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Several of Buchanan’s works were adapted for the cinema during the early silent period. I came across the following passage from Alexis Weedon’s Victorian Publishing: The Economics of Book Publishing for a Mass Market 1836- 1916 (Ashgate 2003 - p. 152) which gives a brief explanation of how this came about.

     “An opportune change in the copyright law in 1911 extended the right from seven to 50 years after the author’s  death. Ouida’s and Collins’ copyrights - at least those owned by the publishers - became more valuable assets. The evidence in the agreement files suggests Chatto & Windus gradually came to see the film industry as a source of revenue. Originally it was not clear to the firm whether film rights were included in general book copyright or were part of performing rights - many of which they did not own - and they sought legal opinion. One incident aptly illustrates how Chatto & Windus were in a position to take advantage of the burgeoning film industry. On 22 November 1915, B. Nicholls of the M. P. Sales film agency wrote to Chatto & Windus enclosing royalties for a film of Ouida’s Under Two Flags. In what may be one of the earliest film tie-ins, Nicholls suggested the agency send the publishers a list of the bookings so that Chatto ‘could interest the local booksellers throughout the kingdom with one of your cheap editions’ (letter in agreements file). Obviously, opportunities to work with agencies such as M. P. Sales’ were to be seized upon. Nicholls indicated in his letter to Chatto & Windus that the agency was ‘always looking for new material’ and he would be ‘pleased to forward any suggestions you desire to my two American producers’, who, he said, were ‘putting out between them an average of ten subjects weekly’. So Chatto & Windus took the opportunity to recommend a range of their most popular novelists and Nicholls picked out the names of Robert Buchanan, Edward Dyson, Frank Barrett, Dick Donovan, W. Clark Russell, and Thomas Hardy.
     These authors illustrate the type of agreements and extent of the revenue Chatto & Windus received from selling film rights and options. At the time of Nicholls’ letter Buchanan (d. 1901) and Clark Russell (d. 1911) were already dead and the firm made arrangements with their heirs for the division of any monies that might become payable. In the case of Buchanan, British Cinema Productions tied up the film rights to all of his novels in April 1915; Harriet Jay, his collaborator and sister-in-law was the beneficiary and Chatto & Windus divided the proceeds with her. The contract stipulated that British Cinema Productions ‘agree to produce films of at least two of the said works each year from 31st May 1915’ or else the agreement lapsed. It appears they failed to meet the terms as by 1920 further offers were being made for Buchanan’s works, and throughout the 1920s Harriet Jay and Chatto & Windus irregularly received small sums for film royalties.”

As well as these early silents, only one of which has survived (the Italian La Donna e l’uomo, a restored copy of which was shown in 1996 at the La Rochelle International Film Festival), there were also four film versions of When Knights Were Bold. Since Buchanan’s name was not listed in the credits of these films, I thought it best to deal with them in the section devoted to the play. It does include a link to the 1936 version starring Jack Buchanan and Fay Wray.



Films based upon the works of Robert Buchanan

Fra Giacomo, or the Count’s Revenge (1913)

Phil Blood’s Leap (1913)

Alone in London (1915)

The Trumpet Call (1915)

The Charlatan (1916)

God and the Man (1918)

Matt (1918)

A Man’s Shadow (1920)

The Lights of Home (1920))

The English Rose (1920)

Love in an Attic (1923) (based on the poem, ‘The Little Milliner’)

La Donna e l’uomo (1923)

When Knights Were Bold - the Films



Produced by Eric Williams Speaking Pictures
Starring Eric Williams as The Count

A curious hybrid of play and film - or an example of a very early talkie.

The Bioscope (19 September, 1912 - p.13)


     A rather remarkable novelty was to be seen at the Kensington Picture Palace during the first three nights of last week in Mr. Eric Williams’ original “Bioscope Scena,” entitled “The Surgeon’s Child.” This is a ballad by Fred Weatherley, which Mr. Williams recites, whilst a film, in which he himself appears, illustrates the story visually. One sees the actor in his character as an old coachman on the screen, and one hears his voice, perfectly synchronised with the picture for the most part, emerging from the darkness—it is, indeed, almost an uncanny sensation to listen to what is, apparently, a real, live “talking picture.” It is an admirable idea, and Mr. Williams has made a distinct success of it. It suggests all sorts of rather wonderful possibilities for the reciter who will thus prepare his own films and appeal to his audiences visually through the photograph and really in person. Mr. H. B. Morris, the manager of the Kensington Picture Palace, si to be congratulated warmly upon his enterprise in making this novel and interesting engagement. That his patrons appreciated Mr. Williams’ clever combination of pictures and elocution was never for a moment in doubt. They were almost boisterously enthusiastic.



The Era (1 February, 1913 - p.26)

Eric Williams’ Bioscope Stories.
     A numerous and very appreciative audience assembled at the Majestic Theatre on Monday afternoon, when Mr. Eric Williams gave a special kinema recital matinée, and introduced two entirely new films, besides those of “The surgeon’s child” and “A ballad of splendid silence,” which have been so well received. The new ones were “Fra Giacomo,” by Robert Buchanan, and “Hanging a Picture,” an episode from Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat.” In the former Mr. Eric Williams acts the part of the Count, and in the latter the always amusing Uncle Podger. When we say that he succeeded in both, we pay him an obviously high compliment. The pictures representing “Fra Giacomo,” which was arranged in a prologue and four scenes, were really beautiful specimens of motion photography by the Searchlight Film Co., and the tragic romance was splendidly recited by Mr. Williams, the words synchronising absolutely with the motions of the actors on the screen. Uncle Podger hanging a picture was received with a roar from start to finish, and the whole entertainment afforded the greatest delight to all who were present. A word of praise is due to Mr. Wertheimer, who arranged and conducted the orchestral illustrative music.



The Era (19 February, 1913 - p.5)

     The popular reciter, Mr. Eric Williams, has scored a big success with his illustrated bioscope stories. On the two visits we paid last week to the magnificent picture palace in Tottenham Court-road he gave the stirring recitation “Fra Giacomo,” and an excerpt from J. K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat,” entitled “Hanging a Picture.” The films alone were worth a visit—clear and suggestive of every point in the stories—and Mr. Williams’ distinct enunciation held the audience as though the pictures were speaking for themselves.



The Era (19 April, 1913 - p.28)


Mr. Eric Williams’ Bioscope Stories.
     Mr. Eric Williams has just completed a six months’ continuous engagement with Messrs. A. Rosenthal and Walter Hyman, and during that period has appeared at all the principal theatres controlled by Cinema House, Ltd., and the Electric Theatres (1908), Ltd., under the management of Mr. W. M. Borradaile. His most notable successes have been achieved at Cinema House, Oxford-street; the Majestic, Tottenham Court-road; and at Camden Town, Norwich, Birmingham, Bristol, and Brighton, to several of which he has paid return visits. At Easter he was appearing at the Walpole Theatre, Ealing, and during the week there was a record attendance of nearly 40,000. Gaumonts, Ltd., are now engaged in producing several new and important recitation films for Mr. Eric Williams.



The Bioscope (9 April 1914 - p.94)
[click picture for larger version]


[From the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette (9 June, 1914 - p.2).]


[From the Middlesbrough Daily Gazette (9 June, 1914 - p.4).]


The Bioscope (5 November 1914 - p.93)

     Ample evidence of the popularity of Mr. Eric Williams as a reciter was afforded on Friday morning last, when a private presentation of his “Speaking Pictures” was given before a large and appreciative audience at the Shaftesbury Pavilion. Mr. Williams is an elocutionist of distinct merit, and, moreover, he is a very capable actor, while the excerpts with which he favoured us from his extensive repertoire afforded sufficient proof of his versatility. It was an arduous task that Mr. Williams set himself to render five pieces in quick succession, and it testifies to his ability that the applause grew in intensity and became most vociferous with the last item on the programme, an effective rendition of Robert Buchanan’s well-known and dramatic poem, entitled “Fra Giacomo.” Opening with the trying scene between Hubert and Arthur taken from Shakespeare’s “King John,” Mr. Williams next essayed the late Fred Weatherly’s “The Surgeon’s Child,” which he followed with Mr. Geo. R. Sims’ ever-popular “Lifeboat” story, in both of which the pathetic note was very vividly struck, while in the comedy line he gave us a taste of his quality in one of the capital scenes between Sir Lucius O’Trigger and Bob Acres from Sheridan’s “The Rivals.” The films thrown upon the screen served their purpose of effectively illustrating the various scenes, and in the case of Mr. Sims’ poem Mr. Williams acknowledged his indebtedness to the National Lifeboat Institution. The synchronisation, which is obtained without any mechanical aid, was not always perfect, but this is a trifling matter which can easily be remedied.

     Cinematography is an art of its own creation, and while admitting that it cannot lend colour to an indifferent presentation, and that a competent artist requires no mechanical aid in the portrayal of his own picture, we can quite imagine the “Eric Williams Speaking Pictures” forming an attractive feature in the regular programme.


[From the Aberdeen Evening Express (13 December, 1918 - p.6).]


The Bioscope (1 July, 1920 - p.179)


The Bioscope (6 December, 1923 - p.30)

IT is with deep regret that I have to record the death, which took place at Tonbridge the other day, of Mr. Eric Williams, whose speaking pictures, to which he himself contributed the spoken story, have been seen in almost every town and village in this country, as well as in France. It was but last summer at Tonbridge that the deceased acted as pageant master, producing a spectacle that was witnessed by thousands of persons, including members of the Royal family. His demise robs the cinema theatre of a familiar figure, and one whose contribution to its programme was as deservedly appreciated as it was popular.

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Directed by Wilfred Noy
Produced by Clarendon
Length: 1000 feet.


[Advert for Clarendon Speaking Pictures from The Era (8 October, 1913 - p.32).]


The Era (3 December, 1913 - p.29)


Speaking Pictures.
     The latest thing in cinematography is the “speaking pictures” which are being introduced by the Clarendon Press, Limited. They consist of the exhibition of a film depicting some well-known poem or monologue, while the piece is recited by an unseen speaker. Thus the attention of the audience is not divided between the artist and the picture. They hear the words spoken with the beautiful tones of the human voice unmarred by any mechanical contrivance, and they see the picture to which the words apply. As a consequence they obtain the full dramatic effect and force of the poem and the picture. The result is very thrilling and impressive, especially as the synchronisation is carefully attended to by a special contrivance.



The Manchester Courier (9 December, 1913 - p.6)


                                                                                                                                             Monday Night.
. . .

Films, Poetic and Historic.
     Another development in cinematography was witnessed to-day. So far spectacular and other pictures have been seen without words, but the Clarendon Film Company have gone a step further. They have produced speaking pictures, and the demonstration that was given to the members of the Poetry Society shows what can be accomplished in interpreting the language of the poets. The result was pleasing in the extreme. Three poems were “produced” on the screen, and at the same time were feelingly interpreted by the human voice. “Coming Home,” by Alfred Berlyn, is especially suitable to this artistic treatment, and when Tennyson’s popular poem, “The Gardener’s Daughter,” was given unaccompanied the advantage of the new development became most apparent.



The Arbroath Herald (20 March, 1914 - p.5)


[From the North-Eastern Daily Gazette (15 June, 1914 - p.2).]


Cheltenham Looker-On (27 June, 1914 - p.6)


     The latest innovation in cinematography has attracted even more numerous audiences than usual to this popular house. Exclusive rights for the town had been secured by the enterprising management for these speaking pictures, and we have been enabled to see a poem and at the same time hear it recited by the human voice. Phil Blood’s Leap is visualised in this way and may be seen to-day. The recitation is perfectly synchronised with the picture, and marks a distinct advance in the “movie” world. Golfers were deeply interested in the demonstration by J. A. Taylor, five times open champion. Protea and the infernal automobile is full of sensations, and is a story which enthrals the imagination from start to finish.
     Excellent pictures have been secured for the ensuing week. For the first three days Paul Wegener figures in Black Nizzen, a thrilling story of love and adventure. A particularly interesting picture will be shown during the latter part of the week dealing with the Jacobite Rebellion. It is entitled Clancarty, and the chief parts will be taken by Charles Rock and Lillian Logan. No one should miss the opportunity of seeing these first-class pictures.



Hastings & St. Leonards Observer (4 July, 1914 - p.2)


     The heat wave notwithstanding, coolness and comfort can be obtained at the Royal Cinema de Luxe.
     The management, by a thorough system of ventilation, and by the presentation of fans to ladies of the audience, do all they can to make the place of entertainment quite the opposite to the hot and dazzling street outside. The latest films are provided, and go to make up a thoroughly enjoyable programme. The chief item of interest for this week is the re-appearance of the Clarendon speaking pictures. In this case the story is told by a gifted artist as the picture moves across the screen, it being arranged that the synchronisation shall be perfect. It gives a greatly-added interest to the picture, which, for the first three nights of this week, was the famous and thrilling poem of Robert Buchanan’s, entitled, “Phil Blood’s Leap.”



Coventry Evening Telegraph (14 July, 1914 - p.4)


     Despite the sultry weather prevailing, many patrons were in attendance at the Crown Picture Theatre, Gosford Street, on Monday evening, when, in addition to the usual high-class programme of films, another of the popular Clarendon speaking pictures was submitted. The film, which will be shown at each performance during the week is entitled, “Phil Blood’s Leap.” During the exhibition of the picture Mr. Frederick Lytton, the elocutionist, who has already grown popular with the Crown audiences, delighted his hearers with the story of the film, which is of a stirring character. The deep dramatic voice of Mr. Lytton and the expression with which he recites during the exciting incidents add to the effectiveness of the picture, and well merit the applause received at the conclusion. “Excelsior” or “The Triumph of Progress” is a spectacular four-part production, which will be shown during the first part of the week. The film depicts the struggle between “Progress” and “Inactivity” in which the “Light” of Civilisation overcomes the “Darkness” of Ignorance and leads the way to the discoveries and gigantic works of our century. Two comics which cause amusement are “Oh! What a Day,” and “Wifey’s Christmas Present,” while Gaumont’s Graphic contains some attractive items. “Tragedy at the Pepper Box Inn,” a three-part drama, should prove a great attraction on Thursday.

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Directed by Larry Trimble
Produced by Turner Film Company
Florence Turner Nan Meadows
Henry Edwards John Biddlecombe
Edward Lingard Redcliffe
James Lindsay Chick
Amy Lorraine Mrs. Burnaby
Format: 35 mm. Length: 5 reels / 4525 feet.
BFI synopsis: “A crook tries to make a thief of his boss's son and ties a flower girl to gate of canal lock.”


The Bioscope (13 May, 1915 - p.23)


The Bioscope (17 June, 1915 - p.33)


[From the cover of Pictures and the Picturegoer (10 July, 1915).]

The Bioscope (13 May, 1915 - p.23)


The Kinematograph And Lantern Weekly (27 May, 1915 - p.50)


The Kinematograph And Lantern Weekly (17 June, 1915 - pp.15-16)

A Famous Drama on the Screen


THE Ideal Film Renting Company is to be congratulated upon the complete success which attended their trade show at the Shaftesbury Pavilion on Friday morning. That there would be a large attendance was to be expected, in view of the interest which centred on the first screening of so attractive a subject as the film version of Robert Buchanan’s famous old-time drama, “Alone in London.” Exactly how many times the writer has seen the play it is unnecessary to state, but it may be said that he saw it for the first time before the kinematograph was even thought of. To say that it wears as well to-day as it did then is to pay an entirely sincere compliment to the art of the dead dramatist who made it. But we were not called together on Friday for the purpose of making comparisons, except in so far as the film version of the drama compares with its original.
     In securing the kinema rights of “Alone in London,” the Turner Film Company showed an admirable sense of public taste, for it has proved so popular in the drama houses up and down the country during the last few years that it is assured of a warm welcome from countless admirers when it is presently screened at the picture theatres. Speaking from a very thorough knowledge of the script of the play, we have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Larry Trimble has, in his film version, followed and included all the essential incidents with the utmost care and consistency. This cannot be said with truth of many of the so-called film versions of popular stage successes, and we are all the more ready, therefore, to give credit where credit is due, and to say that in this instance the producer has not only conscientiously endeavoured to follow the original, but that he has succeeded far beyond expectation.
     In our opinion, “Alone in London” is the best and most consistent piece of work the Turner Film Company has yet given us, and Mr. Trimble has every reason to feel satisfied that he has produced one of the most perfect kinematised plays, from every point of view, yet contributed by the storehouse of the stage. In saying this, we recognise that the play lent itself peculiarly well to the requirements and limitations of the camera, and that the dramatist was splendidly served by the company of artistes chosen to fill the long cast. Prominent among these was Miss Florence Turner, who played the part of the simple country maiden, Nan. To say that Miss Turner is seen at her best in this particular role is to give but a slight idea of her splendid acting. Every phase of the character was brought out with unerring fidelity, and it must have been a very pleasant experience to the artiste, who was present in propria persona, to receive so warm a tribute of praise (in the shape of long and sustained applause) from so critical an audience. But it must also be said that Miss Turner was supported by a company, every member of which seemed ideally cast, and this contributed in no small measure to the general excellence of the whole.
     In  some respects this kinematised version of an old stage favourite is an improvement on the original, for thanks to the ubiquity of the screen, we are able to see many things, and visit many places only hinted at in the stage dialogue. While the photography throughout is excellent, special mention must be made of the scene in Trafalgar Square, which is one of the most effective combinations of double photography and stage back cloth we remember to have seen. In it the lighting is so perfect and the whole set so admirably contrived that the majority of whose who see it will probably regard it as the real thing, and not what it actually is.
     Showmen who do not endeavour to secure an early booking of “Alone in London” will be doing themselves a bad turn, for it is certain to prove a box-office magnet of the first magnitude. To enable those to recall the story who have not seen the play recently, we append a brief synopsis:
     Nan, a country maiden with a small inheritance, is loved by John Biddlecombe, a miller, but she is flattered by the attentions of a polished scoundrel, Redcliffe, and marries him. Five years pass and the girl finds herself in the most sordid surroundings. Her husband’s persecutions are stopped temporarily by the interference of Chick, a London urchin, who also has suffered at the hands of the arch-villain. This youngster introduces Nan and her child to a philanthropist, Burnaby, who engages her as maid. Redcliffe soon discovers his wife’s whereabouts, and succeeds in obtaining entry into the house for both himself and an accomplice by ingratiation with Mr. Burnaby’s spendthrift son. The villain’s trickery soon ousts Nan from her situation the while he induces young Burnaby to forge his father’s signature. The forgery finds its way into the hands of Nan, who substitutes for it a harmless scrap of paper.
     Biddlecombe comes to town, and through Chick soon discovers Nan. He and the boy save the girl from a terrible death at the hands of her husband, and the little party make for the Burnaby mansion. Here Redcliffe, failing to induce the son to aid in rifling his father’s safe, has planned a burglary. But when the confederates secure an entry it is to be met with an array of revolvers. Nan pleads with her husband to reform, and Redcliffe thereupon offers to return the forged document if he is not prosecuted. The girl soon shows that she has tricked him, and maddened, he makes a dash at Burnaby. Chick shoots and the villain’s life is ended. A short while after, Nan finds happiness as the wife of Biddlecombe.
     At the same show the Ideal Film Company also submitted a 3,600 ft. Cines drama, entitled “The Slacker.” While this deals with a phase of the war not altogether unknown in this country, it has the added advantage at the moment that it is of distinct topical value, for the scenes are all laid in the land of our most recent ally—Italy. The story shows how an enthusiastic peace-at-any-price man is eventually converted to the justice of his country’s cause, and joining the colours, proves himself a great hero. The narrative is excellently told, and its interest is enhanced by the inclusion of a number of pictures of great topical value just now, showing as they do the scenes which followed the mobilisation of the Italian Army. Apart, however, from its timely appearance. the story is one which will find general acceptance at the hands of patriotic Britons everywhere.
     At the conclusion of the show a graceful tribute to the artistry of Miss Florence Turner was paid by Mr. H. Rosenbaum, who asked that lady’s acceptance of a very handsome gold wrist watch, set with brilliants, and inscribed: “To Florence Turner and her art, from the I.F.R.C., 1915.” Following this pleasant little function, Mr. Larry Trimble was called upon to accept a gold cigarette case, bearing a similar inscription. The presentations took both artistes and audience alike by surprise, and speeches from both were insisted upon, after which a number of the guests adjourned to the Trocadero, where a delightfully informal luncheon party was held.



Pictures and the Picturegoer (24 July, 1915)

     ALONE IN LONDON.— You must see Florence Turner in the film version of this great Adelphi success. Old-fashioned melodrama, with its breathless and impossible situations, does not as a rule lend itself to screen production; but Larry Trimble has handled this one in a manner which will interest and hold the attention of all picturegoers. We recently published a fine portrait of Miss Turner as Nan, the flower-seller, one of the scenes in the play.
                                                                                               Turner Drama (Ideal Film Co.) (August 9).



The Bioscope (19 August, 1915 - p.28)
[click picture for larger version]


The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) (27 August, 1915 - p.14)

majestic ad

The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) (30 August, 1915 - p.10)


     A fine film adaptation of Robert Buchanan’s play “Alone in London,” the story of which is familiar, through its previous stage representation in Melbourne, was the principal feature of the new programme of Spencer’s Pictures displayed at the Majestic Theatre on Saturday. The story is effectively reproduced on the screen, and the cinema actress Miss Florence Turner gives a splendid portrayal of the role of Nan, betrayed and deserted by a profligate husband, and fighting for the sake of her child against the machinations of the rogues who seek to lay the blame of their crime on the shoulders of the brave, innocent little girl. In this effort Miss Turner is seen at her best, and the audience follow with absorbing interest the stirring adventures of a country lass in the highways and byways of mighty London. Another attractive and enjoyable film was onme depicting the Royal Naval Division at work and at play. The Topical Gazettes—Australian and European—were replete with interesting matter, and a new Charles Chaplin comedy, “A Woman,” was thoroughly enjoyed.



The Hull Daily Mail (21 September, 1915 - p.3)


     For the provinces, as much as for London, stories having the capital as their milieu never seem to pall. The Picture Playhouse has for the first three days of this week an exceptionally fine film in this genre. It is a version of the melodrama, “Alone in London,” and crowded houses were the order throughout yesterday, at least. Miss Florence Turner is seen in the leading role as Nan. The picture tells how through the loss of her father she is left to wage her warfare singly. One day she unknowingly makes the acquaintance of the leader of a gang of criminals, and they are subsequently married, she throwing over her former lover, a miller, in the district. Some time afterwards her husband continues his life of crime, and Nan is thrown on the streets of London to make her living by selling flowers. However, one day she meets a gentleman in the city, who eventually takes her into his service, and there happiness is gained once again, until, by exceptional circumstances, her husband appears on the scene, and she is carried away to the den in Drury-lane. Her former lover succeeds in rescuing her from his grip, and with the aid of the police he eventually runs down the gang and brings them to justice. The picture, as will be seen, is in the traditional line of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and G. R. Sims. The chief item is supported by a variety of fare. “Cupid Puts One Over” introduced Wally Van, a comedian whose popularity has outstayed many reputations. Drama, with its deeper hold, returned in “Destiny’s Trump Card” and “The Summoning Shot,” from the American Biograph Studios. Interesting items in the topical budget complete a programme that should please visitors. For the latter half of the week an exclusive drama in three parts, “The Victim,” will form the principal attraction. The management regret that a number of patrons were unable to gain admission last night.



The Burnley News (25 September, 1915 - p.1)


The Scotsman (28 October, 1915)


Edinburgh Evening News (2 November, 1915 - p.4)

     A good all-round programme is presented at the Coliseum this week, a great attraction to cinema-lovers being the appearance of Miss Florence Turner in “Alone in London.” The film, which is intensely interesting, is in four parts and adapted from the play by Robert Buchanan. The third instalment of the “Exploits of Elaine” is shown under the title of “The Vanishing Jewels,” while a good selection of comedy is presented. “Swell Mobsmen” will be the principal picture for Thursday and the remainder of the week.



Angus Evening Telegraph (7 March, 1916 - p.5)


     The patrons of this theatre are usually well provided for, and this week a splendid programme is submitted.
     The chief picture, “Alone in London,” is a four-part one, featuring that well-known cinema actress, Florence Turner. The picture deals mainly with a young country girl’s hardships after she marries a scoundrel, and, just as she is about to be drowned in a canal by her unworthy husband, her country lover whom she refused to marry comes to the rescue in the nick of time and saves her from a cruel death.
     Other pictures are “Ambrose’s Nasty Temper,” a screaming Keystone comedy, “The Pride of Her Life,” and “The Topical Budget,” which ends a very enjoyable programme.



The Bioscope (6 April, 1916 - pp.51-52)


. . .

From the North.

ALTHOUGH the cost of printing and paper has increased in some instances as much as fifteen per cent., the majority of managers who issue little four-page leaflets, carrying “weekly chats” and programme, have wisely accepted the inevitable and continue publishing their little publications. This, in itself, supports my contention that these managerial chats to patrons pay. Where the expense of a house organ cannot be met, they are admirable substitutes. They breath personality, and are a medium for direct appeal.
     The latest newcomer brought to my notice is the Cinema Review, issued by Mr. Arthur Mann, the Queen’s Cinema, Aberdeen. Though there is nothing strikingly original about the four-page leaflet, the weekly chat is written in a virile style, and is strictly picture talk. From the specimens I have received there is every indication that Mr. Mann makes every endeavour to give the Review a fresh appearance each week. The chat is on—as it ought to be—the front, and the programme displayed on the two inside pages. The back, however, is the one with which Mr. Mann “plays” with. One week he gives reproductions of scenes from a special attraction; another week, bright advertising talk, and so on. But, so far, I have not seen mention of the all-important “forthcoming features.” Mr. Mann has probably covered these in other advertising matter, for I remember, when he was managing the North Star Cinema, Lerwick, he paid particular attention to this. Here is an example of his advertising stories which is decidedly worth repetition in other little four-pagers. It is just the kind of stuff that, generally speaking, pleases the masses:—


     Good morning, sir! Shave, sir? ’Air cutting! Right yew are, sir! This chair, please sir, thank you. ’Orrible weather! Yes, it is, sir; and wot with them darkened streets, I am that fed up, sir, that, blow me, sir, if it wern’t for them pitcher palises, sir, I dunno wot I should do at nights.
     Wot, sir, does I go to a pitcher palis, sir! Why, bless yer ’eart, sir, I wou’dn’t miss going to my favourite palis for nothing. Wot palis does I go to, sir; there’s only one pitcher place worth going to, sir, and that’s the QUEEN’S in Union Street, sir; always sure of an up-to-date show there, sir, an’ the place is always warm and cheerful, an’ it don’t cost much, sir, only a few coppers, and, sir, a visit to the QUEEN’S makes you forget all about this ’orrible war, which is a great thing.
     ’Ow often does I go, sir! Why, I goes twice or three times a week, sir. Yes, I was there last Monday, sir, and saw the pitcher as they called “Alone in London,” and, sir, my word, it wos a wopper. Yew know, sir some of the scenes wer that realistic that I quite forgot it was only a blooming pitcher. Blow me, sir, if I didn’t want ter go for the bloke who was bashing his wife something cruel, an’ if it ’adn’t been for my wife, sir, I believes I would have been through that screen.
     Does I take my wife to the pitchers, sir! Why, bless yer, sir, she carnt stay away, sir. Yes, there wos more in the program than that “Alone in London,” sir; yew are always sure of a big show fer yer money at the QUEEN’S, sir—real value they give yew, sir.
     Wos the rest of the show good! My word, sir, when I thinks abart their comedies I vow I carnt help larfing, sir, they wos real funny, they wos, sir. Begging yer pardon, sir, takin’ too much orf, am I, sir; all right, sir, I’ll be careful, but when I thinks of them pitchers I forget everything else, sir.
     Am I goin to the QUEEN’S next week! Yew bet, sir; why, I wouldn’t miss the big pitcher fer nothing, sir.
     Wot’s its name, sir! “Mignon,” they call it, sir. I tell yew, sir, it will be great; taken from a ’igh-class opera.
     Yes, that’s it, sir, an’ it features some of them ’igh-class artistes, an’ besides, ter see pitchers like that, sir, is an education in itself, sir, and the rest of the program is sure ter be good, sir, it always is at the QUEEN’S.
     Just finished, sir; no shampoo, all right, sir; little oil, right, sir. No, sir, I tells yer I wouldn’t miss next week at the QUEEN’S for nothing; there yer are, sir.
     Thanks, sir, and ’ears a tip to you, sir—don’t yer miss the QUEEN’S neither. I tell yer, sir, their programs are woppers every time.
     Good morning, sir.
     Now then next, please.

     A better effect would be given to the little advertiser if it were printed on better paper. A cheap appearance is always a big handicap to any form of advertising. The phrase “What are YOU going to do about it?” at the foot of the front and last page does not quite fit, and is decidedly not happy.



The Bioscope (27 July, 1916 - p.5)

A STRIKING record of bookings is given by the Ideal Company in a delightfully novel and interesting booklet, piquantly entitled “The Ideal’s Confession,” of which Mr. H. Rowson is kind enough to send us an advance copy. So far, the list is headed by “My Old Dutch,” which has been booked to 795 theatres. “Caste” comes second with 646 books, and “Alone in London” is a close third with 632. The booklet is worth reading. It is the wonderful history of a wonderful firm.

[More information in the Alone in London section.

And also here’s a bit more on Florence Turner.]

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Directed by Percy Nash
Script by Brian Daly and John East
Produced by Neptune Film Company
Gregory Scott Cuthbert Cuthbertson
Joan Ritz Constance Barton
Douglas Payne James Redtruth
Daisy Cordell Paula Redtruth
Douglas Cox Sergeant-Major Milligan
Brian Daly Stage Manager
Biddy de Burgh Cuthbert
Jack Denton Tommy Wicklow
John East Professor Ginnifer
Agnes Paulton Lavinia Ginnifer
Stella St. Audrie Mrs. Wicklow
Frank Tennant Richard Featherstone
Cecil Morton York Sir William Barton

The Bioscope (22 April, 1915 - p.14)

     “The Trumpet Call,” the well-known drama by Messrs. Geo. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, of which there is a Trade show at the Shaftesbury Pavilion, on April 30th, at 11.30 a.m., should be welcomed by a great many London and provincial picture-goers. It was this celebrated drama that made one of the biggest successes, financially, for the late Mr. Robert Arthur, who had several companies touring for a good many years. It formed a great attraction at many of the principal theatres in the kingdom, and was continually rebooked as a great holiday attraction. “The Trumpet Call” is said to be one of the best British dramas that has ever been filmed, and the Neptune Film Company ought to do well with it.



The Bioscope (6 May, 1915 - p.519)


Pictures and the Picturegoer (8 May, 1915)

Better than the Play.
The Trumpet Call, the famous drama by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, which has successfully toured the principal theatres of England, Ireland, and Scotland for years, has now been completed as a film by the Neptune Company. It is actually better than the play, as it affords many opportunities of pictorially describing scenes with greater effect than they were by word of mouth in the stage version.



The Bioscope (24 June, 1915 - p.1270)


Pictures and the Picturegoer (14 August, 1915)

     THE TRUMPET CALL.—If you want to see the best in melodrama, make a note to enjoy, when it arrives, this photo-drama by George R. Sims and Robert Buchanan. Filmed by the Neptune Film Company, it is one of the “tit-bits” of the year. British in sentiment, in treatment, and in the spirit it breathes. We hope to publish the story next week.
                                                                                         —Gaumont Film Hire, four reels (Sept. 13).



The August 21st issue of Pictures and the Picturegoer included a three-page feature on The Trumpet Call, which is available below:

trumpetcallpicp1thmb trumpetcallpicp2thmb trumpetcallpicp3thmb

Dover Express (17 September, 1915 - p.4)


Coventry Evening Telegraph (21 September, 1915 - p.4)


     “The Trumpet Call,” a four-part drama by Neptune, is the chief item on the bill at the Globe Theatre for the first part of the week. Filmed after the drama by G. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, it is being shown by arrangement with the Gaumont Film Hire Service. Many thrilling episodes are included, whilst there is also a touch  of humour about it. As the title suggests, there is some military items included. It is an entirely British production, and should not fail to please all who see it. “The Three Roses,” an absorbing drama, is also shown, and shows how a girl marries against her father’s wish, and is banished by him for ever. However, circumstances force him to seek refuge with her as years roll by, and a happy reunion is witnessed. “Fair, Fat and Saucy” is a screaming comic, and was much appreciated on Monday, as was the latest war and general news, which is depicted on the Gaumont’s Graphic.



The Hull Daily Mail (29 September, 1915 - p.3)


Western Daily Press (23 March, 1916 - p.5)

     The screening of “The Trumpet Call” at the family picture house of Zetland Road is particularly noteworthy. It is a photo-drama, thoroughly British in sentiment and treatment. It is by Geo. R. Sims and Robert Buchanan, a guarantee of its sterling quality. This exclusive will be accompanied by the 11th instalment of the grand serial, “The Broken Coin,” the 19th episode of the new “Exploits of Elaine,” &c.



The Whitstable Times and Tankerton Press (27 May, 1916 - p.2)


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A Robert Buchanan Filmography - continued








The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


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