Vintage original 22 x 28 in. US half-sheet from the lost teens WWI-themed silent film pacifist drama, THE BATTLE CRY OF PEACE, produced by the Vitagraph Company of America, released in 1915 by V-L-S-E (Vitagraph-Lubin-Selig-Essanay), and directed by J. Stuart Blackton and Wilfrid North. The Battle Cry of Peace is a lost silent film, as no prints are known to exist.
There were at least 4 different half-sheets issued for the original release of this major film and this one is the "Roosevelt Style," which features a facsimile of a handwritten note from US President Theodore Roosevelt (AKA Teddy Roosevelt) dated July 12, 1915 to Vitagraph studio co-founder and producer/director J. Stuart Blackton wishing the director "...all success in your enterprise," and compares the duty of military service to the importance of the right to vote. It is unrestored in good condition with an uneven trim along the right border.
*"Several years before the United States' entrance into World War I, John Harrison attends a lecture delivered by patriotic writer Hudson Maxim and subsequently becomes an advocate of military preparedness. Although he is ridiculed by his younger brother Charley, as well as by Mr. Vandergriff, his fiancée's father, John continues to warn of the dangers of a weak military. Mr. Emanon, a frequent visitor to the Vandergriff house, is a leader of the peace movement and secretly an enemy agent. During a massive peace rally conducted by Mr. Emanon, the enemy suddenly opens fire on New York City, shelling the buildings and brutally killing many citizens. Vandergriff is shot and John is bayoneted, and later Mrs. Vandergriff shoots her two daughters to prevent their disgrace at the hands of the enemy. Following some allegorical scenes involving historical American figures, a plea is made for Americans to support military preparedness. The cast includes Charles Richman, L Rogers Lytton, James Morrison, Mary Maurice, Louise Beaudet, Harold Hubert, Jack Crawford, Charles Kent, Julia Swayne Gordon, Evert Overton, Belle Bruce, and Norma Talmadge.
According to news items and reviews, J. Stuart Blackton, the vice-president of Vitagraph and the producer of this film, received the commentary and endorsement of several public figures who actively supported military preparedness, the most notable being Theodore Roosevelt. Because of President Wilson's strict policy of neutrality, Blackton avoided identifying "the enemy" as Germany (Emanon is "no name" spelled backwards), although the beer drinking parties and the Kaiser Wilhelm moustaches of the invading soldiers typified prevailing German stereotypes. In fact, modern sources credit this film with setting the tone for the anti-German propaganda pictures of 1917-18.
The film was extremely popular in the U.S. and other Allied Nations. It was shown for the first time on Aug. 6, 1915 to an invited audience at the Vitagraph Theatre in New York. Sources disagree concerning the film's New York premiere; while the New York Times states that it was first shown on Sept. 14, 1915, most sources give Sept. 9, 1915 as the premiere date. Before its New York opening, the film was to be shown at militia encampments, special meetings, before authorities in Washington, D.C., in state capitals, at the Army and Navy Club in Washington and on the White House lawn. Contemporary sources note that the following public figures lent their cooperation and also appeared in the film: Secretary of State Robert Lansing, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, Major General Leonard Wood, Secretary of War Lindley Garrison, Admiral George Dewey, Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott, General Montgomery M. Macomb, Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee and Admiral Marix. Twenty-five thousand National Guard troops also were used in the film.
S. L. Rothapfel arranged the musical accompaniment for the New York showing, while M. Winkler arranged the music for state rights showings. The film was reviewed at lengths of five, eight, and nine reels. It was released in Britain under the title, An American Home, and was followed by a sequel released in 1917, Womanhood, the Glory of a Nation. In 1917, The Battle Cry of Peace was re-edited and re-released under the title, The Battle Cry of War. According to Moving Picture World, Vitagraph filed suit against Henry Ford on June 26, 1916 asking a judgment of $1,000,000 because of damage from allegations which Ford published in his essay, "Humanity and Sanity," which ran in newspapers throughout the country in May 1916. Vitagraph stated that Ford's allegations were that The Battle Cry of Peace attempted to inspire a belief that the United States stood in great danger of an invasion in order that munitions manufacturers, including Hudson Maxim, whose book inspired the film, could profit greatly. Ford's statements, Vitagraph contended in the suit, prejudiced many people against the film and damaged its business in many cities. According to modern sources, Vitagraph was awarded the judgment a year later. Modern sources include Harry S. Northrup and James Lackaye in the cast and credit Frank Tyrell with some of the camera work.
In 1987, the George Eastman House had a short roll of negative from The Battle Cry of Peace, but the remainder of the film was thought to be lost.
Vitagraph Studios, also known as the Vitagraph Company of America, was a United States motion picture studio. It was founded by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith in 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, as the American Vitagraph Company. By 1907, it was the most prolific American film production company, producing many famous silent films.
On April 20, 1925, Smith finally gave up and sold the company to Warner Bros. for a comfortable profit. The Flatbush studio (renamed Vitaphone) was later used as an independent unit within Warner Bros., specializing in early sound shorts. Vitaphone closed the Flatbush plant in 1940."
*(source: AFI Catalog of Feature Films)
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