Archivo de la categoría: Variety

The Mexican Spy (1913)

Emilio García Riera en el tomo 2 de su obra México visto por el cine extranjero nos da una breve síntesis y una ficha filmográfica (p. 32):

1300/1. The Mexican Spy. P: EU, (Lubin) 1913. Dirección: Wilbert Melville. Argumento: E. C. Hall. Intérpretes: Edna Payne (Mary Lee), Earl Metcalfe (Tom Loring), Edwin Carewe (Luis Rivera). 3 rollos / Western.

En un fuerte militar de la frontera con México, Mary, hija del pagador del regimiento, ama al disipado Tom, hijo del coronel. Para pagar una deuda de juego al mexicano Rivera, falso rico y espía, Tom roba 5 mil dólares. Rivera amenaza a Tom con denunciarlo si no le da los planos de unos fuertes del suroeste. Mary oye todo y vende sus joyas para ayudar a Tom. Dispuesto a regenerarse, Tom se enlista. Enviado a la frontera, debe conducir un carro de la Cruz Roja con Mary como enfermera. Atacan los mexicanos de Rivera y sólo quedan vivos Tom y Mary. Mientras él resiste, Mary huye y procura el auxilio de la caballería norteamericana. Herido, Tom se recupera en el hospital gracias a Mary y es ascendido a teniente.

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 21)
Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 21)

Por su parte Margarita de Orellana en su libro La mirada circular editado por Cuadernos de Joaquín Mortiz nos proporciona la siguiente información (p. 186):

The Mexican Spy (El espía mexicano). Producción: Lubin. Realizador: Wilbert Melville. Guión: E. C. Hall. Actores: Edna Payne, Earl Metcalf, Edwin Carewe. Bobinas: 3. Fuente: The Moving Picture World, Vol. XV, Ene-Mar 1913, núm. 2, enero 11, 1913, p. 184.

Sinopsis: Tom, el hijo del coronel Loring, es un joven disipado. Mary Lee, la hija del pagador del regimiento, ama a Tom y hace esfuerzos por reformarlo. El señor Luis Rivera, un apuesto mexicano, en realidad un espía, se hace amigo de Tom y le gana 5 000 dólares apostando. Tom roba esa cantidad de la caja del pagador pero Rivera lo amenaza con denunciarlo a menos que robe los planos de los fuertes del suroeste norteamericano y él le regresará el dinero para que lo vuelva a colocar en la caja. Tom extrae los planos, pero antes de entregarlos Mary Lee, que se ha dado cuenta de todo, vende sus joyas y logra obtener 5 000 dólares. Entonces obliga a Tom a desafiar a Rivera a que regrese los planos a su lugar. Nadie sospecha de Tom, pero él se siente culpable. Rivera desaparece. Tom decide alistarse en el ejército. Envía una carta a Mary Lee, en la que promete redimirse. Al regimiento de Tom es enviado a la frontera. Mary Lee entra a la Cruz Roja y es enviada también a la frontera. Un día el cirujano envía a Mary a misión y se lleva una gran sorpresa al encontrar a Tom como conductor de su carreta. Rivera se entera de este viaje y se dispone a perseguir a la misión. Se inicia una lucha terrible y sólo quedan vivos Tom y Mary. Tom sube a Mary a una mula y la manda por refuerzos, mientras él resiste solo. Mary regresa con una tropa y encuentra a Tom herido. Gracias a los cuidados de Mary, Tom sana. Más tarde es ascendido a teniente y se casa con Mary.

The Motion Picture Story Magazine de febrero de 1913 (Vol. V, No. 1, p. 167)
The Motion Picture Story Magazine de febrero de 1913 (Vol. V, No. 1, p. 167)

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 2); The Moving Picture World de enero 18 de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 3, pp. 280-281) y The Motion Picture Story Magazine de febrero de 1913 (Vol. V, No. 1, p. 167):


Jan. 17, 1913. LUBIN.  2 Reels

Tom Loring, a handsome but dissipated youth, loves Mary Lee, daughter of the regiment’s paymaster. In order to pay his gambling debts to the Mexican, Señor Rivera, supposedly rich but in reality a spy, Tom steals $5,000 from the paymaster’s safe. The Mexican threatens exposure unless Tom secures the plans of certain forts in the Southwest, but Mary hears of the situation and pawns her jewels to replace the stolen money. Realizing the sorrow he has caused his father and sweetheart, Tom disappears, leaving a note that he will not return until he has redeemed himself. He enlists under an assumed name, and his regiment is ordered to the Mexican frontier. Mary becomes a Red Cross nurse and is also ordered to the Mexican border. Tom’s bravery and strategy during a desperate encounter with the Mexicans under Rivera wins him promotion to Lieutenant, but he is seriously wounded, and Mary is greatly surprised to find among her patients, her lover. Her careful nursing restores him to health, and having redeemed his former misdeeds by his faithful and heroic service to his country, he claims Mary for his wife.

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 21-22):

A Live Lubin Two-Reel

One of the January Specials

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 21)

Another of those live Lubin two-reels is on the books for early release—January 17, to be exact. It is to be handled through the General Film Company as a special feature.

The title is «The Mexican Spy.» It was written by Emmett Campbell Hall and produced by Wilbert Melville. The cast is as follows: Earle Metcalf (Tom Loring);  L. C. Phillips (Colonel Loring); Edwin Carewe (Señor Luis Rivera); Edna Payne (Mary Lee); William Wells (Paymaster Lee).

The Moving Picture World del 4 de enero de 1913 ( Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 63)
The Moving Picture World del 4 de enero de 1913 ( Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 63)

As the story runs, Tom, son of Colonel Loring, is a handsome but dissipated youth, easily influenced to moral transgressions. Mary Lee, the paymaster’s daughter, loves Tom despite his failings, and tries desperately, though vainly, to reform him. Senor Luis Rivera, polished and apparently wealthy (but in reality a spy), becomes intimate with Tom, who, to keep up his end and pay his gambling losses to Rivera, steals $5,000 from the paymaster’s safe. Rivera threatens to expose Tom’s theft unless he steals for him the plans of forts in the Southwest, proposing to give back the money, which Tom may replace in the safe, if he does so. Tom cannot resist the temptation and secures the plans from his father’s office; but before he has delivered the drawings to Rivera, Mary learns of the situation, and by pawning her jewels and using a little legacy, raises enough money to replace that stolen. She then forces Tom to defy Rivera, and replaces the plans.

No one suspects Tom, but he realizes that he is breaking the hearts of his father and the girl, and swears that he will prove worthy of their love. Rivera has gone away. Tom disappears, and under another name enlists in the army, leaving a note for Mary in which he tells her that she will not see him again until he has redeemed his shameful past. Shortly afterward the regiment to which Tom has become attached is ordered to the southwestern border on account of difficulty arising with the Republic of Mexico.

The Cinema News and Property Gazette del 5 de febrero de 1913 (Vol. II, No. 17, p. 73)
The Cinema News and Property Gazette del 5 de febrero de 1913 (Vol. II, No. 17, p. 73)

In the meantime Mary has applied for and received an appointment as a Red Cross nurse, and is herself sent to the border. One day after her arrival she is sent by the surgeon in charge to a point some distance away from the hospital, and is greatly surprised to find the soldier assigned to drive the wagon furnished for her transportation none other than Tom. The two young folks are overjoyed to see one another again. Tom takes his seat with Mary and the escort inside and the journey starts.

The Cinema News and Property Gazette del 5 de febrero de 1913 (Vol. II, No. 17, p. 73)
The Cinema News and Property Gazette del 5 de febrero de 1913 (Vol. II, No. 17, p. 73)

Rivera with his troop learns of the trip and seizes an opportunity to secure revenge and the same time deal a blow at the hated Americans. He starts in pursuit of the little party. A running fight follows; and as a result Mary and Tom are the only ones left alive on the wagon. Tom stops the wagon, and hastily mounting Mary on one of the mules, sends her in search of aid while he undertakes to hold back the attacking Mexicans. Upon Mary’s return with a troop of cavalry, they find Tom lying wounded. Tom is taken to the hospital and with Mary’s careful nursing is restored to health. Later Tom is made lieutenant and secures Mary’s hand.

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 7)
Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 7)

Motography del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. IX, No. 1, p. 7):

The Mexican Spy is a two-reel special to be released by the Lubin Company, January 17th. It is a dramatic story typical of the army life of Mexico and the United States. The scenes are laid on the border and constitute a powerful lesson against gambling, which is only too common among the officers. The picture is made with every attention to the local and military atmosphere of the two republics.

Mary Lee, the daughter of the paymaster, is in love with Colonel Loring’s son, Tom, he is a reckless chap given to gambling and other bad habits. Marv endeavors to reform him, but unsuccessfully. At last Tom steals $5,000 from the paymaster’s safe to pay a gambling debt to Senor Luis Rivera, who is a Mexican spy. Rivera offers to return the money if Tom will steal the plans of the fortifications from the office of the Colonel. The deal is made and Tom secures the plans. Mary discovers the treason and by pledging her jewels gives her lover the money, and forces him to return the papers. Tom later joins the army on the border and Mary receives an appointment as a Red Cross nurse. One day she is sent to a distant point and when the wagon pulls up for the trip she finds that Tom is the driver. The wagon is attacked by Mexicans with Rivera in command. A battle ensues in which Tom is badly wounded, but Mary nurses him back to life. For bravery he is made a lieutenant, and for love wins his old sweetheart.

The Moving Picture World del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 20)
The Moving Picture World del 4 de enero de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 20)

The Moving Picture World, Vol. XV, No. 5, Feb. 1, 1913, p. 464:

THE MEXICAN SPY (Lubin), Jan. 17-—A two-part story of the recent war with the Republic of Mexico, which we didn’t have. E. C. Hall wrote the scenario which Wilbert Melville produced seemingly at some army post in the West. It is a fair story, but somewhat conventional with a few added novelties which give it an apparent freshness. It is charitable not to say too much about the acting; but there is much to interest in a good many scenes where no acting was required, such as the fight between the Mexicans and the United States troops that come to the rescue of the hero who has been a thief and almost a traitor, but now bravely rehabilitates himself. Some of the backgrounds also are very acceptable.

The Moving Picture World del 18 de enero de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 3, pp. 280-281)
The Moving Picture World del 18 de enero de 1913 (Vol. XV, No. 3, pp. 280-281)

Variety del 28 de febrero de 1913 (Vol. XXIX, No. 13, p. 15):

Siege of Mexico Film

It looks like the movies were in for a deluge of Mexican films both dramatic and otherwise according to the plans of some of the film manufacturers. Several uptown houses have been playing up Mexican dramas for several weeks. The Lubin Co. releases “The Mexican Spy” in two reels March 9.

With the dailies running columns about the Mexican revolution the pictures will get all the publicity the managers want.

The Captive God (1916)

The Captive God (1916)

El cine mudo norteamericano dedicado a los pueblos prehispánicos es casi inexistente, salvo contadas excepciones. Una de ellas es la cinta de Charles Swickard y estelarizada por uno de los íconos del cine mudo: William S. Hart.

Hurgando en las bases de dato sobre cine mudo, en especial el norteamericano, descubrí esta joya silente. No tanto por su calidad cinematográfica, sino por el tema tratado: un enfrentamiento entre tehuanos y aztecas, situación que nunca sucedió.

the-captive-god-poster.jpg w=604La historia trata de un pequeño niño de origen español quien resulta ser el único sobreviviente de un naufragio y es recogido por Maya, una india tehuana. Es bautizado como Chiapa. William S. Hart interpreta al hispano-indio, el cual al crecer es considerado como un dios.

La película es engañosa ya que para el guionista los tehuanos están en guerra con los aztecas, evento históricamente incorrecto. Durante un ataque, el jefe de las fuerzas aztecas, Mexitli (P. D. Tabler) captura varios prisioneros para ser sacrificados. Chiapa sigue a los guerreros aztecas hasta su capital, pero es descubierto y herido por un arquero azteca.

Mientras tanto, el comandante victorioso, Mexitli tiene una audiencia con Moctezuma (Robert McKim). Moctezuma, sumamente satisfecho por la victoria obtenida durante el ataque, ofrece a Mexitli lo que quiera con tal de pagar su gran audacia y heroísmo. Mexitli pide la mano de la hija de Moctezuma, la princesa Lolomi (Enid Markey) para casarse con ella.

Lolomi confiesa a su padre que prefiere morir a casarse con ese hombre e inmediatamente sale corriendo al jardín del palacio. Es en ese lugar donde encuentra al herido Chiapa. Lolomi le tiene compasión y lo esconde en una casa alejada del bullicio de la ciudad. Mexitli sigue a la sirvienta de la princesa, cuando ésta lleva comida al herido Chiapa y descubre a Lolomi junto a él. En un ataque de celos, trata de matar a Chiapa, pero para salvar a Chiapa de las garras del guerrero azteca, Lolomi intercede y le explica que el prisionero es un guerrero tehuano cautivo y como tal, solo Moctezuma puede decidir sobre su futuro.


Chiapa es conducido ante Moctezuma y, sin sorpresa alguna, es sentenciado a ser sacrificado. Para sumar insulto a la herida, Chiapa será sacrificado durante la boda de Mexitli y Lolomi. La princesa logra sobornar al guardia que custodia a Chiapa para verlo por última vez antes del sacrificio. Chiapa toma la medalla que tiene alrededor del cuello, objeto que llevaba puesto cuando fue rescatado del naufragio, y le pide a Lolomi que trate de hacer llegar el recuerdo religioso a los mayas, para que de esa forma sepa su pueblo cual fue su final a manos de los aztecas.

Este sería el punto idóneo para dejar de leer la sinopsis del filme, pero dada la dificultad para ver la única copia existente del filme, la cual está en manos de la International Museum of Photography and Film en la George Eastman House, seguiré el relato del filme para los que no tienen la oportunidad de ver la cinta.

Chiapa es llevado a la cima de la pirámide y puesto sobre el altar de los sacrificios. Justo cuando el sacerdote está a punto de encajar la daga en el pecho de Chiapa, una horda de guerreros mayas ataca desde las colinas circundantes y evita el rito religioso. En la confusión, Chiapa toma la daga del sacerdote y baja corriendo la pirámide para ir al palacio. Encuentra a Lolomi y a Mexitli y una pelea a muerte se lleva a cabo entre los dos guerreros. Luego de una dura lucha, Chiapa logra tirar por una ventana a Mexitli quien muere al caer al piso del palacio. Toma a Lolomi para reunirse con los guerreros mayas, quienes lo reciben jubilosos. La cinta termina con los mayas marchando triunfantes “para alabar a los dioses sagrados, quienes son custodiados en sus templos de granito” como se lee en uno de los intertítulos.

Hart nunca habló de esta película. La consideraba por mucho la peor película en la que haya actuado. Hart nunca fue un actor de grandes emociones – para mayores datos, sus expresiones faciales eran casi imperceptibles, tenía unas expresiones que podían ser leídas como tiernas o sumamente amenazantes dependiendo del entorno y la actuación requerida.

Markey y Tabler dan una aceptable actuación, pero Hart se quedó a medias en este filme. Los personajes están muy mal delineados y sus actuaciones distan mucho de ser las mejores. El vestuario mantiene una autenticidad cuestionable. Chiapa está vestido como si fuera un caballero jaguar, mientras que Moctezuma utiliza un vestuario tomado del códice Mendoza. Respecto a la vestimenta de los extras, solo llevan taparrabos y poco más que valga la pena mencionar. Sin embargo para la época, 1916, se puede considerar adecuado.

Los escenarios tienen el inconveniente de haber sido construidos a escala. La pirámide, por ejemplo, existe solamente en secciones. Una, los escalones para ascender y otra, el altar en la cima de ella. No hay toma alguna que muestre la totalidad del conglomerado arquitectónico de la ciudad. Todas las tomas del palacio parece que fueron filmadas en el mismo cuarto, pero encuadrando diferentes esquinas del mismo y el famoso jardín del palacio no es más que una pared con algunas plantes al frente. Sin embargo, para los estándares de la Kay-Bee, productora del filme, el vestuario y la dirección artística son adecuadas para el filme.


A continuación les dejo la traducción de la presentación del filme durante la reunión de The Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society efectuada el 20 de octubre de 1959 en honor de William S. Hart:

“Estrenada en abril de 1916, entre las cintas The Apostole of Vengeance y Hell’s Hinges, The Captive God salió al mercado cuando Hart estaba en el pináculo de su creatividad. Su personaje en esta cinta resultó un miscast (Hart interpreta a un huérfano español criado por mayas) que el mismo actor nunca consideró digno de mencionar. Por algunos años se pensó que el concepto que tenía Hart de esta cinta se basaba más que nada en que no tuvo la dirección del filme, pero ahora resulta que es válida su opinión y juicio respecto a la película. Se ha estudiado el filme en sus negativos originales, buscando imprimir un original del filme, pero al analizar el filme en su totalidad, resultó francamente aburrido y repetitivo el tema siendo que fue el quinto rollo – el cual por méritos propios es mejor del filme, sin embargo continúa en mostrar la simpleza del guión y la pobre dirección, razón por la cual se pudo haber filmado esta cinta en tan solo dos rollos.”

The Captive God. Huff notes
Programa de The Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society del 20 de octubre de 1959

“En su época, Swickard, el director, estaba en la etapa menos productiva y creativa de su carrera, sin embargo la publicidad del filme era todo lo opuesto: ‘la más estupenda producción jamás hecha’, además de promocionar que utilizaba ‘miles de actores’ en las escenas de batalla. Algunos de los escenarios pueden impresionar, al menos desde el punto de vista de la Triangle, casa productora del filme y compañía que por cierto en un boletín respecto a la cinta hizo hincapié en la velocidad que requería la cinta para su proyección:

“Las dos grandes escenas de batalla – una al inicio del filme y la otra en el último rollo – deben ser aceleradas en su proyección de manera considerable. En la primera batalla, los guerreros son vistos descendiendo de los techos de sus viviendas. Aquí los movimientos son particularmente lentos, por lo que requieren una atmósfera de excitación y confusión. El proyector debe ser acelerado bastante. A continuación del intertítulo The Alarm, las escenas filmadas en interior deben ser proyectadas de manera más lenta.”

Emilio García Riera en su obra México visto por el cine extranjero menciona en dos ocasiones el filme. De entrada hace hincapié en que

“Entre 1914 y 1925, Hart interpretó –y dirigió, muchas veces— unas 70 películas, en su gran mayoría westerns, y unas 50 de ellas fueron largometrajes. De esas 70 cintas, me consta que cuando menos en 26 hubo algo mexicano, e incluso en una, The Captive God (1916), Hart la hizo de azteca ersatz.” (p. 62)

Más adelante, García Riera comenta respecto a esta cinta que

“Otras damas de la más alta sociedad mexicana fueron aztecas del cine norteamericano. En The Captive God (1916), una hija del emperador Moctezuma, Lolomí, era salvada de un matrimonio forzado con el guerrero Mexitl por William S. Hart en persona. Alejado por una vez de las praderas y los saloons del far west, Hart era en la cinta un español del siglo XVI encontrado de niño ‘en algún lugar de la costa sur de California o del norte de México’ por los indios tehuanos, ‘moradores de lugares escarpados en el territorio ahora conocido como Arizona y Nuevo México’ (Variety, 7 de julio de 1916). Esos tehuanos, antes vencidos por los aztecas, acudían en auxilio de Lolomí y ella podía casarse con un Hart indigenizado y llamado Chiapa. Debió quedar claro, de cualquier modo, que la justicia impuesta a los aztecas – los mexicanos – llegaba del norte, y que la representaba sobre todo un hombre blanco de origen.” (p. 96)

Ficha filmográfica: The Captive God (El dios cautivo), (1916) Norteamericana. B & N: Cinco rollos. Productor: Thomas H. Ince para la New York Motion Picture Corporation. Distribución: Triangle Film Corporation [Kay-Bee]. Guión: Monte M. Katterjohn. Dirección artística: Martin J. Doner. Fotografía: Joseph H. August y Clyde De Vinna. Estrenada el 23 de julio de 1916. Título propuesta al momento de la filmación: The Castilian. Costo aproximado de producción: U.S. $ 50,000. Director: Charles Swickard. Intérpretes: William S. Hart [Chiapa], Enid Markey [Lolomi], P.D. Tabler [Mexitli], Dorothy Dalton [Tecolote], Robert McKim [Moctezuma], Dorcas Matthews [Maya], Herbert Farjeon [Cacama], Robert Kortman [Tuyos].

Motography del 18 de marzo de 1916 (Vol. XV, No. 16, p. 874)
Motography del 18 de marzo de 1916 (Vol. XV, No. 16, p. 874)

A continuación reproduzco las diferentes notas sobre la cinta publicadas en varias revistas de la época. Las notas van en orden cronológico e inicio con la primera mención de la cinta en The Moving Picture World del 1o de julio de 1916 (Vol. XXIX, No. 1, p. 116) donde se habla de la cinta durante su filmación:

William S. Hart soon will be seen in the long-awaited «Aztec story,» in which he has been working at Inceville, when he is presented by Thomas H. Ince in «The Captive God.» This Triangle-Kay Bee play is by Monte M. Katterjohn and offers Hart in a role that is totally unlike anything he ever has attempted since his desertion of the footlights for the film studio. The part is that of a stalwart Castilian who, shipwrecked in the early part of the sixteenth century, is adopted by the people of Tehuan and made their leader because of his superior wisdom. Hart is declared to have rendered another fascinating performance. He appears, it is true, sans chaps and sombrero and six-shooters, but his magnetism is expected to prove as powerful as ever. The cast that appears in support includes Enid Markey, P. D. Tabler, Dorothy Dalton, Robert McKim, Dorcas Matthews, Herbert Farjean and Robert Kortman, in addition to the large supporting cast.

Una semana después, en Variety del 7 de julio de 1916 (Vol. XLIII, No. 6, p. 24) se publica el reparto del filme junto con una breve sinopsis firmada por un tal Fred. García Riera se basa en este escrito para redactar su comentario antes mencionado.

The Captive God

William S. Hart (Chilapa); Enid Markey (Lolomi); P. D. Tabler (Mexitli); Dorothy Dalton (Tecolote); Robert McKim (Montezuma); Dorcas Matthews (Maya); Herbert Farjean (Cacama); Robert Kortman (Tuyos).

The latest Thomas Ince production under the title of «The Captive God» with William S. Hart as the star proves a veritable triumph for the star, the author, and above all the director. It is also a distinct triumph for the technical director of the production and for the photographer. The story is one of the type that has long held sway in the popular fiction magazines, it is at once thrilling and carries an air of mystic romance that is compelling. Monte M. Ketterjohn is the author who chose as his subject principals the Aztecs of early Mexico and the Indian tribes that were the cliff dwellers of the territory now known as Arizona and New Mexico. The filmed version of the author’s writing tells the story effectively and the picture is one that should attract money to the box office. Chilapa (William S. Hart) born of Spanish parentage, is washed ashore somewhere along the coast of lower California or Mexico and adopted and brought up by the more peaceful cliff dwellers. The picture jumps a number of years and Chilapa has grown to manhood’s estate and is practically the chief of the tribe. The Aztecs attack and capture a greater part of the wealth of the tribe and all of the women and children. Chilapa escapes with some of his warriors and in time manages to obtain the assistance of a number of tribes and a war on the Aztecs is planned. Chilapa scouting in advance is captured. Montezuma’s daughter Lolomi, falls in love with him and although her hand is promised to Mexitli, the Aztec warrior who conquered the more peaceful tribes, she wishes to wed Chilapa. Her pleas in his behalf are in vain and he is to be offered as a religious sacrifice to the Gods of the Aztecs. Lolomi bribes one of her countrymen to inform Chilapa’s tribe of the death that is to be dealt out to their chieftain and they arrive in time to rescue him. The picture abounds with action and some of the battle scenes are most effective. The feature is one of the best the Triangle has released in some time. The film reportedly ends with «thrilling scenes and a smashing finish.» “The Captive God” was praised for its elaborate, realistic stage sets that brought the Aztec world to life. The extras were played by Pueblo Indians.


A continuación dos notas publicadas el mismo día, 15 de julio de 1916. Una en Motography (Vol. XVI, No. 3, p. 136):

Hart in Aztec Story

William S. Hart, America’s favorite «western hero,» soon will be seen in the long-awaited «Aztec story,» in which he has been working at Inceville, when he is presented by Thomas H. Ince in «The Captive God.» This Triangle-Kay Bee play is from the pen of Monte M. Katterjohn and offers Hart in a role that is totally unlike anything he ever has attempted since his desertion of the footlights for the film studio. The part is that of a stalwart Castilian who, shipwrecked in the early part of the sixteenth century, is adopted by the people of Tehuan and made their leader because of his superior wisdom.

Otra en The Moving Picture World (Vol. XXIX, No. 3, p. 459):

«The Captive God» at the Rialto

William S. Hart was the star of the feature photoplay at the Rialto Theater. It is a Triangle product—»The Captive God»—and Mr. Hart was supported by Enid Markey, Dorothy Dalton, Dorcas Matthews and Robert McKim.  “The Captive God» is a spectacular production of the Montezumas at the dawn of the sixteenth century, and is an original work by Monte J. Katterjohn. In it Mr. Hart has a role adapted to his peculiar personal characteristics. Wrecked as a cabin boy at the age of ten, and the only survivor of a Spanish armada he is picked up on the ocean’s shore by the people of Tehuan and, because of his white skin and mysterious antecedents and advent, regarded by them as a god. Thus it is that he becomes the ruler of a community rivaling in wealth and power that of the mighty Montezuma.

Para fines de ese mes, The Moving Picture World del 29 de julio de 1916 (Vol. XXIX, No. 5, p. 843) publica la nota más extensa sobre esta cinta:

THE CAPTIVE GOD (Ince—Five Parts—July 23).—The cast: .Chiapa (William S. Hart); Lolomi (Enid Markey) ; Mexitli (P. D. Tabler) ; Tecolote (Dorothy Dalton) ; Montezuma (Robert McKim) ; Maya (Dorcas Matthews) ; Cacama (Herbert Farjean) ; Tuyos (Robert Kortman).

The picture tells the story of a little Spanish boy who is cast upon the shore of the east coast of Mexico early in the sixteenth century, when Mexico was dominated by the Aztec Indians. Never having seen a white person before, the local natives, a tribe called Tehuans, bring him up as a god and call him Chiapa.

When he reaches manhood, Chiapa is given authority over his entire tribe. He falls in love with the priestess, Tecolote, and she yields to his advances although she is quite unworthy of him, and encourages other suitors.

Then the Aztecs hear that under the white god the Tehuans are very prosperous, and start forth to conquer them. The Aztec army is under command of Mexitli, the chief general of Montezuma, the Emperor; and having conquered the Tehuans, he carried off Tecolote as his personal slave.

Chiapa follows as a spy. In the garden of Montezuma, he is wounded by a guard; but Lolomi, the beautiful daughter of the Emperor, saves him. They fall in love. Meanwhile Mexitli has tired of Tecolote, and now seeks the hand of the Princess Lolomi, who would rather die than have him. As the Emperor gives Mexitli his consent, he tries to get the princess by force, and in doing so discovers Chiapa.

Chiapa is sentenced to die at the end of the year on the sacrificial stone. But Lolomi, finding her pleas to her father of no avail, sends word to the Tehuans that their god is captive. An avenging army sweeps down, and there is brought about a sequence of thrilling scenes with a smashing finish.

Enid Markey como Lolomi y William S. Hart en el papel de Chilapa

Para el mes siguiente, The Moving Picture World del 12 de agosto de 1916 (Vol. XXIX, No. 7, p. 1096) publica la invitación que se hizo para una exhibición “para la fuente”. Resulta extraño que la invitación para la prensa se hiciera a posteriori al estreno para el público en general:

One night this week Los Angeles photoplay circles were treated to their first photoplay smoker, which was staged at the Palace Theater for newspaper men and their friends. The occasion was the pre-view of «The Captive God,» Ince’s latest spectacle of primitive passions, in which William S. Hart and an all-star cast takes part, and which is to run at the Palace.

Para fines del mes, Motography del 26 de agosto de 1916 (Vol. XVI, No. 9, p. 522) hace un recuento de la importancia del trabajo escultórico en los sets cinematográficos. De alguna forma es un reconocimiento a los “directores artísticos” de esa época, donde pone de ejemplo el trabajo hecho en The Captive God:

Sculptor a Studio Necessity

Several years ago, when the business of making photo-dramas was struggling for a happier existence, the sculptor was unheard-of as an adjunct of a producing plant. He was privileged to command such an astonishing salary that it was little short of impossible to engage him. And aside from that fact, the products of his skill were not in demand. It was a simple matter to make a picture play without the services of statuary. But today, the sculptor enjoys an important place in the industry. His work is doing much to embellish otherwise unpretentious productions and he appears to be becoming more firmly established as a necessity.

The use of a sculptoring department in the modern motion picture plant is declared to compel attention in a recent subject from Inceville, «The Captive God,» the Triangle Kay Bee play in which William S. Hart is presented as star by Thomas H. Ince. This is an Aztec story and being illustrative of the customs and architecture of the Aztec Indians was severe in its demands on the art department.

An inkling of the importance of the sculptoring department to this play is evident from the fact that nearly 300 tons of plaster were employed in the making of settings. Practically all the settings were made of plaster plaques, approximately 1,800 of which were used in one setting alone. Six men are permanently employed in the Ince sculpturing department and they were all busy for nearly six weeks creating the settings for the production.

En 2007 el Museum of the Moving Image organizó la primera retrospectiva de William S. Hart en Nueva York y para la función inaugural del 21 de abril se exhibió entre varias cintas, The Captive God de la cual los curadores, Diane y Richard Koszarski comentaron sobre la cinta que “en 54 minutos, el director Charles Swickard crea una bizarra combinación de Tarzán y Apocalypto, donde Hart encuentra romance mientras le hace la guerra a los ejércitos aztecas”. Después de 97 años, el tiempo puso en su lugar a Hart y su aventura prehispánica.

Irving Berlin compone melodía para la Expedición Punitiva (1916)

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) fue uno de los compositores populares más importantes de Estados Unidos durante el siglo XX. Entre sus creaciones está God Bless America, considerado el segundo himno norteamericano. También son suyas Alexander’s Ragtime BandWhite Christmas (Blanca Navidad) y There’s No Business Like Show Business.

Poco conocida es la canción que Irving Berlin compusó para las tropas de la Expedición Punitiva. La revista Variety (Vol. XLIII, No. 5, junio 20, 1916, p. 27) le dedicó toda una página al compositor y reprodujo la letra de la cancion. También se hace un recuento de todas las melodías que a través de los años se han relacionado con eventos bélicos norteamericanos desde la famosísima Yankee Doodle.

Si bien este blog se aboca al cine mudo, la importancia de éste durante la Revolución Mexicana, en especial con Pancho Villa y la posterior Expedición Punitiva fueron material cinematográfico de primer nivel, tanto para los norteamericanos como para los mexicanos. Por ello incluyo este dato musical sobre la obra de Irving Berlin.

Philadelphia «Press,» June 23,


«Mexico» Seems to Be the Favorite.

El sargento Irving Berlin en uniforme militar en 1918
El sargento Irving Berlin en uniforme militar (1918)

What will be the army’s song along the Mexican border?

The stirring songs and marches that have aroused the patriotism of righting men all over the world throughout all the years have been long remembered as outstanding features of a hundred campaigns.

In our own country the earliest songs of the Revolution have come down through the years and have been sung by the people long after those whose steps were livened and whose exhausted bodies were straightened to new endeavor by the music, had passed away. Everyone knows the refrain of ‘Yankee Doodle,» the earliest of the soldier songs of the republic and then came the «Star Spangled Banner» after the War of 1812, which later was accorded the honor of universal acceptance as the National Anthem.

The Civil War brought its scores of songs that everyone knows and sings yet, and appreciates for their lively marching rhythm and the stirring choruses, «The Girl I Left Behind Me» «We Are Coming, Father Abraham,» «Marching Through Georgia,» «John Brown’s Body,» «Dixie?,» «Maryland, My Maryland,» and all the others. The Spanish-American War made «A Hot Time in the Old Town» thrill with patriotism.

Off Singing Old Song

The Sixty-ninth Regiment of New York went away to camp the other day singing the «Girl I Left Behind Me.» Other contingents of the New York troops sang «America, I Love You.»

The question has caused much speculation among the Pennsylvania guardsmen and yesterday scores suggested favorite songs with a swing and a rousing chorus that would serve to cheer the men and keep them marching. Attention of most of the men seemed to have centered upon «Mexico,» Irving Berlin’s new song; «America, I Love You,” and George Cohan’s old song, «It’s a Grand Old Flag.”

The men who had learned the verses of «Mexico» were enthusiastic in their belief that it fits the present conditions and will provide lots of pep and swing for the men.

Irving Berlin song, Variety, Vol. XLIII, No. 5, Jun. 20, 1916, p. 27
Variety del 20 de junio de 1916 (Vol. XLIII, No. 5, p. 27)

The words of the song are:

They’re get-tin’ ready—they’re get-tin’ ready

We’ve had a row and now they’re going to war.

They’ve got their orders—to sail the waters

With heavy heart they start for a foreign shore.

They’re not excited, they’re just delighted

To go and shake them, make them stand up and roar

Like they never did before.


They’re on their way—to Mexico;

Just tee those Yankee fighters, foe exciters

Gettin’ ready to go.

They’re on their way—to win the day;

Just take a look at those Yankee brothers

Waving to their gray-haired mothers.

Good-by, they’re leaving, good-by, stop grieving.

Don’t cry: they’re glad to go.

They’ll make them run like a herd of cattle,

They’ll know they’ve had some battle.

Way down In Mexico.

Come over near them, come on and cheer them.

They’ve got a right to fight this battle because

They’ve been invited to go and fight it,

And so they’re in to win, and they’ll never pause

Until they take ‘em—and then they’ll make ‘em

With head erect respect America’s laws;

Give three cheers for them because.

Intentos de censura a películas de la Revolución Mexicana en Estados Unidos (1911)

Entre marzo y abril de 1911, tres publicaciones periódicas norteamericanas dedicadas al cine publicaron artículos o notas respecto a la censura en Estados Unidos impuesta a las «vistas» sobre la Revolución Mexicana en aquella nación. Los semanarios que publicaron información sobre este acontecimiento fueron The Nichelodeon (18 de marzo), The Moving Pictures World (1 de abril) y Variety (15 de abril).

El primero, en escuetos dos párrafos justifica la censura en Los Ángeles dada la violencia que muestran las películas sobre la revolución, además la preocupación por los problemas que motive ver escenas de la revolución a los mexicanos residentes allá.

El segundo es el más largo y detallado, por llamarlo así, se concreta a la censura de la película Los Filibusteros y deja entrever que el consul mexicano está detrás de su intento de prohibir la película. Organismos sindicales contratan mexicanos para las películas sobre la revolución que se filman en Hollywood; hasta la ira del redactor contra la censura se deja ver.

El último y más escueto, coinciden el gobierno federal y el cónsul mexicano en que es recomendable evitar filmar películas sobre la revolución.

The Nickelodeon, Vol. , No. , marzo 18, 1911, p.
The Nickelodeon, Vol.V, No. 11, marzo 18, 1911, p. 312

The Nickelodeon, Vol. V, No. 11, Mar. 18, 1911, p. 312:

Mexican War Films Censored

A report from Los Angeles states the district attorney is advocating a rigid censorship on moving pictures of the Mexican revolution scenes. Many of the film companies take picture here, and two have been quite busy of late at Glendale and the Santa Monica canyon, places which afford excellent scenery for war views. Through a labor agency they have engaged Mexicans as actors.

It is complained that scenes of cruelty and horror have been worked into many of the films. The district attorney takes the position that the presentation of such pictures might cause trouble among Mexicans in this country.

The Moving Picture World, Vol. , No. , abril 1, 1911, p. 704.
The Moving Picture World, Vol. 8, No. 13, abril 1, 1911, p. 704

The Moving Picture World, Vol. 8, No. 13, Apr. 1, 1911, pp. 704-705:

Local Producers Censorship?

The recent Kalem film, «TheFilibusters,» has stirred up a local hornets’ nest. The film was a forerunner of a series planned of the Mexican Revolution. Objections to the film have been pouring into the district attorney’s office ever since its release. Most of the objections, it is hinted, have come through the influence of the Mexican Consul. Another rumor is to the effect that the district attorney is acting upon secret orders from Washington to discourage the making of films having for a subject the Mexican Revolution on the ground that the film stories are seditious to the interests of the Mexican government. The International Labor Agency, at 419 North Main Street, had twenty-five Mexicans at Glendale last week posing for the Kalem Company, and the Pathé Company at Santa Monica Canyon are said to be using a greater number in the production of war films. District Attorney Fredericks yesterday said that rigid censorship will be exercised on all moving picture films dealing with the Mexican Revolution. Labor agencies have been requested to discontinue supplying men for this work. The writer saw the film in question and in it caw nothing objectionable and much that was commendabe. In the first place there was no bloodshed and brutality as alleged. The story was unusual and interesting and very well acted and directed. At this writing the local government court officials and attorneys have taken no action in the matter. If objections are to be raised to such films, the objections should come from government officials, who are most concerned, and not from county officials, who are exceeding their authority in interfering with a legitimate industry the individuals composing which have broken no laws.

Variety, Vol. , Nol. , abril 15, 1911, p.
Variety, Vol. XXII, No. 6, abril 15, 1911, p. 10

Variety, Vol. XXII, No. 6, Apr. 15, 1911, p. 10:

No Revolution Pictures

It is doubtful if any pictures of the Mexican Revolution will be shown throughout the country, as a result of the United States government discouraging the making of films having the Revolution as a subject, and the Mexican Consul objecting to their exhibition.