Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Barry O’Moore

The Crime of Carelessness (1912)

Released by Edison three years before “Children of Eve,” this movie also exploits public interest in industrial accidents generated by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Unlike that movie, it also attempts to shift the blame for such accidents away from the owners and managers, and to the workers themselves.

The movie begins by showing an on-site inspector who discovers a pile of materials blocking an emergency exit door. He points this out to the owner (Bigelow Cooper), and begins to write up a citation, but the owner apparently talks him out of it. No money changes hands, and there is plenty of open space visible on a nearby wall, so maybe he has simply promised to move the offending objects. The next scene introduces the “lovers,” Hilda (Mabel Trunnelle) and Tom (Barry O’Moore), who are workers in the plant. When they kiss, the owner and inspector discreetly turn their backs for a moment. A shot follows showing “the day’s work over,” which appears to have been inspired by the famous Lumière shortWorkers Leaving the Factory,” and then we see Hilda and Tom celebrating their engagement with Hilda’s family. The family also discreetly leaves them alone after Hilda has a chance to show off her ring.

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Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914)

This is a somewhat sophisticated Edison short release, timed to coincide with the story’s appearance in the December issue of “Pictorial Review.” It appears to be part of a series of movies starring “Octavius, Amateur Detective,” a sort of spoiled American Sherlock Holmes.

Wrong Santa Claus1At the beginning, Octavius (Barry O’Moore) is taking tea when his butler arrives with an invitation to attend a party and play Santa Claus for the children. The butler seems quite concerned about Octavius’s reaction, and looks relieved when his master laughs. Octavius goes to a store and buys a Santa Claus suit, although when he arrives, the wife tells him they already have one. After hanging around for a while, meeting the children and a pretty young woman who was also invited to the party, Octavius goes upstairs to change. Meanwhile, a burglar has entered the home and scouted it out a bit. He changes into the spare Santa Claus suit and knocks Octavius out. He goes downstairs, is seen by the wife and is able to steal all the presents (apparently they look like the most expensive things in the house, even though they’re wrapped and he has no idea what they are). Then he leaves the house, just as Octavius wakes up.

Wrong Santa ClausOctavius finds the wife and the looted Christmas tree, and quickly figures out what happened. Undeterred by the fact that he is wearing a Santa suit, Octavius begins the chase! He tracks the thief to a train station, just barely managing to board the train before it pulls away. He confronts the other Santa, but is deterred by the conductor. Then, when they reach the next station, the thief gets off, and Octavius tries telling his story to a police officer. The other Santa shows him a name written on a package, and presumably convinces the cop it’s his name. Octavius follows the burglar until he goes into a store and puts his basket down while shopping. Octavius grabs the basket and runs back to the cop. The cop, who had prevented one Santa Claus from taking a basket away from another once before, assumes that the two Santas are in the same roles again, and arrests the man trying to take the basket away from Octavius. Octavius rides the train back to the previous town, and brings the basket of toys just like a real Santa Claus, distributing toys to the family’s children. Then there’s an extended ending in which Octavius and the pretty young woman try to get away from the kids to smooch. Ultimately, Octavius has to give them hush money.

Wrong Santa Claus2I haven’t seen any other Octavius, Amateur Detective films, but I wasn’t too taken with the character here. He does manage to recover the stolen goods, but more through doggedness and deception than through brilliant deduction and insights. He comes across as sort of a doof, if not an idiot. His success seems to rely on an opponent dumb enough to rob a house while people are home and wear a highly-visible getup in his escape. I was somewhat impressed by the editing, which made good use of cross-cutting, especially during the initial break-in sequence and the chase. The camera was set quite close to the actors as well, not just cutting off feet but entire legs and sometimes the tops of heads. This seemed especially unusual for the conservative Edison Studios, where we expect entire bodies to be shown. On the whole, it’s a technically proficient, but narratively lightweight Christmas piece.

Wrong Santa Claus3Director: Charles M. Seay

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Barry O’Moore, Julian Reed, John Sturgeon

Run Time: 15 Min

You can watch it for free: here.