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Updated: Oct 20, 2020

By Shannon Wray

Author

Pioneers of Mill Creek Canyon


The woods around Seven Oaks, California, were crawling with film folk in 1917. When the crew of The Savage, starring Monroe Salisbury and Ruth Clifford, left that summer, another team came in the Fall to set up camp. The film's working title was The Wolves of the North and it featured a narrative about the Northwest Mounted Police, as had The Savage. Seven Oaks was, again, posing as the wild Canadian woods.

Director Edward Le Saint was an actor who started in legitimate theater when he was a child and toured the U.S. with theater companies for 15 years before trying his hand at films for the first time in 1912. Even though production on the West Coast had only really begun in 1910, by the time Edward LeSaint arrived in Seven Oaks in 1917, he had already directed 97 movies. He was among the most experienced directors in the industry at the time and still a very much sought-after actor, too.



Louise Lovely and Jack Hoxie exemplified aspects of early Hollywood that remained for decades as time-honored traditions. Namely, the giving of "star" names, star-branded productions, ownership of an individual's persona, and the cowboy/actor. Louise Carbasse was a young, but seasoned, Australian actress who came to Los Angeles in 1915. Her sweet, youthful, blonde looks were reminiscent of Mary Pickford, who was the most popular actress at that time. When Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal Pictures, saw Louise's screen test, he remarked about how lovely she was and, on the spot, gave her a new last name and a contract.


Jack Hoxie, sometimes called Hart Hoxie, was born in what was then called Indian Territory, later Oklahoma, and was a national rodeo champion. A bonafide cowhand, he parlayed his rodeo fame into working with a national Wild West show. Hoxie found work as a stuntman in moving pictures and was one of the earliest cowboy actors, spawning a long tradition of Westerns and cowboy characters. As Donald Bayne, the wolf of the title in this movie, it's uncertain whether he stayed in the cowboy lane in this Canadian Mountie-themed film, but it seems likely based on the posters' images. It wouldn't be the first or last time that Hollywood made an unlikely pairing.

The story and script were written by Julia Maier and Doris Schroeder, but no description of the film's plot remains. The only clue to the storyline is from the publicity stunts suggested by Universal's imaginative PR machine to theater owners. "The great Canadian Northwest has for years formed the background for many stories depicting the valor of the Royal Mounted, as the Canadian Mounted Police are known, and in this feature, the doings of the organizations form an important part. The following stunts will attract attention to the feature without any great outlay on your part. If there is a customer in your town get one of your employees and dress him as a regular member of the Royal Mounted. Have him give out cards printed as follows: The Royal Mounted never gives up the trail of a criminal. I am after one now! Follow the trail to the (name of theatre) and see me catch him and win a bride in 'THE WOLF AND HIS MATE' (day and date). Or you can borrow a collie dog and have a sign painted on canvas which should be fastened securely to his back. Then turn him loose to roam through the city. The sign should read: I am looking for Louise Lovely. Please tell me where the (name of theatre) is. I know I will find her there in 'THE WOLF AND HIS MATE' on (day and date).

As a stunt and plot description, it leaves a lot to be imagined, but it gives us a sketch of the film's themes.

Production

Uncertainties seem to have plagued the movie, as the title changed from The Wolves of the North to The Wolf and His Mate when it was released then it was quickly re-cut and re-released as Wolf Bayne. There was a wolf in there somewhere, but they were darned if they could find it! Further, the uncertain weather in the San Bernardino Mountains delivered the cast and crew a big surprise. According to Motion Picture Weekly Magazine in November 1917, "ROUTED by 'hailstones as big as hens' eggs!' That's what happened to a company of photoplayers in the mountains five miles back from Seven Oaks, California, a few days ago. Each and every member of the company declares that the hailstones were the largest he had ever seen. The company in question was that of Universal Director E. J. Le Saint, who had taken his people to a picturesque location high up in the mountains, for the picture provisionally called "Wolves of the North." The day was perfect and the director and his players were making excellent progress with the work that had been laid out for the day, when suddenly the sun was obscured by clouds and then came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. Several of the women members of the company were terrified by the phenomenal change in the weather, but soon calmed themselves. To add to their alarm a hailstorm followed, the stones of unusual size pelting, it seemed to the players, like so much shrapnel. Of course, there was a scurrying to shelter, but there wasn't very much to protect them outside a number of sturdy oaks. There being no indication of a cessation

of the storm, Director Le Saint sent several of his assistants away on their horses to find, if possible, more adequate protection for the members of the company. About five hundred feet higher up in the mountains and about a quarter of a mile distant from the location, several deserted cabins were discovered, and to these, the Universal folk were removed in a hurry. The severity of the hailstorm was maintained for fully thirty minutes, and a heavy rainfall followed, lasting for the rest of the afternoon. Before the rain had ceased to fall, director Le Saint and his players started back for their quarters at Seven Oaks. On the way they were held up by a bewhiskered orchardist with the remark,

"Hello, boys, fine rain for the crops—just what we need, don't you know."

"But rough on motion picturemaking," answered Le Saint in a disgusted tone, "half a day gone to smithereens and the high cost of filming still going on."

It's very intriguing to try to guess which old cabins the film company took shelter in, and who the bewhiskered orchardist might have been. Famed rancher and apple grower Richard Stetson, pictured here, does come to mind. He was certainly bewhiskered and an orchardist and his ranch about five miles from Seven Oaks. But that's purely speculation and perhaps we will never know.

The first release of The Wolf and His Mate was on January 8, 1918. Maybe the publicity stunts didn't work, or for some reason audiences found the film wanting. It was rushed to a second incarnation under the title Wolf Bayne with little fanfare and no better result.

Aftermath

Edward Le Saint's career as a director waned by the mid-1920s. However, he was a busy working actor until 1940. Le Saint played stock characters, including the judge in the film Reefer Madness, the sheriff in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, and the doctor in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. He appeared in films with Gary Cooper, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Fay Wray, Rita Hayworth, and scores of other stars. His final film, A Night at Earl Carroll's was released on December 6, 1940, three months after his death at the age of 69.

Louise Lovely's story was a cautionary tale, but not an unusual one in early Hollywood. In 1917, when she came to Seven Oaks, she was in a heated dispute with Universal over wages. To mollify her, the studio made her head of her own production company, Louise Lovely Productions, but gave her no real power over her own projects. Shortly after The Wolf and His Mate released in 1918, she discovered that Universal actually owned her name and that, legally, they could stop her from working for any other studio. Furious, she left Universal and tried to work for other studios, but she was blacklisted for a year. Eventually, she received a contract at Fox to make Westerns, but the savor was gone. Louise tried production for a brief time with a star search sort of roadshow. Finally, disaffected, she returned to Australia in 1926, where she tried valiantly to kick start a film industry in her home country, making ten films there. Ultimately, it wasn't as successful as Miss Lovely hoped, and she returned to vaudeville with a version of her touring star search show. At the end of her life, she was known as the sweet little old lady who ran the candy shop in the Prince of Wales Theatre in the town of Hobart, Tasmania, where she lived. She passed away in 1980 at 85.

Jack Hoxie made 136 films, but mostly during the silent era, and many of them only featured him as a stunt actor. His days as a leading man were cut short by the advent of sound. Not only was his voice odd-sounding as recorded by the equipment of the time, but he was also mostly illiterate and couldn't read a script to learn written dialogue. Hoxie continued as a stunt performer into the early 1930s until he left Hollywood to star in his own Wild West circus, which toured for many years. By the 1940s, he had retired to a ranch in Oklahoma, and he passed away at the age of 80 in 1965.

The Wolf and His Mate and Wolf Bayne are now lost.




Copyright 2020, Shannon E. Wray. All Rights Reserved. No reprints in whole or part without permission.

www.shannonwray.com


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Updated: Oct 20, 2020

by Shannon Wray

Author

Pioneers of Mill Creek Canyon

Following on the big success of The Savage, filmed in Seven Oaks, California, and starring Ruth Clifford and Monroe Salisbury, husband and wife film directors Rupert Julian and Elsie Jane Wilson were at the top of Universal Pictures' Bluebird Photo Plays roster.

Before The Savage was even released in November 1917, Elsie Jane Wilson's career as a director was expanding into longer features. According to the Los Angeles Times, between 1915 and 1920, Miss Wilson directed more than 30 feature films for Universal as well as many shorts. She became one of the studio’s top-ranked filmmakers. It was an ascendant time for women in film, and Carl Laemmle, head of Universal, was very unusual in his support for women producers, directors, and writers.



Rupert Julian also thrived, writing, directing, and starring in a film that would make him an international celebrity. The world was in the grip of war and Julian bore a striking resemblance to Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm. The 1918 film The Kaiser: Beast of Berlin, was Julian's contribution to the war effort by using his prodigious talents for propaganda. The Beast of Berlin made $1 million at the box office and Julian into one of the most bankable men in Hollywood.



The following June in 1919, Rupert Julian announced that he was leaving Universal and forming his own company. Hollywood was changing. The open-handed creativity of collaborative ensembles gave way to the power of a few studios and studio heads. These men purchased and amalgamated small companies, transforming them into giants with a tight grip on the funds to make and distribute films. At the same time that Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith wrested creative and financial control of their work from their studios by forming United Artists, many other actors, directors, and writers in the new industry found themselves at odds with the studios. By late 1920, Rupert Julian and Elsie Jane Wilson, two film professionals at the top of their game, mysteriously retired and went abroad.

THE GIRL WHO RAN WILD


On July 11, 1922, the Los Angeles Evening Express reported, “Keen interest attends the return to Universal City of Rupert Julian, the man who made ‘The Best of Berlin’ and other big money-makers who is now acting in the capacity of director behind Gladys Walton’s current effort. When the script of Bret Harte’s classic, ‘M’liss,’ retitled ‘The Girl Who Ran Wild,’ was presented to him for reading, he came out of his temporary retirement with an enthusiastic, ‘Aye!’”


The Girl Who Ran Wild was a remake of M’liss, which had already been made into films in 1915 and 1918 respectively, starring Babara Tennant then Mary Pickford. It's the story of a girl left alone in a cabin in the California Redwoods when her father dies. Melissa Smith, played by Gladys Walton, is known as the county "wildcat," an untamed girl with snarled hair and an absence of manners who actually tries to hold up a stagecoach on her own. The new schoolmaster in the area, played by Vernon Steele, takes the feral girl in hand and teaches her how to become a more civilized young lady. Although Melissa initially resists the teacher’s tutelage, she falls in love with him. When the village belle sets her cap for the teacher, Melissa applies herself to learning how to win her mentor’s heart.


THE CAST and CREW


GLADYS WALTON as Melissa Smith

MARC B. ROBBINS as Melissa's father, "Bummer" Smith

VERNON STEELE as the schoolmaster

JOSEPH J. DOWLING as Calaveras John

WILLIAM BURGESS as Johnny Cake

AL HART as the preacher

NELSON MC DOWELL as Deacon McSnagley

LLOYD WHITLOCK as Jack Velvet

LUCILE RICKSEN as Clytie, the village belle

WILFRID NORTH

JOSEPH BELMONT

PRODUCTION

Rupert Julian and Elsie Jane Wilson in the foreground with the cast and crew of The Girl Who Ran Wild.


Both Rupert Julian and Gladys Walton reportedly were glad to have a new start. Miss Walton, who had been an unknown teenager in Portland, Oregon little more than two years prior, had already begun to be typecast in light comedies. The Los Angeles Times reported that The Girl Who Ran Wild "will be the first heavy role which the hitherto flapperish Gladys has ever portrayed. She declares herself delighted at the opportunity to do some real drama.” Rupert Julian chose to return to Seven Oaks to use the small resort area as the redwoods in Calaveras County. The cast and crew arrived on June 26, 1922, to settle in for several weeks of production.

The following day, while shooting an action scene, things went terribly wrong. According to the San Bernardino County Sun, "Several scenes had been shot when, just before noon, the director. . .Rupert Julian ordered a scene in which the main action was a swiftly oncoming stagecoach. The scene was being shot near the Glass sawmill, on Barton Flats. The driver started the horses at a rapid pace, rushing down toward the camera. When just opposite the instrument, the swaying coach is said to have hit a rut in the road with such force that the body of the old vehicle was half lifted from the running gear. The horses, terrified, plunged ahead, threw the three men and the driver to the ground." Members of the crew swiftly loaded the injured men into production automobiles. They drove the middle control road over Mountain Home Canyon to Kate Harvey's control in Mill Creek Canyon, where they were met by emergency vehicles and taken to the Redlands hospital. It was at first thought that the actors had sustained internal injuries. Gladys Walton was riding in the coach at the time of the accident, but she was the only cast member who was uninjured in the coach. Wilfrid North and Joseph Belmont, neither of whom are credited in the film as actors and both of them also directors, may have been directing the scene as the second unit. North suffered several broken ribs and Belmont a badly broken leg. The inauspicious start to filming didn't stop production, however, and the cast and crew continued to work in Seven Oaks until the middle of August.

AFTERMATH


The Girl Who Ran Wild made few waves when it released on October 9, 1922. However, the film did get Rupert Julian back on the directing horse, so to speak. The following year, Irving Thalberg fired Erich von Stroheim from the movie Merry Go Round and replaced the famed Austrian director with Rupert Julian. Julian’s handling of the problematic situation and lavish film gave him the opportunity to later direct The Phantom of the Opera for the screen for the first time. He would go on to a three-picture deal with Cecil B. DeMille, but by the time the sound era was upon Hollywood, around 1926, Julian’s career was winding down. He made his last film, The Cat Creeps, in 1930 and officially retired in 1936. Rupert Julian succumbed to a stroke in 1943.


Elsie Jane Wilson returned to directing with Universal in 1923 after she and her husband returned from Europe. Increasingly, she was put in charge of productions thought of as women’s pictures and given the series of Baby Peggy movies to write and direct with Julian producing. After this series of films, her career faltered, as many women directors' working lives did when sound pictures became the trend. Studio heads considered the addition of sound too difficult for women to direct due to the technicalities. By 1930, Ms. Wilson's directing days were over, and she and her husband retired to their lavish Hollywood Hills estate, Krotona Court, which was built in 1912 as a center for the Theosophical Society. After Rupert's death, Elsie moved a short distance away and lived in relative seclusion until 1965 when she passed away on January 16th.


Gladys Walton, the young star of The Girl Who Ran Wild, worked very hard during her time at Universal, so hard that she burned out and left motion pictures by 1928. However, she paved the way for Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore, and Clara Bow with her “Glad Gladys” wild young flapper persona. It is rumored that she had a ten-year affair with mobster Al Capone and spent considerable time with him at his hideout at Two Bunch Palms in the Coachella Valley.


Curiously, Rupert Julian’s early silent films for Bluebird Photo Plays inspired the first generation of Japanese filmmakers and created a foundation for Japanese cinema that lasted for decades. Filmmaker, Teinosuke Kinugasa is said by Enic-Cine to have “studied Rupert Julian’s films thoroughly down to the minutest details.”

Both The Savage and The Girl Who Ran Wild are now lost. Mary Pickford's version of M'liss, however, survives and is available to view here.


Copyright 2020, Shannon E. Wray. All Rights Reserved. No reprints in whole or part without permission.

www.shannonwray.com


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Updated: Dec 21, 2020

by Shannon Wray

Author

Pioneers of Mill Creek Canyon


During the early silent film era, Seven Oaks, a small mountain resort enclave along the Santa Ana River in the San Bernardino Mountains was the scene of several movies, two by the same film-makers. The first was The Savage, made in the summer of 1917, and the second was The Girl Who Ran Wild made in the summer of 1922. The five-year window between productions offers a unique insight into the early days of Hollywood and Southern California locations as well as a fascinating husband and wife film-making team.

Seven Oaks, California, 1900, courtesy USC, Charles E. Young Research Library


SEVEN OAKS

Charles Matthew Lewis arrived in the United States in 1870, wanting to escape the foul weather of his British homeland and went first to St. Louis, Missouri, then to Minnesota where he learned how truly unpleasant weather can be. After reading an article about the climate in Southern California, he left Denver with a train of twenty wagons heading to Salt Lake City and on to San Bernardino in 1874. The wagon train arrived in California in October, and Lewis outfitted for prospecting then made his way to Holcomb Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains to try his hand at gold mining. The following year, he went on a fishing trip with a guide into the Upper Santa Ana River area, and when they entered a tree-shaded glen along the river, Lewis is said to have exclaimed, “We go no farther! It is like my old home!” Lewis was 37 and ready to put down roots, so he staked his claim and homesteaded the lovely little river valley.


Between 1876 and 1880, Lewis raised sheep, taking them to winter in the valley below the mountains that would later become Redlands, California. In 1883, when the trail to Bear Valley became more heavily traveled during the building of the Big Bear Dam, Lewis opened his homestead to travelers and expanded it into a rustic resort. Hospitality came naturally to him as he had worked in the hotel business in London and Dublin as a younger man. No one who passed his home went hungry or wanted for a place to stay.


In 1893, a journalist writing for the Redlands Citrograph newspaper offered a tantalizing glimpse of Lewis and Seven Oaks, which then had about a dozen cabins and tent houses situated in a beautiful meadow by the river. “Seven Oaks, though located in a timber region where live oaks abound was so named by its owner in honor of his birthplace in [Kent] England, rather than from any adaptation to its surroundings. Here for sixteen years Matthew Lewis, a small, active and wiry Englishman, has lived the life of a mountain bachelor. During that time his place has been popularly known as ‘Louie’s place,’ creating the impression that he was a Frenchman which is not the case. It is one of the most enchanting spots ever conceived for a secluded mountain residence, and fills one with the exhilarating sense of its natural healthfulness.”


In 1901, William H. Glass, who had been the fifth district San Bernardino County Supervisor at the tender age of 24 and served two terms, bought the property from Matthew Lewis with the proviso that half the land would remain the old pioneer's home for his lifetime. Glass also purchased a contiguous 640-acre section of land that encompassed Barton Flats and Captain Lester Jenks' property. After 43 years in Seven Oaks, Charles Matthew Lewis passed away on June 26, 1917, a little less than two months before a film crew arrived to make the film The Savage.


THE FILMMAKERS

Rupert Julian, 1917 Elsie Jane Wilson, 1920


An often overlooked aspect of American cinema in the 1910s is that there were several married couples, such as Ida May Park and Joseph DeGrasse, and Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley, who wrote, directed, and produced films together. Some took turns in these roles as they cranked out five-reelers as a team. Actor/director Rupert Julian and his wife Elsie Jane Wilson, also an actor, writer, and director, were among them.


Rupert Julian, was born in Whangaroa, New Zealand, in 1879, the son of a wealthy rancher. In his own words in Moving Picture Weekly, Julian described his wild path to becoming a filmmaker. “After failing at all 'honest work,' you know, I tried the stage. I had been various other things before entering pictures— a sailor before the mast, for example; a tea salesman, the engineer of a donkey engine, a gold prospector in the wilds of Australia, as well as an officer of the British army, and a prisoner of the Boers. When I determined to try the stage, it nearly broke my mother's heart.” However, he won the heart of Elsie Jane Wilson in 1905 while touring Australia with a theater company. Elsie was born in Sydney in 1885 and had been performing in the theater since she was two years old. The pair married in 1906 and continued to tour Australia and New Zealand until 1911 when they moved to New York. Rupert found work in a national touring company of Julius Caesar co-starring with Tyrone Power Sr. then, the Julians decided to work in the new motion picture industry on the West Coast, arriving in 1914. Both Rupert and Elsie acted in dozens of short films, he in 15 just in the first three months after they arrived in Los Angeles. Both contracted with the Rex Motion Picture Manufacturing Company, where they began to work with ensemble casts and crews, writing, directing, and often producing. One of their first collaborations was a two-reeler entitled The Human Cactus, written by Elsie, produced by Rupert, directed by Elsie, and starring both.

The Rex company became part of Universal Pictures in 1912 during a merger of several motion picture studios under the Universal umbrella. In 1916, Carl Laemmle, the head of Universal, created three brands to market Universal’s films. Red Feather was for low budget shorter pictures, Bluebird Photo Plays better-quality five-reel features, and Jewel the longer, premier features with only a handful produced each year. Bluebird Photo Plays became the brand of many of the hard-working husband and wife teams and Rupert Julian was one of its preferred directors and stars. Julian favored literary works, adaptations of stage plays, or novels for the films he directed.

THE SAVAGE

The Savage was a departure from the more literary tone of Julian's films, however, and an original story by Elliott J. Clawson, who was a long-time member of the Julians' merry band of film-making talents. The Savage was, as one wit termed the genre, a “Mountiesploitation” movie with Seven Oaks posing as Quebec, Canada. Monroe Salisbury’s role as described in Moving Picture Weekly in 1917 was "Julio Sandoval, a half-breed in the Canadian woods, [who] holds his position as leader of the Indians, half-breeds and white traders through quickness on the trigger, and a cunning which he inherited from his mother, a full-blooded Indian." As the scenario played out, many years before, Julio had rescued 8-year-old Marie Louise, the daughter of one of the men at the fort. As the picture opens, Marie Louise returns from finishing school a beautiful young woman who is engaged to Captain McKeever of the Northwest Mounted Police. When Julio sees Marie Louise, played by Ruth Clifford, his passion for his French-Canadian sweetheart, Lizette, played by Colleen Moore, cools. Lizette tries to make Julio jealous by taking up with Joe Bedotte, the leader of the whiskey runners in the mountains who continually evade the police. When Captain McKeever goes after Bedotte, the whiskey gang overwhelms and captures the Mountie. "The next day, Julio Sandoval's passion for Marie overcomes him, and he takes her willy nilly to his cabin way up in the mountains. Here takes place a tremendous struggle between his innate chivalry and his desire, and before the contest is decided, mountain fever overtakes Julio.” Marie Louise stays with Julio to nurse him and he, in turn, helps her to rescue Captain McKeever, though “the savage” Julio loses his life in the process.

THE CAST

RUTH CLIFFORD as Marie Louise

MONROE SALISBURY as Julio Sandoval

COLLEEN MOORE as Lizette

ALLAN SEARS as Captain McKeever


W.H. BAINBRIDGE as Michael Montague, Marie Louise’s father

ARTHUR TAVARES as Joe Bedotte

GEORGE FRANKLIN as Baptiste

DUKE R. LEE as Pierre

PRODUCTION


In mid-July 1917, Rupert Julian signed Monroe Salisbury to an exclusive deal for Bluebird Photo Plays and his productions. Salisbury was just coming off of two major hits in the lengthy features Ramona and The Eyes of the World. His popularity was very high.


On July 21, 1917, Julian and his production manager went on a trip to scout locations for his upcoming films, The Desire of the Moth, a curiously named Western, and for The Savage. They toured from Mill Creek Canyon to Big Bear and considered areas around Mt. Whitney but selected Seven Oaks for The Savage.


After wrapping The Desire of the Moth at the beginning of August, the Julians traveled with a cast and crew of 50 to Seven Oaks the week of August 12, 1917, to set up for production of The Savage. Seventeen-year-old Ruth Clifford had the starring roles in all but two of Rupert Julian’s films that year, beginning with A Kentucky Cinderella, and many of the stock players and crew had been together working on the previous five Julian films. Sixteen-year-old Colleen Moore was a relative newcomer to motion pictures and was the lone outsider in the group. D.W. Griffith had signed her to Fine Art Pictures as a favor to Moore's aunt, actress Elizabeth Kelly. Griffith went to Europe and, with her contract in limbo, Colleen was going from studio to studio looking for work and picked up the role of Lizette. Both of the character actors, W.H. Bainbridge, and Arthur Tavares, had worked with Monroe Salisbury in The Eyes of the World, and Tavares was familiar with the mountains as his role in that film had been mainly shot in the San Bernardinos.

As production got underway, Motion Picture World reported on The Savage under the headline, “Seven-Year-Old Tot Dares Icy Water for Film Scene.” Although the young actress’s role in the film isn’t identified in the article, the scene was likely the flashback to Marie Louise’s rescue as a little girl. “Little Elizabeth Janes, who is playing an important part in Rupert Julian’s latest Bluebird Photoplay, ‘The Savage,’ proved recently that, though she is only seven years old, she has all the pluck required of a real grown-up motion picture star. Julian’s company, headed by Ruth Clifford and Monroe Salisbury, were staging scenes for the photoplay at Seven Oaks, up in the mountains. In one of the scenes, Elizabeth had to plunge into the icy-cold waters of a mountain stream. The day was extremely warm, and the shock to little Elizabeth when she went into the chilly water flowing down from the snow-capped peak was severe. When she emerged the muscles of her limbs and body were drawn into knots that required an hour’s massaging to relax. However, the scene was not satisfactory and she had to do it again, and then a third time before the scene finally was declared perfect. But Elizabeth never flinched – she’s game all the way through.”


As evidenced by the article, the Santa Ana River was a big attraction for the film-makers as it continues to be for visitors. Motion Picture Weekly noted, "There is a scene in which the heroine wades in the brook, which presents one of the most entrancing sylvan glimpses that

has ever been photographed. Ruth [Clifford] looks like a nymph of the glade come

back to earth from classic times."


Although the film's directing credit officially went to Rupert Julian, according to Mark Garrett Cooper, Ruth Clifford later recalled during an interview that Elsie Jane Wilson directed her in the film. It may be telling that Elsie had acting roles in most of the prior films that year, but did not act in The Savage. She may have been too busy directing. The truth about who directed may be that both members of the husband and wife team took turns directing different parts of the movie, as they often did. The sheer volume of moving pictures made in such short periods of time leaves us very few behind-the-scenes details about productions during that era.


The cast and crew were in Seven Oaks for two weeks shooting exteriors before returning to Universal City to complete the interiors for The Savage, which released on November 19, 1917. The ads for the film shouted, “Some of the most beautiful and picturesque vistas of mountain and forest ever shown upon the screen will frame the thrilling story of love and adventure to be disclosed in Bluebird photoplays.” The ads also touted the wonders of Seven Oaks.


Universal's marketing strategy for the film was very interesting. In Motion Picture Weekly, it was suggested that theater owners try the following strategy. "Engage two men to ride

around town or in the vicinity of your theatre on horseback. Attire them in trappers' costumes, giving one the appearance of a half-breed (a little brown make-up on the face and a long-haired black wig will do the trick), and the other that of a deputy (a star-shaped shield will produce the effect). The half-breed, his hands bound with a lasso should trail behind or be led by the deputy, who can hand out heralds containing the following

copy: This man is THE SAVAGE See him on the screen at the (name of theatre) on (day and

date) in the remarkable Bluebird Photoplay THE SAVAGE. If you do not care to engage two

men required for this ballyhoo, we have the following suggestion to offer. Hire one man to ride around town or in the vicinity of your theatre in the deputy's make-up above described

and distribute handbills reading as follows:

LIBERAL REWARD!

For any information leading to

the whereabouts of

Marie Louise

of Cheval Blanc, Canada.

Last seen with Julio Sandoval,

alias "The Savage."

For further information see the

Bluebird Feature.


It would be interesting to know how many theater owners employed this strategy! In any case, The Savage was a big success for Universal.


Coming Soon - CINEMATIC SEVEN OAKS - Part II: The Girl Who Ran Wild another film produced in Seven Oaks, California by Rupert Julian.


Copyright 2020, Shannon E. Wray. All Rights Reserved. No reprints in whole or part without permission.

www.shannonwray.com


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