Sunday, July 6, 2014

Silent Sundays: His Picture in the Papers (1916)

“Shall a man raised on Pringle’s Products cringe to a gang of cut throats?”

Peter Pringle’s (Douglas Fairbanks) father owns Pringle’s Products that manufactures vegetarian food. He is the only son and as well as the youngest with two older sisters. Pete does not take anything seriously. He works at his father’s factory but he constantly shows up late and has stuff for mixing drinks hidden around his office. He drinks and smokes and gambles; all the things his father will not stand for.
            Cassius Cadwalader, a railroad magnate, only eats Pringle’s Products. He has a daughter named Christine whom he plans on marrying to a vegetarian-eating young man named Melville. He is not exactly the man, or better yet, boy, of Christine’s dreams. Cassius and Christine are invited to the Pringle home for dinner. Pete does not think anything of Christine and quickly becomes bored of the company. He excuses himself and leaves the house. Pete goes to a restaurant and orders the largest steak they have. Christine goes to the same place as well that night. Pete has Christine sit with him and share his large steak.
            Cassius has somehow incurred the ire of a local gang known as the Weazels. The gang leaves a note demanding a large sum of money. Cassius refuses to pay their ransom.
            Christine gives Pete a call at his office. She wants to see him again. After the call Melville comes over. Christine sends him away she has no need for him now. Her father sees what his daughter has done to the young man. He tells her that she will never find anyone as sweet as Melville but of course Christine does not care.
            Pete cannot stop thinking about Christine. He goes to her house and proposes. Her father does really like him that much. Cassius tells Pete he needs to gain a half interest in his father’s company and then Christine can marry him. Unfortunately, since Pete is always late and does nothing for the company, that will be a goal that is difficult for him to obtain. When Pete tells his father, the man just laughs. Pete gets upset and yells that he can get his picture in any paper in New York City. The father tells his son not to come home until he does get his picture in the paper. Pete thinks it will be simple and sets out on his quest to get his face a space in the papers.
            Pete tries several different things such as sending a car he bought over a cliff and pretending he miraculously survived the fall and beating a champion boxer in his first ever boxing match but the police come and raid the fight and destroy the photographs and cameras with Pete’s picture in it.
            Cassius asks Peter’s father him to help fight the Weazels. Pringle finds out that a shipment of his products has not arrived where and when they were supposed to be. The train is currently stuck in Atlantic City. Pete just so happens to be down there after he drunkenly got on a ship that was heading down to Atlantic City. He has no money to get home so he starts walking the tracks. He notices the Weazels are messing with the train signals to derail the train with Pringle and Cadwalader’s products.
            To make a long story short, Pete manages to save the train and the day by taking on the Weazels and changing the sign just in time. He finally gets his picture in the paper.
            His Picture in the Paper was interesting because Douglas Fairbanks was not being the action hero he would later come to be. He of course did some acrobatic climbing scenes. It was kind of cute seeing Fairbanks being this sort of love sick little boy trying to win the girl’s father. His Picture in the Paper is not a silent film that is a must to watch but it is fun and worth seeing some time.

 I watched this film because it was filmed in Fort Lee. Triangle, the company who made the film, was located in the town along with several other studios including Paramount and Universal. It was really cool to see the Palisades cliffs and the Hudson in the train scene. I am currently completing my internship at the Fort Lee Museum where they have a decent collection of film artifacts from the early film industry in the town. It is fascinating to learn about the town’s role in film history. Please take the time to visit the Fort Lee Museum and the Fort Lee Film Commission’s websites. And please definitely come and visit the museum if you live in New Jersey and have any interest in film history.  

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