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Volume 2380

THE CONTROVERSY
AROUND ERB'S FIRST FILM

Companion Page to ERBzine Silver Screen's Volume 0450
THE LAD AND THE LION
All-Story Weekly - June 30, 1917 - The Lad and the Lion 1/3
The Cave Girl 
(1915)
The Isle of Content 
( 1915)
The Lad and the Lion 
(1917) 
.
THE ISLE OF CONTENT
Although the 1918 silent film, Tarzan of the Apes, starring Elmo Lincoln is usually credited as being the first movie adaptation of an Edgar Rice Burroughs story, ERB film scholars are aware of the 1917 release, The Lad and the Lion. This five-reel feature film was produced by Selig Plyscope Co. ERB, however, had once complained that Selig  had produced a plagiarized version of The Cave Girl two years earlier, in 1915 -- without his permission. They had used the title, The Isle of Content for this pirated version. To date, no copy of this film has been found but the US Library of Congress catalogue of Copyright Entries - Motion Pictures - 1912-1939 has the following entry:
THE ISLE OF CONTENT. 1915. 3 reels.
Credits: Director, George Nichols,
(c) Selig Plyscope Company (A. B. Himes, author);
17 July 15; LP5909
The only other known record of this lost film is contained in the magazine, "Picture Play Weekly" a pulp that published lengthy, scene-by-scene stories, faithfully adapted from silent films of the day. The July 31, 1915 issue of "Picture Play Weekly" features an adaptation of The Isle of Content

The female lead in the film is Anna Luther. Interestingly, male star of the film is Eugene Palette, who 20 years later became famous as one of the leading character actors in scores of films -- a 300-pound, gargantuan-bellied, frog-voiced staple in screwball comedies and B movies. Two years later, Vivian Reed, starred in the Lad and the Lion as Nakula.

Selig's three-reel release for the first week of August 1915 was the muddled melodrama The Isle of Content. The title refers to the South Sea hideaway discovered during a storm by a salty sea captain. Feeling rested and relaxed for the first time in his life, the captain is reluctant to leave his little island, but he feels he is needed at home; however, upon his return, he discovers that his wife is dallying with another man. 

Thus, taking his five-year-old daughter along, the captain returns permanently to his Isle of Content. The rest of the story concentrates on the grown-up daughter and her romance with a handsome castaway. Featured in the supporting cast is a somewhat moth-eaten leopard, undoubtedly a resident of the Selig zoo. 

~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide 
THE CAST

Jane: Anna Luther
Ralph Ashton: Eugene Palette
Rosett van Nott: Vivian Reed
Captain Spragot: Al Filson
.
ANNA LUTHER
The First Jane
ERB Screen Heroines

Anna Luther (July 7, 1897 - December 16, 1960 Hollywood) was an American silent film actress, born in New Jersey the daughter of a New York sewing machine sales representative, her mother’s maiden name was Limonick.   Anna had married a New York attorney by the name of Samuel E. Driboen in 1913, but it ended in divorce, around the time she started her film career. She loved  being in front of the camera.  Anna seems to be a woman of open passions. 

She was making films as early as 1913, working for Reliance Films. She went to leads within two months after having been cast for her first screen drama. Anna entered motion picture as the result of a wager.  “I’m going to stay in the motion picture forever.” Little Miss Anna Luther in an interview stated as she showed her pearly white teeth in a fascinating laugh. Newspapers described her hair as having an orange hue. She was the daughter of a New York sewing machine peddler. She was married to Edward Gallagher.

Anna Luther was known as the little lady who was not afraid to take a chance.  She was ready and willing to undertake any “stunt” that will add realism to the picture. Anna never appeared on the stage doing “spoken drama” but by 1914, she appeared in the serial “The Changeling” and “The Wolf” for Lubin working in Canada at Hudson, Quebec.  Anna was called a "Fifth Ave, Girl of Movies" when she was working at St. Augustine Florida. Tom Terriss signed her to play the part of the wife in “A Man’s Shadow,” later called “The Pursuing Shadow”.

 It wasn't long before Anna came west to join Selig Pacific Coast again in Moving Picture World dated May 8, 1915, is an announcement that Anna would be undertaking leading roles in dramas for Selig.  In previous motion picture dramas, Anna had been thrown from a yacht in mid-ocean, dropped from an airplane in a parachute but had never worked with animals.  “I want to work in a Selig wild animal picture; I am anxious for the opportunity.  I want to take a chance,” said Anna Luther and she smiled. So began Anna in a number of Selig Polyscope, many directed by Mabel Normand’s friend and co-star, George Nichols.

ANNA LUTHER“The Isle of Content” (Lubin 1915) was a three-act Lubin feature drama featuring Vivian Reed, Anna Luther and Eugene Pallette, a beautiful story, a love and sacrifice of a girl discovered on a desolate island by a shipwrecked man is cast up on the island and together they live happily and together they live happily for a year until he finds a bag of diamonds, then his desire civilization brings them back to civilization and later marries her rescuer.  He later tires of her and plans to elope with another woman.  His wife frustrating his plans by drugging him and taking him back to the island.  After seeing where he is and finding his wife bending over him, he holds out his arms and with one glad cry, she is in them.

 Anna was getting little stories put in the Daisy Dean, column, News Notes from Movieland by the Keystone Studio in May 26, 1916.  She was working at a 10 days shot at a comedy at Huntington Lake, in September 1916.  According to an article in The New York Times in the week's specimen of studio repartee is taken from the Fox press bulletin.  September 17, 1916: 

      "Here is the eighth wonder of the photoplay world: Anna Luther, the famous William Fox star, has a 125-power automobile and yet she has never, never been stopped for speeding.  Miss Luther boasted of this herself when Willard Louis cut in with:
      "'What's the matter?  Can't the cops catch you?'"

“Her Moment” (1918 Author’s Photo-Plays) Anna tried her hand at modeling during 1918, as a way to promote her motion picture career.  As a “role model”, she showed her fans the type of coat that promised "not to crush the daintiest of gowns as the smart little misses motoring during the summer".

In 1919, Anna was filming in Florida making “The Jungle Trail” in Miami & Everglades and in 1920, “Why Women Sin” (Barton King Pro/Wisteria filmed in Miami FL).

   It may be that Anna aspirated to move on to head her own production company like Ruth Roland had done.  Anna had a good start, she had played important parts and with success in serials for Pathe in 1919, perhaps she could have her own company.  In 1920, newspapers referred to Anna Luther as (and I quote)…"one of the great actresses of the day.”

The comedy term of Gallagher & Shean were a tremendous hit at the Ziegfeld Follies earning an unheard high salary of $1,500 a week. At the peak of their fame, Edward Gallagher married Anna Luther in Greenwich, Connecticut just before Christmas on December 17, 1923.  When Gallagher married Anna he was a man of 50 and Anna admitted to being 26, she was wife number 4. Al Shean was the best man.  Anna and Ed separated in February 1924, just 2 months later, Ed continued to play on the road and Anna returned to making films. 

 In 1925, Gallagher suffered a nervous breakdown perhaps due to stress, alcoholism and problems with his marriage to Anna, and other ailments, he entered the Rivercrest Sanitarium in Astoria, Queens, where he died.  Edwards’s third wife, a former Ziegfeld girl, Hilda Moreno cared for him, paying for his hospitalization.

Anna's separation from Ed opened a rather strange chapter in Anna’s life. Jack White was a married millionaire, who undertook to promote Anna while she was in New York in 1923. Jack accompanied Anna to California in a private drawing room on their journey west, in violation of the Mann Act. The Act prohibited white slavery; it banned the interstate transport of females for “immoral purposes.” Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking.

Jack (J. Frank) White had promised Anna a four motion picture deal that he would produce and she would star in once they got to Hollywood and he would pay her $1,500 a week.  Anna sued him for breach of contract for $100,000. Jack testified that Anna had a bad reputation and that she had solicited him to finance a corporation to make movies and that she told him that she was unmarried.  Jack demanding a return of $10,000 he had spent on her film career.  Jack maintained that Anna had attacked him verbally and physically when he told her that various sources had explained that she was a “has-been” without any prospect in the movie industry in California once they were in Hollywood. 

Anna charged that Jack had made “violent love” to her during a transcontinental trip to Hollywood.  Both attacked the character of the other, which were bad enough that they couldn’t be printed in the newspapers.  The vivid stories of Anna’s romantic relationships were aired in court, however.  Anna explained that she was “duped into compromising situations.” 

Jack had a very good attorney.  He got Anna to admit that she only had $141 in the bank account and yet the rent on her place in Great Neck, New York was $2,500, the attorney claimed that Anna had told Jack to either pay her the money she wanted or “watch out for what happened to William Desmond Taylor”.  The judge stated that Anna had no contract and he dropped her suit. She filed a motion for a new trial. She brought unwelcome shame to the Hollywood community and became a social pariah.

 She continued to work in films throughout her life but after 1924, largely in uncredited roles. At an annual get together of the Sennett’s Keystone Kops and Bathing Beauties in May of 1950, Anna insisted that she was one of Sennett’s few dramatic actresses because she never got hit with a pie. She laughed: “They just slapped me on the posterior.  That made me a dramatic actress.”

Anna lived her last 20 years in California, she died at the Motion Picture Home on December 16, 1960 and the burial was at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles, plot: Maimonides 1, L-9530, space 4.

 Adapted from IMDB and "Who Was Anna Luther"
.
EUGENE PALLETTE

Eugene William Pallette (July 8, 1889 – September 3, 1954) was an American actor. He appeared in over 240 silent era and sound era motion pictures between 1913 and 1946.

After an early career as a slender leading man, Pallette appeared for decades as very obese with a large stomach and deep, gravelly voice, probably best-remembered for comic character roles such as Alexander Bullock, Carole Lombard's father, in My Man Godfrey (1936), as Friar Tuck in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) starring Errol Flynn, and his similar role as Fray Felipe in The Mark of Zorro (1940) starring Tyrone Power.

Pallette attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana. He then began his acting career on the stage in stock company roles, appearing for a period of six years.

Pallette began his silent movie career as an extra in about 1911. His first credited appearance was in the one-reel short western/drama The Fugitive (1913) which was directed by Wallace Reid for Flying "A" Studios at Santa Barbara. The star was Edward Coxen.

Quickly advancing to featured status, Pallette appeared in many westerns. He worked with D.W. Griffith on such films as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916). At this time, he had a slim, athletic figure, a far cry from the portly build that would gain him fame later in his career.

After gaining a substantial amount of weight, Pallette gained status as a recognizable character actor in hundreds of films. In 1927, he signed as a regular for Hal Roach Studios and was a reliable comic foil in several early Laurel and Hardy movies. In later years, Pallette's weight may have topped out at 300 pounds (136 kg).

.
VIVIAN REED
Born Pittsburgh, PA ~  April 17, 1894
Died Woodland Hills, CA ~ July 19, 1989 (aged 95)
Spouse:  Alfred E. Green
 

SUPPPORTING CAST
George Nichols
A. B. Himes
Al Filson
Anna Luther Filmography
The Wayward Bus (1957)... Uncredited bit role
Prince Valiant (1954)(uncredited)
Easy to Love (1953) ... Hotel Guest (uncredited)
Casanova Brown (1944) ... Woman at Baby Window (uncredited)
Meet John Doe (1941 uncredited)
There Goes My Heart (1938) ... Customer (uncredited)
The Fatal Plunge (1924) (as Ann Luther) .... Aline Moreton
Sinners in Silk (1924) (as Anne Luther) .... Mimi
Ten After Ten (1924) (as Anne Luther)
The Governor's Lady (1923) (as Ann Luther) .... Katherine Strickland
The Truth About Wives (1923) (as Ann Luther) .... Letty Lorraine
The Woman Who Believed (1922)
Soul and Body (1921) (as Ann Luther) .... Katinka Vechez
Why Women Sin (1920) (as Anne Luther) .... Dorothy Pemberton
The Lurking Peril (1919) .... Phyllis Charlton
The Great Gamble (1919) .... Aline Moreton/Nell Moreton
The Jungle Trail (1919) .... Mary Lamar
Woman, Woman! (1919) .... Madame Cecile Langdorf
Her Moment (1918) .... Katinka Veche
... aka "Why Blame Me?" - USA (copyright title)
The Marriage Bubble (1918 Short)
Moral Suicide (1918) (as Anne Luther) .... Beatrice Covington
Love and Logs (1917 Short)
Her Father's Station (1917 Short)
Melting Millions (1917) .... Jane
The Island of Desire (1917) .... Miss Needham
The Beast (1916) .... Mildred Manning
The Sacrifice (1916 Short)
Bath Tub Perils (1916) (Short) The Newlywed Bride (first part)
The Village Vampire (1916)  (Short) The Station Agent's Daughter
The Manicure Girl (1916)  (Short) The Manicure Girl
I'm Glad My Boy Grew Up to Be a Soldier (1915) .... Mercy Archer
Crooked to the End (1915 short)... The Station Master's Daughter
Mutiny in the Jungle (1915)... The Colonel's Daughter
When Love Is Mocked (1915)... Mme. La Glou
The Scarlet Lady (1915)... Doris Gray
The Isle of Content (1915) ... Jane Spragot
The Pursuing Shadow (A Man's Shadow) (1915) .... Julie Dexter
Hounded (1914)
The Wolf (1914) (as Ann Luther)
The Changeling (1914) (Hudson, Quebec)
The Man from the Sea (1914 Short)... Marjorie Sheppard
The Double Life (1914 Short) ... Alice - the Daughter
The Attorney's Decision (1914 Short) ... Mimi - a Dancer
Three Men and a Woman (1914 Short)... Olive Cadman
The Debt (1914 Short)... Maysie Belle
The Fly Leaf of Fate (1913)
Hearts of the Dark (1913)

ERBzine Silver Screen :: The ERB Movies
www.ERBzine.com/movies


Featured in the following page is the Picture Play Weekly adaptation of 
THE ISLE OF CONTENT
The reader may make up his own mind as to 
how close this story line follows ERB's novel, The Cave Girl
In any case we are able to give some exposure to
a rare, long lost film from the early days of movie making.

The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
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Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
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