Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Sr.

July, 1914

Babe Ruth pitching. He began his career as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in July 1914.

Babe Ruth pitching. He began his career as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in July 1914.

It’s time again for one of my monthly news roundups, in which I discuss what was going on 100 years ago, when the movies I review were being produced. This is a special month: July 1914 is generally known as the “July Crisis” which led up to the declaration of World War One and the “Guns of August.” It would be possible to dedicate an entire blog just to these events. In fact, my friends over at “The July Crisis, 100 Years On, 1914-2014” are doing exactly that, with daily updates on the events of 100 years ago. They’re doing it so well, I don’t see any need to replicate their efforts.

That said, I’m just going to hit a couple of World War highlights, and focus mainly on other things in the news at the time:

Funeral: the funeral for Archduke Franz Ferdinand is held July 4. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany does not attend.

Anarchism: On July 4, an explosion in Harlem kills several members of the Anarchist Black Cross and one of the IWW, along with one un-affiliated woman, and injures twenty others. The anarchists has been involved, along with Alexander Berkman and Louise Berger, in a plot to bomb John D. Rockefeller in retaliation for the Ludlow Massacre, but the dynamite went off unexpectedly in Berger’s home.

Sports: Babe Ruth debuts as a major league ball player with the Boston Red Sox, July 11.

Legal: Supreme Court Justice Horace H. Lurton dies on July 12, at the age of seventy. He had been appointed just four years earlier, as the oldest member of the Court, by then-President Taft. He would be succeeded by the conservative James Clark McReynolds, appointed by Woodrow Wilson.

Ireland: On July 14, the House of Lords passes a bill for Irish Home Rule, but the World War prevents its enactment. Ireland continues to struggle for independence throughout the War and until another Home Rule Act (the fourth) is finally passed in 1920.

Mexico: On July 15, President Huerta resigns from office, under pressure from the United States and rebels within Mexico, including Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. Huerta will go into exile and attempt to raise a new army with German support, but winds up imprisoned in the US until his death.

Ultimatum: on July 23, Austria-Hungary presents its ultimatum to Serbia. It includes demands that Serbia remove from office anyone the Austro-Hungarian government requests and the censorship of the press and removal of school text books critical of Austria-Hungary. It is calculated to be nearly impossible to comply with, as Germany and Austria have now made their plans for war.

Mobilization: On July 28, Austria-Hungary orders mobilization and begins hostilities against Serbia. Russia orders partial mobilization in response that day, and full mobilization on the 31st. A state of war now exists among belligerents in Europe, and mobilization will continue through August.

Movies released in July, 1914: “My Official Wife” starring Clara Kimball Young, “The Man on the Box” co-directed by Cecil B. DeMille, “The Stain” with Theda Bara, and “By the Sun’s Rays” featuring Lon Chaney, Sr.

Births: July 29, Irwin Corey, American comedian and mentor to Lenny Bruce; July 31, Louis de Funès, French comedian of Spanish origin.

Deaths: on July 1, both actress Grace McHugh and cinematographer Owen Carter die in an on-set accident during the filming of “Across the Border.”

Unseen Enemy (1912)


This taught little suspense thriller by Griffith introduced the world to the Gish sisters – Dorothy (who we’ll see in “The Musketeers of Pig Alley” and was later in “Orphans of the Storm”) and Lillian (later in “The Mothering Heart” and “Birth of a Nation”). What’s interesting to me is that, although they’re made up to be twins in identical wardrobe, makeup, and hair, they come across as highly individual actresses, with distinct screen presences even at this early stage (Dorothy would have been 14, and Lilian 19 at the time). The story is that they were introduced to Griffith through his leading star Mary Pickford, and he immediately signed them to work for Biograph, making them into equally big stars overnight. The story is essentially that the two are locked into a room at gunpoint while a “slattern maid” (Grace Henderson, who we’ve seen in “Corner in Wheat” and “The Usurer”) and her thieving henchman (Harry Carey, Sr. who went on to “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Musketeers of Pig Alley”) attempt to break into the safe with their inheritance. Meanwhile, they manage to call their brother (Elmer Booth, from “Friends” and “The Battle at Elderbush Gulch”) on the telephone in the room and he races to their rescue in an automobile – emphasizing the fascination of film audiences with technology and speed.

Director: D.W. Griffith

Camera: Billy Bitzer

Starring: Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Elmer Booth, Robert Harron, Harry Carey, Grace Henderson

Run Time: 15 Min, 20 seconds

You can watch it for free: here.