Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery, or: Lost in the Yukon.

Lucille_Love,_Girl_of_Mystery_FilmPoster

 

A mystery to begin with:

Our story begins in late August of 1978, in Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory of Canada, when from a construction razing of an old hockey arena, was uncovered the remains of a swimming pool, and at the deep end were found more than five-hundred film cans that had been kept in cold storage in the permafrost for nearly fifty years.  The silent movies discovered were produced between 1903 and 1929, including the subject of this article: Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery.

Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery, episode one, was released on April 14, 1914, in fifteen weekly installments (chapter fifteen premiered on July 21, 1914.[1]); originally (as late as the end of March, 1914) the project was to have fourteen chapters.[2] Lucille Love endures, at least in part, with episodes two, three, six, eight, ten, twelve, thirteen and fourteen surviving. What we now have of Lucille Love (what was thought to be a completely lost serial), is being preserved by the Library of Congress; the prints in storage at the LOC are duplicate negatives and reference copies from the Public Archives of Canada, all because of this unlikely and unbelievable find in Dawson City.

The Story and the Scenario:

Lucille Love was cross-promoted by the serialization of the story in more than fifty newspapers across the country, contracted by the A. P. Robyn syndicate of Chicago.[3]  The serialized melodrama was written for newspaper consumption, under the pseudonym of, The Master Pen, which in an October, 1914, Motography article claimed it was written by Edwin Bliss;[4] and yet again in the spring of 1915 Motography Magazine, made the same assertion, in an indirect manner.[5]  Another indication that the author of the story was indeed Edwin Bliss, was a statement  again by Motography (nearly two months later in 1915), in which they wrote that Grace Cunard had been offered a  feature role, written by, The Master Pen.[6]

Harrisburg_Telegraph_Wed__Apr_8__1914_The_Washington_Herald_Sun__Apr_12__1914_The_Atlanta_Constitution_Wed__Apr_8__1914_The_Atlanta_Constitution_Sat__Apr_4__1914_Times Herald, Burns, Harney County, Oregon, October 10, 1914(1)

 

More recently, in the Joseph McBride book, Searching For John Ford: A Life, the author stated that the alias, The Master Pen, was used for star Grace Cunard and the film’s co-star and director Francis Ford (older brother to legendary director John Ford).[7] McBride’s contention that Cunard and Ford was, The Master Pen, seems a bit far-fetched, considering the previous published statements regarding Edwin Bliss. Logically, it would be that Bliss wrote the story-chapters based upon the Cunard-Ford (wait for more confusion later*) scenarios, since neither was a published writer before or after.  As I write this last proposition, I know that it is opposed by at least two published accounts that we will explore in the very next sentence. The case for Bliss as the author of the Lucille Love, stories is strengthened by a report from a leading trade magazine, that Universal had secured the exclusive right to produce a film based on the story, and that the author was “one of the best known fiction writers of the day.”[8] A final indication I want to include was a statement from Motography, in which they wrote that Grace Cunard had been offered a feature role, written by, The Master Pen;[9] the articles and notes that I have quoted appear proof enough that the story’s author was indeed Edwin Bliss. It is interesting to take note that Edwin Bliss went uncredited and unlisted for his novelization (these appeared in weekly installments, in newspapers, country-wide, the same as with Lucille Love) for the, Who Pays?, series.[10] This was a twelve-chapter serial, released in 1915. Finally, in the Motion Picture News in 1915, in a piece about Who Pays?, and the novelized works by Edwin Bliss is said to be “well known for previous work along the same line.”[11] It very well could be that Bliss simply presented a novelization of the scenarios already on paper for Lucille Love.

Also, the idea of Ford (here comes the confusion I wrote of in the last paragraph*) and Cunard as the scenario-writing-duo by author Joseph McBride is contradicted by the methodical research done by members of the Audio-Visual Conservation department at the Library of Congress, in their viewings of the actual films. The title cards for those eight chapters of Lucille Love, find Francis Ford listed only as the director and an actor for the production, not as a scenarist; instead, Otis Turner is listed as a co-writer of the scenario, along with the production’s star, Grace Cunard. Of course there are still seven episodes unaccounted for, and maybe Ford was included as part of the scenario writing team on one of those.

 

 Misplaced people:

The following character descriptions or actor’s names (in bold) may be added to the cast of Lucille Love: Harry L. Rattenberry portrayed the, captain;[12] Burton Law appeared as the native-chief; Doris Baker (Baker has been unlisted for her work in Lucille Love, for how long? Who knows) had the role of the native-chief’s daughter. And what part Charles Corwin played in Lucille Love, I do not know, but he is listed as a member of the cast in the New York Clipper, in September of 1916.[13]

One important member of the behind the scenes crew is missing from Lucille Love, it is cinematographer Edward Ullman, who has went unlisted for decades; his name does appear on the credit title of episode 8 and in several Hollywood trade magazines of that period.

 

Cameras roll, what went on behind the scenes:

Three-hundred Society islands (think Tahiti and Bora Bora) natives were hired and brought to the coast of California for filming (they stayed at Universal Ranch), which took upwards of eight-months; at the end of their work for Lucille Love, the large group from the South Seas, went to the Panama Pacific International Exposition, as part of an amusement concession at that fair.[14] The PPIE (World’s Fair, 1915) was scheduled to begin in late February, 1915 and run until December 4, 1915.[15]

A Chinese junk was used for many of the scenes of this thrilling chapter-play,[16] and the project was produced on a large scale, employing more than two-hundred extras each day; a Chinese village (as seen below) was erected for the film at a cost of $5,000, this done for just two scenes.[17]

 

Motography June 13, 1914

Isadore Bernstein, the general manager of Universal on the west coast, is in the foreground at the left, Grace Cunard (in costume) is to the right by the kneeling figure of director and co-star, Francis Ford

 

Publicity, marketing and more, full color, full-page ads to start the national campaign off with a bang:

First we will take a look at the ads that Universal placed in the Hollywood trade magazines, promoting to the exhibitors.

Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914(7)

Lucille Love the girl of mystery 1914 serialMotion Picture News, April-July, 1914

Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914

Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914

Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914

Motion Picture News, April-July, 1914

 

Newsprint adverts, to bring about Lucille Love converts:

It is clear from the sample ads seen in newspapers around the nation that a good amount was spent on advertising the chapter-play of Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery; H. Z. Levine, the head of Universal publicity and advertising in Europe, went to England, Scotland and Wales, traveling five-thousand miles in a Lucille Love tour, promoting the serial to the UK exhibitors.[18]

Janesville_Daily_Gazette_Thu__Apr_30__1914_The_Morning_Tulsa_Daily_World_Tue__Apr_28__1914_Seattle Star, April 20, 1914The_Wichita_Beacon_Tue__Apr_28__1914_

 

Arizona Republican July 17, 1914Lebanon_Daily_News_Thu__Apr_23__1914_Bismarck Daily Tribune, May 15, 1914Harrisburg_Telegraph_Mon__May_4__1914_

 

Chicago_Daily_Tribune_Wed__May_6__1914_Chicago_Daily_Tribune_Sat__May_2__1914_

 

 

Janesville_Daily_Gazette_Mon__Apr_27__1914_

 

The serialized melodrama was so successful at the box-office that numerous theater managers ran Lucille Love a second time; often on the succeeding time through, the serial was shown one episode a day over a two week period, and Universal pitched the idea of exhibitors running two chapters each day for a week.[19] There is no doubt that Lucille Love was a big drawing card, increasing the ticket lines on the days it played. The manager of the Square Town Electric Theatre, of Brooklyn, Michigan, had flyers printed (referring to them as a herald, including four episode synopsis) presenting the offer of season-tickets for Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery.[20]

Another successful advertising plan was seen in St. John, New Brunswick, at the Gem Theatre, where the manager prepared a letter for publication in the newspapers of the area, signed and dated, offering a reward and asking for any information regarding the whereabouts of “Lucille Love, an attractive young woman of about twenty years, last seen in Montreal, and said to be then on her way to St. John.” The sly house-manager, followed up with a bordered box ad, in bold-black-typeset, in the newspapers of St. John, reiterating the reward for information leading to her discovery or her whereabouts; the ad implied that Lucille Love was on her way to St. John. Finally, just days before the premier of the serial, the manager placed another advert stating that Lucille Love had been found and was indeed headed for St. John and that the young lady in question was expected the following Monday, at the Gem Theatre.[21]

 

Music for the silent film:

Another cross-promotion that would help Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery, stay prosperous far into 1915, occurred when song writers with the Joe Morris Music Company wrote a song entitled: Lucille Love; the tune was composed by Otto Motzan and the lyrics by Schuyler Greene.[22] Take a listen if you like, to this “moving picture song” (as it was referred to[23]), which had to be a nice Christmas gift for the serial, exhibitors, Universal and Ms. Cunard alike. The MP3 is courtesy of the Library of Congress… Lucille Love by the Peerless Quartet. 1915 saw an additional piece of music written with Lucille Love in mind; this by Abe Olman, performed by the National Promenade Band: Lucille Love-Waltz Hesitation. The waltz was named after the movie serial and was intended for dancing.[24]

Lucille Love Waltz

 

 

Stills, of the Mystery Girl, Lucille Love:

Here be elephants, safari wear, uniforms and beaches and more:

Times Herald, Burns, Harney County, Oregon, October 10, 1914Ogden Standard, Ogden, Utah, April 30, 1914

Ogden Standard, Ogden, Utah, May 8, 1914Motion Picture News April 25, 1914 2Motion Picture News April 11, 1914 2Seattle Star, April 28, 1914

Seattle Star, April 21, 1914Scenes from Lucille Love A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen by Daniel Blum G P Putnam's Sons  1953

 

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Motography, November 7, 1914

[2] New York Clipper (New York, New York) March 28, 1914

[3] Variety, March 27, 1914

New York Dramatic Mirror (New York, New York) April 8, 1914

[4] Motography, October 24, 1914

[5] Motography, April 3, 1915

[6] Motography, May 30, 1914

[7] Searching For John Ford: A Life, by Joseph McBride, St. Martin’s Press, 2001, page 79

[8] Motography, April 18, 1914

[9] Motography, May 30, 1914

[10] Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) July 25, 1915

[11] Motion Picture News, April 17, 1915

[12] Motion Picture Magazine, November, 1914

[13] New York Clipper (New York, New York) September 9, 1916

[14] Variety, May 8, 1914

[15] The PPIE

[16] Motion Picture News, May 16, 1914

[17] Motography, June 13, 1914

[18] Moving Picture World, August 15, 1914

[19] Moving Picture World, August 8; 22, 1914

[20] Motion Picture News, September 5, 1914

[21] Motion Picture News, October 3, 1914

[22] Motion Picture News, November 28, 1914

[23] Motion Picture News, November 28, 1914

[24] Edison Phonograph Monthly, September, 1915

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2 thoughts on “Lucille Love, The Girl of Mystery, or: Lost in the Yukon.

  1. I have an old check, dated April 30, 1914, and signed ‘Lucille Love’. It’s made payable to a James Green in the amount of $5.00. Could this have been a prop from one of the films?

    • Trisch, I have rechecked my research and sources and can find nothing about a “Green”. That is not to say that the check is not a prop from the serial, it could be, considering that there are at the least four (4) male characters lacking a name in, Lucille Love.

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