The Octoroon (1913)
Moving Picture World, November 15, 1913, page 716
Kalem Makes a Fine Feature Picture Based on Boucicault's Famous Melodrama -- Many Thrilling Situations
Among the legitimate dramatic productions that have made their mark on the American stage, few are more adaptable to the requirements of the motion picture producer than Boucicault. Thought the story it tells and the times and questions it deals with have long since ceased to posess the vital interest they did at the time the play was written, the subject is replete with thrilling situations that serve to make the picture one of unusual interest.
Scene from "The Octoroon" (Kalem).
The story is that of a young man who returns to his home in the south after many years' absence. It is during slavery days, and when the young man falls in love with an octoroon girl a difficult situation is created. This is further complicated when a former overseer buys the unfortunate girl at an auction of slaves after having stolen her freedom papers. To make matters worse, this overseer, who is the villain of the play, kills a boy and rifles the mail bag he carried containg valuable letters.
Subsequently the overseer's crime is discovered by means of a photograph which was taken at the time the murder was comitted and he is arrested and placed upon a river steamboat to be taken to jail. He sets fire to the boat and escapes, but is followed by the Indian companion of the murdered boy, who finally kills him.
Scene from "The Octoroon" (Kalem).
With the discovery of the overseer's crime the freedom papers of the octoroon girl are recovered, together with the letter containing a draft of sufficient amount to release the plantation from the debt to the overseer. But the octoroon, believing that she is doomed to become the slave of the overseer, commits suicide just as her fredom is regained, and her lover is thus released.
In producing this picture the Kalem Company has secured the true sothern atmosphere. The scenes were taken in Florida and are beautiful to the last degree. Guy Coombs takes the part of George Peyton, the leading male character, and Marguerite Courtot is particularly charming in the part of Zoe, the octoroon. The fire on the river boat is sufficiently realistic to satisfy the most exacting critic; it gives a distinct thrill. Exciting indeed is the chase of the overseer by the Indian. It is with considerable suspense that we watched the frantic flight of the overseer and the stealthy trailing of his victim by the avenger. We were not permitted to witness the final struggle in its entirety, but a white clutching hand, trembling for a moment above the reeds of a swamp, and presently the appearance of the Indian wiping his knife tells the story of vengeance accompished.
That the Kalem players have done justice to the play in this excellent production will be the verdict of all who see it. The story is well told and the picture, in its entirety, is fully as interesting as the dramatic rendition. It will prove a distinct feature.
Dion Boucicault's Greatest Play
in Three Parts
In the fifty-two years "THE OCTOROON" has beenpresented upon the stage, this immortal drama has been seen by millions of people the world over.
You, Mr. Exhibitor, get the benefit of this popularity in booking the KALEM motion picture adaption of Dion Boucicault's masterpiece. The millions who have seen "THE OCTOROON" produced upon the stage will flock to see it flashed upon the screen. With them will comas as many more who have heard of this great play.
The motion picture story is even stronger in its appeal that (sic) the original. The terrible steamboat fire, Wahnotee's deadly pursuit of McCloskey, and other vital incidents are clad with a realism unknown to the stage.
"THE OCTOROON" will appear in regular service -- all licensed exchanges can supply you. Get your share of the money it will earn.
The posters for this feature are two superb one-sheets and striking three and six sheets. Get them. Released Monday, December 1st.
Kalem Company, 235-239 West 23rd St., New York
with Guy Coombs, Marguerite Cortot, Alice Joyce, and Miriam Cooper. Directed by Sidney Olcott. Kalem.
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Last Modified May 28, 2012.