to stress this point.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 17, 1932:
LOCAL FILM CORPORATION GIVEN LEASE
The first step in the establishment of a motion picture industry here was completed yesterday when officials of the British Columbia Agricultural Association signed a lease giving the Commonwealth Production[s], Limited, of British Columbia, use of the Industrial Building for production purposes.
Steps will be taken immediately to push forward the arrangements for equipping the building so that production work can be started on the first picture early in September, it was announced by Kenneth Bishop, producer for the company.
FIRST PICTURE CHOSEN
The Commonwealth Production[s], Limited, is under contract to provide six pictures for an English firm, the first to be "The Crimson West," a story of British Columbia's timberland, written by a British Columbia author, Alex Philip.
Mr. Bishop stated that when all equipment was installed and the plant in full operation, the industry would mean the expenditure of $100,000, approximately, every forty-five days in Victoria. Initial cost of equipping the building will amount to approximately $50,000, he said.
The building will have to be given acoustic treatment, either with celotex or more likely a substitute provided by a local firm, so that the auditorium will be soundproof. Cameras and lighting equipment also will be brought here within the next few weeks.
Mr. Bishop stated that further contracts were now under negotiation and that the company expected to make productions for other companies under the British quota law.
Inquiries also have been received from Hollywood as to the possibility of renting studio space and sound equipment for the purpose of making pictures here under the quota law.
In discussing the marketing of the six films with the English corporation, Mr. Bishop said that two negatives would be made. The original would be sent to England, while the second would undergo alterations to make it marketable in the United States and other parts of the world.
Sound advertising and news reel work will be other undertakings. Western news features will be taken for distribution in the East, while the Walt Disney studios in Hollywood would probably produce part of their Mickey Mouse films here to come within the quota law, he said.
Twenty-five stories had been submitted for consideration to the producers, Mr. Bishop stated, and of this number five had been accepted and forwarded to England for final approval before filming. "Crimson West" already had been accepted as the first scenario. Other pictures to follow will be a British Columbia fishing story, a British Columbia mining story and a modern Royal Canadian Mounted Police story.
Note: The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 5, 1932, reported the incorporation of Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., $250,000, Vancouver.
Film Daily, September 7, 1932:
QUOTA PICTURES PLANNED BY NEW VICTOR[IA] STUDIO
Making of quota pictures, using talent known to the American public, is planned by Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., which has been organized in Victoria, British Columbia. George H. Callahan [Callaghan], 220 West 42nd St. [New York], has been appointed sole representative for the company, which is erecting a studio in Victoria. Callahan [Callaghan] leaves New York for Victoria within a few days.
First of the studio buildings has been completed. Floor coverage amounts to 18,000 square feet in a building 210 ft. by 85 ft., with head clearance of 35 feet. K. J. Bishop of Victoria, a director of Commonwealth, is now en route to Hollywood to buy equipment. A laboratory is also planned.
Note: George H. Callaghan was foreign representative of Kenneth J. Bishop's previous company, Tennek Film Corp., New York, which was formed in 1925.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., September 8, 1932:
EXPERT PASSES ON EQUIPMENT
Charles Pettit Joins Movie
Charles Pettit, who has been sound engineer for the Northern Electric Company, has become identified with the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., of this city, which is engaged in the preparation for the production of motion pictures here. Mr. Pettit has arrived in the city and is staying at the Dominion Hotel. Yesterday he visited the Exhibition buildings, which are to be utilized for the initial picture productions.
For the next few days, as sound engineer for the Commonwealth Productions, he will be busy investigating just what has to be done with the buildings there to convert them to the uses for which they are now to be employed.
He has come here under arrangement with Kenneth J. Bishop, the president of the local production company, after having been identified himself with the company.
ARRANGING FOR CAST
Mr. Pettit says that Mr. Bishop is proceeding to Hollywood for the purpose of carrying into execution his engagements for the artists who are to take part in the first picture. In the opinion of Mr. Pettit, inside of about five weeks or a little more they should be ready here to enter upon the work of producing the first picture.
After consultation with Mr. Bishop, Mr. Pettit says the Radio Corporation of America equipment, one of the two standard ones used on the continent, is to be adopted for use here. The providing of the acoustic features to convert the buildings at the Exhibition grounds into the uses for which the Commonwealth Productions Company want, is to be placed in the hands of the Sidney Roofing Company. He himself is now engaged in preparing the exact specifications relative to this, and from these the Sidney Roofing Company will prepare their equipment.
IS WELL QUALIFIED
The work in hand is in line with what Mr. Pettit has been engaged for a long time, for the company with which he was identified he had to provide equipment for moving picture houses.
For a number of years Mr. Pettit has been engaged in research work in this particular line of sound conservation and acoustics. He will from now on have an active part in the carrying into execution of the picture productions in this city under Mr. Bishop. Mr. Pettit is exceedingly sanguine with regard to the prospects of producing pictures in Victoria.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 6, 1932:
Gathering of the necessary material for the production of motion pictures in this city is almost completed, the Trades and Labor Council was informed last night.
A committee reporting on what progress had been made stated that it had learned that all developing equipment had been purchased and that cameras had been shipped to Victoria from Hollywood.
Kenneth Bishop, producer of Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., is expected back in the city shortly and work on "The Crimson West" will get under way probably the latter part of this month.
Film Daily, December 1, 1932:
New Canadian Company Will Make Quota Films
Starting with a program of at least 12 features, Commonwealth Productions has been formed with Kenneth J. Bishop as president and general manager and George H. Callahan [Callaghan] as sales manager. Company will make quota pictures, working in its new studio at Victoria, British Columbia, with production beginning in January. Studio will be equipped and ready this month. H. S. Drummond-Hay is business and studio manager for the company, which has several deals under way to make quota pictures for American distributors.
Motion Picture Herald, December 10, 1932:
New Canadian Company to
Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., an entirely British organization, has been formed at Victoria, B.C., for the production of quota pictures. George H. Callahan [Callaghan], American representative for the new company, has established offices at 220 West 42d street, New York.
Equipment is being acquired for a new studio, to be erected in Victoria.
Film Daily, July 24, 1933:
Nine Exchanges in Britain Being Opened by Columbia
London—Eight or nine exchanges in the British Isles, including offices in Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow, Dublin, Liverpool and Newcastle, besides London, will be opened by Columbia, said Harry Cohn in announcing the company's plans here. Executives of the new Columbia distributing organization here are Joseph Friedman, managing director; Max Thorpe, sales manager; Angus N. Trimmer, assistant to Friedman, and George Ayre, publicity director. In the matter of production, Cohn said the company would first concentrate on one film for international release, and if it proves satisfactory a studio may be acquired.
Note: Columbia previously did not distribute in the U.K., which was handled by others. At the same time that the company announced their distributing organization, a production unit was also created, Columbia (British) Productions, Ltd. The "one film for international release" would be "The Lady is Willing" starring Leslie Howard. Columbia, however, would not subsequently make more films in the U.K. or acquire a studio, the company relying exclusively on U.K. production companies and those of the Dominion to fulfill its quota obligations.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., April 8, 1933:
Cast Is Announced
Evelyn Brent Takes Title Role—William Bevan,
The entire cast and technical staff for "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," to be produced for the screen at the Willows studio of the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., were announced yesterday by Kenneth J. Bishop, producer. Actual shooting of the film will commence on May 1, contracts having been made for work to commence on that date.
Evelyn Brent, who co-starred with Clive Brook in "Interference," and has been starred in six major pictures within the last eighteen months, has been signed to take the lead in Kolin Hager's mystery play.
Supporting her will be William Bevan, who has been showing here all this week in "Cavalcade," and Jameson Thomas, who was recently seen here in "The Phantom President."
The supporting cast to this trio, who will come from Hollywood for the filming of the picture here, will be supplied by Victoria and Vancouver talent. Others cast in the picture are James McGrath, late of the McLeod Players; Reginald Hincks, Arthur Legge-Willis, Edith Scott-Burritt, Rene Lendegren and Cicele Nichols. One other from Vancouver will be announced later. All have had professional experience either on the stage or screen.
The technical staff, which, like the three stars from Hollywood, will be British in personnel, comprises the following: Kenneth J, Bishop, producer; Clifford Smith, director; William Beckway, cameraman; Arthur Hilton, film editor, and Martin Kroeger and Arthur Hoerl, continuity writers.
A sound director has yet to be appointed. Clifford Deaville will be sound engineer. The Hollywood cast was arranged through Lichtig & Englander and the firm of Joyce & Selznick. Mr. Bishop has been associated with the former firm for some years, and has been given great assistance in the selection of his title roles.
He stated yesterday that these two casting offices were the only ones empowered to engage artists for the Commonwealth Productions, Limited, and that any persons misrepresenting themselves, as has occurred recently, as casting officials for the company will be dealt with drastically.
The picture calls for eight sets, six of which have been completed and the seventh under way. An eighth set will be ready in time for the actual filming on May 1. The sets comprise a drawing-room scene in an old ruined castle, with secret panels, and furnished in Tudor style; two bedroom sets; an underground pool; a ruined banquet hall in the castle; a miniature of the castle; another miniature of the second floor of the castle, and a garden path and gate set. David Fair, of Oak Bay, is constructing the sets.
A location has been found for the studio's laboratory, and work is now being forwarded to put this in readiness for the laboratory chief, who will be appointed later.
Evelyn Brent, who, according to Mr. Bishop, fits ideally into a mystery picture, was starred in "Mad Parade," "Traveling Husbands" and "Pagan Lady" in 1931. Last year she played in "High Pressure," "Attorney for the Defence" and "The Crusader."
SEEN HERE RECENTLY
William Bevan, who is another British actor in Hollywood, was recently seen here with Charles Laughton in "Payment Deferred," an M.G.M. picture. He took a character part in "Cavalcade" and the title role in "Silent Witness," which also has been shown here.
In 1931 he was starred or took leading parts in "Transatlantic," "Sky Devils," "Vanity Fair," "Journey's End," "Luxury Liner," and "A Study in Scarlet," a Sherlock Holmes film.
Jameson Thomas is a well-known British actor who went to Hollywood some two or three years ago. In 1931 he played in "Lover Come Back," "Night Life in Reno," "Convicted," and "Devil Plays." In 1932 he appeared in "Three Wise Girls," "Trial of Vivienne Ware," "Escapade," "The Phantom President," and "No More Orchids."
WRITES THEME SONG
Music for the film will be provided locally, Mr. Bishop stated. Bert Zala, of this city, has been engaged for the incidental music, and has provided two theme songs of his own composition, one entitled "Natalie," after the heroine in the play.
Clifford Smith, who will direct the film, has been associated with Mr. Bishop in the past. He directed William S. Hart in fifty-eight pictures, and also has directed Tom Mix, Buck Jones, Hoot Gibson and several pictures for Mr. Bishop, who at that time was starring William Patton, Eileen Sedgewick and Jose Sedgewick.
Arthur Hilton, film editor, has been engaged by Universal and Warner Bros., and at the present time is with Byron [Bryan] Foy in Culver City. He has edited such pictures as Sabatini's "Captain Thunder," and "Virtuous Husbands."
The camera man, another important position on the technical staff, will be filled by Mr. Beckway, who shot such pictures as Rider Haggard's "She," and "The Wizard of Oz." He also has been working recently on Larry Seamen [Seamon] pictures, and is vice-president of the Cinematographers' Association of Hollywood.
Independent sound equipment will be used for this film until the arrival here of a sound truck from Hollywood. R.C.A. Sound equipment will be used on the productions to follow, arrangements having been made through Frank Boyd, Western Canadian manager of R.C.A., Victoria, for the use of the machines with R.C.A. absorbing the duty on the importation, Mr. Bishop stated.
"The whole financial structure is being handled by the London Western Trust Company, a national organization," Mr. Bishop stated.
He explained that arrangements had been made through E. B. Westby, manager of the Vancouver office, whereby all capital of the local company had been placed in trust for general supervision by the London Western Trust Company.
Note: Commonwealth's first production, "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," was never completed, as documented in The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten: "On 30 July 1932 he [Kenneth J. Bishop] launched Commonwealth Productions, a company registered in British Columbia, which had Bishop as its president and Kathleen Humphreys [Dunsmuir] as one of its most prominent backers. An abandoned exhibition building on the Willows Fairground was fitted up as a sound stage, and in February 1933 production began on The Mystery of Harlow Manor, which would take advantage of the beauty of Hatley Park for its exterior scenes and the talents of Kathleen Humphreys in a small supporting role. Three months into production that project was shelved and work was begun on a more ambitious and expensive film, The Crimson Paradise, in which Kathleen invested $10,000 and in which she would be permitted to star."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., May 2, 1933:
Clifford Smith Arrives From
Clifford Smith, director for the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., arrived from Hollywood on the Ss. Ruth Alexander last night, and today will be taken to the Willows to inspect the sets that have been prepared for the filming of "The Mystery of Harlow Manor."
He was met at the boat by Kenneth Bishop, producer, who has organized the company and done all the ground work so far. Mr. Smith when asked if he had read the continuity script for "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," replied in the affirmative, and declared he was very much pleased with the vehicle he had been asked to direct for Mr. Bishop.
Mr. Bishop announced last night that Mr. Smith and himself would collaborate on a Northwest story to follow the production of "The "Mystery of Harlow Manor" so that no time will be lost in getting the company into its production schedule.
During the course of the interview, Mr. Smith expressed the opinion that no better time could have been chosen for the establishment of a motion picture production here. "The British quota will reach its maximum in 1935, but what is more important is the fact that Mr. Bishop has started producing here when Hollywood is changing over from the dual programme to the old type of entertainment."
The day of two feature pictures on one programme is over, according to the latest news brought from Hollywood by Mr. Smith.
Mr. Bishop said that Arthur Hilton, film editor, would leave for Victoria probably Wednesday. Evelyn Brent, who has been chosen for the title role, is at present fulfilling an engagement on Broadway, which is expected to end in another week.
Film Daily, September 21, 1933:
Nick Stuart, the actor, and Dave Kay have started an agency to represent actors, writers and directors. Offices have been opened at 9000 Sunset Blvd.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., September 26, 1933:
Contract Between New York Distributing House
A contract for the production and delivery of sixteen motion pictures to Showmen's Pictures, Incorporated, New York, has been signed, sealed and delivered to Kenneth J. Bishop, producer, and the directors of the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., it was announced yesterday. [The company's name was technically Showmens Pictures.]
The signed copy of the contract was received yesterday and the studios at the Willows already are a hive of activity as preliminary work is being rushed to complete production of the first picture, delivery of which is stipulated as on or about November 15 in the contract.
There are two schedules of production. One is for a series of eight pictures, of varying types, while the next series of eight is on a rising scale of production cost, the pictures toward the close of the contract being on a more ambitious scale than those of the first series.
It is stipulated in the contract that Nick Stuart, whose 1932 schedule of pictures, according to the motion picture blue book, include some outstanding successes, shall be the leading man. Three of them were "Sherlock," "Mystery Train," and "Sundown Trail."
Robert Hill, who directed in 1932 "Sundown Trail," "Log Bound," "Come On Danger," and "Cheyenne Kid," has been appointed director.
David J. Mountain, president of Showmen's Pictures Incorporated, and secretary of the company, signed the contract, while, on behalf of the Commonwealth Productions Company, Kenneth Bishop, president, and R. A. Butchart, secretary, appended their signatures.
Showmen's Pictures, Incorporated, has offices located at 723 Seventh Avenue, New York, while branch offices are located in Paris and London.
The contract stipulates that, in addition to Nick Stuart as leading man, the local company must use one or more leading ladies of Hollywood prominence. Mr. Bishop is now negotiating for one or two actresses to play opposite Stuart. The rest of the cast will be local experienced actors and actresses.
Sets already are under construction at the Willows. Three are nearly completed, and four others have yet to be erected. There are eleven interior scenes and thirty exterior locations, with approximately 150 scenes. In all the scrip[t] calls for 290 scenes.
Adaption of "The Crimson West," the first picture, was done by Arthur Hoerl, whose 1932 schedule of adaptions included "Cross Examination," "Last Ride," "Probation," "Midnight Patrol," "They Never Come Back," "Arms of the Law," "Guilty or Not Guilty," and "Big Town."
All pictures in both series must be 100 per cent under the British quota, the contract states. Delivery of all pictures must be made at six-week intervals after the first has been delivered in New York, the contract reads.
The local company shortly will change its name to correspond to some extent with the name of the firm with which the contract was made. Incidentally, the Victoria company will operate under the N.R.A. in conjunction with the distributing organization taking its pictures.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., September 28, 1933:
'Slams and Salaams'
Salaams (I think) to the Commonwealth Productions. Ltd. For it really looks as if the much-discussed project of a moving picture industry in Victoria has leapt from a possibility to a probability.
Kenneth J. Bishop, producer for the company, announced on Tuesday that he had received a contract (a real contract!) for sixteen pictures—and, believe me, Mr. Bishop was a happy man when we saw him Wednesday!
"We're going ahead," he declared, with the sincerest vehemence that I've heard emanate from any man who's been trying to "put anything over" in Victoria for the past thirty years, "we're going to produce these pictures—and don't any of you skeptical, self-styled newspaper men ever fool yourselves!"
Yes—Mr. Bishop was swooping around in circles of sheer ecstacy [sic]—and I don't blame him! He's been having a tough time, for a long time, but it now looks as if his day has dawned. He explained about the British film quota business—showed us a copy of it's [sic] rules and regulations, etc., which were far too complicated for a "hack" columnist to monkey with—nevertheless, that "quota" thing is very important in regard to proving that there is an actual and growing necessity (not just a demand) for 100 per cent British pictures—and of course, that means outlet and markets, and so forth. But, what seemed unusually interesting (along market lines) were a number of letters from well-known American concerns, expressing, in no anaemic vein, their willingness (I might even hazard, eagerness) to accept British-made pictures.
Now those letters seemed very digestible. For they seemed to say, that, if Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., can produce the goods—then, the American eagle might at last peck at the situation—and, when the American eagle pecks, it generally pecks in something that's going to be pretty nutritious to it's [sic] own crop. In which case, it's liable to lay an egg or so, later.
Now the yoke of any egg is golden—so, if the "eagle" pecks, and then lays, right on the steps of the concern in question, there's liable to be quite a lot of cackling—or, don't you get what I'm driving at?
Anyway, it looks like the Commonwealth people have a good, sporting chance. If they succeed, Victoria will bless them (Victoria's good at cantering in on the "kill" and then roaring out ear-splitting huzzahs)—but that sort of thing isn't worth a nickel. The idea is to help them succeed. To boost them, and to lend them any possible assistance. Does Victoria do that sort of thing—or, have we ever heard of Victoria knocking anything in the way of possible local industry? (Now just where did that rather derogatory notion about Victoria sprout from? Miserable, eh?)
Film Daily, October 2, 1933:
Report Contracts Signed For 16 Canadian Films
Toronto—Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., film company, has a contract signed with distributors in New York City for the production of 16 pictures in British Columbia, according to the Canadian Press. It is stated the contract calls for delivery of the first picture about Nov. 15.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 11, 1933:
Filming of "The Crimson
Filming of the first of a series of eighteen full-length feature motion pictures to be produced under contract by the Commonwealth Productions here will start Monday, it was announced yesterday by Kenneth J. Bishop, producer.
Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown, who have been signed to take the leads in "The Crimson West," the first picture to be produced, will arrive here Saturday from Hollywood.
Robert Hill, director, will also arrive Saturday, while William Beckway, assistant director, will follow within a few days.
While shooting of "The Crimson West" is under way, preparations will be made for the next picture. Script of "The Black Robe," and the revised script of "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," are now being awaited before sets are prepared for these two pictures, which according to the contract, must follow at six-week intervals after the first production.
Mr. Bishop also announced the personnel of the local cast as follows: Kathleen Dunsmuir, Reginald Hincks, James McGrath, C. Legge-Willis, Robert Webb, Michael Heppell, Middleton Evans, William Billings, Arthur Durham, William Nurse, William Packe, Leslie Palmer and Reginald Brian. All have had experience in theatricals before. This cast does not include many minor roles that also have been cast.
Bert Zala has been appointed musical director and is now engaged rehearsing the music and theme songs for "The Crimson West."
Eight sets for the picture have been completed since the contract with the New York distributors was signed. If the weather is clear on Monday, the company will go on outside location at the Youbou Logging Camp, Up-Island, where all the timber scenes will be taken. If it rains, then the production will start on the interior sets at the Willows studios.
Outside locations include the Youbou Logging Camp, Hatley Park, "Secrets" at Cobble Hill and Sooke.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 17, 1933:
FILMING IS UNDER WAY
Company on Location at
Approximately twenty-five members of Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., went on location at Youbou, Cowichan Lake, yesterday, and actual filming of "The Crimson West" was started in the afternoon. The company is expected to return about Wednesday to start on the interior sets at the Willows studios.
Wallace Hamilton, sound technician, and Roger Bourne, sound cameraman, arrived from Vancouver yesterday with the sound truck, which is being supplied by Vancouver Motion Pictures, Ltd. This equipment was set up early yesterday morning, and everything was in readiness for shooting at 1:30 o'clock.
Before going on location Robert Hill, director, and William Beckway, assistant director, held a rehearsal of the cabaret scene at the Palais de Danse for the producer, Kenneth J. Bishop. Many well known and socially prominent Victorians were among those who participated in the rehearsal, and who will actually take part in the filming of this scene.
Mr. Hill explained the general idea of the scene, and then introduced Miss Lucille Brown and Nick Stuart, of Hollywood, who have come here to take the leads. Various scenes were then rehearsed, including the main event of the cabaret, the entrance of Mr. Stuart and his friends in a convivial condition, and the subsequent melee and rapid disappearance of the guests.
Film Daily, October 18, 1933:
Dave Kay and Nick Stuart are completing arrangements whereby they will do all the casting for British Commonwealth Productions, Vancouver, B.C. The company is now producing "The Crimson West," with Nick Stuart in one of the leading roles.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 18, 1933:
Rain Forces Motion Picture
First interior shots for "The Crimson West" were taken at the Willows studios of the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., yesterday, when the company abandoned location at Cowichan after taking three outside scenes.
Rain put a stop to the work on the outside sets, so the interiors will be proceeded with until the weather clears up, Kenneth Bishop, producer, stated.
Scenes shot yesterday were on the library set and the interior of the log cabin set. Robert Hill was directing, but time out was taken for his introduction to Mayor David Leeming and city aldermen, who visited the studio.
Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown, the two leads, and other members of the cast also were introduced to the civic dignitaries.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 22, 1933:
Premier S. F. Tolmie visited the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., studios at the Willows yesterday to witness the production of a motion picture film. He was introduced to the various members of the cast by Kenneth J. Bishop, producer, after which he made a short address, in which he wished the new industry every success.
The company completed its outside shots at Sooke on Friday, and a portion of its exteriors at Cobble Hill. Yesterday the cast was engaged on inside sets.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 25, 1933:
PUBLIC TO SEE
Local Company Will Shoot Fight
Tonight, the public will have an opportunity of seeing how a motion picture is made, when fight scenes for "The Crimson West" are filmed in the Horse Show Building, starting at 6 o'clock.
Admission to the building is free, and a series of preliminary bouts has been arranged to precede the main fight between Nick Stuart and the villain in the play.
Shots will be taken of the crowd, the press boxes, some of the preliminaries and the main bout, which is the principal part of this scene.
CAMERA MAN ARRIVES
Joseph Brotherton, camera man, arrived from Hollywood, yesterday, to assist William Beckway, assistant director, who has been supervising the camera, lights and stage work, under the direction of Robert Hill.
Kenneth Bishop, producer, stated yesterday that the film was well advanced. Owing to the wet weather, some changes have been made in connection with outside locations, so that there will be no delay in the production schedule, and the film will be delivered on time and a print sent back here for the premiere on December 1, at the Capitol Theatre.
U.K.: The Crimson Paradise
working title: The Crimson West
Production Company: Commonwealth Productions, Ltd. Production Date: October 16 — November 1, 1933. Running Time: 68m:08s. Release (U.S.): September 1935 by J. H. Hoffberg Co. (state rights). Release (U.K.): Columbia Pictures (date unknown—probably not exhibited); certified September 13, 1934 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown December 12, 1934; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, December 19, 1934 (6,101 feet or 67m:47s). Opened at the Capitol Theatre, Victoria, B.C., December 14, 1933, as "The Crimson Paradise."
Director: Robert F. Hill. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Screenplay: Arthur Hoerl, based on the book "The Crimson West" by Alex Philip. Photography: William Beckway, Roger Bourne, Joseph Brotherton. Film Editor: Arthur Hilton. Art Director: Ernest Ostman. Music: Bert Zala. Sound (Art Reese System): Wallace Hamilton [Eldon Wallace Hamilton], Harry Rosenbaum, Barrett Webb, Roger Bourne. Assistant Director: William Beckway. Lighting: Rennie Franklin. Electrical Engineer: E. J. W. Jardine.
Copyright Registration: none.
Cast: Nick Stuart (Donald McLean), Lucille Browne (Connie Wainright), Kathleen Dunsmuir (Janet Rennie), James McGrath (Andy Pettray), Arthur Legge-Willis (Raleigh Wainright), Reginald Hincks (Bill Rennie), Michael Heppell (Douglas Rennie), Vivian Combe (Mrs. Hercules), C. Middleton Evans (John McLean), Robert P. Webb (Jack Gillis), Arthur McNeil (John), G. H. Kinch (referee), Charles Von Stroch (Garrieau), Shorty Steele (Mr. Hercules), E. Franklin (waiter), Harold Groves (florist), R. Perrin (tailor), F. Buxton (bootlegger), William Packe (butler), H. McLennan (detective), William Nurse (hand), R. Braungel (Blackie), Reggie Brown (a breed), George Hallet (logger), Constable Clayards (jailer), J. Antrobus (Ryan), Laura Dunsmuir (cloakroom girl), Laura Audain (Janet's friend), Barbara Twigg (Janet's friend), C. Cudemore (Janet's friend), Ena Hastings (Janet's friend), Jack Childs (Donald's friend), Jack Bryden (Donald's friend), Robin Dunsmuir (Donald's friend), Philip Vauchar (Donald's friend), Ralph Hocking (Donald's friend).
(credits not verified based on print)
Note: The film reportedly did not meet the requirements of the Cinematograph Films Act, but was assigned registration number Br. 11031, thus was technically "British" under the quota, or at least as initially submitted by the production company or distributor. The Act states: "If the Board of Trade at any time have reason to believe that ... a film has been incorrectly registered as a British film, they may call for such evidence as they think fit as to the correctness or otherwise of the registration, and if satisfied that the film has been or is incorrectly registered, they shall correct the register and issue an amended certificate of registration."
Showmens Pictures, Inc., New York, cancelled the sixteen-picture deal with Commonwealth Productions based on the grounds that the British quota was not complied, since the screenplay was written by New York-born Arthur Hoerl. The Cinematograph Films Act, 1927, stipulated "The author of the scenario must have been a British subject," this clause perhaps misinterpreted by Kenneth J. Bishop, since the source of the scenario was a book by a Canadian author, Alex Philip, although born in the U.S. It was also reported that the film failed its quota requirements because too few members of the cast and crew were of British origin, but this seems unlikely.
Unlike "Secrets of Chinatown," I could find no evidence of "The Crimson Paradise" being released in the U.K., besides being trade shown.
The film was cut from 68 minutes to 55 minutes for its U.S. release as "Fighting Playboy." The Variety review listed the running time as 50 minutes.
Variety review, June 2, 1937: Quickie production with little chance of playing time generally, and short to a point of poverty in entertainment value. 'Fighting Playboy' is a new title erected over a little known yarn, 'The Crimson West,' by Alex Phillip.
Nick Stuart, never very formidable at the b. o. [box office], garners top billing with Lucille Browne, who has never worked away from the indies. Direction is feeble and sets, those indoors, trashy to the point of comparing with scenic efforts in tent rep. With but few instances, most of the credit rests with Stuart.
Story is about a playboy disowned by his father for nightly carousing. Goes into the Canadian north woods and carves out a future, a big job and a bride.
Media availability: None. This is probably a lost film. The Canadian Feature Film Index showed no elements for the film.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 3, 1933:
Sets Prepared for "The
Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown, stars of "The Crimson West," first full-length feature motion picture to be produced in Victoria, left for Seattle, yesterday afternoon, enroute to Hollywood. Kenneth J. Bishop, producer; Robert Hill, director; Mrs. Selden Humphries [Humphreys], Miss Laura Dunsmuir, Miss Laura Audain, Robert P. Webb and others of the company were at the boat to bid them farewell.
Immediately following their departure, Mr. Bishop started arrangements for the next picture to be produced under contract by the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd. Mr. Bishop will leave for Vancouver tonight, to complete arrangements for the premiere showing of "The Crimson West" in Vancouver, and then go to Hollywood to supervise the final details in connection with the cutting and editing of the film.
While Mr. Bishop is in Hollywood, Mrs. Humphries [Humphreys] will be in charge of the studios here, having been appointed as Mr. Bishop's deputy. Sets for the next picture, "The Black Robe," a story written by Guy Morton, a Canadian author, will be erected and got in readiness for the return of Nick Stuart, and probably Lucille Brown, early in December.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 7, 1933:
Kenneth J. Bishop, Producer,
Kenneth J. Bishop, producer of the Commonwealth Pictures, Inc., has left for Hollywood to supervise the cutting and editing of "The Crimson West," produced here, and is expected back in ten days to make final arrangements for the second motion picture to be produced here, Guy Morton's "Black Robe."
During his absence, Mrs. Selden Humphreys has been appointed his deputy to be in charge of the work now in progress, chiefly construction of sets for the new picture.
Prior to leaving for Hollywood, Mr. Bishop went to Vancouver, where her arranged for a premiere showing of "The Crimson West" in that city.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 10, 1933:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN—NOTICE is hereby given that Mr. H. S. Drummond-Hay is not in the employ of this company in any capacity. Commonwealth Productions, Limited.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 12, 1933:
VICTORIA MAKES MOVIES
By Percy C. Richards
Victoria has witnessed an accomplishment in the world of art, for a full-length talking picture feature has been finished here by local enterprise. Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., has filmed a British Columbia story written by Alex Phillip, a British Columbia author. With the completion of this film, Victoria may look forward with confidence towards the permanent establishment here of a new and valuable industry.
The talkie has been made. It is now on its way to New York and London distributors, and fifteen more stories are to be filmed, under contract with an international distributing bureau. Upon the success of the initial contract will largely depend whether or not Victoria will become Canada's motion picture centre. Those who have followed the course of the picturing of "The Crimson West" are confident of its success and of the ultimate destiny of Victoria in the world of celluloid.
It has been a herculean task that confronted Kenneth Bishop in his endeavors to establish a picture studio here, and not the least has been the attitude of many citizens who, instead of boosting and aiding in the founding of a new industry, have unconsciously, or consciously, done much to make the way difficult. But despite all handicaps and obstacles, with the generous assistance of a little group of public spirited individuals, the picture has been made—and well made.
"I said I would film 'The Crimson West' in Victoria. It has been done," declared Mr. Bishop when the last scene was taken. "This picture will be followed by another upon which assembling of the sets is already under way. It will be 'The Black Robe,' a story featuring scenes in Vancouver's Chinatown, from the pen of Guy Morton, a Canadian newspaperman. The story will be largely filmed in the studio. I am deeply grateful to those who have assisted me."
There is no reason, in the opinion of the technicians who watched the filming of "The Crimson West" why Victoria, with its charm of scenery, its exquisite setting and its superior climate should not indeed become Canada's film centre. Visitors from Hollywood, and there have been a number of them, expressed surprise and delight at the studio arrangements at the Willows. And Hollywood is watching with interest the developments here. Not long ago two highly placed technicians visited Victoria simply to inspect the plant here.
"We are watching closely the efforts of Mr. Bishop here in Victoria," said one. "If he succeeds you will see half a dozen studios in operation here. He is pioneering, and you should give him every encouragement. Hollywood is interested because it is realized that British countries are anxious for British-made films. The tendency is to increase quota laws—and Hollywood appreciates that to serve the vast markets of the British Empire, films in the future must be made on British soil with the major part of the cast British actors and actresses. There are scores of British actors in the United States. That is why Hollywood is anxiously watching Ken Bishop and wishing him good luck."
Picture Well Made
Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., has produced its first picture. An experienced director has directed it; capable and experienced actors have taken part in it; the settings have been excellent, and Victorians will have the opportunity in a few weeks to witness and applaud the initial showing of Canada's first full-length talking feature. They will see an orderly presentation of a British Columbia story; the making of which—like all movies—evolved from chaos—for there is nothing more chaotic-appearing to the inexperienced than the assembling and "shooting" of the multitude of scenes that go into the manufacture of a motion picture.
To see a motion picture company in action is something almost too bewildering and confusing for words. To stand and listen to the peculiar jargon of the director, producer, members of the cast, electricians and other technicians is like listening to a new language.
When one gazes at the silver screen and sees the action of the picture flashing before the eyes, little thought is given as to how the various scenes must have appeared when the film was in production.
For instance, in "The Crimson West," there is a fight scene in an employment bureau. Nick Stuart, cast in the lead, is looking for a job. He bumps into a tough hombre in the form of a lumberjack named George. They get into a fight, and that fight leads to a prize ring contract.
Scene on the Set
Previous to this scene being shot, script cards were issued for those who were to appear on the set. The necessary "props" or properties had to be assembled. The set looked fine until the cameramen and electricians got to work, then everything appeared chaotic. A mass of wires was strung all over the place. One had to be careful not to trip ever them. Batteries of lights were placed right on the set so that to a layman it looked as if there was nothing in the set that could be photographed without revealing the chaotic condition.
There was no ceiling to the set, and around the top of the walls were other batteries of lights. The camera stood amid this welter of lights, wires and machinery. A long steel boom hung out over the set, just above the actors' heads, out of vision of the camera, but close enough to catch every word, or every sound and blow in a fight.
Then the chief electrician asked the director if everything is ready.
"Hit 'em," the electrician shouted, and every light on the set was turned on full blast. Where it was dim light before flashed a brilliance equal to daylight. Under these lights a rehearsal of the scene took place. The camera was focused; the floor marked off into danger zones to guide members of the cast from stepping out of the camera's vision.
"Rest 'em," the chief electrician ordered as the rehearsal concluded.
Lights are too expensive to replace very often, and they burn out frequently under the power that is used.
With the rehearsal out of the way, final arrangements were made to "shoot" the scene. A second camera was stationed further on the set to one side and out of the other camera's vision. This second camera was for taking close-ups to avoid duplication of acting.
Setting the Scenes
A technician entered the set and the A.C. lights were turned off and the batteries of lights again turned on. The man had a yellow card in his hand with radiating lines on it. This he held in the centre of the scene that was to be taken and the cameras were focused for the shooting. The man stepped in front of the camera with another card on which the set and scene numbers were chalked on a black background. Also the number of the "take" was marked on the board. The camera recorded this identification of the scene, for without it the film cutters and editors could not work.
In the fight between Nick Stuart and George three shots were taken, and none of them were altogether satisfactory to Mr. Hill, the director.
"Cut it. Cut it," the director shouted as another shot was spoiled.
"Say, this is the fight which wins a $100 meal ticket for Nick. I can't stand that kind of stuff you're giving me," Mr. Hill yelled, and jumped into the set.
He took hold of Nick and went through the fight with him, and it certainly looked realistic. George stood by and watched and got a few pointers on how to direct a left to the chin, and incidentally on how to make every punch look as if it were telling.
"We'll run this at eighteen," the director told the cameraman as he returned to his post to direct a fourth shot. That fourth try was more realistic than the director, or anyone else had anticipated.
"You'll go to jail for that," Nick started, as he spoke his lines. He grasped George by the coat lapels as he made this remark and the fight began.
The two scuffled and punched around and then the knockout blow from Nick was given. George went down, but in doing so he crashed with such a bang that his head struck the floor with a resounding bound.
"Cut, cut," came the order again, but this time preceded by an expletive indicative of concern for George. However, George was quickly brought round and the fight scene was finished. The fourth "take" had been so realistic that no more shooting was necessary.
Following this scene came another on the same set, depicting Nick rising from the fight, picking his hat up off the floor and receiving the congratulations of the employment bureau clerk. As he answered him his words came in gasps as a result of his exertions.
Some time elapsed between the fight scene and the talk between the employment bureau clerk and Nick, but the necessary after-fight effect in the voice was provided by the director tussling with Nick on the set just before the cameras were ready to record the next scene.
"We'll run this at eighteen," the director had said just before the fight was shot. Curious to know just what he meant, I asked Mr. Hill to explain his instruction.
He said that the average number of pictures taken per second was twenty. By cutting down the number the action was speeded up. A slight speeding up in motion picture fights was necessary, he said, because the action of the fighters was not as fast as a real fight, because they have to watch the blows they are making. Each blow must be a good one.
Blows Must Count
In an ordinary fight, many poor blows are struck before a good one is landed. The producer has not the film or time to waste taking a picture of fighting as fight fans know it. In addition, action must be accentuated on a film in order to grip the audience. Always, there is a tendency to slightly exaggerate. If this were not done the action would fall flat.
It is generally believed that to speed up action the crank of a camera is turned faster. Such is not the case, however. The faster the film is turned the more pictures of the action are recorded. This is not so. The fewer recordings the faster the action. This is illustrated by the filming of a pendulum on a clock. If twenty pictures are taken during one swing of a pendulum and then another strip of ten pictures taken, the action appears to be faster in the last strip since it would only take ten pictures to depict the action on the screen as against twenty. It is something like the difference between a short story and the new type short, short story.
There were many thrilling scenes taken for the picture, but there were some that were not filmed. One was when the company was on location at Sooke, and it was necessary for the cameramen to perch their cameras on the edge of a cliff at a dangerous angle in order to accentuate some particularly perilous moment in an outdoor shot.
Lucille Brown had to fall out of a tree into the arms of Nick Stuart in another scene. There were lumber mill scenes; a jail; several log cabin interiors and the library of a palatial home.
In the dressing of the interior sets Mrs. Selden Humphreys was a past master at the art. It is difficult to realize just how many things there are to think of in dressing a set. Not even a couple of newlyweds, who have just finished furnishing their home, could hardly set about the task without missing something.
There were thousands of dollars worth of furnishings assembled on the library set alone. There was a mantlepiece, of considerable antiquity, which itself was worth several thousands of dollars.
Books Not Painted
Since the library was to be furnished with a certain period of furniture there had to be uniformity throughout, and incidentally it was no simple task to fill the book shelves. The books were not fake backs. There was many a bookshelf raided to fill up the shelves on the library set.
Scene painting for window backgrounds had to be carefully done so that the view from the windows would correspond to the outside shots to be taken later.
Both Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown were high in their praises of the log cabin interiors and other sets. They said that in so far as the log cabin sets were concerned they could not be equalled in Hollywood.
"It's the real stuff. We have to imitate that down South," they said.
As an example of how well trained a director must be to notice small details that are going to count when the picture is finally produced it might be well to mention Mr. Hill's first inspection of the jail set.
As soon as he looked at it he called the attention of the carpenter to the fact that there were no keyholes in the locks.
Anyone who thinks that the task of a motion picture star, or any member of the cast and the technical staff, is a light one may quickly dismiss that illusion. The whole company worked from daybreak to the "wee small hours" on "The Crimson West." There was one day when the picture was getting too far behind production schedule that the entire staff worked from 6:30 a.m. until 2 o'clock the next morning. But the long hours did not dampen the enthusiasm of any member of the company.
It was their picture. Such loyalty is not easily found. Their hopes depend on the success of this, the first picture to be produced in Victoria, and on the success of this picture and the others to follow depends the success of Victoria as the motion picture capital of Canada.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 26, 1933:
New Film Series
Colonel W. N. Selig, Hollywood Pioneer, to Make
Colonel William Selig, who is considered the founder of the full length feature motion picture, will produce a series of motion pictures in Victoria, Kenneth J. Bishop, producer of the Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., announced yesterday on his return from Hollywood.
Not only will Colonel Selig produce a series of pictures, but the Commonwealth Productions, Limited, will carry on with its contract of sixteen full-length feature pictures for a New York and London distributing firm with greater confidence than ever, since the first effort was so well received in Hollywood, where many producers and directors were interested in this first attempt to produce sound motion pictures in Canada under the British quota law.
"It's a wonderful picture," Mr. Bishop said on his return. It surpassed our own expectations, and the Western representative of Showmen's Pictures, Inc., was highly gratified with the results."
Mr. Bishop stated that he expected to receive the set lists from New York for the next picture by Tuesday or Wednesday, and if possible he would return to Hollywood shortly to complete arrangements for the cast for "The Black Robe," a mystery story written by Guy Morton, Canadian journalist, which uses Vancouver's Chinatown as a background.
It is coincident that Colonel Selig, who was the first person to produce a long historical photo-drama in Hollywood, should come to Victoria to produce a series of pictures, using the studio of Kenneth Bishop, who once worked for him in the early days of the industry, and who holds the position of having produced the first full-length feature talking picture in Canada.
Mr. Bishop said that Nick Stuart would return here in December to appear in "The Black Robe," and that other stars in the cast would probably include Lucille Brown and H. B. Warner.
While in Hollywood, Mr. Bishop looked around for good material, and on his return here stated that the Victoria studio would have a new generator plant for the lighting effects on its second picture. New camera and sound equipment also have been secured, thus obviating the necessity of leasing such equipment, as was done with the first picture.
The supporting cast for "The Black Robe" will be chosen from local talent, Mr. Bishop said. The director will either be Robert Hill or Fred Newmeyer. Choice depends on the distributing company.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 13, 1933:
Will Begin Filming
Celebrities and Movie Stars to Attend Premiere
Commonwealth Productions, Limited, producers of the "Crimson Paradise," first all-Canadian talking motion picture, swings into action again, the coming weekend, when first scenes are shot for the second production, "Black Robe," mystery story of Vancouver's Chinatown. Guy Morton is the author. Kenneth J. Bishop, producer, made the announcement last night, following his return from Hollywood, where he concluded arrangements for the shipping of the "Crimson Paradise" to Victoria for a world premiere, Thursday night, in the Capitol Theatre, commencing at 11 o'clock.
It is the policy of the company to produce snow scenes and mystery stories in the future, featuring the Canadian angle, Mr. Bishop pointed out. A romantic novel of the British Columbia coast, the work of a local writer, is at present being considered with a view to producing, he explained, and went on to intimate that stories by James Oliver Curwood might be filmed if arrangements could be made.
STARS TO ATTEND
Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown, stars in "The Crimson Paradise," will play the leads in "The Black Robe," and are expected to arrive in this city on Thursday at 8:30 a.m., aboard the SS Iroquois, from Seattle, in order to attend the premiere showing.
Already seven inside sets have been constructed for the next picture, which will also be produced at the Willows, it was stated. Mr. Bishop is not certain whether Robert Hill, who directed the last picture, will supervise "The Black Robe."
Preparations are under way by the company, in conjunction with the Capitol Theatre manager, Ivan Ackery, to feature the first showing of "The Crimson Paradise" with a world's premiere, fashioned after the glorified Hollywood fashion. Floodlights will illuminate the theatre front, sidewalk and street, while revolving lights of varied hues will play on the crowds, and high-powered spotlights will focus on the patrons as they step from their automobiles. Mr. Ackery promises special decoration of the theatre front for the occasion.
PREMIER WILL SPEAK
It is planned for Mr. Ackery to open proceedings with the introduction of Premier Pattullo, who will make a short address, and then introduce Mayor Leeming. It is expected Mayor Leeming will give a brief address before calling on Mr. Bishop to introduce Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown, along with the main members of "The Crimson Paradise" cast. Following a vocal solo by Fred Wright, the picture will be given its first showing in Canada, before being whisked away to New York for world distribution.
Confidence in success of locally-produced motion pictures, was strongly expressed, last night, by Miss Kathleen Dunsmuir, director of Commonwealth Productions, Limited, and Mr. Bishop. They both paid tribute to the sixty persons who were engaged in the filming of the first picture, and Miss Dunsmuir stated: "The results obtained have been entirely due to the efforts of the people in the company."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 27, 1933:
FILMING OF NEW
First Scenes in "Black Robe" Being
Filming of the second talking motion picture on the schedule of the Commonwealth Productions, at the Willows, will start today, when the first scenes will be taken in the making of "The Black Robe," which will star Nick Stuart and Lucille Brown.
A fine cast has been arranged by Producer Ken Bishop. In addition to the two stars who appeared in the "Crimson Paradise," Canada's first "talkie," other experienced film artists will have important parts. Among these will be James Flayburn and Raymond Lawrence.
The production will be made under the direction of Fred Newmyere [sic], a director who acquired a fine reputation at Hollywood.
The story to be filmed is one written by Guy Morton, an Eastern Canadian newspaperman. It is centered about Vancouver's Chinatown, and is possessed of a strong plot, and is replete with many tense situations.
Secrets of Chinatown
working title: The Black Robe
Production Company: Commonwealth Productions, Ltd.; Northern Films, Ltd. Production Date: December 27, 1933 — January 8, 1934. Running Time: 53m:33s. Release (U.S.): February 1935 by Northern Films (state rights). Release (U.K.): June 1935 by Columbia Pictures; certified February 22, 1935 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown March 11, 1935; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 18, 1935 (4,953 feet or 55m:02s). Released in Canada by Perfection Pictures (Ontario). Opened at the Empire Theatre, Victoria, B.C., March 8, 1935, as "The Black Robe." Opened in Vancouver, B.C., March 25, 1935, as "Secrets of Chinatown."
Director: Fred Newmeyer. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Screenplay: Guy Morton, based on his book "The Black Robe." Photography: William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (Art Reese System†): Wallie Hamilton [Eldon Wallace Hamilton]. Technical Director: Li-Young.
Copyright Registration: none.
Cast: Nick Stuart (Robert Rand), Lucille Browne (Zenobia), Raymond Lawrence (Donegal Dawn), James Flavin (Brandhma), Harry Hewitson [Hastings] (Chan Tow Ling), James McGrath (Commissioner Parkins), Reginald Hincks (Dr. Franklin), John Barnard (Doverscourt), Arthur Legge-Willis (Yogi of Madrada), Michael Heppell† (figure in black robe).
† not billed in credits
Note: The Canadian Feature Film Index states, "Commonwealth completed principal photography before going bankrupt. Northern Films Ltd. was incorporated in British Columbia August 8, 1934 to complete post production." The same publication says production began circa December 18, 1933.
The film reportedly did not meet the requirements of the Cinematograph Films Act, but was assigned registration number Br. 11391, thus was technically "British" under the quota, or at least as initially submitted by the production company or distributor. The Act states: "If the Board of Trade at any time have reason to believe that ... a film has been incorrectly registered as a British film, they may call for such evidence as they think fit as to the correctness or otherwise of the registration, and if satisfied that the film has been or is incorrectly registered, they shall correct the register and issue an amended certificate of registration."
Unlike "The Crimson Paradise," Commonwealth's first production, "Secrets of Chinatown" was released in the U.K., so reports of the latter not meeting the quota requirements are probably unfounded. Guy Morton, the screenwriter and original author, was born in Ontario.
Film Daily review, February 20, 1935: Not made for the thinking element that may be found here and there in our picture theaters, but for the neighborhood houses this one should have 'em yelling from the balcony. It is a lurid tale of a secret Oriental society headed by a mysterious hooded figure. It seems the police are unable to stop the dastardly work of this organization, so they call in a private investigator, who goes to work to unravel the mystery. He has a pal, Nick Stuart, who also helps investigate, and they discover the secret underground meeting place of the Order of the Black Robe. The hero runs into many surprising adventures, loses his memory as to all that transpired for several days he was held prisoner, escapes, and goes back again with the private sleuth and with the help of the police they capture the gang eventually. Direction, Spectacularly lurid. Photography, Fair.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 17, 1934:
Harold G. Hinton Takes Over Assets of
In Supreme Court Chambers, yesterday, Mr. Justice H. B. Bobertson [Robertson] consented to the appointment of a custodian in connection with the Commonwealth Producers, Ltd., and Harold G. Hinton, chartered accountant, was named the custodian. Bonds were fixed at $2,500.
This course was taken on the initiative of P. J. Sinnott, counsel for Michael Heppell and Barrett Webb, who, a short time ago, petitioned for a receivership based on claims which they put forward for back pay due them. This move was opposed by F. C. Elliott, acting for others interested in the affairs of the film-producing organization, on the grounds that affairs were likely to be solved without such a course being pursued.
Yesterday morning, however, Mr. Elliott did not appear in court when the matter was taken up. Mr. Sinnott announced that Mr. Elliott had informed him that he would not oppose the application being made to name a custodian.
Mr. Sinnott informed the court that the only assets appeared to be certain lighting effects and the right to two films. One of these was in New York or in Vancouver. Possession of this film had not yet been obtained. Another film, "The Black Robe," was not completed and would take perhaps $2,000 to finish, he believed.
The court agreed to the course asked to be taken, putting the affairs of the Commonwealth Producers into bankruptcy, with Mr. Hinton as custodian of the assets.
Motion Picture Daily, March 13, 1934:
Vancouver Picture Concern Collapses
Vancouver, March 12.—With liabilities of $52,000 and negligible assets Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., film company which some months ago set up studios near Victoria, and there produced two pictures, has gone into bankruptcy. Among creditors is Kathleen Dunsmuir Humphreys, formerly of the London musical comedy stage, and daughter of the late James Dunsmuir, one-time Lieutenant Governor.
Kenneth Bishop, executive of the company, admitted to holding controlling interest in the company with 8,000 shares of common stock at $10 per share. He had not paid for the shares, but claimed his three years' organization work had earned them for him. He valued the two pictures at $25,000 each.
A creditor's committee has been formed to try and rescue some of the money invested.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., April 7, 1934:
Court Appealed to for Directions
The extent to which the mortgages held by Mrs. A. Seldon Humphreys upon the assets of the Commonwealth Productions, Limited, should have preference has been referred to Mr. Justice H. B. Robertson for directions by H. G. Hinton, the trustee, representing the creditors of the film production company. The application in the matter came before His Lordship, in the Supreme Court Chambers, yesterday, upon application by J. B. Clearihue, acting for the trustee, with H. G. Lawson, K.C., representing Mrs. Humphreys.
In making the application, Mr. Clearihue pointed out that such a course was provided for. The trustee representing all the creditors was at a loss to know just how far he could go until it was decided whether Mrs. Humphrey [sic], under her mortgages of $5,000 and $2,000, had a preference standing over the other creditors with respect to the assets.
Mr. Lawson stated the mortgages were duly executed in a regular way in connection with a business transaction, and under these instruments he had no doubt that Mrs. Humphreys was given a preference.
Reviewing the situation, Mr. Clearihue said that a contract was entered into on September 12, 1933, by the Commonwealth Producers, Ltd., to make eight pictures for the Showman's Pictures, Incorporated, of New York. The contract was produced which set out that the purchasing company was to be protected against all claims liable to be made with respect to the negatives produced.
Mr. Clearihue stated there could, therefore, be no mortgage placed on the negative. The producing company had assigned to Mrs. Humphreys the right to the $10,000 to be received for the first picture.
Mr. Lawson pointed out that this was an assignment of the money to be received and not a chattel mortgage.
It was pointed out that, following this assignment, the mortgage was executed which was to secure the sum of $5,000, which had been loaned to the producers at 10 per cent.
Mr. Clearihue said the position was taken by some creditors that the pictures were not involved under the mortgage which covered the moneys advanced and due, and all electric lighting and sound equipment. He pointed out that the mortgage included the moneys due, the goods and chattels and effects, but the pictures themselves were not mentioned.
A second mortgage in the same language as the first one was produced, covering the amount of $2,000.
QUOTA RULE VIOLATED
Then came the correspondence with the Showman's Pictures concerning the cancellation of the contract, on the ground that the British quota was not complied with, as Mr. Earle [Hoerl], the scenario writer of "The Crimson Paradise," was not a British subject, as required. There was some hope of overcoming this defect, but later the suggestion was made in the correspondence that $5,000 might be obtained instead of the $10,000 as originally set.
Mr. Clearihue declared the other picture, partially finished, was in Vancouver. There were three prints of "The Crimson Paradise," one of which was in England, and had never been in Victoria, and it was contended that it should not fall under the same rule as to ownership.
The whole question was really one of whether the pictures were covered by the terms of the mortgages held by Mrs. Humphreys.
Mr. Lawson argued that Mrs. Humphreys, under the arrangements, could take the moneys received, and, as collateral security, could take the pictures themselves. There was nothing to show that the pictures were excluded from the goods and chattels of the property.
Mr. Clearihue took the position that the moneys due for the pictures were mortgaged, but not the pictures themselves.
With this position, Mr. Lawson disagreed.
His Lordship will consider the matter and give his directions for the benefit of the trustee in guiding him in connection with the administration of the affairs.
Film Daily, June 13, 1934:
Columbia May Make Own British Quota Pictures
Feasibility of Columbia producing its own British quota requirements of eight to 10 pictures will be studied by Joseph Seidelman, Columbia foreign manager, who sails Saturday for London. Columbia has been having independent producers make its quota pictures. While abroad Seidelman will visit Columbia's continental offices.
Motion Picture Daily, July 2, 1934:
Vancouver Excited Over New Film Plan
Vancouver, July 1.—Another attack of filmitis is raging in Vancouver with the arrival of Gaston Glass, who says he represents Joseph I. Schnitzer, with plans to produce six to 18 pictures per year in Canada under the quota law. Glass says he has contracts from an unnamed major company for distribution, and all that remains is to work out some way to make the pictures.
First worry is to obtain a building suitable for sound-proofing and making into a studio.
Variety, July 10, 1934:
COL.'S ENGLISH PROD.,
Hollywood, July 9. Columbia is figuring on producing a group of about 10 features in England during the coming year, and will send Sid Rogell abroad within the next two weeks to make a survey of production possibilities.
Harry Cohn is understood ready to go for the British production idea to take advantage of talent and backgrounds. Pictures produced, in addition to taking care of the Columbia quota requirements, would be aimed for distribution on the regular Columbia program in this country.
Motion Picture Daily, October 5, 1934:
Says Columbia Not To Produce Abroad
Columbia does not intend to produce on its own in England, Joseph Seidelman, head of the company's foreign department, stated yesterday upon his arrival from a four months' trip in Europe.
He stated deals have been closed with independent producers to turn out 10 quota pictures for the company. No changes have been made in any of the foreign personnel and no new offices have been opened recently, Seidelman added.
Business in England is very good and other countries are progressing and improving every month, he said. Seidelman is holding conferences with Jack Cohn.
Within the next 60 days "One Night of Love" will be shown day and date in 12 important cities of Europe.
Film Daily, January 11, 1935:
COLUMBIA TO RELEASE CANADIAN FILM SERIES
Columbia is understood to have signed to handle world distribution of six Northwest Mounted Police stories to be produced in Canada by Kenneth J. Bishop. While the features are to be made as quota films, they will have American stars and will be directed by a Hollywood director. Production will be at the Northern Films studios, Victoria, B.C., with the Royal Canadian Mounted authorities cooperating on details of the stories. First picture, an adaptation of a James Oliver Curwood story, is scheduled for March release.
Bishop has returned to Canada after a trip to New York, where he closed the releasing deal and purchased RCA recording equipment.
Film Daily, January 11, 1935:
Goldburg Gets Interest In Northern Films, Ltd.
Jesse J. Goldburg, a pioneer in the independent field, has acquired a substantial interest in Northern Films, Ltd., of Canada, formerly controlled by Kenneth J. Bishop and Col. J. F. Keen, The Film Daily learns. Northern Films has a studio in Victoria, British Columbia, and has produced two British quota films, "Crimson Paradise" and "Black Robe," which were acquired by Columbia for distribution in England. Nick Stuart and Lucille Browne head the cast of both films, which will form the nucleus of a program of six pictures, the others to be made in Hollywood. An American company, Northern Films Co., will be formed in California to produce these pictures and handle distribution. Goldburg will be president of this unit and in charge of its activities.
Film Daily, January 11, 1935:
Hirsch Gets "Secrets of Chinatown"
"Secrets of Chinatown," first of a series of six mystery melodramas to be made on the coast by Northern Films, Ltd., under supervision of Jesse J. Goldburg, has been acquired by Melvin Hirsch [Syndicate Exchanges, Inc.].
J. H. Hoffberg has signed to distribute this feature and "Crimson Paradise," second in the series, in the foreign field with the exception of Great Britain.
Film Daily, January 14, 1935:
JESSE J. GOLDBURG leaves New York tomorrow night for the coast to resume production on his Northern Films series.
Film Daily, January 14, 1935:
Masterpiece Gets "Chinatown"
Masterpiece Film Attractions of Philadelphia has bought Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey rights to "Secrets of Chintatown [sic]," produced by Northern Films under supervision of Jesse J. Goldburg.
Film Daily, January 19, 1935:
Judell Gets "Secrets of Chinatown"
Chicago—Contract has been closed by Jesse J. Goldburg of Northern Films with B. N. Judell, Inc., for distribution of "Secrets of Chinatown" in this territory. Goldburg has left for the coast to continue production of the remaining pictures in the group of six melodramas being made by Northern Films. "Crimson Paradise," the second, will be released late next month.
Film Daily, January 21, 1935:
JESSE J. GOLDBURG has arrived back in Hollywood from the east to continue production on the Northern Films series of melodramas.
Motion Picture Herald, February 2, 1935:
Columbia has signed with Kenneth J. Bishop, managing director and vice-president of Northern Films, Ltd., Canada, for the production and distribution of six British quota films dealing with the activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Northern Films has its studio in Victoria, B.C. Jesse J. Goldburg, American producer, who is interested in Northern Films, will cooperate with Mr. Bishop in the production of the series.
Motion Picture Daily, April 1, 1935:
British Quota Jumps to 20% Levels Today
This Is Maximum Until Act Ends in 1938
By Bruce Allan
London, March 31.—One out of every five pictures handled by distributors here must be British-made under the rise in the percentage bracket from 17½ per cent to 20 per cent effective upon renters with the advent of April.
Thus, the Quota Act which became the law on April 1, 1928, to run for 10 years thereafter reaches its maximum insofar as the selling end of the industry here is concerned. With the two and one-half per cent jump, the 20 per cent bracket remains constant and will continue at its new level until the statute runs its course on March 31, 1938.
American companies in this market, of course, are familiar with the act, its intent and its operation. Designed to foster the British production industry, the impost started modestly at seven and one-half per cent on April 1, 1928, and remained at that figure until March 31, 1929, when it increased to 10 per cent. In April 1, 1932, the bracket rose to 15 per cent, the following year to 17½ where it was fixed until the maximum division is reached on Monday.
The quota, also compulsory on exhibitors, progresses at a slower pace beginning at five per cent for the year ending Sept. 30, 1929, and rising to 20 per cent by Oct. 1 where it will poise itself in the bracket similar to that imposed upon distributors until the act runs out in 1938.
Replying to a question from E. Doran, M.P., in the House of Commons, recently Walter Runciman, president of the Board of Trade, said he did not propose to introduce legislation varying British quotas stipulated by the Cinematograph Films Act.
The advisory committee under the Act is known to have made suggestions for its amendment for the purpose of controlling "quickies." Legislation for this purpose is not ruled out by the president's reply.
Other questions from Doran, who was prominent in the agitation preceding the passing of the original act, allege attempts on the part of foreign companies to defeat the measure and alluded to "alien film producers, who, having been put into liquidation in their own countries, were now seeking to exploit the British public."
Replying to these points, Sir John Gilmour, Home Secretary, promised to inquire into any facts placed before him.
Motion Picture Daily, April 5, 1935:
Coast-Coast Studio Flight Gets Up Steam
Bahamas Latest to Bid; Mayer States Views
Eastern studio projects are springing up like dandelions after a spring rain. Virginia, North Carolina and Florida have them and now the Bahamas has produced another for saving money on British quota pictures.
Out on the coast Louis B. Mayer is assuring the public the industry really means to say goodbye.
Governor Merriam's stratosphere tax program has already lost buoyancy, and if a fin should give way in the oratorical gale nobody would be surprised. The legislative crew might take to the rubber boats on an everyman-for-himself basis.
The Bahamas project is advanced by Vincent Wray, managing director of British-American Cinema Studios, Inc., who is now in New York from Miami.
The Bahamas, he says, are a "logical solution" of the British quota problem.
"Up to this time quota pictures have been practically a total loss," he asserts, "due to the fact that they are rarely even shipped to America. At our Nassau studios we will be able to produce quota pictures at approximately one-half the London production cost, due largely to ideal weather conditions. In addition, we will be able to feature American players with box-office names."
Wray says that in addition to his Nassau plant he is completing a studio at Opalocka, Fla.
Film Daily, April 5, 1935:
British-American Studios Set To Make 16 in Florida
Also Will Make British Quota Pictures in Nassau
British-American Cinema Studios, Inc., is set to start production shortly on a minimum of 16 features to be made for next season at its studios now being completed at Opalocka, Fla., while plans are going ahead for its other studio to be built in Nassau, Bahamas, for the making of pictures qualifying under the British quota, it was announced yesterday by Vincent Wray, managing director of the organization, from his temporary headquarters at the Hotel Taft. Wray said permanent offices would be opened here by his company before he returns south the latter part of the month.
The British quota films to be in Nassau will be designed for actual showing in both England and the U.S., instead of being made and shelved, said Wray. Nassau's proximity to American talent will make it possible to obtain stars and technicians to give these pictures boxoffice appeal, while weather and other conditions will enable these productions to be made at half the London production cost, according to Wray. He declared major companies here are showing keen interest in the project. The studios are amply financed and will be prepared to either make the quota pictures or rent facilities to producers.
First production from the Opalocka plant, situated six miles from Miami, is due for release in October.
Film Daily, June 19, 1935:
Northern Films Plans Six
Northern Films plans to make six features for the 1935-36 season, Jesse Goldburg said yesterday, preliminary to leaving New York today for Hollywood. The company has just completed "The Fighting Playboy" for current distribution. First picture on its new program will be "Trans-Pacific," with Heather Angel, Ralph Forbes, Conway Tearle and William Cagney.
Goldburg, on his own, plans to make "Amateur Radio Revels," using amateurs lined up through radio station contests.
Film Daily, July 12, 1935:
Hoffberg-Northern Film Deal
J. H. Hoffberg Co. has acquired world distribution to Northern Film Production's "Fighting Playboy," with Nick Stuart and Lucille Browne. Jesse J. Goldburg has left New York on a cross-country trip as special representative of Hoffberg on state rights sales for this picture and "Speed Devils," with Paul Kelly and Marguerite Churchill, and a Buster Keaton feature. On his arrival in Hollywood, Goldburg will start production on the first of a series of six action melodramas for Hoffberg.
Motion Picture Daily, July 13, 1935:
Hoffberg Gets "Playboy"
J. H. Hoffberg Co. has taken over world distribution of "Fighting Playboy," a feature produced by Northern Film Prod., with Nick Stuart and Lucille Browne.
Film Daily, July 16, 1935:
Goldburg Out of Northern Films
Jesse J. Goldburg, who has returned to the coast to start production on six action melodramas which J. H. Hoffberg will distribute, has severed all connections with Northern Films Ltd., and K. J. Bishop.
Film Daily, July 25, 1935:
Six Pictures for Steiner
Kenneth J. Bishop, Canadian producer, will make a series of six action pictures for William Steiner at the Willows Park studios, Victoria, B.C. Titles of the six pictures are "The Green Canoe Case," "Riders of the Highway," "Valley of Death," "Cascade Mystery," "Murder at the Post," and "Death Strikes Again."
Film Daily, July 25, 1935:
More British Quota Pictures Are Planned in Canada
K. J. Bishop to Produce Eight in Victoria for Columbia
Kenneth J. Bishop, Canadian producer and general manager of the Willows Park studios, Victoria, B.C., has completed arrangements with Columbia Pictures to produce eight British quota pictures at the Canadian studio. Ben Schwab will assist Bishop in production of the pictures as Columbia's representative. Edgar B. [G.] Ulmer will direct the first of the series, which will be mystery melodramas. The first two pictures are tentatively titled "The Man With the Umbrella" and "Trans-Pacific." Peerless Pictures, Ltd., will release the series on the independent market here.
Col. Keen is president of Northern Film[s], Ltd., operating company of the Willow Park studios, and Bishop is vice-president and general manager. Bishop leaves Saturday by auto en route to Victoria. He will be joined there shortly by Arthur Hoerl and Edgar Ulmer.
Booth Dominion Productions, headed by J. R. Booth and Arthur Gottlieb, also is working on a deal to make six British quota films in Canada for M-G-M.
Note: "The Man With the Umbrella" would be made at the Montreal studio of Associated Screen News, under the title "From Nine to Nine," produced by William Steiner's Coronet Pictures, Ltd. "Trans-Pacific" was never made. Kenneth J. Bishop is sometimes erroneously credited as producing "From Nine to Nine."
Motion Picture Herald, August 24, 1935:
First MGM Quota Film
Arthur Gottlieb and Jack Goetz of Du-Art Film Laboratories, Inc., entered production this week when as officers of Booth Dominion Productions they saw the beginning of "The King's Plate," first of a series of six features that company will make as British Empire quota pictures for MGM. Toby Wing and Kenneth Duncan will play the leads with Sam Neufeld directing.
G. R. [J. R.] Booth of Toronto is president of the corporation; Mr. Goetz is vice-president and Mr. Gottlieb secretary and treasurer. By arrangement with MGM that company distributes in England and the Dominions, but Booth Productions will retain the rights for the United States and the remainder of the world.
Bert Kelly, formerly with KBS Productions, has been organizing for the past three months and will handle production.
Motion Picture Herald, October 12, 1935:
First "Quota" Film in Work
Eastern Canada's first "quota" film, "The King's Plate," is being shot by Booth-Dominion Productions on a budget of $50,000, featuring Toby Wing on loan from Paramount. Burt Kelly is the moving spirit in the enterprise, with Sam Neufeld directing. The story is a race track yarn with part of the exteriors to be shot at the Woodbine track during the fall meet. A former skating rink has been rebuilt as a studio. Arthur Gottleib [sic], Film Laboratories of Canada, and Jack Goetz are named as associates in the undertaking.
The reported interest of J. R. Booth, Jr., indicates that the enterprise is adequately bankrolled. He is a son of the late great Canadian lumber king, and thus the heir to millions. The younger Booth has been interested in film experiments for eight years and chiefly concerned with the technical end. He has back of him a considerable amount of experiment with color processes.
There are two Canadian film concerns with the name "Booth." There is no connection between Booth-Dominion Productions, now producing the Toby Wing film, and Booth-Canadian films. The last-named is reported seeking backing and distribution in Canada and the United States. A young Englishman named George Booth is the moving spirit. He seeks to establish a studio. He made a one-reeler of "The Bells" some years ago which he still has.
Note: "The King's Plate" was released in the U.S. as "Thoroughbred" in 1936, and debuted in Canada under its original title. It was filmed back-to-back with "Undercover Men," starring Charles Starrett. Booth Dominion Productions, Ltd., under the name Dominion Motion Pictures, Ltd., would make only two of the announced six quota films. George T. Booth, unrelated as explained in the news item, made "The Bells" (1932), which, although a two-reeler, was the first all-Canadian talker.
working title: Stop, Look and Love
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: circa November 8 — December 5, 1935. Running Time: 68m:21s. Release (U.S.): none. Release (U.K.): July 27, 1936 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown March 20, 1936; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 30, 1936.
Director: Nick Grinde. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Lew Golder. Screenplay: Robert Watson, based on a story by Crane Wilbur. Photography: William C. Thompson, William Beckway, Gerald Callahan. Editor: William Austin (unconfirmed). Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke. Assistant Director: William C. Thompson.
Copyright Registration: none.
Cast: David Manners (Jack Wycoff/Cy King), Maxine Doyle (Aline [or Aileen] McLain), Reginald Hincks (Donald McLain), James McGrath (Sheriff), Garland B. Davidson [Charles Withers] (Moriarity), Arthur Legge-Willis (Chief of Police), Doreen Wilson (Molly King), Fred Bass (Kelly), Pat Carlyle (Prince Alexis Gregory Timenoff), Michael Heppell, J. P. McGowan, Robert Rideout.
(credits not verified based on print)
Note: The Canadian Feature Film Index has incomplete credits for this film, and a print was not viewed for inclusion in that publication. More information, although lacking in credits, can be found here. There is no record of "Lucky Fugitives" ever being released in the U.S. or Canada.
Picturegoer (U.K.) review, July 25, 1936: Very naive story dealing with a young author who, taking advantage of his resemblance to a gangster, pursues a girl who has got friendly with a bogus Russian prince.
He gets rid of him and takes up the rest of the footage trying to persuade the girl to marry him.
David Manners doubles the roles of the author and the gangster none too satisfactorily. Maxine Doyle is fair as the girl.
There is a reminiscent touch in the production of The Thirty-Nine Steps when the hero and heroine, handcuffed together, go on a cross-country chase—but on the whole it only provides entertainment for the unsophisticated.
Media availability: None. This is probably a lost film. The British Film Institute's National Archive has 80 feet of a 35mm nitrate dupe negative. The Canadian Feature Film Index showed no elements for the film.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 5, 1935:
Central Film Company to
Victoria and Vancouver are to be the centres of a first-rate motion picture entitled "Stop, Look and Love," with David Manner[s] and Maxine Doyle playing the leading roles and being filmed by the Central Films, Limited, Kenneth J. Bishop, producer, stated yesterday during an interview at the Dominion Hotel.
Mr. Bishop, who is well known in Victoria for his interest in producing Canadian pictures, arrived here yesterday morning, accompanied by Nick Grinde, director of the picture; Mrs. William Austin, business manager; William C. Thompson, assistant director and head cameraman, and Gerald Callahan and William Brickway [Beckway], cameramen.
Miss Doyle and Mr. Manners and Charlie Wither and Pat Carlyle, feature players, and several technical men are expected to arrive here by tomorrow afternoon.
Mr. Bishop said he expected to begin work Thursday in Vancouver, and hoped to complete arrangements today for bringing into British Columbia $25,000 worth of motion picture and sound equipment.
After four days' production in Vancouver, the company plans to complete the picture at the Willows in six days. James McGrath and Reginald Hincks, who were featured in other pictures produced by Mr. Bishop in Victoria, will have roles in "Stop, Look and Love," the producer stated. Between fifty and sixty persons would be employed to play small parts in the picture, he added.
The picture will be a comedy drama, after the nature of the popular production, "It Happened One Night."
The picture will be released through Columbia Pictures to comply with the British quota laws, under which a United States company must make one film on British soil for every four on American territory before importation into Britain.
Mr. Grinde has been in the picture business for seventeen years, and has directed the production of pictures for all Hollywood companies, he said yesterday. On graduating from Wisconsin University, he went immediately to Hollywood, where he secured employment and worked his way up to his present position, in which he finds great pleasure.
Mr. Thompson, whose face and figure bear a striking similarity to the popular screen star, Guy Kibbee, traces his association with pictures as far back as 1907. In 1911 he did film work for the Canadian Bioscope Company in Nova Scotia. This company made several pictures for the William Fox Company. He, too, has worked on practically every motion picture studio in the United States.
Note: The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 1, 1935, reported the incorporation of Central Films, Ltd., $10,000, Vancouver.
Motion Picture Daily, October 8, 1935:
British 20% Quota Becomes Effective
By Bruce Allan
London, Oct. 8.—The 20 per cent exhibition quota under the Cinematograph Films Act became operative Oct. 1. For the first time, exhibitors are compelled to show the same percentage of British films that distributors are required to handle. The 20 per cent became applicable to exhibitors on April 1. The 20 per cent quota is a final form, operating until the Act, as it at present stands, lapses in 1938.
Exhibitor agitation for a reduction to 10 per cent, based on the necessity of a "safety margin" between distribution and exhibition quotas, has been active for some time.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 1, 1936:
Central Films Expect to
Production of a third motion picture by Central Films Limited, for the Columbia Pictures, Inc., under the British quota, is now being contemplated, Kenneth J. Bishop, producer and president of the former company, announced yesterday.
No definite announcement as to what the third picture will be is possible until the present film is completed, Mr. Bishop said.
Work on "Tugboat Princess" is rapidly nearing completion. Practically all outside shots have been completed, and from now on the company will be engaged chiefly in taking inside scenes.
New Year's day holiday will be observed, after which the company will get down to the final grind. It is expected that the last shots will be taken on Tuesday, January 7.
It is probable that by next Tuesday Mr. Bishop will be in a position to give more definite information about future production work.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 3, 1936:
Victoria's immigration building at the Outer Wharf will appear in the Central Films' second production, "Tugboat Princess," as an orphanage.
With the grounds treated to resemble the yard of an orphanage and crowded with some fifty Victoria children, the motion picture cameras were put to work, Tuesday.
A large dormitory set, measuring fifty feet by forty feet, has been erected at the Willows studio and interior shots will be taken tomorrow, with the talented child star, Edith Fellows, playing the main role.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 4, 1936:
As the setting for an elaborate wedding scene in the local picture, "Tugboat Princess," the Tudor Grill at the Empress Hotel has been decorated with flowers, ferns and large palms.
While the cameras of the Central Films, Limited, turn this morning, the company actors and staff will witness a "movie" wedding of Miss Valerie Hobson and Lester Matthews.
Miss Hobson and her mother plan to leave for California today, as the English leading lady will have completed her work on the local picture.
Kenneth J. Bishop, producer, expects to complete the final takes early next week.
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: December 18, 1935 — January 7, 1936. Running Time: 68m:21s. Release (U.S.): October 8, 1936 by Columbia Pictures. Release (U.K.): September 14, 1936 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown June 10, 1936; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, June 16, 1936. Released in Canada by Columbia Pictures (Ontario). Opened at the Dominion Theatre, Victoria, B.C., February 2, 1937.
Director: David Selman. Production Supervisor: Lew Golder†. Associate Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Screenplay: Robert Watson, based on a story by Dalton Trumbo and Isadore Bernstein. Photography: William Thompson, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke†. P.C.A. #: 2010.
Copyright Registration: © Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.; October 2, 1936, LP6626, 7 reels; renewed June 18, 1964, R339841.
Cast: Walter C. Kelly (Capt. Zack Livermore), Valerie Hobson (Sally Booth), Edith Fellows ('Princess' Judy Stone), Clyde Cook (Steve), Lester Matthews (Bob Norfolk), Reginald Hincks (Capt. Darling), Ethel Reese-Burns† (Mrs. Price), Arthur Legge-Willis† (loan shark), Arthur H. Kerr† (loan shark), George Hibbard† (owner of Davy Jones' Locker Restaurant), Lou Callum† (policeman), Stuart Clarke† (Judy's doctor).
† not billed in credits
Motion Picture Daily review, October 22, 1936: Strongly reminiscent of Marie Dressler's popular picture of some years ago, this is unpretentious, simple fare of the kind that the family, youngsters included, should enjoy. The old man, the little girl, the ancient and honorable tugboat, and the tough old skinflint rival of the captain, whose heart eventually melts to make the sun shine for all concerned, are the ingredients of which this film has been concocted. In a minor fashion they have proved their worth many times before.
Walter C. Kelly is excellent as the captain, and the child, Edith Fellows, is equally good as his unofficial ward. Valerie Hobson is adequate in a comparatively minor role, taking care of the incidental romance.
Kelly's business is almost non-existant, his former rival has grown wealthy, and when the child is hurt and hospitalization is required, Kelly is forced to go to him for money. His security is the tug, and he faces the loss of his boat, his only means of livelihood. The child is taken from him and placed in an institution; escapes only to find the tug gone. The job, in a heavy fog, results in the captain risking his life and boat to save a liner of his rival. Then the latter relents.
David Selman directed from a screenplay by Robert Watson.
Film Daily review, December 16, 1936: Walter C. Kelly and youthful Edith Fellows provide the highlights of this feature through excellently interpreted roles. But it is difficult to visualize this tender, human-interest story having more than a limited appeal to picture patrons, accustomed as they are to brighter and more sensational themes. Exhibitors, however, who feel that family trade contributes most to the box-office, can book this picture safely. There is nothing glamorous about the settings; there is only a subordinated love story; and the scene designed to provide a climax thrill (the heroic little crew of an outmoded tugboat saving a passenger liner from running aground in the fog) is enacted without much drama; nevertheless, to sympathetic souls in theater chairs, the events will seem worth seeing. Edith Fellows is an orphan, adopted by a portly and adoring tug captain. While playing ball on a dock, she accidentally falls into the water and injures her leg. The financially depleted captain sees her through at a hospital, but she is taken from him by welfare workers who send her to an orphanage. She escapes and hurries to the tug's usual berth. But it has gone on a desperate towing mission to raise the balance essential to the captain's paying back a mortgage on the craft. The boat is sunk by a passenger liner which it heads off from grounding in the mist and darkness. The mortgage-holding shipping magnate in gratitude (for it was his liner that was saved) rewards the tug captain who, as a result of the money obtained, wins back the custody of the little girl. Character roles throughout are interesting and played with fidelity. David Selman directed the piece dynamically. Direction, Good. Photography, Good.
Media availability: None. Of the twelve films Kenneth J. Bishop made specifically for Columbia Pictures, only the first, "Lucky Fugitives," does not exist in their archives.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 24, 1936:
Central Films Limited May Begin
Actors and officials of Columbia Pictures, Incorporated, are expected to arrive here Tuesday from Hollywood to start production on the Central Films' third picture, "Secret Patrol." The picture will be made around a Royal Canadian Mounted Police story, with a father and son plot somewhat similar to the theme used in "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer."
This was announced by Kenneth J. Bishop, producer and president of the local motion picture company, on his return from a business visit to Hollywood.
Mr. Bishop stated the film will employ local talent to a large extent, nine roles to be filled by Victorians. The picture will be produced on a fairly small scale, he declared.
Headed by Charles Starrett and Miss Finnis Barton, feature players, the party coming from Hollywood will include: Harry Decker, Columbia's supervisor of production for action pictures; George Meehan, cameraman; Ford Beebe, director; Ralph Black, business manager; Walter Meins, prop man, and Lambert Day, sound technician.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 28, 1936:
Company to Film
Although Central Films' third production was scheduled to be "Secret Patrol," a mounted police story, a change was made in plans over the week-end, and now Kenneth J. Bishop is busy preparing to shoot a Western picture, first.
The director and technical staff for the picture are expected to arrive here this morning, and Charles Starrett and Miss Finnis Barton, who will take the leading roles, are expected at the end of the week. Production will start early next week, and the mounted picture will be filmed immediately on completion of the Western.
As the Western picture requires fairly open country, Mr. Bishop is contemplating on using the country near Sidney for his location. The company hopes to secure fifty head of horses from the Koksilah Indian Reserve.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 5, 1936:
Leading Actors for Third
With the arrival yesterday from Hollywood of Miss Finnis Barton, leading lady; Charles Starrett, leading man; "Ted" Mapes, Mr. Starrett's double, and J. P. McGowan, Australian character actor, Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the Central Films, Limited, last night announced the first scenes of "Gun Smoke," western picture, would be taken this morning at the Willows studio.
Through the night and until early this morning, carpenters were busy erecting a complete western cowtown street, 175 feet in length, at the Willows. The street includes false-fronted shops, hitching posts, a hotel, swing doors to the saloon. The cost for this set was approximately $1,500.
Sixty cases of extra equipment and properties were recevied [received] here from Hollywood yesterday, including motion picture machinery, and a good stock of boots, saddles and cowboy hats. Last night Victorians saw several actors sporting their big hats and high-heeled boots about town.
More than fifty horses have been provided by the Victoria Riding Academy and will be on hand for the beginning of the production.
Miss Barton, blonde and petite, is no stranger to Victoria and she is thrilled over being here again. On her other visits she had no time to explore the city, but she intends to see most of it on this occasion.
The actress was for some years on the legitimate stage and played in Vancouver on several occasions, and in Victoria once, some time ago.
So delighted was she to see the light flurry of snow yesterday that she forthwith dispatched two telegrams to her home in California. Everything here seems to be to her liking. She explained she was excited over the prospect of working in a western, and riding horses. Miss Barton is loud in her praise of Victoria hospitality.
Mr. Starrett, who starred at football in Dartmouth University, New Hampshire, before finding popularity in motion pictures, is also enthusiastic over coming here. Mr. Starrett has heard much of the Island's scenery and looks forward to enjoying a hunting and fishing trip. He also expressed his interest in Vancouver Island lumber camps.
Besides the four actors, the Hollywood party yesterday included Paul "Kansas" Grosso, who will be in charge of the large truck-mounted gasoline-powered generator imported by Central Films, Limited, from Hollywood in the last few days, and Malcolm C. McKenzie, who will be in charge of the microphone boom.
Film Daily, February 6, 1936:
George Schneiderman, veteran cameraman, and Bud Barsky are negotiating with Canadian interests for the building of a modern studio at Victoria, British Columbia. Equipment is now being bought in Hollywood and stories are being prepared. The new company has no connection with any company now producing in Canada.
Note: A proposed studio that was never built, the backers interested in the B.C. Worsted Mill plant.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 9, 1936:
WORK GOES ON
Motion Picture Company
Victoria's fall of snow did not obstruct the work on the Central Films third production, "Gun Smoke," yesterday, as technicians and actors went into action at the Willows studio on inside "shots." The picture is being made for Columbia Pictures, Inc., under the British quota regulations.
The actors revelled in the snow at noon hour and enjoyed a pitched battle of snowballs. After the warm air of California, the visitors are finding the brisk air here invigorating, and are taking long walks whenever the opportunity presents.
Le Strange Millman, Canadian actor, arrived from Hollywood to join the company, yesterday, and was called to the studio immediately after his arrival.
With him came many pounds of sound-proofing material to be used at the studio to deaden a slight echo.
The company stopped work yesterday at noon and immediately took a rest, which will continue until early tomorrow morning.
Charles Starrett, leading man, admitted, yesterday, when questioned, he was a grandson of the founder of the well-known Starrett Tool Company. He also stated yesterday he is the father of twins—six-year-old boys—who are with their mother in Hollywood.
"Ted" Mapes, trick horse rider and double for Mr. Starrett, is also a father. He has an eighteen months' old daughter, who, he says, is the "sweetest little lady in the United States."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 11, 1936:
K. J. Bishop Tells Gyro Club Other
It was possible that four other major Hollywood motion picture concerns besides Columbia Pictures Corporation would establish studios in Victoria to produce films to comply with the British quota law, Kenneth J. Bishop, producer of Central Films Ltd., subsidiary of the Columbia organization, told members of the Gyro Club at luncheon yesterday in the Empress Hotel.
Mr. Bishop explained the British quota law called for one out of every five pictures to be made on British soil. There were six major companies operating in the United States, he said. One of these now produced films in England, while the Columbia Corporation was producing here. The other four could easily find location room here.
The speaker suggested that the modern studio in Victoria, equivalent to any independent unit in Hollywood, might be leased to outside companies to make pictures for British audiences. Victoria, too, he added, was the closest British point to Hollywood and scenic locales here were ideal for many types of pictures.
Mr. Bishop stated that the Central Films organization had spent $135,000 in Victoria in the making of three pictures, all of which were second features to be shown all over the world. He expected the first film, "Stop, Look and Love," would be shown here within the next three or four weeks. Columbia Pictures were highly pleased with the results of the first two completed pictures, Mr. Bishop declared.
Film Daily, February 14, 1936:
Commonwealth Creditors Meeting
Victoria, B.C.—A meeting of the creditors of Commonwealth Productions, Ltd., in bankruptcy, will be held at 10:30 o'clock Monday morning in the office of Harold G. Hinton, trustee, in the Pemberton Building.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 22, 1936:
Will Begin Work
Owing to adverse weather conditions, work on the Central Films' production, "Gun Smoke," will be temporarily stopped and the company and cast will begin production on interior scenes for "Secret Patrol," Mounted Police story, Kenneth J. Bishop, producer and president of the local studios, announced yesterday.
For the new picture, practically the same cast will be used as was called for in "Gun Smoke." Charles Starrett and Miss Finnis Barton will play the lead roles.
All interior "shots" have been taken for "Gun Smoke" and exterior scenes will be filmed when weather permits.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 27, 1936:
New Actor to Play
To play the juvenile lead in "Secret Patrol, " fourth production of the Central Films, Limited, for Columbia Pictures, Incorporated, under British quota regulations, Henry Mollison is expected to arrive here today from Hollywood.
Work on the picture, starring Charles Starrett and Miss Finnis Barton, is expected to start in a few days at the Willows studios, where new sets, including log cabin interiors and exteriors, have been erected.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 28, 1936:
In preparation for going into action today on the indoor scenes of the Central Films' fourth production, "Secret Patrol," actors roamed the Dominion Hotel yesterday, reading and rereading their lines.
Henry Mollison arrived here yesterday from Hollywood to play the juvenile lead role in the picture which stars Charles Starrett and Miss Finnis Barton. The performances of Mr. Starrett and Miss Barton in "Gun Smoke" were highly praised.
"Secret Patrol" is a story of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and lends itself very well to the local scenery.
Variety, March 4, 1936:
Golder Ships Pair Of Col. Quota Films
Hollywood, March 3. Lew Golder has completed and shipped east first two features [sic] films for Columbia release on English quota program.
Pictures were produced in Canada under banner of Central Films, Ltd. They are titled, 'Stop, Look and Love,' and 'Tugboat Princess.'
Motion Picture Daily, March 11, 1936:
Columbia May Start Making
Friedman Here to Talk
Columbia is discussing plans to produce in England, it was revealed yesterday with the arrival on the Ile de France of Joseph Friedman, in charge of sales for the company in England and the continent.
Although Friedman would not discuss the Columbia plans for making pictures in London, Joseph Seidelman. head of the company's foreign activities, stated that this was the purpose of Friedman's trip.
Accompanying Friedman were Alex G. Pincus, president, and Charles A. Buerk, a director of Colodis, S. A., the parent company for Osso, which distributes Columbia product in France, Belgium and North Africa.
Seidelman, Friedman and Pincus will leave next week for Hollywood to confer with Harry and Jack Cohn. It was stated that at the coast meetings details pertaining to the number of pictures, the studio to be leased and the stars to appear in the films will he decided upon.
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: February 28 — March 30, 1936. Running Time: 59m:29s. Release (U.S.): May 20, 1936 by Columbia Pictures. Release (U.K.): May 31, 1937 by Columbia Pictures; certified July 1, 1936 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown December 14, 1936; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, December 16, 1936. Released in Canada by Columbia Pictures. Opened at the Dominion Theatre, Victoria, B.C., September 15, 1936.
Director: David Selman, Ford Beebe†. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop†. Production Supervisor: Harry Decker†. Screenplay: Robert Watson, J. P. McGowan, based on a story by Peter B. Kyne†. Photography: George Meehan, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke†. P.C.A. #: 2203. (The film's title card says "A Peter B. Kyne Production.")
Copyright Registration: © Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.; May 11, 1936, LP6345, 7 reels; renewed May 21, 1963, R315954.
Cast: Charles Starrett (Corporal Alan Craig), Henry Mollison (Constable Gene Barkley), Finis Barton (Ann), J. P. McGowan (Barstow), LeStrange Millman (C. J. McCord), James McGrath (Tim Arnold), Arthur [H.] Kerr (Jordan), Reginald Hincks (Superintendant Barkley), Michael Heppell† (R.C.M.P. mountie on wharf), Arthur Legge-Willis† (old man), Connie Ridley† (old woman), Ernie Impett† (man on wharf), Nicky Thorne† (bald man on telephone), Ted Mapes† (man who comes to ask for photo).
† not billed in credits
Motion Picture Daily review, May 22, 1936: Action fare set in the Northwest and concerning the activities of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, this picture should be satisfactory entertainment on a dual program or on the week-end bill when action is the requirement.
Starred is Charles Starrett, with the support of Finis Barton, Henry Mollison and J. P. McGowan in particular. With the familiar background of the north woods, and the familiar basic plot structure, the film has its quota of action and excitement, and self-sacrificing romance.
Starrett and Mollison, who is a son of the commandant of the post, are in love with Miss Barton, the commandant's ward. She chooses Mollison, and Starrett, when offered a dangerous assignment which may mean promotion, insists that Mollison take it, since the promotion will be of value to him. The assignment is the investigation of mysterious "accidents" in a lumber camp. The pace moves rapidly as Mollison is imprisoned by the gang, Starrett goes to find him, and Mollison is killed in a final battle with the gang, which leaves the way open for the expected completion of the romance between Starrett and Miss Barton. David Silman [sic] directed.
Film Daily review, June 3, 1936: Following pretty much in the familiar grooves of its type of outdoor melodrama, this is a moderately entertaining secondary attraction. Lacking marquee strength and outstanding story punch or novelty, the burden of making it register rested in a good measure on the shoulders of Director David Selman, who did a creditable job with the materials in hand. Two Mounties, Charles Starrett and Henry Mollison, are in love with the same girl, Finis Barton. Starrett keeps to one side, however, in the belief that Finis prefers Mollison. When the latter, sent on an official mission, is kidnapped by some villians [sic], Starrett hikes to his rescue, but is unable to save his pal from being killed, thus pairing Starrett and Finis for the final closeup after the bad men have been taken care of. Direction, Suitable. Photography, Good.
Motion Picture Herald review, August 22, 1936: This outdoor picture from a novel by Peter B. Kyne concerns the prestige of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the time-tried situation of two men in love with the same girl and the machinations of a gang of criminals in a remote lumber camp. Good character acting by Charles Starrett as Alan Craig, the heroic Mountie who gets his men and the girl, raised the picture slightly above medioc[r]ity.
Alan is sent out to avenge the supposed murder of his fellow Mountie, Gene Barclay. The two have remained friends even though Ann Barton has announced her engagement to Gene. A series of fatal and suspicious accidents in a lumber camp which Gene had been sent to investigate are being perpetrated by a gang headed by a blacksmith, Barstow, and including Arnold, a junior partner in the lumber firm. Alan, in disguise, gains the confidence of the gang, secures evidence against them, rescues Gene who has been in hiding because he disobeyed orders, and holds the gang at bay in a gun battle until help is brought. In the battle Gene is killed, clearing his blemished record and leaving the field clear for Alan to marry Ann. The picture closes with scenes of Gene's military funeral.
Well-photographed scenes of the north woods and authentic shots of scenes in the lumber camp lend authenticity to the film.
Variety review, June 24, 1936: Weak on romance but soupy with action and should suit western fans because this Royal Mountie drama projects good scenics, understandable dialog and fair acting. It has the distinction also of Peter B. Kyne authorship. Not the type to solo gracefully but okay for the uppers and lowers.
Charles Starrett makes a pretty good secret cop, but Finis Barton, as the heroine of the plot makes no impression.
Plot hinges on the numerous accidents and deaths among loggers in one of the northwest camps. Starrett undertakes to carry out the job of straightening things out after his pal and the inspector's son supposedly were killed on the same assignment. Starrett and the inspec's son love Finis Barton. Later events prove the inspec's son wasn't killed but ran away from duty, so Starrett takes the gal for a final fadeout after cleaning up the camp accidents.
Like most murder themes, this one goes awry too because of the required additional killings in order to prove how the original death occurs.
J. P. McGowan, the villain of the plot, is a smithy who directs the dirty work at camp because he wants to control the lumber company. Camera work is okay.
Media availability: none, although has been shown on television.
Motion Picture Daily, March 13, 1936:
Plans Are Set for Montreal Producing
Plans have been completed by Amusement Securities Corp. in association with Canadian financial interests for the production of 18 features at Montreal, to be designed for both the American and British markets and to be made in compliance with the British quota laws.
The first picture was completed recently after having been undertaken as a test production to determine whether product made in Montreal under the British quota laws could be successfully marketed in the United States and Great Britain. The picture "From Nine to Nine," will be distributed here by Universal. It was made by Coronet Films, brand name of the new production company, and financed by Amusement Securities, of which S. S. Krellberg is the head.
Alfred S. Krellberg of the law firm of Krellberg & Fitzsimmons will leave for England tomorrow on the Ile de France to make legal and distribution arrangements there for the complete schedule of 18. American distribution for the remainder of the schedule is dependent now on the completion of the British distribution arrangements.
Film Daily, March 19, 1936:
Coronet Finishes Pix in Canada
Coronet Pictures, Ltd., of which William Steiner is the president, has just completed production of its first quota picture, in seven reels, of a series of six to be made in Montreal. It is entitled "From Nine to Nine" and was directed by Edgar George Ulmer featuring Ruth Roland, with Kenneth Duncan, Roland Drew, Eugene Sigaloff, Dorice Covert and Miriam Battista.
This picture was produced at the studios of Associated Screen News, Ltd., in Montreal, with Northern Electric Sound and will be released in London, England, in the immediate future. Distribution in the United States will be by Steiner.
Note: Coronet Pictures, Ltd. would only make the one film, "From Nine to Nine," mentioned in the two news items above. The Film Daily, July 25, 1935, stated Kenneth J. Bishop was to produce the film but evidently no producer is credited on the print. It was filmed February 17–February 25, 1936, a time when Bishop was working on two films on Vancouver Island.
Motion Picture Daily, March 27, 1936:
Launch Move For British Quota Change
Present Law Runs Out In Two Years
By Bruce Allan
London, March 26.—Pointing the way toward the setting up of new trade conditions which may have a profound bearing on the operations of American companies in Great Britain, the British Board of Trade today named a committee to check into the Films Act and to develop a program to follow expiration of the current quota law in 1938.
The committee, of which Lord Moyne, Minister of Agriculture from 1925 to 1929, is chairman, will "consider the position of British films having in mind the approaching expiration of the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927 and inquire whether any and, if so, what measures are still required in the public interest to promote production, renting and exhibition such films."
Lord Moyne's running mates include A. C. Cameron, a governor of the British Film Institute and secretary of the British Broadcasting Corp's. council for school broadcasting; J. Stanley Holmes, member of Parliament from Harwich; J. J. Mallon, the warden of Toynbee Hall, university settlement in the East End of London; the Hon. Eleanor M. Plumer, member of the advisory committee of the Board of Trade, and Lieut. Col. Sir Arnold Wilson, member of Parliament for Hitchin.
There is a strong official and educative flavor in the personnel. Holmes is a chartered accountant, a director of several companies and the only business man on the committee. Eleanor Plumer and Wilson presumably aided in drafting the confidential report on the Act prepared by the advisory committee of the Board of Trade. This report is still unpublished, but their participation in its preparation may have led to their designations on the committee which will now consider a future course.
The quota became effective on distributors with the year ending March 31, 1929, when seven and one-half per cent of their product had to be English-made. The percentage bracket rose successively until last year when it reached its maximum 20 per cent figure to remain fixed there until the law ends with the year ending March 31, 1938.
The quota on exhibitors began at five per cent for the year ending Sept. 30, 1929, and rises to a similar high bracket of 20 per cent for the year ending Sept. 30, 1936. There it stays for the next two years, terminating with the year ending Sept. 30.
The Council of the Cinematograph Exhibitors' Ass'n has passed a resolution protesting against the registration for quota of two Indian films, "Vasant Bengali" and "A Wager in Love," handled by First National and Warners respectively. It decided to report to the Board of Trade and also to circularize members advising them not to book the films. A demand for the withdrawal of the films was also made to the distributors. The two films in question are silents and the descriptions "a museum piece" and "of no practical use" are applied to both in Kinematograph Weekly reviews.
Film Daily, March 28, 1936:
Will Not Urge Increase in British Quota
London (By Cable)—Apprehensive that any substantial increase in quota percentages would force shifting of this type of production from England to Canada, it is now indicated that the F. B. I. [Federation of British Industries] Group will not attempt to increase the present 20 per cent quota. Another view expressed is that such a rise would force American companies to make their own quota pictures in England and thus force out British producers.
Motion Picture Daily, May 6, 1936:
Columbia Will Make Ten Quota Pictures
London, May 5.—Columbia will produce around 10 quota pictures next season, it is learned here. Last year the requirements were six, but due to the increased releasing schedule, the number of pictures to be made locally has mounted to 10.
Joe Friedman, head of the company's activities here and on the continent, recently returned from New York and Hollywood after conferring with Harry and Jack Cohn on the new production plans.
Motion Picture Daily, May 8, 1936:
Columbia is willing to talk business with any British producer who can make pictures good enough for release by Columbia in the United States, Joseph Friedman, European manager for the company, declared on his arrival here from New York.
Columbia does not want its own British production unit, Friedman said, but is willing to pay good money for good films. He advocated a revision of the quota regulations to impose an obligation to spend a fixed amount of money, in place of the necessity of producing footage. He said if this change were made American producers would spend more than they do at present on "quickies," and would not object if the exhibition quota were abolished. The pictures would sell on their merits in England and many of them would get world release, he declared.
working title: Gun Smoke
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: February 5 — April 17, 1936 (see note). Running Time: 56m:05s. Release (U.S.): June 8, 1936 by Columbia Pictures. Release (U.K.): August 23, 1937 by Columbia Pictures; certified July 13, 1936 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown March 17, 1937; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 19, 1937. Released in Canada by Columbia Pictures.
Director: Ford Beebe. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop†. Production Supervisor: Harry Decker†. Screenplay: Robert Watson, based on a story by Peter B. Kyne†. Photography: George Meehan, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke†. P.C.A. #: 2202. (The film's title card says "A PETER B. KYNE Production," and its press book says the story is by Ford Beebe.)
Copyright Registration: © Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.; June 6, 1936, LP6392, 6 reels; not renewed.
Cast: Charles Starrett (Larry Carson), Finis Barton (Dale Milford), J. P. McGowan (Matt Stevens), LeStrange [William] Millman (John Milford), Reginald Hincks (Sheriff), James McGrath (Henry Brooks), Arthur [H.] Kerr (Bill Gans), Jack Atkinson (Hodge), Michael Heppell (Kyle), Arthur Legge-Willis† (Doc Bishop), Ted Mapes† (Whitey), Arthur McNeil† (Larry's brother).
† not billed in credits
Note: The Canadian Feature Film Index states, "Shooting began February 5, 1936 but was stopped after a couple of days [due to rain] and SECRET PATROL was shot before shooting resumed March 31, 1936." The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 22, 1936, reported that all interior scenes had been taken for "Gun Smoke" and exterior scenes would be filmed when weather permitted. The same newspaper, February 14, 1936, reported, "Practically all the indoor scenes of the Central Films' third production, "Gun Smoke," were completed yesterday, and provided the weather is moderate today the cast will move to the recently erected cow-town street."
Variety review, September 9, 1936: 'Stampede' was never made to create a mass rush on the b.o. [box office], but it certainly was produced with an eye to values. Columbia has found a new hero of the hard riding school in Charles Starrett. He is rightly starred in this instance. Seems a little stiff, but it won't be long before he's accustomed to chaps.
Peter B. Kyne's story is well handled by the technical staff. Alert camera crew caught some nifty real estate.
It's a herd of horses that provides the story. A band of no-goods, preventing their marketing, provide the action—and there is plenty. Nobody keeps their rods holstered long.
As a cattle buyer, Starrett gets into hot water by trying to reach the site of purchase. Warnings from the bad men avail little. His brother is killed while assisting him, which maddens Starrett into herding his enemies to the law.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., June 16, 1936:
Kenneth J. Bishop Returns
Kenneth J. Bishop, president and producer of Central Films, Limited, returned to Victoria from Hollywood yesterday and put a large crew of men to work in preparation for the next picture, "Vengeance of the Forest," which will be the largest production yet made at the Willows Studios.
William Gargan, the leading man in the picture, which was written by Philip Conway, well-known Hollywood author, who was once in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is expected to arrive here Thursday with Miss Molly Lamont, a fast-climbing Hollywood actress, and the following party: J. P. McGowan, veteran Australian character actor already known here; David Clyde and Libby Taylor, and the production crew, made up of Lewis Collins, director; Harry Knight, assistant director; Jerry Calahan [Callahan], second assistant director; George Meehan, cameraman; William Beckway, assistant cameraman; Herbert Eicke, sound man; Jack Haynes, assistant sound man; Joe O'Donnell, writer, and Mrs. William Austin, business manager.
TO PRODUCE MONDAY
Mr. Bishop plans to start production next Monday, and when completed, the company will go to work on a Provincial Police picture.
Work on the erection of a series of large sets started at the Willows Studio yesterday, under the direction of Eric Clarkson, architect.
Mr. Gargan, the leading man, will be the highest paid actor yet employed by the Central Films, and the whole cost of the production will be greater than that of any of the four previous pictures made here by the company.
Mr. Gargan had major parts in "Four Frightened People," with Claudette Colbert, Herbert Marshall and Leo Carillo, and in "Petrified Forest."
Note: Mrs. William Austin was business manager on a number of Central Films' productions. She was likely the wife of Nanaimo-born William Austin, who edited all of the productions. Eric Clarkson, architect, also did the sets for "Secret Patrol."
Film Daily, June 19, 1936:
Sailing aboard the Ruth Alexander, Director and Mrs. Lewis D. Collins, William Gargan, Molly Lamont have left Hollywood for eight weeks in Victoria, Canada, where Collins will direct and Gargan and Miss Lamont will star in a picture for Columbia release.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., June 28, 1936:
Going on location—To film logging scenes deep in the big forest at Cowichan Lake, a party of sixty-seven actors, technicians and production men of Central Films, Limited, headed by Kenneth J. Bishop, president-producer, will leave today. The picture, "Vengeance of the Forest," starring William Gargan and Miss Molly Lamont, is being produced for Columbia Pictures Corporation, under British quota regulations.
Motion Picture Daily, July 2, 1936:
Production Revives In Vancouver Plant
Vancouver, B.C., July 1.—Revival of Central Films, Ltd., producing pictures at Victoria, B.C., for release by Columbia under the British Quota regulation, has been announced by Kenneth J. Bishop, production chief of Central Films.
Two pictures are scheduled, "Vengeance of the Forest," the first, starting June 22, will be directed by Lewis Collins. The last four pictures made by Central Films for Columbia cost a total of slightly over $100,000.
Central Films works with one studio at Victoria, 130 feet by 55 feet, and has sole Canadian rights to the RCA sound system.
Fury and the Woman
U.K.: 'Lucky' Corrigan
working title: Vengeance of the Forest
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: June 22 — July 16, 1936. Running Time: 66m:02s; Film Daily, Motion Picture Daily reviews: 60 mins. Release (U.S.): March 11, 1937 by Rialto Productions Corp. (state rights; Monogram Pictures Corp. in most exchange centers). Release (U.K.): February 22, 1937 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown October 21, 1936; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, November 4, 1936 (5,679 feet or 63m:06s). Released in Canada by Peerless Films, Ltd. (Ontario). The film belatedly premiered in Victoria, B.C., at the Oak Bay Theatre, on December 2, 1937, the attendees including Charles Quigley, Rita Hayworth and George McKay, who had just completed "Special Inspector."
Director: Lewis D. Collins. Associate Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Screenplay: Philip Conway. Photography: Harry Forbes, William Beckway, George Meehan†. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke. Assistant Sound: Jack Haynes†. Assistant Directors: Harry Knight†, Jerry Callahan†. P.C.A. #: 2532.
Copyright Registration: none.
Cast: William Gargan (Bruce Corrigan), Molly Lamont (June McRae), James McGrath ("Kinky" Kincaid), Reginald Hincks (engineer [brakeman]), J. P. McGowan (Angus Anderson), Libby Taylor (Sarah), Harry Hastings (Ling), Ernie Impett (Bart), Arthur [H.] Kerr (James Lester), Bob Rideout (Red), David Clyde (McRae ["Mac"]), Michael Heppell† (young logger), Grant MacDonald† (logger), Douglas Flintoff† (executive).
† not billed in credits
Note: In 1940 the film was released on 16mm as “'Lucky' Corrigan” by Ideal Pictures Corp., New York, and played in non-theatrical venues under that title.
Motion Picture Daily review, April 2, 1937: The spectacular activities of lumber camps in the north woods provide an exciting background for the unfolding of this story. It is a yarn of brawling men, dangerous work and excitement. It should find more than favorable reception in the lesser spots.
William Gargan, posing as a lumber hand, descends on his father's holdings. Before the story unreels farther he meets Molly Lamont, and finds romance. But there is plenty of work to be done before he can develop this lighter interest. The foreman of his lumber camp is revealed to be perpetrating some double dealing with a rival outfit. Gargan does some research and a little later appears on the scene as superintendent of the rival interests. In that post he garners other facts concerning the aforementioned skullduggery and shortly after uses them to his advantage. A short while later his company's lumber is shipped on time and Gargan finds romantic fulfillment with Miss Lamont. The story is projected with vigor against realistic settings.
Lewis D. Collins directed. The cast includes James McGrath, Reginald Hincks, J. P. McGowan, Libby Taylor, Harry Hastings and David Clyde.
Film Daily review, April 5, 1937: This red-blooded tale of the lumber camps is the type of feature all average audiences will enjoy, while somewhat lacking in directional cohesion and editorial smoothness, it nevertheless packs plenty of virile action. There is a real profusion of stirring backgrounds and authentic atmosphere, for the footage is obviously made in logging camps where giant trees are thrillingly felled, and rugged individuals with lethal punches in their good right hands are as characteristic as the primevalness of the forests. William Gargan essays the role of the handsome, fearless, romantic son of a veteran lumber baron. He takes to the wilds to straighten out a commercial feud twixt a duo of lumber companies. His strapping frame, genial disposition,—and culture, that sets him apart from his fellow lumberjacks,—are the magnets which attract to him the inconsistently refined and uncommonly pretty Molly Lamont, a camp foreman's daughter. That Gargan heroically, stoically, and by force of character, brain and muscle irons out the commercial feud and deals in a justifiably harsh manner with the villainous elements are not nearly as important to film fans as the grandeur of the settings plus the fact that he wins the love of Molly almost from first sight. Direction is fair, and photography adequate.
Variety review, June 30, 1937: An entertaining and rapid-action film about the Pacific Northwest logging camps. No attempt has been made to make 'Fury and the Woman' another of those sagas; there's no pretense, it's just a whambang speedy little parcel, aimed to appeal to the masculine fast-action audience which constitutes the western picgoers.
As such it achieves all it speared for. There's plenty of red-blooded activity, fight galore. The hero is he-mannish heroic, the heavies heavyweight, and the gal the sweet, young innocent lass.
Gargan, in the lead, lands up anonymously in the logging camp half-owned by his N.Y.-residing father. He's just another tenderfoot as far as is known, but it doesn't take him long to learn there's treason in the camp, prompted by the rival company across the river.
Falling in love with the partner of his father who acts as supervisor of the camp, Gargan steps into stride and at the windup he's saved the whole investment as well as acquired a wife. Before the finale there is the usual ironic twist through which he's misunderstood and for a while pinned under the cloud of disapproval by the gal and her pa.
Gargan makes an o.k. two-fisted outdoor guy. He happily doesn't attempt to act too loftily for the simple part, nor read too many subtle interpretations into his role. And he acts the hero as though he hugely enjoyed it. Molly Lamont, opposite, hasn't much to do, but supplies a pastoral prettiness among the lumberjacks. Incidentally, she is absolutely the only woman in the cast save a Negress cook, Libby Taylor, in for a couple of sequences to supply laughs.
Arthur Kerr, as the suave villain, and J. P. McGowan, as the unkempt one, are standard and good. James McGrath serves up some chuckles via broad humor as an eccentric loggerman.
Direction very capable: ditto the camera. A flock of library shots of toppling big trees and hauling 'em by rail and river to the mills were spaced in aptly. These considerably helped the general production.
Media availability: released on DVD-R, as 'Lucky' Corrigan, by Alpha Video (catalogue # ALP 7264D) and Retro Flix (catalogue # 2883D; 65m:33s; a better print than the Alpha version). Also available online at YouTube.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., July 19, 1936:
Ontario Man to
To direct the next picture of Central Films, Limited, beginning Wednesday, Del Lord arrived from Hollywood yesterday, and went into conference with Kenneth J. Bishop, president-producer of the local studios. The picture, starring Lyle Talbot, is named "Why Let 'Em Live."
A Canadian and native of Ontario, Mr. Lord is seeing Victoria for the first time. He is pleased with the weather of the city after the high temperatures of Los Angeles. He is staying at the Dominion Hotel.
Film Daily, July 24, 1936:
Director Lewis D. Collins has arrived in Hollywood from Victoria, Canada, where he directed the picture, "Timber Wolves," starring Bill Gargan and Molly Lamont, for Columbia.
Note: "Timber Wolves" was obviously another working title for "Fury and the Woman."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., July 31, 1936:
Central Films, Ltd., May Have to
For the purpose of reaching an agreement whereby Central Films Ltd., will retain use of the Industrial Building at Willows Park during the Provincial Exhibition, a special committee from the Chamber of Commerce will confer with the executive of British Columbia Agricultural Association in the City Hall at 11 o'clock this morning.
Chamber of Commerce members will include R. H. B. Ker, James Parfitt, Walter S. Miles, R. W. Mayhew, G. H. Stevens, Duncan MacBride, and Harold Husband. The executive committee of the association comprises Alderman Andrew McGavin, Hon. Dr. S. F. Tolmie, Alderman Walter Luney, Alderman Dr. J. D. Hunter, W. T. Straith and Alderman T. W. Hawkins.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce committee visited the film studio yesterday afternoon, accompanied by William O. Findlay as secretary. They learned the exhibition building used contained 43,000 square feet of sound-proof board on the walls and ceiling, and 12,000 square feet on the floor. To remove and reinstal [sic] the sound-proofing and $86,000 worth of equipment would cost $1,500.
Kenneth J. Bishop, president and producer of Central Films, Ltd., said he was quite prepared to vacate the building for one month, as required by contract, but would naturally prefer to leave equipment where it was. He offered to turn over the studio to the Agricultural Association as an exhibit to which they could charge admission.
Since its inception last November, Central Films Ltd., had spent over $400,000 in British Columbia. The majority of this sum was expended in Victoria, Mr. Bishop stated. His company employed sixty-five Victorians in various capacities, and their salaries amounted to over $1,000 per week, he explained.
On their return to the city, members of the Chamber of Commerce committee felt the inconvenience and expense of removing the studio equipment for the fair would be a serious handicap to a youthful industry with a brilliant future on Vancouver Island. This morning, they will suggest to the executive of the Agricultural Association that exhibitors who have booked space in the studio building be persuaded to use the Automobile Show Building.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 7, 1936:
Child Actor in
Another actor in Central Films, Limited, production, "Why Let 'Em Live," Wally Allbright [Albright], child star, left yesterday for Seattle en route to Hollywood. Lyle Talbot, male lead, expects to be following at the beginning of the week.
Results on the current picture have been gratifying and reports from Hollywood indicate this production is the best yet made in Victoria.
Colwood was the "shooting" locale yesterday afternoon, and at night several scenes were "shot" in Chinatown.
Motion Picture Daily, October 13, 1936:
Columbia's business in England is 30 per cent better than last year, Jack Cohn, vice-president, stated yesterday upon his return from a three-week visit to London where he held a sales conference with all of the company's foreign managers.
Cohn visited all the English studios and described them as the "finest in the world. England looks like Hollywood, there are so many Americans working there."
Only English producers will make Columbia's quota product, Cohn added. Several companies already have been signed to make the necessary output, he asserted, and those that are very successful in England will be distributed on an international scale by the company.
Joseph Seidelman, head of the foreign activities, will return on the Queen Mary, which is due next week.
Ever on the alert, Cohn produced a program of the films shown on the Normandie, "Stage Struck" and "Nine Days a Queen."
"See," Cohn said, "the pictures are so bad that even the boats have to dual feature them."
Motion Picture Daily, October 20, 1936:
Columbia Will Have 10-12 English-Made
Columbia will have from 10 to 12 quota pictures made in England by outside producers, Joseph Seidelman, foreign head, said yesterday on his arrival on the Queen Mary after a four months' tour of European countries. Paul Soskin will make seven and Nat Ross will produce one, the former at Amalgamated Studios and the latter at the Joe Rock studios. No other contracts have been signed since the Soskin agreement, Seidelman asserted.
Note: Paul Soskin would make no films for Columbia, his unfinished Amalgamated Studios shortly going into receivership. Plans were for Columbia to occupy the studio, supply talent, scripts and exercise direct supervision of the Soskin features to be made there.
Film Daily, October 23, 1936:
QUOTA FILMS FADING FAST, COHN ASSERTS
"Realizing that the days of quota pictures, made solely to comply with British government requirements, are over, major companies are now aware of the advantages in making such productions as possess real entertainment values," declared Jack Cohn, vice-president of Columbia, in New York yesterday. He based his remarks on observations made during his recent trip to England.
"Quota pictures are fast disappearing," asserted Cohn. "No longer are producers, in order to meet quota requirements, merely shooting a lot of footage. They're making pictures which have definite box-office values."
"In line with this new perspective on the quota situation, they are substantially increasing their budgets. Some independent producers are now spending between $500,000 and $750,000 on these productions."
"From every angle, it would be beneficial if fewer and better productions were made."
What Price Vengeance
working title: Why Let 'Em Live
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: July 22 — August 13, 1936. Running Time: 57m:07s. Release (U.S.): March 11, 1937 by Rialto Productions Corp. (state rights; Monogram Pictures Corp. in most exchange centers). Release (U.K.): July 26, 1937 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown February 18, 1937; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, February 23, 1937. Released in Canada by Artkino (Ontario). Opened at the Dominion Theatre, Victoria, B.C., February 18, 1938.
Director: Del Lord. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Screenplay: J. P. McGowan. Photography: Harry Forbes, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke. P.C.A. #: 2577.
Copyright Registration: none.
Cast: Lyle Talbot (Tom Connors/"Dynamite" Hogan), Wendy Barrie (Polly Moore), Wally Albright (Sandy MacNair), Marc Lawrence (Pete Brower), Eddie Acuff (Tex McGirk), Lucille Lund (Babe Foster), Robert Rideout (Slim Ryan), Reginald Hincks (Inspector Blair), Lois Albright (Mrs. Mary MacNair), Arthur [H.] Kerr (Bill MacNair), James McGrath† (sergeant [Charlie]), Michael Heppell† (policeman), Arthur Legge-Willis† (old man at counter), Ernie Impett† (barkeep), Grant MacDonald† (crook), Douglas Flintoff† (surgeon), Margo Homer-Dickson† (Molly), Larry Howard† (policeman in boat), Rebel Mouat† (bus driver), Buster Brown† (crook).
† not billed in credits
Film Daily review, April 2, 1937: Although lacking in story originality, this crime picture nevertheless is a peppy yarn which should click with those who like their entertainment studded with thrills. The central theme is devoted to the vicissitudes and dangerous encounters. Lyle Talbot, as the young crack-pistol-shot cop, has in the course of bringing a gang of racketeers to justice, but the screenplay wisely incorporates a quantity of material of the human interest variety. Thus the film's appeal is widened. Specifically this has been done, and effectively, by placing little Wally Albright in the role of Talbot's doting, hero-worshipping nephew, and by casting Wendy Barrie in the top romantic part. Talbot has a glorious opportunity to use his pistol on the fleeing bandits who stick up the local bank, and his failure, attended by consequent public criticism, leads him to resign his post in the police department. But undaunted he decides he will get the bandits and their elusive leader, so he jockeys into contact with them, joins their ranks, and then springs the trap. There are frequent breakneck automobile chases, and it is during one of these mad, wild pursuits that the thugs dump Wally Albright, whom they have grabbed as a screen for their escape, out on the roadside with almost fatal results to the lad. This is a further spur to Talbot to "get" gang, which, of course, he does handsomely at the finis[h]. Restoration to his police post and the culmination of his romance are the rewards. Many of the scenes present photographic difficulties, and Harry Forbes and William Beckway deserve a hand for efficiently handling the obstacles. Del Lord's direction is smooth. Direction, Smooth. Photography, Efficient.
Motion Picture Herald review, June 12, 1937: Beginning with a jail break, ending with a warehouse raid, and interspersing a couple of chases on land and sea (how an airplane pursuit was omitted is the picture's mystery) naturally catalogues this production as one belonging to the action-thrill category. From the melodramatic story content, the picture's appeal will be primarily to the masculine taste. There is, however, a smattering of romance and the plight of a child to solicit feminine interest.
Lyle Talbot and Wendy Barrie play the leads and are capable if not stellar performers. Wally Albright, as the youngster, is refreshingly free from juvenile precociousness and makes his role likeable and believable. Eddie Acuff, Marc Lawrence, Lucille Lund and Reginald Hincks form a collective and competent menace to the wellbeing of the principals. The question posed in the film's title, together with the "cops and robbers" theme, may provide the exhibitor with some exploitation angles.
The plot is a bit obvious but the telling of it has been done in swift style. In a series of action flashes the tale unfolds how Lyle Talbot as a policeman plans to capture the thugs who in the course of making their escape from a bank robbery have injured Talbot's nephew, Wally Albright. By working his way into the confidence of the gang, Talbot uncovers their plans and leader. A fight to the death between Talbot and the mob's leader settles the score on the side of law and order. The ending finds Miss Barrie and Mr. Talbot more than ever in love and little Wally, now recovered, blesses the impending matrimonial union.
Reviewed at the Rialto Theatre, Broadway's leading cinematic emporium of the thrill and chill variety where a crowded evening house of predominately male fans followed the plot's manipulations with serious and devoted interest.
Motion Picture Daily review, April 2, 1937: Here is a film that should do well on double bills. It is a melodrama which starts with a swift pace and holds its speed throughout. The story is obvious but the extra measure of excitement injected into the scenario takes care of that.
In successive flashes the story establishes itself. Lyle Talbot, a policeman, sets out to capture a band of bank robbers after they injure his nephew, Wally Albright, while making their getaway. Talbot in plain clothes works himself in with the gang. With much undercover work, he succeeds in running down the gangsters. Wendy Barrie turns in a convincing performance as Talbot's sweetheart.
The supporting cast includes Eddie Acuff, Reginald Hincks, Lois Albright, Lucille Lund, Robert Rideout and Arthur Kerr. The screenplay is by J. P. McGowan. Del Lord directed.
Variety review, June 2, 1937: This meller from the once-over-lightly school unloads its entire wad in the first reel. After that it's dull going. It might be a candidate for weekend showing in the less discriminate nabes [neighborhood theaters]. Of a color with the simple-mindedness of the story is the title, even though relationship between the two defies detection.
Possibilities are that the producer set out to make a harrowing shocker but figured, after seeing the first few rushes, that he had given 'em enough. Bunched in that initial reel is a prison break and wild auto chase, a touring car tumbling over an embankment, a child kidnapping and a scene showing that same youngster being tossed into the roadway while the kidnap machine is in flight.
Picture relates, with no stock stratagem spared, the sleuthing exploits of a young cop, who, though a crack pistol shot on the range, lets some bankrobbers get away because he hasn't the nerve to fire at human targets. Following a fake resignation from the force, the copper sniffs out the bandit gang, and, posing as a crook gets himself accepted as a member of the mob. Anticlimax finds him exposed and engaging the entire mob in an exchange of gunfire.
Lyle Talbot does the best he can as the artless young cop, Wendy Barrie furnishes the love interest when she isn't occupied with the operation of a lunchcounter, Eddie Acuff proves a softie gunman and Marc Lawrence piles up plenty of menace in the role of the gang leader.
Harrison's Reports, June 12, 1937: Ordinary program entertainment. The story follows the true-and-tried formula used in cops-and-robbers pictures, without a new angle. Yet, easily-satisfied audiences may find it fairly exciting, for there are several chases, fist fights, and gun duels between the police and the gangsters. The love interest is fairly appealing. There is some human interest in the admiration a young boy shows for the hero. The photography is quite poor in spots.
Lyle Talbot, a San Francisco policeman, although an expert shot, is too frightened to use his gun on gangsters. Because of this fear, he misses capturing the Marc Lawrence gang of bank robbers; they had kidnaped [sic] his small nephew and used him as a shield in their escape, later throwing him out of the car and injuring him. Talbot resigns and then disappears, telling not even his sweetheart (Wendy Barrie) where he was going. By pretending to be a gangster with a record, he convinces Eddie Acuff, one of the bank robbers that he would be a good man to have in the gang. With the help of the police, Talbot eventually traps the gang and shoots it out with the leader. He is put back on the police force as an honored member. This makes Miss Barrie and Talbot's nephew happy.
J. P. McGowan wrote the original story and the screen play, Del Lord directed it, and Kenneth J. Bishop produced it. In the cast are Lucille Bond, Robert Rideout, and others. Not suitable for children. Adult fare. Class B.
Media availability: released on DVD by Alpha Video (catalogue # ALP 6536D) and DVD-R by Sinister Cinema (catalogue # M272). Also available online at The Internet Archive and YouTube (both are exactly the same print).
Motion Picture Daily, September 30, 1936:
Reserve Decision on Equipment Duty Cuts
Toronto, Sept. 29.—No definite action was taken at the session of the Federal Board of Tariffs and Taxation at Ottawa on the application of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce for free entry or reduction in customs duty on film producing equipment imported into the Dominion for the purpose of making films in Canada to qualify under the quota regulations of Great Britain.
After hearing argument by W. T. Straith, representing the Victoria chamber, and the opposition claims of the Canadian Manufacturers' Ass'n., Northern Electric, RCA-Victor, Westinghouse and the Associated Screen News, Ltd., of Montreal, Chairman George H. Sedgewick of the tariff board declared that its decision would be reserved pending an amicable agreement between the parties concerned on a practical arrangement.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 26, 1937:
Alderman W. T. Straith Took
"It is a gesture to Hollywood to produce talking pictures in Victoria," declared Alderman W. T. Straith when informed last evening that the duty on motion picture cameras and film entering Canada from the United States had been reduced.
Kenneth Bishop is expected here on March 4 with British and United States actors to produce a new picture, "Women Against the World," the first of several to be made on lower Vancouver Island, Alderman Straith declared. He believed the reduction in duty would be of considerable material assistance to Mr. Bishop, who will make pictures for Columbia.
On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, Alderman Straith appeared before the Tariff Board on September 23, 1936, with a plea that the duty be removed on films and lighting equipment entering Canada from the United States. He also urged the Ottawa committee to reduce the duty, or remove it entirely, upon cameras. Since that time he has been in continuous communication with the Tariff Board, and felt last evening that his efforts had at last borne fruit.
In the opinion of Mr. Straith the reduction in duty will probably attract other motion picture producers to Vancouver Island to benefit Victoria immensely through pay rolls and invaluable publicity.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., October 13, 1936:
SERIAL TO BE
K. J. Bishop, Local Producer,
Filming of fifteen episodes of a radio mystery thriller, entitled "Invisible Ray," will get under way at the Central Films, Ltd., studios at the Willows in the next three or four weeks, Kenneth J. Bishop, the president of the local company announced yesterday at the Dominion Hotel.
With Mrs. Bishop and their daughter, Mr. Bishop returned to the city Sunday from Hollywood, where the local producer received praise for the high standard of pictures made in Victoria, the latest being "Why Let 'Em Live," starring Lyle Talbot, and which is being released under the title "Vengeance."
No decision has yet been made as to which of the Hollywood actors and actresses will be used in the serial, Mr. Bishop said. A copy of the script has been placed in the hands of Reginald Hincks, casting director for Central Films, Ltd., who is studying it with a view to placing Victoria actors in the various subordinate roles.
Just how long the fifteen episodes will take to film, Mr. Bishop is not certain. Much of it will be "shot" inside. Mr. Bishop's technical crew of former productions will return to the city for "Invisible Ray."
Motion Picture Daily, December 1, 1936:
Enlarge Victoria Studio
Victoria, B.C., Nov. 30.—Central Films, Ltd., is enlarging its plant with developing and printing equipment. Previously films have been airmailed to Hollywood for processing.
The winter schedule for the company includes a 30-episode serial "Invisible Ray," and two features. They are marketed almost exclusively in England.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 9, 1937:
First of a new series of motion pictures to be produced in Victoria by Central Films, Ltd., will be a women's prison story, followed by a racing picture, Kenneth J. Bishop, president and producer, announced last night at the Dominion Hotel.
These pictures will be made for Columbia Pictures Corporation under British quota regulations.
Mr. Bishop will leave for Hollywood shortly to choose the cast for the first picture.
Later Central Films, Ltd., will make two Westerns for Larry Dormore [Darmour] Productions, who have a Western producing agreement with Columbia Pictures Corporation.
Film Daily, January 8, 1937:
596 PIX RELEASED IN CANADA DURING 1936
Total of 596 features were released in Canada during 1936, a final checkup indicates. Origin of the pictures was as follows: United States, 524; England and Canada, 35; France, 111, independent importations, 25.
Releases of companies affiliated with the M. P. D. and E. of Canada [Motion Picture Distributors and Exhibitors of Canada] were as follows: Regal (handling MGM), 57, including 14 British productions; Paramount, 69; 20th Century-Fox, 58; Universal, 33; United Artists, 22; Empire, 59, including 19 British films; Columbia, 55, including two Canadian pictures; Warner Bros., 57; RKO, 50. These companies distributed a total of 460 features, as compared with 449 in 1935.
Woman Against the World
working title: Women Against the World
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: March 8 — March 30, 1937. Running Time: 65m:38s. Release (U.S.): March 17, 1938 by Columbia Pictures. Release (U.K.): August 27, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown November 15, 1937; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, November 17, 1937 (6,159 feet or 68m:26s). Released in Canada by Columbia Pictures. Opened at the Dominion Theatre, Victoria, B.C., October 11, 1938.
Director: David Selman. Producer: Lew Golder, Kenneth J. Bishop†. Screenplay: Edgar Edwards. Photography: Harry Forbes, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke. Assistant Director: Bill "Scotty" Brown†. P.C.A. #: 3462.
Copyright Registration: © Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.; March 15, 1938, LP7883, 7 reels; renewed February 9, 1966, R379724.
Cast: Alice Moore (Anna Masters), Edgar Edwards (Johnny Masters), Ralph Masters [Ralph Forbes] (Larry Steele), Collette Lyons (Patsy), Sylvia Welsh (Betty Jane), Ethel Reese-Burns (Aunt Frieda Storr Plummer), George Hallett (Mr. Plummer), James McGrath (Detective James P. Flavin), Grant MacDonald (Jimmy Daley), Fred Bass (prosecutor), Harry S. Hay (Mr. Martin), Enid Cole (Mrs. Martin), Reginald Hincks (judge), Vivian Combe† (prisoner), Violet Wilson† (prison matron), Michael Heppell† (Steve), Mary Heppell† (Gilda), Arthur H. Kerr† (man thrown out), Patrick Wormold† (radio announcer), David McPhee† (taxi driver), Robert Rideout†.
† not billed in credits
Film Daily review, May 11, 1938: With more care in preparation of the story, this could have been made into a powerful tear-jerker. But it has been built without adherence to some of the ordinary facts of life and legal procedure and the normal reactions of humans to given situations. But this course was pursued by the author in order to place his heroine in a certain predicament so he could develop his drama and secure certain emotional effects. So it all comes under the general head of sloppy writing and a good idea is lost because nobody took the trouble to make the story plausible. The heroine finds herself serving a long jail sentence after her aunt has been accidentally killed in a struggle as the young widowed mother attempts to shake from the aunt the information as to the institution where her baby girl has been sent. Strange as it may seem, at the trial for homicide the girl does not reveal why she quarreled with her aunt, nor tell the police about her baby being stolen from her. The obvious inference is that such news would have soon restored the missing baby to its mother through a general police alarm, and there would have been no jail sentence worth talking about. But then there would have been no story for the author to go ahead with. Accepting such sloppy writing as being intelligent entertainment, which it isn't, from there on some good human interest situations are developed, and some very good emotional scenes. The mother works at a clip joint to get the money to pay a crooked private detective to discover the whereabouts of her child. Here again the regular police channels could have been called upon to discover the child for nothing. A young lawyer defends the girl in the big court scene at the climax after she is held for kidnaping [sic] her baby which she at last discovers. His final summation is gripping, filled with emotional appeal, and the sort of stuff that will get the women. Ralph Forbes is excellent as the lawyer. Alice Moore shows fine dramatic ability in a difficult role. Edgar Edwards turns in a strong performance as the husband. Most of the balance of the cast seems to have been picked by tossing ballot slips in the air. Outside of these three, this represents one of the dizziest examples of casting ever seen on the screen. DIRECTION, Fair. PHOTOGRAPHY, Good.
Boxoffice review, May 14, 1938: This is a flimsily built programmer that seemingly goes out of its way concocting over-dramatic devices to dovetail with its title. Little consideration has been given to shading the role of the central character, Alice Moore, who fails to convince as a young widowed mother parted from her child. Ralph Forbes is hardly adequate in the dual role of her attorney and romancer. Its theme of social injustices develops into a mire of muddled events and conversations that bear the mark of inexpert handling. Her baby torn from her, Miss Moore is imprisoned for killing the aunt who disposed of the infant for adoption. On parole, she kidnaps the child, is acquitted by law but spurned by her own flesh-and-blood. Dave Selman directed.
Variety review, May 11, 1938: 'Woman Against the World' takes off as a romance, turns heavily mother-love story, develops into a prison drama, abruptly swerves into a night club fable, drags in the snatch plot, also a courtroom scene, and then aimlessly fades out on an absurd child-mother separation which is likely to make one wonder what the author and producer were attempting to prove.
Edgar Edwards is credited as screenplay author. He's in the picture early as the husband of the heroine but is killed shortly after the marriage. He may have been smart at that, in view of what ensues in his story. Edwards apparently is an ardent student of cinema dramas but he makes the mistake here of trying to incorporate too many familiar plots into one production.
After the much abused Anna Masters (Alice Moore) finds her baby missing and accidentally kills her aunt, who admits having given it a better home, she is sent up the river. A friendly attorney, supposed to be her new romance, secures a pardon. As she strives to locate her missing child, the barrister is suddenly written out of script and a new series of characters introduced. There is a phoney detective agency she hires to locate the missing infant, a raid on a 'blind pig' nitery that takes the forlorn Anna to jail, and a haphazard kidnap dragged in so that Ralph Forbes (the kindly lawyer) can come back to strut before the jurors. Too many variegated plot threads, miscasting, uneven direction and actings cripple the film's chances.
Ralph Forbes is good when given a chance. Alice Moore, daughter of Alice Joyce and Tom Moore, shows possibilities but suffers from stilted direction and goshawful situations. She has been in several other features but never as importantly cast. Sylvia Welsh, as the child, is okay. Grant MacDonald supplies a refreshing characterization though given little to do. Collette Lyons, as Patsy, wise-cracking night club pal of Anna, supplies some of the sprightlier moments.
Dialog is pretty sad, photography is uneven.
Harrison's Reports, May 14, 1938: A trite melodrama, poorly produced and lacking in box-office names. Although there is nothing to indicate where this picture was produced, it definitely does not look Hollywood- made, for two reasons: first, with the exception of Ralph Forbes, the players are completely unknown; secondly, the cheapness of the production and the fact that the players neither look nor talk like Americans stamps it as foreign-made. But aside from this, the story is wildly melodramatic, similar to the old 10-20-30 days. The only thing in its favor is the closing scene, where the heroine gives up her child to the couple the child had learned to love; this touches one's emotions.
Despite her father's objections, Alice Moore marries Edgar Edwards, hired man on the farm. Forced to leave, Edwards goes to the city, promising to send for his wife. He obtains work as a watchman, and sends his wife money for fare; she arrives on the day that he is killed by holdup men. Realizing that she was going to have a baby, Miss Moore pleads with her cruel aunt, who lived in the city, to permit her to stay with her. After the baby is born, she looks for work. Returning home one night, she is shocked to find that her aunt had given the baby away. In an attempt to force her to talk, Miss Moore throws her to the floor; she strikes her head on the fireplace and dies. Miss Moore is arrested, and, since she refused to speak in her own defense, she is sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Her lawyer (Ralph Forbes), who had fallen in love with her, obtains her release on a parole. In order to earn enough money to pay a private detective to search for her child, she takes a job as entertainer in a clip joint. She eventually learns that the detective had double-crossed her; not only was he taking a weekly fee from her, but he was blackmailing the couple who had adopted the child, whom he had located. The matter comes to court when Miss Moore tries to take her child away. Realizing that the child loved the two she believed to be her parents, Miss Moore tearfully gives up her rights to her; she is consoled by Forbes.
Edgar Edwards wrote the screen play, and David Selman directed it; Lew Golder produced it. In the cast are Collette Lyons, Sylvia Welsh, Ethel Reese-Burns, and others.
Hardly suitable for children. Best for adults. Class B.
Media availability: released on DVD-R by Loving the Classics (unauthorized).
Film Daily, January 12, 1939:
Warwick Pictures, 245 W. 55th St. [New York], is preparing "Manhattan Shakedown," "Special Inspector," "Death Goes North" and "Murder is News," action melodramas, for distribution in the state rights field.
Motion Picture Daily, January 16, 1939:
Warwick Handles Four
Warwick Pictures, Inc., is distributing four melodramas on the state rights market. Syndicate Exchange, New York, and Monarch Pictures, Pittsburgh, have taken the films. They are "Manhattan Shakedown," "Special Inspector," "Murder Is News" and "Death Goes North."
Note: Warwick Pictures was helmed by Arthur Gottlieb, a transplanted American whose Canadian businesses included Film Laboratories of Canada, Ltd., which did much of the country's distribution prints, and Audio Pictures, Ltd., which had a small studio in Toronto. Gottlieb was executive producer on two Canadian quota films, "Thoroughbred" ("The King's Plate") and "Undercover Men," filmed in Ontario in 1935 for Dominion Motion Pictures, Ltd.
Pictorial Film Library, Inc., soon to be renamed Pictorial Films, Inc., released "Manhattan Shakedown," "Special Inspector," "Murder Is News, "Death Goes North," "Thoroughbred" and "Undercover Men" on 16mm in 1939.
Although all four of the Central Films' productions were copyrighted by Warwick Pictures, Columbia Pictures renewed the copyrights.
Pictorial also acquired exclusive world 16mm distribution rights to "Fury and the Woman" and "What Price Vengeance" in 1939.
Film Daily, January 19, 1939:
Arthur Gottlieb Takes Four Col. Canadian Pix
Deal has been closed by Arthur Gottlieb, president of Du Art Laboratory, for world wide rights, with the exception of the United Kingdom and the Philippine Islands, to four pictures Columbia has produced in Canada. Gottlieb plans to sell the pictures to State Righters.
Gottlieb sees a virtual cessation of production activity in Canada for at least the next two years, due to the British quota law. He said that his Canadian organization, Film Laboratories of Canada, is producing three industrial films at the present time, which will be principally distributed in Canada and the U.K.
Film Daily, March 1, 1939:
Warwick Sets Deal
Warwick Pictures has completed deals for the distribution of "Manhattan Shakedown," "Special Inspector," "Murder is News," and "Death Goes North" with the following exchanges: Syndicate, for up-state New York; "Pop" Korson; Master Exchange, Philadelphia and Washington, Lou Lifton, Monarch Exchange, Pittsburgh, and Bernie Newman for the Denver territory.
Film Daily, March 6, 1939:
Lee Goldberg, of Big Feature Rights Exchange, has closed a deal with Warwick Pictures for distribution rights to "Manhattan Shakedown," "Murder Is News," "Special Inspector" and "Death Goes North," for the Cincinnati, Louisville and Cleveland territories.
Note: The two entries above illustrate the nature of the state rights distribution system, whereby independent exchanges—not owned by the major studios—are contracted to handle films on an exclusive territorial basis. The U.S. at this time had 31 major exchange centers which covered the entire country.
Death Goes North
working title: Murder Goes North
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: April 12 — April 30, 1937. Running Time: 64m:16s. Release (U.S.): May 4, 1939 by Warwick Pictures, Inc. (state rights). Release (U.K.): August 29, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; certified September 14, 1937 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown March 17, 1938; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 18, 1938.
Director: Frank McDonald. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Jack Fier†. Screenplay: Edward R. Austin. Photography: Harry Forbes, William Beckway. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Photophone System): Herbert Eicke. Assistant Director: Bill "Scotty" Brown†. Technical Supervisor: Sergeant Walter Withers, R.C.M.P.
Copyright Registration: © Warwick Pictures, Inc.; May 20, 1939, LP8859, 7 reels; renewed February 1, 1967, R403238.
Cast: Edgar Edwards (Sgt. Ken Strange), Sheila Bromley (Elsie Barlow), Dorothy Bradshaw (Martha Barlow), Jameson Thomas (Robert Druid, posing as Herbert Barlow), Walter Byron (Albert Norton), Arthur H. Kerr (Bart Norton), James McGrath (Puffet), Vivian Combe (Maggie), Reginald Hincks (Freddie), Rin Tin Tin Jr. (King), Michael Heppell† (Dan MacKenzie), Harry S. Hay† (Herbert Barlow), George Durham† (Gordon Hayes), Fred Spencer† (Griffin), Campbell Forbes† (Bill Williams), A. A. Ransom† (messenger).
† not billed in credits
Variety review, July 26, 1939: Murder mystery melodrama set in the Canadian northwoods, where the mounties always get their man. This one is no exception except for one bright spot in an otherwise mediocre production. That is the outstanding work of the dog, Rin-Tin-Tin, Jr. Will do all right as secondary filler on duals, but might get better results if Rin, Jr., got stronger marquee billing.
Story is laid in the timber country, but most of the action is confined to interiors. Canadian Northwest mounted police—both of them in this picture—are called in to solve a series of murders and attempted stranglings. Edgar Edwards is head sleuth and carries the romantic lead, but compared to the instinctive detective work and bravery of the dog actor is made to look like an amateur by script writer. Plot concerns the young heroine who has trouble making her timber land pay profits because of the depredations of rival lumberman who want her to sell out. In desperation, she cables an uncle in England to come over and take charge. Plot twist has the uncle's secretary and his wife assuming the identity of the English relative, in a campaign to secure the land for themselves, after murdering the uncle.
Suspicion is thrown on the girl's lumber rivals, an evil and vicious pair of brothers who are blamed for everything that goes wrong. A harmless old crackpot, who imagines all the land belongs to him, is also woven into the story in an effort to divert suspicion from crimes committed by the secretary. Mounties finally get their man by fingerprint checkup on identities of who is who, and the ability of Rin-Tin-Tin, Jr., to follow a scent unerringly.
Reginald Hincks, as the crackpot, is fine, but work of the rest of the cast is only so-so. Sheila Bromley gets by as the lumber heiress.
Picture is handicapped in the first half by bad photography, lighting or laboratory print work. Sound recording could have been better also.
Film Daily review, July 27, 1939: For a picture made for the neighborhood trade, this one shapes up as very fine entertainment. It carries an atmosphere of novelty with its Canadian actors in authentic Canadian scenery in the northwoods. The hero is a Mountie on the trail of the murderer of a secretary to the uncle of the girl, who has come from England to Canada to look after lumber lands they own. The trail of the criminal is very cleverly obscured, with several suspects keeping the suspense well sustained. When the Mountie and his pal get too close to the murderer's trail, attempts are made on the lives of other people. But the Mountie hero finally narrows the trail down to the supposed uncle who has been evidently quite helpful in tracing the criminal. He proves in a dramatic showdown that the apparent uncle whom the girl has never met is really the secretary, who has murdered the other and changed all the identification marks. There is some good character work by various members of the cast, and the logging scenes are well handled. Rin Tin Tin, Jr. does some good canine sleuthing in helping to run down the criminal. Selling angles: Rin Tin Tin, Jr., the four-legged sleuth; the clever murder plot with substitution of identities. DIRECTION, Fair. PHOTOGRAPHY, Good.
Boxoffice review, August 12, 1939: And the audience goes out on this one. Produced as a quota quickie for one of the major companies, the only authentic thing about it is its Canadian flavor. Aside from that, it bears little resemblance to anything that may be constituted as dramatic entertainment. There is a story which deals with intrigue in the North Woods. A calculating wife aids in the murder of her husband with the male conspirator conspiring to obtain some valuable timber lands. But Mountie Edgar Edwards is on the job and unearths the murderer. Inferior photography and lighting characterize the production. The only familiar name in the cast is Sheila Bromley, but she will be hard to recognize. Rin Tin Tin Jr. shares the acting honors. Frank McDonald directed.
Media availability: released on made-to-order DVD by Warner Bros., from Sony Pictures [Columbia] (catalogue # 42302; 64m:16s).
Film Daily, June 15, 1937:
Monogram Ready to Handle Outside Pix, Says Golden
Monogram has closed contracts to distribute the two Rialto productions, "What Price Vengeance" and "Fury and the Woman," in 21 of its 30 exchanges and will be "very glad to handle" other outside product of merit, it was said yesterday by Edward Golden, sales manager.
Note: Rialto Productions Corp. was helmed by New York theatre owner, Arthur Mayer, who marketed the two films as his own. It is unknown if he purchased the films outright or only acquired distribution rights.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., July 6, 1937:
Kenneth J. Bishop States
Returning yesterday from an extended visit to Hollywood, Kenneth J. Bishop, president and producer of Central Films Limited, announced that production would begin early in August at the Willows on the first of a series of six motion pictures.
Following the annual convention of Columbia Pictures, of which Central Films is a subsidiary, Mr. Bishop is able to state that the pictures to be produced are more ambitious in scope and more expensive than those hitherto made in this city. Mr. Bishop has been made an executive producer by Columbia, and declares there will be a closer tie-up between the parent company and Central Films.
The six pictures to be made will keep the studios busy until December, and it is possible that there will be a permanent staff assigned to Victoria. In addition it is believed that the studio will be enlarged to take care of immediate needs.
From the viewpoint of policy, it is understood that the company will seek to avoid Westerns, and concentrate more on pictures for general release throughout the United States and Canada, and release under quota regulations in Great Britain.
Sound equipment, used by Central Films for previous productions, has been overhauled and modernized at Hollywood and is being returned here. It includes ultra-violet light recording, which eliminates the whistle of resonate voices.
Motion Picture Daily, July 10, 1937:
Columbia Will Make Six Vancouver Films
Vancouver, July 9—Six pictures are slated for production by Central Films, Ltd., subsidiary of Columbia Pictures which produces films for British quota.
The company, which has studios at Victoria, has just completed eight quota features, and Kenneth J. Bishop, president, says the new series will be completed by December. Stories and casts have not been chosen.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., July 20, 1937:
Of latter day developments in Greater Victoria few enterprises are more interesting than the making of motion pictures at the Willows agricultural grounds by Central Films, Ltd., recently assured of an extension of contract under which British films are being made for United States producers, to conform with quota requirements. The public will recall that there were ten separate and distinct efforts to start a motion picture industry here before the idea was able to survive. Each of those efforts, no doubt, contributed something to the idea, which has now become an accomplished fact. Several pictures have been made, each with Island scenes and settings, and those that have been shown here have been indicative of promise, photographically and otherwise. Now it is announced that commencing on August 1 a further series of pictures will be undertaken, on a slightly more ambitious scale and with larger production budgets. Expenditures attaching to the making of a single picture are extremely diversified, and in work already done at the Willows a good many thousands of dollars have been placed in circulation in the Greater Victoria area. Congratulations are distinctly in order, not only to Central Films, Ltd. and their associates, but also to others who tried sincerely to bring to fruition a motion picture industry here. From a slow but steady start the industry would seem to have excellent prospects ahead; and why not? We have the climate; we have the scenery; and it is beginning to be apparent there is also the necessary determination to make it go. So far Victoria pictures have been made to order for somebody else. Meanwhile, knowledge and experience are being gathered, and the day may well come when Victoria will be producing pictures of its own selection and choice. There is, perhaps, no more telling form of community advertising. For the success already made, pioneers in the field have earned the gratitude of all concerned.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., July 21, 1937:
Kenneth J. Bishop Will
When Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, Ltd., returns to this city about August 6, from Hollywood, he will bring with him some of the cast who will be featured in the ninth movie to be produced here, "Manhattan Whirlwind," as well as a number of members of the mechanical staff. The director, and his assistants, together with the stars, will follow on from the movie capital a few days later.
Mr. Bishop will leave for the South on Friday, and expects to be gone about two weeks.
Meanwhile, he is busily engaged supervising improvements at the Willows studio, where eight productions to cost approximately $500,000 will be made for Columbia Pictures, Inc.
Part of the work includes the laying of 2,000 feet of balsam wool false ceiling, and an increase in the area of the studio. Walls have been sound-proofed and general improvements made.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 6, 1937:
Central Films Preparing
Ten sets, six of which are almost complete, are in the course of construction at the Willows studio for the screening of "Manhattan Whirlwind," current production of Central Films Co., Ltd. Night and day shifts are being maintained under the personal supervision of Kenneth J. Bishop, manager and producer, to have the studio in readiness for filming August 16.
"Manhattan Whirlwind" is a gangster picture, in which thrilling investigations are made by a reporter on the staff of a New York daily. Interiors used in the production will include a cafe and bar, a night club, a bank, a broadcasting studio and apartments.
William Beckway, assistant cameraman, who worked with Mr. Bishop in pictures twenty years ago, and J. Haynes, assistant sound man, are expected in Victoria this morning. Herbert Eike [Eicke], head sound man, will be here Friday, and will be followed by Director Leon Barsha and Jack Fier, assistant producer, Saturday. The balance of the party will arrive August 13.
The studio working area has been increased by 1,200 square feet, and now contains 10,000 square feet of floor space. At present there are ninety-seven men utilized in the work of preparation. When the picture goes into production there will be twenty-six others employed, exclusive of the cast and extras.
The present series of pictures to be produced by Central Films calls for an expenditure of $60,000 on each picture, most of which will be spent in this city.
Note: British-born William Beckway, former member of the American Society of Cinematographers, was behind the camera on most of Kenneth J. Bishop's Victoria-made productions. Beckway had been in the film business since about 1910, initially with the Essanay Studio, Chicago.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 11, 1937:
Central Films, Limited, Is
With ten sets completed at the Willows Studios, and assistants busily engaged in laying plans for decorating and furnishing interiors, preparations for the screening of "Manhattan Madness," current production of Central Films, Ltd., moved rapidly towards completion late yesterday.
All must be in readiness for the commencement of the shooting schedule next Monday, when under the direction of Leon Barsha and the supervision of Kenneth Bishop, president, exteriors of an apartment, a bank, a street, a park, and the interior of an apartment will be shot.
The ten completed sets and two that are to be altered will cost in excess of $4,500, Mr. Bishop declared.
STARS HERE SATURDAY
Meanwhile, Central Films is awaiting the arrival of the stars, Saturday. Rosalind Keith and George McKay, under contract to Columbia Pictures, Inc.; John Galladette [Gallaudet], Don Douglas and Phyllis Clair[e], who has already appeared in such hits as "Clive of India" and "The Last of Mrs. Cheney," will arrive that day. Miss Keith and Miss Clair[e] will be accompanied by their mothers.
An interested spectator on the big stage yesterday was Jack Fier, special representative of Columbia Pictures, Inc., sent north by the parent company in an advisory capacity. Mr. Fier, who was an interested spectator of the recent night parade held in connection with the Jubilee celebrations, declared himself to be delighted with Victoria.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 19, 1937:
Crowd Gathers in Front of
Another exterior shot, portraying more rapid action in the breathtaking Columbia gangster drama, "Manhattan Whirlwind," now under production here by Central Films, Ltd., was witnessed last night by several hundred interested onlookers in front of the Royal Victoria Theatre.
The theatre entrance was converted into a restaurant entrance for the occasion, the restaurant being the "Carlo Cafe," gangster hangout around which part of the plot centres.
Those taking part in the scene were Rosalind Keith and John Galaudete [sic], the stars of the picture, and George McKay, who also has an important role and provides the comedy relief in the plot.
Action in the shot commences with a number of local extras walking briskly in front of the brilliantly lighted cafe entrance. Then Galaudete [sic], who plays the part of the hero, Jerry, a newspaper columnist and radio commentator, dashes out of the cafe and hails a taxi. He is followed by Miss Keith, who takes the role of Gloria Stanton. The two get into the taxi, announce their destination to the driver, and drive off just as George McKay, in the role of "Brains," rushes out after them. "Brains" knocks over a couple of passersby in his hurry, but is just too late to stop the fleeing couple.
This shot is one of a number of night exteriors that will be taken this week. Under the supervision of Kenneth Bishop, president of the company, and with Leon Barsha as director, progress is being made on the early scenes of the new production. Three day exteriors have already been completed. The production, first of a new series of eight local films, should be finished early in September.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 20, 1937:
Exterior Shots Keep Cast
An interested crowd of approximately 200 residents were given an insight into the manner in which motion pictures are made, when exterior shots were filmed outside the old Board of Trade Building on Bastion Street by Central Films, Ltd., last evening.
On the fourth day of their current production, "Manhattan Whirlwind," the company used Rosalind Keith, who plays the part of Gloria Stoner; John Galaudet [sic], who is cast as Jerry, columnist and radio commentator; Phyllis Claire who plays Peggy, and George McKay, comedian, who is cast as "Brains." The outside of the building will be seen in the picture as a New York "brownstone front."
WORK TO DAWN
Three times, Phyllis Claire walked up the slight hill that leads to the entrance of the block, gazed apprehensively behind her, and hid in the entrance. Galaudet [sic] and McKay played their part five times before Director Leon Barsha was satisfied with lighting and timing.
The company anticipated being on location until daylight, for they had three sequences and twenty-eight scenes to play. They will work all tonight on an exterior, somewhere in the city, with a similar number of sequences and scenes to get through before dawn puts an end to their labors.
By Monday, however, they will again be back in the Willows Studios, where several interesting interiors of action in a cafe and a night club will be taken.
working title: Manhattan Whirlwind
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: August 16 — August 30, 1937. Running Time: 56m:49s. Release (U.S.): February 25, 1939 by Warwick Pictures, Inc. (state rights). Release (U.K.): August 8, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown February 2, 1938; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, February 3, 1938.
Director: Leon Barsha. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Jack Fier†. Screenplay: Edgar Edwards, based on the short story "Manhattan Whirligig" by Theodore A. Tinsley. Photography: George Meehan, William Beckway†. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. High Fidelity Sound System): Herbert Eicke. Assistant Sound: Jack Haynes†. Assistant Director: George Rhein†. P.C.A. #: 3803.
Copyright Registration: © Warwick Pictures, Inc.; March 17, 1939, LP8711, 6 reels; renewed December 29, 1966, R399330.
Cast: John Gallaudet (Jerry Tracy), Rosalind Keith (Gloria Stoner), George McKay ("Brains" McGillicuddy), Reginald Hincks (Dr. Andrew Stoner), Bob Rideout (Mike Orrell), Phyllis Claire (Peggy Orrell), Donald Douglas (Hadley Brown), Michael Heppell (Al Redman), Grant MacDonald† (cab driver), John Caird† (policeman), James McGrath† (bartender).
† not billed in credits
Boxoffice review, April 22, 1939: Even if one approaches this in a compassionate manner, there is very little that deserves a kind word. It is a crudely constructed melodrama, amateurishly conceived and acted, and hardly worthy of any billing. The story is about a Broadway columnist who singles out a doctor because he believes the psychoanalyst is blackmailing his friend. Then there is staunch daughter who trusts in father and a number of other assorted characters. Suspicion is typically diverted from the guilty party until the last scene which is accompanied by some of the phoniest suspense engineered in a manner reminiscent of the old five and ten thrillers. Rosalind Keith shines dimly throughout the proceedings. John Gallaudet tries hard as the columnist. Leon Barsha directed.
Film Daily review, October 27, 1939: Aimed at the nabe [neighborhood theater] trade, this programmer will do okay as a filler. There is a sufficient amount of action to keep the story moving, and the cast works hard. John Gallaudet, Rosalind Keith and George McKay fill the principal roles effectively. Gallaudet, a columnist, gets himself mixed up with a blackmailer while running down a story. The suspect, a prominent psycho-analyst, is practically invulnerable against any investigation, and Gallaudet finds himself stumped. However, one of Gallaudet's friends becomes involved with the crook and he finally gets the evidence he needs to uncover his racket. DIRECTION, Good. PHOTOGRAPHY, O.K.
Variety review, October 18, 1939: Will serve the lesser doublers as the No. 2 feature. Independently-made meller will mean more through its saleable title than on any other count, the cast having no boxoffice punch, though satisfactory in the circumstances.
Kenneth J. Bishop produced from a routine story but one which seeks to inject flavor by having the hero play a columnist who writes a daily stint and also broadcasts. It's an unmistakable Winchell idea.
John Gallaudet, a not particularly forceful screen type, plays the gabby columnist whose principal ambition is to run a blackmailing doctor out of town. He gets involved deeply, but ultimately mops up the phoney psycho-analyst. The daughter of the doc, as played by Rosalind Keith, is not nearly as impressive on performance as Phyllis Clare, who does a gangster's sister.
Others in the cast are George McKay, as the columnist's stooge; Bob Rideout, good gangster type, and Reginald Hincks, the doctor, the latter very okay.
Production and directorial detail suggests sloppiness. Gallaudet is on the air three times, yet the clock in the background does not entirely agree with dialog indicating he'll be back at the same hour. He went off the air the first time at 9 p.m.; the second he's on at 9:12 p.m.
There is a fight in a night club. The extras there as atmosphere aren't disturbed the slightest, several of them not even turning their backs to see what's happening. Both girls in the picture also use the same vest-pocket automatic. A glass-cutting job, taking an entire window out with beautiful ease, is another detail that brings unintentional laughs.
Media availability: None. View the trailer on YouTube.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 29, 1937:
Victoria's Movie Industry
by Barrie Goult
Dependable weather, and the fact that this city is the closest point in the province to Hollywood, has won for Victoria an industry that has already spent $540,000 here, and will spend another $420,000 before the year is out.
Producing under British quota regulations for Columbia Pictures Inc., Central Films, Ltd., expends seventy-five cents in each dollar in Canada and most of it locally.
London-born Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, saw an opportunity when quota regulations came into effect to protect the British film industry, to produce in Canada. He went to Vancouver, but found the weather too uncertain—and uncertain weather in the moving picture business means a loss of both time and money. He came here, found the days brighter, the hours of sunshine longer, the town within eight-and-one-half hours of the great American movie capital—and started from scratch.
Kenneth Bishop had little equipment then, but he had experience reaching back into the days when the industry was young, and an abiding faith in its future in this West.
Thirty years ago he came to Canada from England to find
work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Later he went to Hollywood, and
was employed by Selig—a name famous in years gone by—as an
actor. Thereafter he became a studio manager, rented his own studio on
Glendale Avenue for a time, went to New York in the employ of a film
distributing agency, and finally returned to Hollywood to produce independently.
Company's Second Year
Those twenty-six years gave him a thorough groundwork for the enterprise on which he is now embarked and which is doing so well out at the Willows. The veteran Selig continues to take a kindly interest in the doings of his protege, and writes him frequently.
It will be two years this October since Central Films started production on its first film, "Stop, Look and Love," using the Manufacturers' Building at the Willows for a studio. Lacking acoustic properties, they used blankets. They constructed their own lamps. Properties they have now stored away had to be found, or made. There was a crew to be broken in, proper lighting to be installed, people to educate in the ways of the craft, and the favor of a dubious public to win. It was a stupendous task, with thousands of details. Today's success is evidence of the efficiency in which the foundation was laid.
Today Central Films owns almost all its own equipment. The sound stage runs practically the entire length and breadth of the studio building. Props are housed elsewhere. Nearby is a western "town," with its saloons, hotel, police barracks, and cabins, erected for a production. The staff calls it "Cow Town." Kenneth Bishop laughingly boasts that no one can deny he is its Mayor.
The latest addition will be laboratory equipment so that the company may develop its own films and screen their own rushes, instead of sending them to Hollywood. The machine, which is to be housed in a building of its own, washes, dries, and develops 1,200 feet of film an hour, and is to be constructed entirely by local workmen. It should be one of the busiest spots in the studio. The average production takes between 45,000 and 60,000 feet, though it runs but 6,000 feet, which is seen by a moving picture audience in approximately one and one-half hours.
Aid to Business
There are many in Victoria who appreciate the coming of Central Films, for it has assisted a considerable number of workers, and almost every line of business in the city. The building trades, the lumber industry, telegraph and telephone, electric light and transportation companies, department and furniture stores, have all benefited from the custom of the local movie industry.
And in addition to the extras, and the actors, there is a regular staff maintained during production, and in-between productions. Even the police are called out on duty when the company is on location, and have on occasion appeared in films taken at the Willows.
The background in "Woman Against the World" was lent color when three stalwarts from the local force were utilized in the courtroom scene, grimly watching as Ralph Forbes, cast as a young lawyer, pleaded for his client, attractive Alice Moore.
There is a lively demand for extras of all sorts. The company may want them for a scene in a night club, or possibly just passers-by. The script may call for such types as a well-dressed Britisher, or a smart New Yorker, a delivery boy or a servant. These are provided through the Employment Service of Canada, which has now put a representative on the lot during production to better look after the business.
In October, 1935, when production started locally, it was spasmodic. Only two pictures were made at a time. The last contract signed was for eight pictures, of which "Manhattan Whirlwind" and "Murder Is News" are the initial two. Production is practically complete on the former. The second is about to be filmed.
What of the Future?
The fact that such a well-known organization as Columbia Pictures Inc. is willing to contract for eight pictures, and to spend more money on them than on previous productions, may be taken as obvious evidence that Central Films has been successful during its brief life.
What of the future?
It must be remembered that the industry in this city grew out of the fact that it was found necessary in Britain to protect English motion pictures. For many years the product was inferior to that of the United States. Eventually, in an effort to overcome American competition, a successful drive was made for adequate funds.
Thereafter, England sought and procured the best American talent and direction, recalled their own stars, voluntarily exiled in Hollywood, and scoured the Continent for new faces and new ideas.
There were a series of brilliant British films, which were acclaimed. Hollywood fought back by endeavoring, most successfully, to make films more British than the British.
There was, finally, dissention in the Motherland's industry. The spurt, so auspiciously begun, failed. Undismayed, within the last two or three months film executives in England have rallied their forces and closed their ranks. In a major action, the effort of the Schencks of Fox and MGM to gain control of Gaumont-British was foiled by little-known John Maxwell, who snapped up a considerable number of shares of the company in the nick of time.
Maxwell, who few know in Canada or the United States, is a Scot and a lawyer by profession. Within the last four years he has built up the prosperous Associated British Cinema circuit throughout England, and is a power in Old Country business circles.
Australia in Battle
Schencks, thereupon, turned their eyes towards Australia, where they now have a fifty-fifty interest with the Fox-Hoyts theatres. They are seeking a seventy-five-twenty-five per cent control.
Smith's Weekly, timely and patriotic, recently called editorially upon the Federal Government to prevent such a step. "The screen, a propaganda medium of immense national importance, is about to become completely foreign-controlled by foreign elements with European connections. The effect would be disastrous to Australia in time of crisis," declared Smith's.
"Only Government action, quick and effective, can loosen this octopus-like grip, and save . . . Australia . . . from a situation that may be disastrous to our national ideals."
Of these facts the Imperial Government is naturally aware. To protect British interests, and to encourage an industry that has found the path rough, and the going heavy, it has brought into effect certain quota regulations, that say, in effect, that a certain percentage of films shown in the Empire, must be made within the Empire, and that a certain number of those employed in the productions so made must be British subjects.
It is reasonable to assume, under these conditions, that so long as the industry throughout the Empire is in need of support, then so long will quota regulations be maintained. In such an event, the local company may be assured of long life, with even greater successes to its credit than it now boasts.
New Films Act
It must not be thought that the British interests are fighting a lost cause. The same John Maxwell whose coup disappointed United States interests also caused somewhat of a furore amongst the leaders of the industry in London recently. He controls 325 houses throughout the nation, and his Elstree studios produce sixteen expensive pictures a year. His company's balance sheet for last year showed a trading profit of £1,265,829, compared with the previous year's £926,482. His company's total assets now stand in the neighborhood of £15,000,000, and directors propose to pay 18 per cent dividends on ordinary shares.
This, of course, is by the way, and is only to show that the industry in the Old Country is not at so low an ebb as it is often suggested here.
At present a new Cinematograph Films Act, to replace the old quota law, is being considered in London. Under its provisions no film is qualified for registration as quota footage unless it has cost $75,000 or more to produce. The bill has not yet taken shape, and little is known, thus far, of what percentage of foreign talent will be permitted, and what fraction of the total film cost that imported talent will be allowed to take as salaries.
Freely admitting that the future of local movies from a production angle depends upon the quota laws, present or future, Kenneth Bishop still maintains that the ground here is only scratched.
Confident of Future
"I look forward to the time when I can use two buildings and two stages at the Willows," he said recently.
Certainly, if that time should come, and it should not be so far away, there will be more work, and greater opportunities for many residents of Victoria.
In such an event, local people, whose continued interest in the methods in which movies are made amazes the members of the advisory and technical staff who come here from Hollywood from time [to] time, will have much to engage their attention.
The wide diversity presented in the ten productions already made should be exceeded by future pictures.
Two years ago Central Films made as its first picture, "Stop, Look and Love," and followed it with the more solid "Tugboat Princess," making use of the waterfront facilities of the port.
"Secret Patrol," third production, utilized the
colorful uniforms of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Then came "Stampede," a
thrilling story of the West; "Vengeance"; "Woman Against
the World," a drama of the law in a modern city; "Death Goes
North," in which the Mounties were again utilized; "Manhattan
Whirlwind," and "Murder Is News," the picture on which
production should soon begin. The last two are of a series, inasmuch
as they have the same principal character, a columnist-radio commentator
for a New York daily.
Some idea of the color, and the change, experienced in a studio may be gleaned from the photographs accompanying this article, which were made for Central Films, Ltd. by their "still" man, Grant Macdonald.
"Stills" are made independently of the film, and upon the man who takes them, known as "Flash" on any movie lot, lies the responsibility of producing clear photographs, exhibited in the lobbies of all theatres where the production is shown.
Thus, movie production has come to Victoria. The industry is one of the world's greatest. For better or for worse, the talking picture, soon to be seen entirely in colors, one of these days to be third dimensional, has displaced vaudeville; has displaced to a great degree the theatre of the spoken word.
Upon it millions depend for their only form of entertainment. It is possible for it to spread good-will, or ill-will. It can be, and has been, used as an instrument of propaganda. It sets the styles of half the world. It has Americanized Britain to a great extent, and has given our American cousins a greater understanding of the British.
It affects manners and morals, or so we are told, of all kinds and classes. It is entirely a product of the twentieth century. It should have before it a future even greater than its colorful past.
In that future the local branch of the industry should share. That is possibly the vision that Kenneth Bishop has when he says quietly, "I believe the ground is only just scratched."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., September 5, 1937:
Victoria Member of
Production of "Murder Is News" to Commence
When "Murder Is News," the next picture by Central Films Ltd., is produced here, it will contain in the cast the name of Barrymore, for Frederic Barrymore, the Canadian member of the well-known stage family, will be seen as the "hard-boiled" city editor of a metropolitan daily.
In private life, Frederic Barrymore is none other than Charles F. Eagles, of this city. Before the coming of the motion picture, he was long associated with the stage in various parts of the Dominion.
He bears a striking resemblance to his kinsmen who have made the name of Barrymore famous both in the realm of the legitimate stage and later in the movies.
PRODUCTION STARTS MONDAY
Meanwhile, John Gallaudet, George McKay, and the technical staff, who have remained here since the completion of "Manhattan Whirlwind," are awaiting the end of the holiday week-end. Production will start again at the Willows Studio, Tuesday morning.
This evening at 9:45 other members of the supporting cast—Iris Meredith, who is to play opposite Mr. Gaullaudet [Gallaudet], Doris Meredith, Colin Kenny, John Spacey and Allan Brook, will arrive from Hollywood, and will be met at the C.P.R. dock by Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, Ltd.; Jack Fier, representative of Columbia Pictures, Inc., the parent company, and Leon Barsha, director, and George Rhein, assistant director.
The Fall Fair at the Willows and the races will not be allowed to interfere with production. One of the most ambitious sets ever made by the local company—the interior of the Club Mirador—is to be constructed at the Armories, while the stage of the Royal Victoria Theatre is being utilized for building a set to simulate the hall and stairway of a New York "brownstone front."
"Murder Is News" is the tenth picture to be made by Central Films in this city, and the second of a series of eight produced under contract for Columbia.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., September 11, 1937:
Abundance of Light and
The most ambitious set to be erected by Central Films, Ltd., is in course of construction at the Bay Street Armories and will be used for the current production, "Murder Is News," now being filmed.
Covering a floor area fifty by seventy-feet, and representing the Club Saratoga of New York, the set has a large orchestra shell and dancing space for thirty-five couples.
Enough power will be utilized to light the interiors of the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings, said Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the company, last evening. Three fifty-kilowatt transformers will be used, in addition to Central Films' own generator, to supply energy for forty big lamps and eight dozen photo flood lamps.
When completed, the new set will be resplendent with effectively decorated pillars and contrasting draperies.
Thursday evening practically the entire company was on location for the shooting of an exterior of a brown stone house. An interested crowd at the corner of Douglas and Broughton Streets watched John Gallaudet, Doris Lloyd, Iris Meredith, ingenue, Frank Wilson, Jim McGrath, who plays the part of a police sergeant, and Colin Kenny in action.
Work is to be continued on a set built on the stage of the Royal Victoria Theatre, and thereafter the company will move to the Armories to utilize the setting of the Club Saratoga.
Murder is News
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: September 7 — September 23, 1937. Running Time: 55m:19s. Release (U.S.): March 1, 1939 by Warwick Pictures, Inc. (state rights). Release (U.K.): July 18, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; trade shown January 28, 1938; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, January 31, 1938.
Director: Leon Barsha. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Jack Fier†. Screenplay: Edgar Edwards, based on a story by Theodore A. Tinsley. Photography: George Meehan, William Beckway†. Film Editor: William Austin. Sound (R.C.A. Victor High Fidelity Sound System): Herbert Eicke†. Assistant Director: George Rhein†. P.C.A. #: 3806.
Copyright Registration: © Warwick Pictures, Inc.; May 3, 1939, LP8815, 6 reels; renewed February 1, 1967, R403232.
Cast: John Gallaudet (Jerry Tracy), Iris Meredith (Anne Leslie), George McKay (Clarence "Brains" McGillicuddy), Doris Lloyd (Pauline Drake), John Hamilton (David Corning), John G. Spacey (Fred Hammer), Frank C. Wilson (Tony Peyden), Colin Kenny (Inspector J. P. Fitzgerald), William McIntyre (Edgar Drake), Fred Bass (R. A. Snyder), James McGrath† (police sergeant), Douglas Flintoff† (Harkins), Doreen MacGregor† (hat-check girl), Rebel Mouat† (taxi driver), Michael Heppell† (Thompson), Robert Rideout†.
† not billed in credits
Note: Arthur H. Kerr, a local 'regular' in most of the films, played a typesetter but does not appear in the finished film.
Variety review, June 28, 1939: Coming rather late in the cycle of radio news columnists whose specialty is underworld contact and solving of murder mysteries, this whodunit is further handicapped by inferior story material. None of the cast carries box office weight with result the picture must be only as good as its script. This one may get by on lower-bracket double bills.
John Gallaudet has stuff on the ball and treats his Winchell-like role in all seriousness, taking whatever honors there are in the film. As a nighthawk he uncovers a story that leads to several murders, one of which the director never troubles to explain.
William Mclntyre is cast as a renegade utility magnate who sets out to avenge an illicit affair between his wife and an attorney. Mixed up in the affair is his son who plays in the night-club orchestra rather than touch a cent of the old man's money.
When the columnist breaks news of the impending scandal over the air, the son goes haywire and threatens to do something to stop it. At the magnate's town house, the father is murdered. From there on, the columnist, given carte blanche by the police, traces the culprit as usual, the least suspected. His motive was the stock market, although why he found it necessary to murder is obscured.
Production skimps on sets, lighting and other technical details that might have helped to lift it out of the 'C' class. In the main, however, the principal fault lies in selection of the yarn and in its unfolding. Asside [sic] from Gallaudet, no one stands out excepting George McKay as a comedy stooge. His attempts at humorous touches are overdone, however.
Boxoffice review, July 8, 1939: Only the feeblest things can be said for this murder mystery effort. Produced in Canada as a quota picture for Columbia, and subsequently sold, it shows all the earmarks of inferior handling. From its ludicrous script, to stilted direction, to unending dribble by a sleuthing columnist it falls far short of attaining even the formula ingredients for mildly exciting action drama. The cast either wasn't interested or failed to get the intent of the piece, for which it can hardly be held accountable. John Gallaudet is the columnist who predicts the divorce of a wealthy businessman, at the same time involving his wife with John Hamilton. In due course, the husband is found murdered by Gallaudet. A lot of hash about stock manipulations, secret movements of the principals and detective's deductions are injected to complicate things till the murderer is revealed. Leon Barsha directed.
Media availability: released on DVD by Alpha Video (catalogue # ALP 6628D; 55m:10s) and DVD-R by Sinister Cinema (catalogue # M358). The aforementioned releases are unauthorized; however, the film is in the public domain because the copyright was renewed too late. Also available online at The Internet Archive and YouTube.
Motion Picture Daily, September 28, 1937:
Central Finishes Tenth
Vancouver, B.C., Sept. 27.—Central Films, Ltd., with studios at Victoria, B.C., has completed its 10th picture, "Murder is News" and will start its 11th production for release by Columbia under the quota. Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the company, left today for Hollywood to confer with Columbia officials.
Montreal Gazette, October 30, 1937:
Young Film Company in Victoria
Victoria B.C., October 20.—Without benefit of trumpets and in the face of a certain amount of scepticism, a motion picture company has grown to full-fleged maturity in western Canada and has added another to the list of the Dominion's industries.
It was a little more than two years ago that a small company of Hollywood technicians landed quietly in Victoria, and started making a movie. They had no studio to work in, so they draped blankets over the interior of an old and cramped building in the Willows Fair Grounds outside Victoria and went to work with a Hollywood leading man and leading lady and a crowd of enthusiastic local actors with a little stage experience.
Out of the rough-and-ready studio, where the wooden pillars supporting the roof made the taking of long shots impossible, came "The Lucky Fugitives," a picture which surprised even the hopefuls who made it by turning out to be something of a success in both the United States and Britain.
Since that time Central Films Limited, the infant company, has produced ten movies and is now starting work on an eleventh.
Many and varied teething troubles have been overcome, and the company is now putting some $250,000 a year directly into Canadian pockets, and indirectly a good deal more through the purchases made in the Dominion by Americans in its employ.
Formed primarily to produce pictures for import into Great Britain by United States companies under the quota regulations, Central Films has found a field for its products in Canada and the United States. Since its inception the company has tried to avoid the faults of hasty and cheap production which have made the average "quota picture" a thing of derision in England.
At present Central Films is beginning a period of expansion and has mapped out a programme of six more pictures to be made through the winter and spring at greater expense than any of its past productions. Tentative plans are already being mapped by the company's president, Kenneth J. Bishop—a man with film experience dating back into the pre-war years—for an even more ambitious programme during the summer of 1938.
The company now boasts a fully equipped studio at the Willows Park with a floor area of 12,800 square feet, double walls of sound-proofing material, the latest in recording equipment, cameras and lights, and everything else that makes for physical success in movie-making.
The human factor in its productions is taken care of by the employment of skilled Hollywood technical crews and well-known actors. William Gargan, Lyle Talbot, Wendy Barrie, Jameson Thomas, Rosalind Keith, Walter C. Kelly, David Manners and Charles Starrett have all come to Victoria to star in Central Films pictures.
Film Daily, November 2, 1937:
Central Films Making 11th
Victoria, B.C.—Central Films, Ltd., which had its inception two years ago when a little band of Hollywood technicians started making a film in the old building at Willows Fair Grounds, is now at work on its eleventh feature.
Motion Picture Daily, November 10, 1937:
Canada Studio Active
Toronto, Nov. 9.—Central Films, Ltd., producing company with studios at Willows Park, Victoria, B.C., has commenced work on its eleventh feature after more than two years making pictures for the markets of Great Britain and the United States under the direction of Kenneth J. Bishop, president. Six features in the next six months are planned.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 14, 1937:
Sets for "The Devil in Ermine"
Work will commence Monday on sets for "The Devil in Ermine," a fur smuggling story with a setting on the Canadian-United States border. It will be the eleventh local production of Central Films, Ltd. Kenneth J. Bishop, president, stated scenes would be taken on Thursday.
Leon Barsha, director of two other Central Films' productions, will also direct the new picture. He arrived at the Empress Hotel yesterday afternoon, accompanied by Jack Frier [Fier], Columbia Pictures' representative; Jack Regan, set dresser for Central Films; George R. Caddle, unit manager; Garry A. Harris, head sound technician, and Jack Haynes, assistant.
ACTORS ON WAY
Seven actors and one actress for the new picture are expected here Tuesday. They are Edgar Edwards, George McKay, Charles Quigley, Eddie Laughton, Bill Irving, Donald Douglas, John Spacey, and Rita Hayworth, leading lady. Messrs. Edwards and McKay have played parts in two other Central Films' pictures.
Mr. Barsha's assistant director will be George Rhein. George Meehan will be cameraman, and Jack Kenny, second cameraman. Other technicians will include L. Becker, head grip, and Bill Perry, electrician.
"The Devil in Ermine" has been given a sixteen-day production schedule. On completion of the picture, Central Films will start on "Face Work."
Early next year Central Films expects to carry out expansion plans, including the fitting up of a second sound studio.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 17, 1937:
NINE SETS FOR
Production of "The Devil In
"The Devil in Ermine," twelfth picture to be made by Central Films, Ltd., will be commenced tomorrow at the Willows Studios, according to a statement made yesterday by Kenneth J. Bishop, president.
Work at the studio is being supervised by Jack Regan, set dresser, who arrived in Victoria during the week-end with Jack Fier, representative of Columbia Pictures, Inc., for whom the film is being made under British quota regulations. Other members of the party included: George R. Caddle, unit manager; Leon Barsha, director; Gary A. Harris, soundman, and Jack Haynes, assistant soundman.
Mr. Harris is a Victoria man, who found success in Hollywood. He has enjoyed a happy reunion here with his mother, and looks forward to his work in this city.
ARRIVE IN CITY
Yesterday afternoon, Rita Hayworth and Charles Quigley, who are to play the leads in "The Devil in Ermine," arrived in Victoria, accompanied by George MacKay [McKay], comedian, and Eddie Laughton, actor, William Perry, electrician; Al Becker, grip; George Rhein, assistant director, and George Meehan, cameraman, are other members of the technical crew now in the city. Miss Hayworth has recently completed "Murder in Swingtime," which was directed by Mr. Barsha.
Edgar Edwards, another member of the cast, will arrive in Victoria today, while Bill Irving is expected Friday. Don Douglas and John Spacey should be here by November 27.
Nine sets are now being constructed at the Willows. Three are new structures, while the remainder are transformations of the company's last production, "Murder Is News."
It is anticipated that "The Devil In Ermine," a fur-smuggling story, with its setting on the Canadian-United States border, will take sixteen days in production.
Motion Picture Daily, November 18, 1937:
Canadian Product Rents High
London, Nov. 17.—Central Films, Vancouver, Canada, producing company, whose production finances are supplied by Columbia Pictures, is registered here under the British quota and already has delivered three registered films. The product is being sold at better rentals than is customary for Columbia quota films. Columbia is four features short on its quota for the year and is understood to be accelerating the delivery of films from Central.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., November 30, 1937:
"Face Work" to Be Next Vehicle
Work on the Central Films, Ltd., current production, "The Devil in Ermine," is proceeding apace, and is expected to be completed by Thursday. The cast and production crew have been making a practice of working through the night, and sleeping during the day.
The location used has been on the Island Highway, near Craigflower. Interiors have been shot at the Willows Studio.
Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the company, last night announced he expected to begin "shooting" the next film, "Face Work," the week of December 6.
Central Films' seventh production, "Fury and the Woman," starring Bill Gargan and Mollie Lamont, will be shown at the Oak Bay Theatre early in December, Mr. Bishop said yesterday.
U.K.: Across the Border
working title: The Devil in Ermine
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: November 18 — December 3, 1937. Running Time: 54m:11s. Release (U.S.): March 18, 1939 by Warwick Pictures, Inc. (state rights). Release (U.K.): October 17, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; certified March 10, 1938 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown March 25, 1938; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 28, 1938.
Director: Leon Barsha. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Jack Fier†. Screenplay: Edgar Edwards. Photography: George Meehan. Film Editor: William Austin. Art Director: Lionel Banks†. Set Dresser: Jack Regan†. Music: Morris Stoloff†. Sound (R.C.A. Victor High Fidelity Sound System): Garry A. Harris†. Assistant Sound: Jack Haynes†. Assistant Director: George Rhein†. Unit Manager: George R. Caddle†. P.C.A. #: 4023.
Copyright Registration: © Warwick Pictures, Inc.; February 20, 1939, LP8645, 6 reels; renewed December 8, 1966, R399606.
Cast: Charles Quigley (Tom Evans), Rita Hayworth (Patricia Lane), George McKay (Silver), Edgar Edwards (Bill), John Spacey (David Foster), Eddie Laughton (Tim), Bob Rideout (Dapper), Grant MacDonald (Skip Jones), Bill Irving (Pete), Vivian Combe [billed as Coomb] (Mother Jones), Fred Bass (Ralph Collins), Vincent McKenna (Hendricks), Don Douglas (L. L. Williams), Reginald Hincks† (Canadian customs man), Michael Heppell† (Mike), James McGrath† (cafe proprietor), Arthur H. Kerr† (Trent), Doreen MacGregor† (Daisy), Patrick Wormold† (man in Foster's office).
† not billed in credits
Boxoffice review, May 6, 1939: Pretty poor story, acting and directing and to top it off the sound is not what it should be for easy hearing. All the action seemingly takes place at night in two or three places and it has all the signs of a quickie. The dialogue is so trite it is sickening. In view of all the handicaps this hardly rates a spot on programs designed for general consumption. However, the children may go for it for they may not be so particularly concerned about the facts. Cops and robbers usually are up their alley and this one has a band of fur hijackers smuggling their loot across the Canadian border. Charles Quigley, government agent, is assigned to get the men. He does and with Rita Hayworth, too boot. Leon Barsha directed.
Film Daily review, November 1, 1939: A hard-working cast, sufficient action and a well-paced story make this little meller acceptable screenfare for nabes [neighborhood theaters]. Story deals with a smuggling ring which highjacks [sic] Canadian fur shippers and then sells the loot in the U.S. Charles Quigley is convincing as the special inspector assigned by Customs to run down the ring. Rita Hayworth is attractive and able. George McKay and a number of other well known character players capably support the principals. Leon Barsha gets credit for the direction. Quigley gets a job as a truck driver for the firm which has been most consistently hijacked by the fur smugglers. He is hijacked his first night out. Several clues lead him to the trail of the thieves, but he unwittingly overplays his hand at the head office of the fur shippers where he is identified as an agent. However, Quigley rounds up the smuggling ring in a fast climax. DIRECTION, Good. PHOTOGRAPHY, O. K.
Variety review, April 19, 1939: As the newsreel flickered off, this spectator heard voices in the row behind. 'What's the feature?' asked a girl's voice.
'Special Inspector,' said her companion. 'It must be a crime picture, Charles Quigley and Rita Hayworth are in it. I don't remember him, but she's kinda all right—I could go for her.'
'Oh, I know him,' the girl replied. 'He's cute. I like the way his hair curls. And he's got a nice smile. What's a special inspector? What's he inspect? Maybe he finds the mystery killer or smashes the dope ring or breaks up a gang of smugglers. Here it goes—now let's see what happens.'
'Yeah, there he is,' muttered her companion. 'He's a government revenue agent and is going to try 'n' catch the mob of fur hijackers. See, they hold up trucks, kill the drivers and then smuggle the furs across the border. There's Rita Hayworth. Her brother was murdered by the gang and she's gonna spy on 'em.' The voices trailed off, the figures on the screen grew dim—the spectator's eyes closed, his breathing became slow and regular.
There was an insistent noise—loud, swelling louder. It was the sound track. The spectator looked up. 'The End,' flashed the legend across the screen.
"Geez, that wasn't so hot,' grumbled the man. 'Just the same old crime stuff. No shooting, no fights and no surprise. Kinda dumb. And geez, weren't the photography and sound punk [sic]?'
'Sure were,' the girl agreed. 'It didn't make much sense. Maybe the other feature will be better.'
The spectator stumbled up the aisle. 'Well, it's a pretty good anesthesia anyway,' he mumbled.
Media availability: released on made-to-order DVD by Warner Bros., from Sony Pictures [Columbia] (catalogue # 42593; 54m:09s).
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 9, 1937:
Cast and Crew of "Face
The cast and crew of "Face Work," twelfth picture to be made by Central Films, Ltd., moved from the Willows Studio last night and took a series of exterior shots at Beacon Hill Park, the Black Ball ferry landing, and, in the early hours of morning, at the corner of Yates and Douglas Streets.
"We anticipate the picture to be completed by December 22," declared Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, Ltd., yesterday. Mr. Bishop has not yet received details of the thirteenth production.
Work on the latest picture followed two days after the completion of "The Devil in Ermine," with the new cast. Phyllis Claire and Mark [Marc] Lawrence, who have both previously worked for the local company, have prominent parts in the current films.
Work has just been completed on one of the biggest sets ever built at the Willows studio. It represented the interior of a courtroom and was practically similar to that used in making "Women Against the World."
"Face Work" is the fourth production of Central Films' current contract of eight.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 12, 1937:
Central Films Plan Building
A building to house the laboratory of Central Films, Ltd., which will cost, with equipment, the sum of $25,000, is to be erected in the immediate future, if plans at present considered by Kenneth J. Bishop, president, materialize.
"We tested our developer today, and are very pleased with the results we obtained," said Mr. Bishop last night. "It is now our plan to construct a building near the studio to house the equipment."
Mr. Bishop pointed out that before construction began, it would be necessary to obtain permission and a land lease from the city. Providing there are no obstacles in such an arrangement, he believed work would begin "before the new year."
Meanwhile the production of "Face Work," Central Films current picture, is continuing according to schedule, and should be completed unless unforeseen circumstances arise by December 30.
Thereafter plans for 1938 will be considered. While Mr. Bishop did not indicate what those plans would be, he admitted that the company would spend considerably more money here than previously.
Note: Bishop's first two quota films, "The Crimson Paradise" and "Secrets of Chinatown," had their laboratory work done on-site, but subsequent productions would be done in Hollywood. The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., April 23, 1933, in an article about the production of "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," reported: "The studio laboratory has been established in a building about three or four blocks from the main entrance to the Exhibition grounds so as to remove the fire hazard from the buildings."
Film Daily, December 14, 1937:
Col. Victoria Offices Prelude to Production
Victoria, B.C.—Preparatory to an augmented program for making quota and other pictures with Central Films, Ltd., Columbia Pictures, Inc., has opened offices in the Empress Hotel here with Jack Fier in charge. Two screen plays by a Canadian are in preparation.
Central Films, which has had studios for making quota pictures at the Willows for two years, is erecting another studio there.
Note: Jack Fier had recently resigned as serial production head of Republic Pictures. On earlier films, Lew Golder and Harry Decker represented Columbia in Fier's position, the three essentially production supervisors.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 17, 1937:
The city solicitor was asked for his approval of a lease on ground measuring forty by forty feet, north of the Industrial Building at Willows Park. Central Films, Ltd., intend to erect a twenty by thirty-foot fireproof laboratory on the ground, and will pay $200 per year until the end of November, 1941, Alderman Straith told the council. The company is to develop its film here.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 18, 1937:
"Face Work," current production of Central Films, Ltd., is expected to be completed today or Monday, Kenneth J. Bishop, president, declared yesterday. Those who have been engaged in the film, together with members of the technical and advisory staffs, are expected to leave for home Tuesday.
While Mr. Bishop had nothing to say regarding plans for the new year, he admitted he would leave after Christmas for Hollywood, where he will discuss the local programme for 1938.
Under provisions of the Cinematograph Act Amendment Act [sic], recently passed by the Imperial Government, more money is to be spent on quota productions, and it is expected the industry in this city will benefit accordingly.
working title: Face Work
Production Company: Central Films, Ltd. Production Date: December 7 — December 20, 1937. Running Time: 54m:35s. Release (U.S.): August 18, 1938 by Columbia Pictures. Release (U.K.): August 15, 1938 by Columbia Pictures; certified March 17, 1938 by the British Board of Film Censors; trade shown March 24, 1938; registered, Cinematograph Films Act, March 25, 1938. Released in Canada by Columbia Pictures.
Director: Leon Barsha. Producer: Kenneth J. Bishop. Production Supervisor: Jack Fier†. Screenplay: Edgar Edwards, based on the short story "Face Work" by Cornell Woolrich (writing under the pseudonym of William Irish). Photography: George Meehan. Film Editor: William Austin. Music: Morris Stoloff†. Sound (R.C.A. Victor High Fidelity Sound System): Garry A. Harris†. Assistant Sound: Jack Haynes†. Assistant Director: George Rhein†. P.C.A. #: 4024.
Copyright Registration: © Columbia Pictures Corp. of California, Ltd.; August 15, 1938, LP8202, 6 reels; renewed July 12, 1966, R389209.
Cast: Charles Quigley (Burns), Rita Hayworth (Jerry Wheeler), Marc Lawrence (Milton Militis), George McKay (Kane), Doreen MacGregor (Mary Allen), Bill Irving (Cobble-Puss Coley), Eddie Laughton (Berger), Edgar Edwards (Chick Wheeler), Phyllis Clare (Ruby Rose), Bob Rideout (Rocco), Michael Heppell (Pal), Noel Cusack (Aggie), Grant MacDonald (Frankie), Don Douglas (District Attorney), James McGrath† (Ankle Inn manager), Arthur H. Kerr† (auctioneer), Arthur Legge-Willis† (judge), Patrick Wormold† (Charlie Baker, doorman/first witness), Ron Smith† (piano player).
† not billed in credits
Note: The fourth in an eight-picture contract with Columbia Pictures, "Convicted" would be the last film made by Central Films.
Film Daily review, August 24, 1938: This one has been turned out on the formula principle the same as so many westerns are made. Very little attention is paid to verisimilitude, and in the big climax when the hero detective suddenly breaks in with his squad of cops just in the nick of time to save the heroine from being bumped off by the gangster chief, he joins her just as casually as if he were on a social call. What makes this scene very jarring to the serious spectator is that the story gave no indication that the hero knew the heroine's plight, or where she could be found in the hideout. The formula plot has been done so many times before that it palls, and there are no particularly new twists to excuse its staleness. Charles Quigley is the detective who bends his efforts to helping Rita Hayworth, a night club singer, track down the murderer of a gold digger, for which crime her brother has been sentenced to the death chair. The heroine finds evidence that convinces her Marc Lawrence, head of a night club, is the killer. So she gets herself a job in the club as a singer, to gain the proprietor's confidence and secure the proof of her brother's innocence. This is all such familiar stuff that it unreels mechanically. Then into the suspense, when the gangster chief tumbles to the fact that the girl is spying on him, and learns her motive. So they take her for a ride, with the gangster planning to bump her off at the very moment her brother is led to the chair. Fiendish, really. But there is no building to tenseness, just a mechanical recounting of action material that could be made very gripping. Then into the big climax stuff as noted, with the detective hero breaking in just in time to save the girl. Of course, he has thoughtfully phoned to the death house to save the boy from the chair, so everybody is happy. The acting is no better or worse than the material deserves. That goes for the directing, too. DIRECTION, Weak. PHOTOGRAPHY, Okay.
Motion Picture Herald review, September 3, 1938: The advent of "Convicted" continues the steady flow of crime melodramas from the Hollywood studios, coinciding as they do with the Dewey investigation in New York which from the quantity and quality of the coverage is as interesting nationally and internationally as it is locally. Producers, astutely, have flooded the market at this time to reap the harvest of the publicity. With the trial predicted to last some four or five weeks more the crime melodramas appear to be in for a better-than-average season. Also the exploitation angle is there if it doesn't become too stale in ensuing weeks.
This is not the racket busting type of melodrama but the parallel is not entirely lost. Here we have a night club dancer who lives with and supports her big but immatured brother. When big brother is involved in a murder case sister sets out to clear him. Helping her is a police detective. The investigation brings to light the inevitable gang leader and his hirelings. The action is swift, the plot clearly defined and with the romance and comedy as sidelights the picture emerges as entertaining fare.
Cornell Woolrich wrote the story from which Edgar Edwards did the adaptation. Leon Barsha directed. The cast is comparatively unknown in the light of marquee value which places the emphasis additionally on the crime tie-up angle with the Dewey investigation. Charles Quigley is the detective; Rita Hayworth, the dancer; Edgar Edwards, who did the scenario, is the brother, and Marc Lawrence is the gang leader.
The brother, "Chick" is speedly [sic] convicted of slaying the former show girl, "Ruby Rose," when her maid and the doorman of the apartment house testify that "Chick" was the only one that possibly could have killed her. Through diligent investigation, "Jerry" discovers that "Militis," gang leader and owner of a night club, frequently was seen with "Ruby." "Jerry" is hired by "Militis" for his night club show and eventually poses as his friend.
Meanwhile the maid has been slain and the doorman has disappeared, which spurs the investigation to save "Chick" from the chair. "Jerry" succeeds in getting "Militis" to leave town and she ransacks his rooms. "Militis" discovers the ruse and returns. "Jerry" is recognized by one of the gangsters and her identity is made known to "Militis." She is kidnapped by the gang and held prisoner in their hideout. "Burns" arrives with a police detail at precisely the right time, "Militis" confesses to slaying "Ruby," and "Chick is pardoned in the nick of time.
Boxoffice review, September 3, 1938: Apparently conceived, concocted and hatched in a hasty manner, this action drama shapes up as meager entertainment. What makes the proceedings tolerable is the beauty of Rita Hayworth that graces the screen in an altogether attractive style. The story has Miss Hayworth, as the sister of a man convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence, attempting to prove his innocence. She turns night club entertainer and with the help of Charles Quigley, cast as a detective, unearths the real criminal, Marc Lawrence. The film, under Leon Barsha's direction, is unreeled at a tepid pace, shy on suspense, and lacking punch at the climax. An average cast does its best with a weak script.
Variety review, August 24, 1938: Minor B picture for lower deck duals, where it'll need a hefty running mate. Little to recommend it—trite theme and treatment, quickie production and only so-so performance. Has no marquee draw and will get no word-of-mouth. Only thing in its favor is the running time, 50 minutes—quick fit for double-billing.
Story deals with a nitery hoofer, a detective who convicts her brother of murder and then is convinced the lad is innocent. He and the gal then get the goods on a gang leader and nitery operator. All strictly stereotyped stuff and as full of holes as a commutation ticket. It's over quickly, though, so the pain is barely noticeable.
Charles Quigley and Rita Hayworth, as the gumshoe and the gal, are a standard team in Columbia's minor leaguers. Both get by the modest requirements all right. She might be a looker with more care in makeup, lighting and photographing. Marc Lawrence is the lecherous gangster. As both writer of the screenplay and player of the convicted brother, Edgar Edwards has to take a double rap.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 21, 1937:
Company Finishes Production
With the completion yesterday of "Face Work," current production of Central Films, Ltd., the company successfully concluded its twelfth full-length picture.
A wide variety of subjects has been covered in the series, which has placed on the screen stories of the West, and smugglers, tales of the Mounted Police, of newspapers, gangsters, and night clubs.
Interiors for the most part have been filmed at the Willows Studio, while exteriors have been taken in this city, and at various spots about Victoria.
Kenneth J. Bishop, president, said yesterday he was pleased with the smooth manner the production had been kept abreast of schedule. He will leave December 28 for Hollywood, where he will discuss future plans for the industry here.
These are said to depend to a great extent on the Cinematograph Act Amendment Act [sic], which is still being considered by the Imperial Parliament. It is generally believed, however, the legislation, which affects all British Dominions, will result in a greater amount to be spent on quota productions than at present. If this is so, it will be of considerable benefit to the industry in the city, and to Victoria as a whole.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., December 23, 1937:
Action by Dominion
Clause in Imperial Enactment Which Would Have
Deletion of a clause in the Cinematograph Act Amendment Act, 1937, before the bill reached the British House of Commons, has saved an industry for Victoria which has spent approximately $400,000 here in the last two years.
Kenneth J. Bishop, president and founder of Central Films, Ltd., was advised of the change, made while the bill was in committee, by cable from London yesterday.
The Cinematograph Act, passed in 1927 to safeguard the British film industry, would, by the amending act in its original form, have barred motion pictures made in the Dominions and colonies from being classed as quota pictures for exhibition in Great Britain. As a result, the industry, which has made such great strides forward here, would have been wiped out, since Central Films, Ltd. has made quota pictures for Columbia Pictures, Inc. under the British quota law since its inception.
The deletion of the objectionable clause came through the concerted efforts of Dominion, Provincial and civic authorities. When Mr. Bishop first learned of the danger to the industry a few weeks ago, he communicated with R. W. Mayhew, M. P.-elect, who, in turn, wired Hon. Ian Mackenzie, Minister for National Defence.
Mr. Mackenzie made strong representations to Hon. W. D. Euler, Minister of Trade and Commerce, who laid a protest before the Imperial authorities in London.
Premier T. D. Pattullo also interested himself in the matter and cabled W. A. McAdam, acting agent-general for British Columbia. The Victoria Chamber of Commerce made protests through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, while the Canadian Manufacturers' Association added their voice to the objections taken.
Legal counsel was secured in London through Alderman W. T. Straith, M. P. P., solicitor for Central Films, Ltd.
With the objectionable feature of the act removed, it is known that the legislation will be of inestimable benefit to Victoria, since it provides that no picture costing less than $75,000 to produce may be shown in the British Isles.
"It will be a merry Christmas after all," commented Mr. Bishop yesterday. "If the original legislation had gone through, it would have ended our efforts here. It makes me feel as if I were sitting on top of the world."
With the completion of "Face Work" at the beginning of the week, Central Films has produced twelve pictures in this city which has benefited Victoria to the extent of approximately $400,000.
The company will now be able to go ahead with the programme of expansion, which includes the construction of a building for the installation of facilities for developing and printing film here, instead of sending it to Hollywood. This item alone costs, with equipment, the sum of $25,000.
In addition, it is possible that another sound stage will be equipped at the Willows, and that a contract with another American company will be signed, doubling local production.
Mr. Bishop will leave for Hollywood on December 28, and hopes to discuss these plans while in the South.
Motion Picture Herald, December 25, 1937:
Canada Studio Active
Six features in the next six months are planned by Central Films, Ltd., producing company with studios at Willows Park, Victoria, B.C., it was announced in Toronto last week.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., January 4, 1938:
CBC Audience Taken on
For thirty minutes last night the coast-to-coast network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation took the radio audience on a tour of Central Films Studios, at the Willows, during the C.B.C. "Night Shift" programme.
The entire layout of the studio was explained, including descriptions of the sound stages, the various "sets," lighting effects, the camera, the sound picture microphone on its big boom, and the sound truck, and the radio microphones also picked up a rehearsal and the filming of a sequence from "Face Work," now being produced at the studios.
From there the audience was taken to the laboratories, where a description was given of the development of the moving picture and sound films and the blending of the two into a single film.
W. J. Herbert was at the microphone and was accompanied by Reginald Hincks on the tour of the studios. E. C. Finley, C.B.C. technician of the headquarters staff at Ottawa, was in charge of the technical side of the broadcast.
Motion Picture Daily, January 11, 1938:
Canadian Union Hits British Quota Shift
Vancouver, B.C., Jan. 10.—The Trades and Labor Council of Victoria, B.C., home of Central Films, Ltd., believes that Canada's film industry, inaugurated under the British quota system, is threatened by the proposed revision of the British Films Act. If approved by the British House of Commons, the amendment would eliminate the Dominion from participating in the quota market.
At present Central Films is producing quota pictures under an agreement with Columbia Pictures. The Victoria council has wired P. M. Draper, president of the Trade and Labor Congress of Canada, to protest to overseas authorities against removal of privileges now enjoyed by Canada through the quota system.
Motion Picture Daily, January 19, 1938:
Canada to Consider Film Bill Protests
Vancouver, Jan. 18.—The Provincial Government has agreed to throw its weight behind efforts of producers in Victoria, B.C., to retain their place in the British film market.
Executives of Central Films, Ltd., have informed W. J. Asselstine, Minister of Trade and Commerce, that new British film legislation would remove Canadian films from the existing quotas and confine them to films made in the British Isles or British colonies. Asselstine has agreed to make immediate representations to the Canadian Government, asking the Federal cabinet to bring the matter to the attention of the British Government.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 11, 1938:
Central Films, Ltd., to Produce
Depicting the life and work of the world-famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a series of six motion pictures in natural color is to be filmed at the Willows studios by Central Films, Limited, Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the company, announced yesterday.
Production will commence on May 1, in co-operation with the commissioner of the R.C.M.P., at Ottawa. All scenes will be shot in Victoria, Mr. Bishop stated.
Since September, 1935, Central Films, Limited, has produced twelve pictures for Columbia Pictures, but that association has now terminated, Mr. Bishop intimated. Referring to rumors that Central Films might cease production here, he stated that with the exception of one camera and a small amount of other equipment, the entire plant at the Willows was owned by himself and his associates.
The company had too much at stake in the matter of investments in equipment to give up production, and had definitely arranged to produce other pictures in Victoria, Mr. Bishop said. He was confident that productions here would not be affected by the new Cinematograph Act, which is shortly to be brought before the British House of Commons.
The motion picture industry in Victoria has been built up on the provision of the British quota regulations that the United States producers must present one picture produced on British soil for every four United States productions imported into the British Isles, Mr. Bishop explained.
An amendment to the new Cinematograph Act which would have the effect of excluding the Dominions from the production of "British pictures" for quota import purposes had been defeated in the committee stage, and Mr. Bishop was confident that the same amendment, if brought up in the House of Commons, would again be defeated, leaving it open to Victoria to remain in the motion picture production field.
Note: As stated in the news item, Columbia had terminated its association with Central Films even before the British government passed the new Cinematograph Films Act at the end of March 1938.
Motion Picture Daily, February 14, 1938:
Protest U.S. Film Crews
Vancouver, Feb. 13.—The Victoria Trades and Labor Council has decided to make representations to immigration authorities at Ottawa, the British Columbia department of labor and the Canadian Trades Congress against entry into Canada of film crews from the United States.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 25, 1938:
BILL BLOW TO
British Film Measure Passed
LONDON. Feb. 24—The Government's Film Bill, designed to enable the struggling British industry to get on its feet, received third reading in the House of Commons today after an amendment was included aimed specifically at films made elsewhere within the Empire.
The amendment would prevent film made in Canada, for instance, from qualifying for the British renters quota. The bill provided renters of films at present must acquire a proportion of British films amounting to a minimum of 15 per cent of their total pictures. This quota will gradually be stepped up to 30 per cent.
The amendment stipulated that in addition to the special cost test through which films have to pass to get a registration as quota pictures, the following conditions must be observed in order to qualify the films for quota purposes.
1 — The maker of the film must be a person carrying on business in the United Kingdom and having his principal place of business in the United Kingdom.
2 — Any studio used in making the film must be within the United Kingdom.
3 — At least half the requisite labor costs must be paid in respect to labor or services of British subjects ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom.
Captain Euan Wallace, Parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade, in moving the amendment said it implemented a Government promise to prevent the British renters quota film from being made elsewhere in the Empire "because this would not help the producing industry in the United Kingdom."
Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, Limited, when advised late last night of the amendment to the British Films Act, excluding Canada, said: "If that is the case, it is far more drastic than we had ever thought of. We had hopes that Canada would have been considered in the final decision, but apparently that is not so."
Asked what the next move would be, Mr. Bishop intimated he would have to await for official notification of the scope of the amendment. Central Films, Limited was prepared to start the 1938 series of quota pictures here on or about May 1. Loss of the industry, he intimated, would affect the City of Victoria considerably.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., February 26, 1938:
BAN ON FILMS
Efforts Made by Telegraph
The death-knell to the motion-picture industry in Victoria sounded by the amendment to the Cinematograph Films Bill passed by the British House of Commons, excluding from the British quota picture market all films not produced in the British Isles, aroused much concern in the city yesterday, and immediate steps were taken in a last-minute effort to retrieve the situation before the bill reaches the House of Lords and becomes law.
R. W. Mayhew, M.P.-elect; the Chamber of Commerce, Alderman Archie Wills, for the City Council industrial committee, and Alan Chambers telegraphed protests to influential quarters, and Premier T. D. Pattullo indicated that he would do everything in his power to support the Victoria film industry's case.
WOULD RUIN COMPANY
Over the signature of Harold Husband, president, the Chamber of Commerce forwarded telegrams to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at Montreal and Hon. Ian A. Mackenzie, British Columbia member of the Federal Cabinet, seeking co-operation in a protest to the British Government.
The telegrams pointed out that press reports indicated that the British House of Commons legislation would limit the benefits of the Cinematograph Act to Britain. The local company, with $100,000 invested in Victoria, had grown up under the former act, and the proposed change would spell the ruination of the company, which spends nearly $500,000 in Victoria annually. The telegrams concluded: "Would you vigorously protest this amendment, which is fatal to the Canadian movie industry?"
Alderman Wills and Messrs. Mayhew and Chambers requested Ottawa to enter a protest through the office of the Canadian High Commissioner in London.
Film Daily, February 28, 1938:
CANADA PROD. DOOM SEEN IN QUOTA BILL
Montreal—Sharp criticism of the failure on the part of Britain's House of Commons to give proper quota status to Dominion product in the Films Bill which was passed by Commons on Thursday night, last, and which goes before Lords next Thursday, developed in Canada during the week-end, with Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Central Films, Ltd., of Victoria, British Columbia, declaring that his company, which is the sole maker in Canada of full-length pictures, is faced with the dilemma of shutting down its studio.
Bishop points out that the clause which limits quota credit to pictures, only if they are produced in the United Kingdom, is sure to spell the doom of his organization's activities, end therefore at his instigation the Victoria Chamber of Commerce has communicated urgently with the Canadian Chambers of Commerce here, and with Hon. Ian Mackenzie, minister of national defense and British Columbia's representative on Dominion Cabinet, requesting them to lodge protests with the British Government.
The Canadian Chambers of Commerce, it is stated, has already communicated with the Department of Trade and Commerce in Ottawa, through which representations to Britain must be made, and that office has replied that it is closely watching developments and can be relied upon to take any action necessary to protect Canadian interests.
Motion Picture Daily, March 3, 1938:
Canada Not to Act
Toronto, March 2.—According to officials of the Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce, the Dominion Government has no intention of appealing to the United Kingdom for the inclusion of Canadian-made features or shorts in the category of British films in the amendments to the British Film Quota Act which have passed the House of Commons at London. The stand is taken that the matter is wholly for the consideration of the Imperial Government and one in which Canada has no say.
The official Canadian view is that British preference for Made-in-Canada features is unnecessary under the revised quota law because Canadian films can still be shown on the screens of theatres in Great Britain without the blessing of quota privileges. Any thought of a quota stipulation in the Dominion has been frowned upon ever since the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa in 1932 when the subject of a film quota for the whole Empire was tossed out by the delegates.
Central Films, Ltd., of Victoria, B.C., which is closely associated with Columbia, has protested that the new British quota setup will bar its Canadian-made features from the British market. President Kenneth J. Bishop of Central Films declared that Canada's only feature producing enterprise would suffer a serious setback unless official action were taken, pointing out that his company had spent $600,000 on 12 features under quota requirements during the past 30 months.
The answer from the Canadian Government is that, quota or no quota, the entertainment value of Canadian films will decide whether or not there is a market in Great Britain for pictures made in this country.
Film Daily, March 8, 1938:
Columbia Talks Stopping
If the Films Bill (Quota Act) now before the House of Lords goes through, as is indicated, with restriction that films to be applied to quota must be produced in the United Kingdom, Columbia will end its Canadian production activity and send units to England, Jack Cohn, Columbia vice-president, declared yesterday on his return from a fortnight in Hollywood.
Cohn returned with Abe Montague, general sales manager, after having set up new season's program in conferences with Harry Cohn, Columbia president, and studio execs. Abe Schneider, treasurer, who accompanied Jack Cohn to the Coast, is due back shortly.
Plans for annual sales convention are indefinite, Cohn stated, with no decision expected soon.
Joseph Friedman, Columbia general manager for Great Britain and Ireland, is expected at the home office Wednesday for discussions on English production plans.
Although Columbia program is to be announced formally this week, according to Montague, it was learned that same number as is on current schedule are likely to be slated.
Names of several new producers will work under the Columbia banner next season will be announced in a few days, Cohn asserted.
Motion Picture Daily, March 8, 1938:
Columbia will complete its plans for producing in England under the new British quota act following House of Lords action on the measure, [Harry] Cohn said. Joseph Friedman, Columbia's British manager, will arrive from London tomorrow to confer here on the production arrangements. The Columbia vice-president indicated that at the present time the company favors the sending of its own production units to England, rather than retaining British producers to make the required quota pictures. He said that the company will discontinue production in Canada and Australia immediately as a result of the new Films Act, which does not allow credit against British quota requirements on pictures produced elsewhere in the Empire.
Note: Columbia made one quota film in Australia, "Rangle River" (1936), starring Canadian-born Victor Jory. The film was released in the U.S. in 1939 by J. H. Hoffberg Co., and to television in the early 1950s as "Men With Whips."
Film Daily, March 31, 1938:
Central Films President Sees
Montreal—The new British Cinematograph Act will not halt operations of the Central Films, Ltd., of Victoria, Canada's only producer of features, according to Kenneth J. Bishop, president.
Bishop asserted study of the act had confirmed him in the view that Canadian films could be imported into Britain without being compelled to abide by quota restrictions.
"It means," said Bishop, "that we can compete with United States films of the same class, because we have no need to rent United Kingdom pictures, and therefore our rentals to exhibitors will be lower. Incidentally, it stops any United States company from setting up in business in Canada and competing with Canadian companies."
Motion Picture Herald, April 2, 1938:
England's Films Bill Establishing
The British Government on Wednesday finally reenacted the Cinematograph Films Act establishing by law for another ten years the proportion of motion pictures to be distributed with imports in the kingdom.
Following previous passage by Commons, the House of Lords Wednesday acted favorably on the bill, and royal assent immediately was given, thus ending one of the longest and sharpest controversies ever witnessed both within the motion picture industry in Great Britain and between various factions of the industry and the Government.
Continuing in existence a quota law which has controlled distribution and exhibition these past ten years, England, through the new law, revises and extends the protection accorded domestic product in its competition with films from abroad. The new law raises the British film quota for distributors from the old graduated scale of 7½ per cent in the first year to 20 per cent in the tenth, to a new scale of 15 per cent in the first year to 30 per cent in the tenth. Similarly, the quota for exhibitors is raised from the old graduation of 5 per cent in the first year to 20 per cent in the tenth, to a new scale of 12½ per cent in the first year to 25 per cent in the tenth.
The Cinematograph Act becomes law for distribution on April 1st (Friday), replacing the old 10-year quota, but does not become applicable to exhibitors until September 30th, the beginning of the new show season.
The exhibitors' short subject quota will begin at 12½ per cent and rise to a high of 22½ per cent, while the distributors' short subject quota will begin at 20 per cent and rise to 30 per cent in the last year of the law.
The two other most important elements of the new measure, particularly as concerns foreign product, are the clauses calling for triple quota value and reciprocity.
The "reciprocity" clause gives a distributor who undertakes to distribute a British feature anywhere else in the world, credit on his quota in England for such distribution.
The socalled "triple quotas" clause permits a producer making an expenditure of at least £37,500 ($187,500) in British studio labor costs, to count that film for three pictures under the distributor quota.
A Films Council is established, with wide discretionary powers, under the general jurisdiction of the Government's Board of Trade. Oliver Stanley, who sponsored the new quota law in Parliament, is president of the Board of Trade.
One other phase of note in the measure is that which excludes from quota consideration those pictures produced in the British dominions, including Canada and Australia.
The trade in England, except British producers, opposed a still higher quota scale unsuccessfully proposed by the House of Lords.
Cables from London Wednesday to the United States carrying word of the quota bill's passage created the impression in the industry here that the bill as finally enacted is better than was forecast in the original report by the Moyne Committee, which was appointed by the Government in March, 1936, to consider the future position of British films in view of the then approaching expiration of the old Cinematograph Act. Not that the new bill is everything to be expected, however. Important film factors here still hope for further consideration in connection with the new general U.S.-British trade treaty conversations now being held at Washington between Secretary of State Cordell Hull and representatives from the British Government.
There appears to be a feeling of appreciation on this side for the efforts made by Joseph P. Kennedy, new ambassador to England, in behalf of the American film interests with regard to the final provisions of the bill.
Note the sentence, "One other phase of note in the measure is that which excludes from quota consideration those pictures produced in the British dominions, including Canada and Australia."
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., April 10, 1938:
Kenneth J, Bishop, president of Central Films, Limited, expects to leave Victoria within the next two weeks for New York, where negotiations connected with the possible production of further motion pictures at the Willows studios are pending.
Mr. Bishop stated yesterday that present indications pointed to the resumption of the motion picture industry here early this Summer. His company, he said, had prospects of a new contract in England, presumably for movies to be shown under the distributors' quota system, by which Canadian-produced films are not excluded from classification as British films.
The company is still paying rent to the city for the Industrial Building at the Willows, where the equipment and studio cars and trucks are in storage in readiness for the reopening of the studios, Mr. Bishop stated.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., April 10, 1938:
Writ and Service Set Aside In Central Films,
Mr. Justice H. B. Robertson handed down his decision in the Supreme Court, Friday, in Central Films, Ltd., vs. Columbia Pictures Corporation et al. An application was made by Columbia Pictures Corporation to set aside a writ issued on behalf of Central Films, Ltd., concerning a breach of contract.
The judgement was as follows. "The order permitting the issue of the ex juris writ in question was made by one of my brother judges, who has requested me to hear this application.
"One of the grounds was that there was no jurisdiction to make the order for leave to serve the writ. The material sets out that the proposed plaintiff desired to commence an action for damages for breach of contract and for tort committed within the jurisdiction, but did not state any facts showing the case is one in which service out of the jurisdiction could be allowed. In other words, no facts were stated showing a cause of action which would warrant an order under Order II.
"The writ and service thereof, in so far as the Columbia Picture Corporation is concerned, are set aside with the costs payable forthwith."
Note: Failed legal action by Central Films against Columbia Pictures.
The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 19, 1938:
FILM TESTS TO
Opportunity to Victorians to
The mystifying jargon of motion picture studio operators, the unusual manner in which effects are achieved in the land of make believe, together with the brilliance of the sets created by the huge arc lights, broads, rifles and other lighting equipment will be revealed to the public when free motion picture tests are given by Central Films, Ltd. at the Willows Fair from September 10 to 17, inclusive, it was announced yesterday by W. H. Mearns, secretary of the British Columbia Agricultural Association.
Free motion picture tests will be given on regular studio sets, with regular cameras and sound equipment, and all the apparatus used to make a real talkie. The public will be offered every opportunity of witnessing these tests as the casting director puts the candidates through their paces, and rehearses them for their parts.
These tests have been made possible through a special arrangement with Kenneth Bishop, head of Central Films, Ltd. The tests, when completed, will form a complete motion picture story, and it is planned to show the film at a local motion picture house so that the public may see not only how the pictures are made but also the finished product, after it has been edited and cut.
From those chosen for the test, the casting director will select candidates who have been successful to appear in some of the forthcoming productions. Work in small parts, however, will be governed by the tests that have been taken.
All those wishing to have a motion picture test are requested to make written application to the casting director, Reginald Hincks, care of Central Films, Ltd., Victoria. Only written applications will be considered. The test is free, and forms part of the feature of the Fair, which is held for the purpose of encouraging home industries and agricultural pursuits. Applications should be mailed now, so that arrangements can be made early for the tests.
Central Films, Ltd. already has produced eighteen full-length pictures, and will start production on its new schedule early in the Fall.
Note: Only 14 films were known to have been made by Bishop's Canadian companies, excluding the aborted "The Mystery of Harlow Manor." The mention of "eighteen full-length pictures" is is a mistake or an exaggeration.
Motion Picture Daily, November 7, 1938:
Columbia Talking Expansion of Its British Program
Ambitious production plans for Columbia in Europe were hinted at by Joseph A. McConville, foreign chief, before sailing for London Friday on the Queen Mary. He was accompanied by Jacob Segal, assistant foreign manager, and Jack Cohn, vice-president.
Cohn and McConville will investigate the possibilities for the company's own production in England. French production or financing French producers is also a possibility, in line with Columbia's new activity of distributing a picked number of European films in this country.
Columbia's British quota pictures are being made this season by Alexander Korda's Denham Studios, with Irving Asher, associate producer, directly in charge. Columbia and Denham are sharing the financing. One film, "Q Planes," is completed and another, "Spy in Black," is in work, with Conrad Veidt and Evelyn Laye.
In all, Columbia will get three pictures from Denham, at budgets ranging from $200,000 to $300,000 each. The films will serve for double quota credit.
Cohn said the present arrangement with Denham may be renewed for next year, but all plans are subject to investigation on the ground.
Film Daily, November 17, 1938:
Canada Deaf to British Film Quota Proposition
Ottawa—A spokesman has intimated that the Canadian Government will give no consideration to the creation of a British film quota regulation for the Dominion as recommended by W.L. [W.T.] Straith of Victoria, a member of the British Columbia Legislature. A similar proposal was turned down in 1932 at the Empire Economic Conference which was held here.
Only one film enterprise in Canada, located at Victoria, B.C., has been turning out features for the British market under the quota requirement but not one feature from this studio has been generally released to theaters in the Dominion.
Film Daily, December 13, 1938:
Revision of Films Act to Aid Dominion Unlikely
London (By Cable)—Move to amend the Films Act to permit the admission of Dominion productions for distributors' quota credits has slight chance of succeeding, it is learned on excellent authority.
Canadian interests are particularly active in support of the move; their attitude is based on the fact that as the Films Act now stands, there is slim prospect for expansion of Dominion production. The statute restricts the Dominion features to exhibitor quota credits.
Opponents of the move point out that the suggested amendment might open the way for unfair competition with British pix. Under the old act, cheaply made Dominion films were purchased as cheaply by distributors and used here to meet quota requirements.
Situation again has been brought into sharp relief at this time by the presence in Canada of John Grierson, member of the newly constituted Films Council.
American distrib. interests here are getting some quiet amusement out of the pro and con arguments. British opponents of the Dominion equality move—for that's what it simmers down to—are charging that many of the overseas productions are short on quality, while from the Dominion side comes the answer that if the Canadian producers were given encouragement here, improvement in product would follow.
Boxofffice, September 20, 1941:
Kenneth J. Bishop, the man who for a short time brought the moving picture production industry to British Columbia, died here [Vancouver] Saturday [September 6]. In 1935 Mr. Bishop launched in Victoria the Central Films Ltd., which produced more than a dozen films for Columbia Pictures of Hollywood under the British quota laws. The company went out of business a few years ago when quota laws were changed so that only motion pictures made in the British Isles came under the quota.
Kenneth J. Bishop's Film Past
Bishop's previous involvement in the film industry has generally been alluded to in vague terms. Peter Morris, author of Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema 1895–1939, referred to his past as an enigma. Bishop claimed to have been a producer in Hollywood since 1918.
The Film Companion, by Peter Morris: "Though he [Bishop] claimed to have been a producer in Hollywood, it seems more likely that he was a promoter on the fringes of the industry, following a career as an actor in the early days of Hollywood."
Fifty Years on Theatre Row by Ivan Ackery, who would have known Bishop: "He was an interesting fellow, a sort of small-time producer and money hustler who used different names at times."
The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten: "Bishop described himself as a man of many parts—actor, stage manager, film distributor, independent producer and owner of the wonder-dog Lightning."
Barrie Goult, in his article for The Daily Colonist, Victoria, B.C., August 29, 1937, titled "Victoria's Movie Industry," which is reproduced in its entirety within this page, wrote: "Thirty years ago he [Bishop] came to Canada from England to find work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Later he went to Hollywood, and was employed by Selig—a name famous in years gone by—as an actor. Thereafter he became a studio manager, rented his own studio on Glendale Avenue for a time, went to New York in the employ of a film distributing agency, and finally returned to Hollywood to produce independently."
Trade journal searches show Bishop's name first appearing in 1923 with the formation of the H. & B. Film Co., and in 1925, the Tennek Film Corp. It is likely his previous work was done under a different name or simply not covered in the trades.
Kenneth James Bishop was born April 20, 1893, in Sutton near Croydon, Surrey, England. He emigrated to Canada around 1915.
Film Daily, June 1, 1923:
Chadwick Signs New Series
Frederick F. Hadden and Kenneth J. Bishop, operating the H. and B. Film Co., at Edendale, Calif., yesterday signed a contract with Chadwick Pictures to make a series of six outdoor pictures which Cliff Smith will direct.
Note: Cliff Smith was chosen as the director for Bishop's first Victoria-made film, "The Mystery of Harlow Manor," which never got past the pre-production stage.
Film Daily, June 29, 1923:
Hedden Forms New Company
Fred F. Hedden and Kenneth J. Bishop have formed a new organization known as H & B Prods., which will make a series of six pictures featuring Cliff Smith and Eileen Sedgwick. "Scarred Hands," the first, has been completed on the Coast. Bishop will supervise production. The product will be released through Madoc Sales Co., a subsidiary of H & B Prod.
Note: The company, invariably known as H. & B. Film Co., H. B. Productions, and H & B Productions, made at least four features: "Scarred Hands," "The Last Man," The Desert Secret," and "Fightin' Thru." The last three, released in 1924, are 5-reel westerns starring Bill Patton.
June 2, 1923
February 16, 1924
Exhibitors Trade Review, August 4, 1923:
Madoc Offices Opened
New York.—The Madoc Sales Company, newly formed states right distributing concern, has opened offices at 220 West 42nd St., New York City. As its initial offering the Madoc company announces a series of six features which will be known as the Cliff Smith Productions. The films are being produced in Los Angeles by the H. & B. Film Company. J. Joseph Sameth is in charge of the distribution.
Note: Madoc also distributed product from other independent producers. The company's belated incorporation is shown below, and whether Bishop was still involved with the company at this time is unknown.
New York Times, July 4, 1924:
Madoc Sales Co., Manhattan, motion pictures, $20,000; C. S. Ashley, H. E. Cecil, J. J. Coyle. (Attorneys, Ashley & Foulds, 20 Liberty St.).
Film Daily, October 16, 1925:
New Distributor Organizes
Kenneth J. Bishop, just in from the Coast, has formed the International Distributors with offices at 1658 Broadway to handle world's rights. His first product includes a series of travelogues, nine one-reelers with Sid Smith and "His First Story," a five-reeler with Gloria Grey and Roy Hughes. Hans Tiesler produced the feature. He is here with Bishop, but returns to the Coast Sunday to produce a series of two-reel dramas for Bishop's company.
The New York Times, November 5, 1925:
Tennek Film Corp., motion pictures, $20,000; K. J . Bishop, J. Bernhardt, P. Huhn. (Atty., H. Moerchen, 686 Lexington Av.).
Exhibitors Trade Review, November 7, 1925:
Sixty from New Company
Tennek Film Corporation has been formed to produce approximately sixty short subjects of comedy-drama type. The prime mover of the new organization is Kenneth J. Bishop, of California. Bishop is an experienced producer of shorts and features, having made productions for Chadwick, Selig and others.
Film Daily, November 9, 1925:
72 Short Reels on Program
Frank E. Nicholson has left for the Coast to start production on "Chuckles," 12 jungle stories and 12 Sid Smith comedies for distribution through the Tennek Film Corp., the new corporate name for International Distributors. This company will handle a program of 72 short reels, including, in addition to the above series, 12 Fatty Laymon-Charles Dorety comedies, 12 Bill Pattons, 12 Al Joys, 12 detective stories, 12 single reel novelties, five Samoan Island travelogues and six scenic travelogues.
Film Daily, November 19, 1925 [advert]:
WARNING—Tennek Film Corporation has purchased the great dog star "Lightnin". The name has been duly copyrighted and all infringements will be vigorously prosecuted as "Lightnin" will soon appear in a new series of pictures.
Film Daily, November 20, 1925:
Start Comedy Series Monday
John McCutcheon will direct Gene ("Fatty") Laymon and Charles Dorety in a series of "Two Star Comedies" beginning Monday at the Estee Studio on 125th St [New York]. Howard Reichenbach will be production manager, James Cusimano, technical director and Henry Maire, cameraman. This will be one of eight series of short subjects to be state righted through the Tennek Film Corp., 1540 Broadway.
Film Daily, November 22, 1925:
Join Tennek Film Corp.
Hopp Hadley has joined the Tennek Film Corp. as production manager. Jack Lustberg has also allied himself with Tennek as assistant sales manager. Hadley will supervise production.
Film Daily, December 2, 1925:
Sedgwick, Sr. in Charge for Tennek
Hollywood—Edward Sedgwick, Sr., father of the Universal director, is representing Tennek Film Co. on the West Coast. Eileen Sedgwick is appearing in a series of dog pictures, starring "Lightnin'," being made for Tennek.
Film Daily, December 6, 1925:
"By the very nature of things dramatic, a wide variety in the long subjects played by a theater from week to week is impossible according to most authorities," says Kenneth J. Bishop, of the Tennek Film Corp, in explaining why he has specialized in short subjects and refers to them as "Quickies." He is devoting his time in both production and distribution to meet the exhibitors' demand for variety and snap in his daily program. The word "quickies" creates the psychology needed both in studio and exchange in the making and handling of "Pep-of-the-program" pictures in order to keep the product up to the high mark of snappiness needed in comedy and novelty subjects according to Bishop's ideas.
"Unless a theater gets wide variety and snappiness for its program from the short subject producer the box office will soon suffer. All of our efforts are to meet this demand. Of the eight series now coming through from the Coast and from our New York studio, no two are alike, and we are striving to make them all excel in novelty and speed. They vary in interest value from Samoan Island Travelogues, Fatty Laymon comedies and two reel Bill Patton dramas to an illustrated joke reel known as 'Chuckles,' short detective stories starring the police dog 'Lightnin' ' and a wild animal series being made at the Selig Zoo.
"The picture showman worrying about his program, as all good showmen do, can well afford to keep the vaudeville theater and vaudeville booking methods in the back of his mind while working out his own problems. The vaudeville house has probably succeeded in holding the interest and affection of the theater going masses over a longer period of years than any other branch of the business since the music hall rame [came] into being. Disect [sic; sentence makes no sense] the vaudeville program. Note the variety of acts each bill contains and how the entertainment is balanced. Sometimes a long sketch is the headliner but more often a single popular star will hold down the place of importance on the bill. But you can always bank on it that the headline attraction is the best box-office magnet. The general run of picture showman has fallen into the fixed habit of featuring the long subject.
"And this in spite of the fact that he should have learned his lesson from the wise men in his own field who have featured old two reel Chaplins and Lloyds, on occasion, and beaten his ordinary run of business. We have all seen short subjects that had both more box office draft and more entertainment value than many features. However, even though most exhibitors place all their reliance for large first night audiences on the pulling power of their feature, they must have variety on their program if they want the balance of the run to show big gate receipts. For this variety, they are absolutely dependent upon the short subject. To me personally, this looks like a big opportunity and something to which it is worth devoting my best energies."
Film Daily, December 21, 1925:
Busy for Tennek
Hollywood—In addition to the first in the animal series for Tennek Film Corp., twelve "laugh-dramas" under direction of Al Herman with Bill Patton as the star and a company headed by Stuart Holmes and Clara Harton as support have started work. The first of the series starring the police dog, "Lightnin'," is in production with Alvin J. Neitz as the director and Eileen Sedgewick and Tom London heading the cast.
Film Daily, December 23, 1925:
Tennek Sells Foreign Rights
Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Tennek Film Corp., has closed entire foreign rights on four series of 12 two-reel subjects, to M. C. Distributing Co., Inc., which has opened offices at 729 7th Avenue. John Bernhardt, secretary and vice-president of Tennek, leaves for Europe on the Cleveland, for Hamburg, where Tennek has its principal foreign branch. Tennek will produce at three studios, the Estee in New York, and Selig and Ben Wilson plants in Hollywood.
Motion Picture News, January 2, 1926:
Tennek Closes Foreign Deal for Product
TENNEK Film Corporation and M. C. Distributing Company, Inc., have concluded a deal whereby the latter has acquired world distributing rights outside of the United States and Canada for the Tennek product, which is distributed here through the State Rights market.
The deal includes four series of twelve two-reel subjects each; the Two Star Combedies [sic] with Fatty Laymon and Charlie Dorety; the Hank Mann Comedies the Chester Conklin Comedies and the All Star Comedies. The first of the latter features Stuart Holmes, Sheldon Lewis, Clara Horton, Bill Patton and Eric Mayne. Also under the Tennek banner is a series of twelve two-reelers with Eileen Sedgwick and Lightnin', the dog, and a similar series known as the Jungle Series, with the Selig Wild Animals. In addition there are twenty-four single reelers, twelve of them Chuckles and twelve Travelogues.
Motion Picture News, January 16, 1926:
Tennek to Increase Short Subject Output
Tennek Film Corporation has planned a marked increase in short subjects program. With that end in view Kenneth J. Bishop, president of the concern has departed for Los Angeles. Several of the Tennek west coast units are working on the Selig lot, where a series of two-reelers are also being made with the Selig wild animals featured.
In New York City the Fatty Laymon and Charlie Dorety unit is making two-reel comedies at the Estee studio. They have just started on a new story entitled "Hard to Hold," third of their present series. Another New York unit has been organized to start on an additional set of twelve two-reel novelty comedies.
Film Daily, January 5, 1926:
Bishop En Route to Coast
Kenneth J. Bishop, president of Tennek Film Corp. is en route to Los Angeles to increase the output of the several producing units making short subjects for his company.
Film Daily, February 8, 1926:
Bishop Back in New York
Kenneth J. Bishop, of Tennek Film, has returned from the Coast with five two reel subjects, each the first of five new series.
Film Daily, February 25, 1926:
Another Tennek Deal
Los Angeles—Arrangements have been made between I. E. Chadwick and Jesse J. Goldburg with Sid Smith, for the production of 12 two-reel comedies to be made under supervision of Goldburg, for Tennek release.
Motion Picture News, March 6, 1926:
Jesse Goldberg [Goldburg]
Jesse Goldberg [Goldburg], who has been giving most of his attention recently to production, is making a series of two reel comedies for Tennek Film Corporation starring Sid Smith. The first of the series, entitled "North of 6 7/8," has just arrived in New York, and the second is now in production.
Note: Jesse J. Goldburg, according to The Film Daily, January 11, 1935, had acquired a substantial interest in Northern Films, Ltd., formerly controlled by Kenneth J. Bishop and Col. J. F. Keen.
Film Daily, March 8, 1926:
Costello in Ornato Prod.
Ornato Prod. has completed "Lights of New York," starring Maurice Costello. The company is making a series of 11 two-reel comedies for Tennek Film. The second will be started this week, probably at the Ideal studio [New Jersey]. Sid Smith and Charles Dorety will be featured with Joseph Ornato directing.
Motion Picture News, March 20, 1926:
Richmount Gets Foreign
Richmount Pictures Corporation has closed for the foreign rights to "The Thirteenth Girl", the Sid Smith series of twelve two reel comedies and the Eddie Gordon series of twelve two reelers. This deal marks the final sale of foreign rights by Tenek [sic] Film Corporation who have now arranged for the handling of all their series.
Motion Picture News, March 20, 1926:
Hank Mann Starts
March fifteenth has been set as the date on which Hank Mann will start the first two reel comedy of his series of twelve for Tennek Film Corporation.
Film Daily, April 14, 1926:
John Bernhardt Succeeds Kenneth J. Bishop as President—Moe Kerman to Handle Distribution
A reorganization of Tennek Film Corp. is being effected with John Bernhardt as president, succeeding Kenneth J. Bishop, who has returned to the Coast after selling his interests.
It is understood that a contract will be signed today whereby Moe Kerman will handle the distribution for the world. Kerman will become an officer of Tennek and will distribute from his headquarters, Kerman Film Exchange, 729 7th Ave.
Eddie Gordon has signed to star in a series of 12 comedies for Tennek. Alvin J. Neitz is making a dog picture, featuring Lightnin'. The second and third Selig wild animal stories will be in production this week.
Film Daily, April 30, 1926:
Hans Tiesler in Town
Hans Tiesler, short reel producer, is in town from the Coast, making his headquarters at Tennek Film Corp.
Film Daily, May 9, 1926:
72 Shorts from "Sava"
Gene Laymon Heads Company Which Takes
With Gene "Fatty" Laymon as president, Sava Films, Inc., has been organized with offices at 1540 Broadway. The concern has taken over the production contracts of the Tennek Film Corp., the reorganization of which has been abondoned [sic]. Seventy-two shorts are planned.
Hans Tiesler is vice-president of Sava, which is capitalized at $100,000. Its schedule for 1926-27 calls for six series of two-reelers, 12 pictures in each group. They will star Hank Mann, Fatty Laymon, Eddie Gordon, Sid Smith, Lightning, the dog, with Aileen [sic] Sedgwick, and the Selig wild animals.
Laymon and Smith will produce in the East. Tiesler leaves for the Coast soon to supervise production there.
[The next day, Film Daily reported: Hans Tiesler denies that he is connected in any way with Sava Films, Inc.]
After Kenneth J. Bishop sold his interests in Tennek Film Corp., his name disappeared from trade journals until 1932. When Bishop died in 1941, his wife said he had been living in Canada for 30 years and Vancouver for 26. Based on Vancouver area directories, Bishop left the film business for more common vocations. The 1923 Los Angeles entry shows he was a photoplayer (actor) before venturing into production and distribution:
Read Ivan Watson's wonderful article, published in Tweed Magazine, beginning on page 20.
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