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A two-page article in the 10 Oct 1914 Moving Picture World gave a detailed account of the train wreck in South River, NJ, on 27 Sep 1914. It pointed out that the production had built a spur from a Raritan River Railroad line on a trestle extending in a sharp curve 175 feet into a lake, and ended roughly seventy-five feet from the shore. General manager Victor Smith was in charge of the proceedings. Edward Wentworth directed the building of the trestle. Herman Rogers planned the dynamiting. Head cameraman Water Arthur directed seven camera operators. Walter Ackerman was head property man. Problems developed when the wreck survivors had to swim to shore: “A locomotive, tender and three cars were thrown from a trestle into a lake just as the efficient staff of the Flatbush studio had planned. It was all very exciting; but it was tame compared to what followed when the score of young players who were portraying the passengers stated to swim a hundred or more feet from the wreck to the shore. The water was cold; the temperature of the air was below 60 degrees, the sun was overcast—a dull day all around….At the signal from Ralph Ince, who directing the scene for ‘The Juggernaut,’ a five-reel production, the players climbed down into the water and started for the sandy banks of the pond that in the picture will look like a ever. Some of the actors I order to lend verisimility [sic] to the action were calling not very loudly for assistance. Earle Williams, who is playing a lead in the picture, jumped from the shore directly in front of the camera, ostensibly ...

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A two-page article in the 10 Oct 1914 Moving Picture World gave a detailed account of the train wreck in South River, NJ, on 27 Sep 1914. It pointed out that the production had built a spur from a Raritan River Railroad line on a trestle extending in a sharp curve 175 feet into a lake, and ended roughly seventy-five feet from the shore. General manager Victor Smith was in charge of the proceedings. Edward Wentworth directed the building of the trestle. Herman Rogers planned the dynamiting. Head cameraman Water Arthur directed seven camera operators. Walter Ackerman was head property man. Problems developed when the wreck survivors had to swim to shore: “A locomotive, tender and three cars were thrown from a trestle into a lake just as the efficient staff of the Flatbush studio had planned. It was all very exciting; but it was tame compared to what followed when the score of young players who were portraying the passengers stated to swim a hundred or more feet from the wreck to the shore. The water was cold; the temperature of the air was below 60 degrees, the sun was overcast—a dull day all around….At the signal from Ralph Ince, who directing the scene for ‘The Juggernaut,’ a five-reel production, the players climbed down into the water and started for the sandy banks of the pond that in the picture will look like a ever. Some of the actors I order to lend verisimility [sic] to the action were calling not very loudly for assistance. Earle Williams, who is playing a lead in the picture, jumped from the shore directly in front of the camera, ostensibly to swim to the aid of the heroine, a passenger. One of the players passed out of the scene to secure a rowboat, the better to facilitate the rescue. When Mr. Williams was about twenty feet from the short, the rowboat reached him—it was the only one on the small lake—and he took hold of the side. It was at that moment that Mr. Ince became convinced that one of the players really was in trouble. He stopped the camera, told Mr. Williams to let go his hold and come ashore, and ordered the oarsman to go to the assistance of Mrs. Mary Green. Mr. Williams did not at first understand the situation and retained his hold, as he had been instructed just before. The oarsman, finding he could not make headway, promptly dropped his oars, dived overboard and swam toward the struggling players. Then it was noted that Rose Dugan, swimming ashore to the opposite side of the triangular bit of water, was suffering from cramp. Miss Dugan had been injured recently in an automobile accident, and her arm went back on her. Then George Levenhaw seemed to be in distress. In the meantime, Mr. Williams had started to swim ashore. He is not a strong swimmer, and in the deep and spring-fed water he found difficulty in securing his natatorial balance—his clothes were heavy and his body would not come to a horizontal position. He was treading water. Although the World man was not thirty feet from him, he had no idea that Mr. Williams felt his time had come—the face of the swimming did not for once reveal his thoughts. There were so many other happenings in that bit of water that the eye could not comprehend all of them simultaneously. Mr. Willams got ashore, the lat few feet clinging to a rope which had been thrown him. He was exhausted, but by no means unconscious, as one of the rather lurid newspaper accounts stated. Mrs. Green was brought ashore by two of the men, who had a hard time keeping her head above water. Miss Dugan’s rescuers also had great difficulty in supporting her.”
       This was the first Blue Ribbon Feature. It opened in New York at the Vitagraph Theatre on 7 Mar 1915. The film was re-released in Feb 1920 by the Vitagraph Co. of America, in a version edited by Mr. and Mrs. Geroge Randolph Chester. The 1920 version was copyrighted by Vitagraph Co. of America; 6 Feb 1920; LP14723. The train wreck scene reportedly cost $25,000 to stage. According to the 1921 MPSD , William S. Adams worked as a cinematographer on this production. It is possible that he shot additional footage for the re-release version.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture Magazine
1 Apr 1915
p. 64.
Motion Picture News
27 Mar 1915
p. 14, 53, 59.
Motography
17 Apr 1915
p. 611.
Motography
8 May 1915
p. 745, 766.
Moving Picture World
10 Oct 1914
p. 163, 164..
Moving Picture World
13 Mar 1915
p. 1591.
Moving Picture World
20 Mar 1915
p. 1771.
Moving Picture World
1 May 1915
p. 810.
NYDM
17 Mar 1915
p. 28.
Variety
12 Mar 1915
p. 23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Blue Ribbon Feature; A Broadway Star Feature
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
Supv, train wreck
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Trestle construction head
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
VISUAL EFFECTS
Dynamite man, train wreck
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 April 1915
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
The Vitagraph Co. of America
29 March 1915
LP4888
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Phillip Hardin, a railroad magnate's dissipated son, and John Ballard, whose parents died in a railroad crossing accident, become friends in college. After John saves Phil during a brawl by breaking a chair over Phil's attacker, Red Curley, Phil and John, believing Curley dead, vow to keep silent. Viola Ruskin, who loves John, is persuaded by her mother to marry Phil for his money. Years later, John, now the district attorney, attempts to convince Phil, a railroad president, to improve the railroad's deteriorating condition, which has caused many fatal accidents. Pressure from a stock manipulating syndicate that controls the railroad leads Phil to threaten to reveal John's murder. After Phil's daughter Louise learns that Curley's death was not caused by John, they fall in love. Later, Louise, on an errand for Phil, travels by train over a bridge that Phil learns is unsafe. He rushes to halt the train but sees it fall into the river and dies of heart failure. John places the fatally wounded Louise next to Phil's ...

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Phillip Hardin, a railroad magnate's dissipated son, and John Ballard, whose parents died in a railroad crossing accident, become friends in college. After John saves Phil during a brawl by breaking a chair over Phil's attacker, Red Curley, Phil and John, believing Curley dead, vow to keep silent. Viola Ruskin, who loves John, is persuaded by her mother to marry Phil for his money. Years later, John, now the district attorney, attempts to convince Phil, a railroad president, to improve the railroad's deteriorating condition, which has caused many fatal accidents. Pressure from a stock manipulating syndicate that controls the railroad leads Phil to threaten to reveal John's murder. After Phil's daughter Louise learns that Curley's death was not caused by John, they fall in love. Later, Louise, on an errand for Phil, travels by train over a bridge that Phil learns is unsafe. He rushes to halt the train but sees it fall into the river and dies of heart failure. John places the fatally wounded Louise next to Phil's body.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.