Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

June, 1914

Pro-Constitutional forces pose in Mexico, 1914.

Pro-Constitutional forces pose in Mexico, 1914.

Our monthly century news roundup has some interesting items this week.

World War: One June 28, Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated. Expect a future “context” post devoted entirely to this event.

War Crimes: On June 12, Ottoman forces begin the “Greek Genocide,” in which Christian Greeks living in Turkey are slaughtered. Over the course of the next ten years, the number of Greeks killed will enter the hundreds of thousands.

Revolution: Mexican “Constitutional Army” forces under Carranza take San Luis Potosi, demanding the surrender of President Victoriano Huerta, whose increasingly dictatorial regime has lost support both at home and abroad.

Diplomacy: June 1, US President Woodrow Wilson’s envoy Edward Mandell House meets with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. This can be seen as the first of many efforts by the President to prevent or end the First World War.

Disasters: June 24, a major fire guts downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, causing $400,000 damage and injuring 19 firemen.

Sports: June 9, Honus Wagner makes his 3000’th career hit for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the first player to achieve that record in the twentieth century.

Movies: Movies released this month include “The Wrath of the Gods,” “The Only Son” and “The Million Dollar Mystery.”

Births: June 7, Indian director Kwaja Ahmed Abbas (who made “Shehar Aur Sapna” and “Pardesi”), June 18, actor E.G. Marshall (memorable in “12 Angry Men” and also TV’s “Defenders”).

Addendum/Errata: Last month, I failed to note the founding of Paramount Studios on May 8. Many apologies to the future producers of the “Star Trek” and “Friday the Thirteenth” movies!

One is Business, the Other Crime (1912)

One is Business

In classic Griffith fashion, this short film uses cross-cutting to contrast the lives of two newlywed couples, one rich, one poor, in order to make a social comment about the way we treat dishonesty at different ends of the income spectrum. When the poor man (Charles West, who we’ve seen in “The Unchanging Sea” and “The Burglar’s Dilemma”) cannot find a job, he finally breaks and tries to steal from the rich man’s (Edwin August, also in “The Eternal Mother” and later appeared in “The Magnificent Ambersons”) home. Said rich man has just accepted an offer of a bribe for his “vote” (I assume on a committee of some kind, since surely his vote on a ballot measure wouldn’t count for more than anyone else’s) in favor of a new railroad. Rich wife Blanche Sweet (from “The Painted Lady” and “Judith of Bethulia”) catches the would-be robber and holds him at gun-point, but, finding out about her husband’s illicit dealings, lets him go and upbraids her spouse. Chastised, the rich husband returns the money and offers poor Charles a job, apparently in a brickyard he owns. The happy ending probably pleased both working class viewers, who enjoyed seeing the rich man shamed, and the more middle class of film audiences, who wanted to believe that honesty pays off.

Director: D.W. Griffith

Camera: Billy Bitzer

Starring: Charles West, Dorothy Bernard, Edwin August, Blanche Sweet.

Run Time: 15 Min, 22 seconds.

You can watch it for free: here.