Full page view
HISTORY

The 9 Mar 1915 Var announced the upcoming production by its working title, The Atonement, based on the stage play The Arm of the Law, a possible reference to Arthur Bourchier’s 1904 English adaptation of La robe rouge by Eugène Brieux. The picture was reportedly the first to feature J. Herbert Frank in a lead role. Location filming was expected to take place in Baltimore, MD, during a series of horse races. One month later, the 10 Apr 1915 Motography noted that the film would feature “one of the largest and most elaborate sets ever used by the Vitagraph Company.” The location of the studio was not specified, but it may have been the company’s facility in Brooklyn, NY, based on its proximity to Baltimore.
       The scheduled 3 Jan 1916 release date, under the official title Who Killed Joe Merrion? was listed in the 25 Dec 1915 Moving Picture World. Reviews were generally positive.
       According to the 20 Jul 1915 Var, J. Herbert Frank continued performing The Atonement in vaudeville following the end of production. An item in the 9 Sep 1916 Moving Picture World noted the release of a two-reel film, also titled The Atonement, from Mutual Film Corporation. ... More Less

The 9 Mar 1915 Var announced the upcoming production by its working title, The Atonement, based on the stage play The Arm of the Law, a possible reference to Arthur Bourchier’s 1904 English adaptation of La robe rouge by Eugène Brieux. The picture was reportedly the first to feature J. Herbert Frank in a lead role. Location filming was expected to take place in Baltimore, MD, during a series of horse races. One month later, the 10 Apr 1915 Motography noted that the film would feature “one of the largest and most elaborate sets ever used by the Vitagraph Company.” The location of the studio was not specified, but it may have been the company’s facility in Brooklyn, NY, based on its proximity to Baltimore.
       The scheduled 3 Jan 1916 release date, under the official title Who Killed Joe Merrion? was listed in the 25 Dec 1915 Moving Picture World. Reviews were generally positive.
       According to the 20 Jul 1915 Var, J. Herbert Frank continued performing The Atonement in vaudeville following the end of production. An item in the 9 Sep 1916 Moving Picture World noted the release of a two-reel film, also titled The Atonement, from Mutual Film Corporation.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture News
3 Apr 1915
p. 44
Motion Picture News
1 Jan 1916
p. 83, 112
Motography
10 Apr 1915
p. 568
Motography
1 Jan 1916
p. 39
Moving Picture World
25 Dec 1915
p. 2385, 2462
Moving Picture World
9 Sep 1916
p. 1706
NYDM
25 Dec 1915
p. 40
Variety
9 Mar 1915
p. 18
Variety
20 Jul 1915
p. 12
VLP
1 Jan 1916
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Personally Picked Program
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
SOURCES
LITERARY
Possibly based on the play, La robe rouge by Eugène Brieux, adapted in 1904 as The Arm of the Law by Arthur Bourchier.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Atonement
The Arm of the Law
Release Date:
3 January 1916
Copyright Claimant:
The Vitagraph Co. of America
Copyright Date:
31 December 1915
Copyright Number:
LP7289
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
4
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Because of his wild ways, James Randall is banished from his home by his father, a prominent English judge. After Joe Merrion, a bookmaker, is found dead on a train, Judge Randall sentences William Rufford, the last man seen with the victim, for the crime. Penniless, James asks his father for financial help, and, to keep a deathbed promise to his wife, the Judge complies. While going through James' possessions, however, the judge discovers a piece of evidence that ties his son to Merrion's murder. Devastated, the judge writes a confessional letter to the authorities and forces James to admit the crime. After escaping from jail, Rufford goes to the Randall home, kills the judge in revenge, then reads the letter clearing him of the murder. Filled with remorse, Rufford burns the letter and turns himself in, permitting the reformed James to leave with Vivienne, his ... +


Because of his wild ways, James Randall is banished from his home by his father, a prominent English judge. After Joe Merrion, a bookmaker, is found dead on a train, Judge Randall sentences William Rufford, the last man seen with the victim, for the crime. Penniless, James asks his father for financial help, and, to keep a deathbed promise to his wife, the Judge complies. While going through James' possessions, however, the judge discovers a piece of evidence that ties his son to Merrion's murder. Devastated, the judge writes a confessional letter to the authorities and forces James to admit the crime. After escaping from jail, Rufford goes to the Randall home, kills the judge in revenge, then reads the letter clearing him of the murder. Filled with remorse, Rufford burns the letter and turns himself in, permitting the reformed James to leave with Vivienne, his fiancée. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.