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HISTORY

The 25 Dec 1915 Motion Picture News announced that actor Dustin Farnum had recently begun work on the film at Pallas Pictures Studios in Hollywood, CA. The project was based on the 1905 novel by William Otis Lillibridge, Ben Blair: The Story of a Plainsman. Included in the cast were Page Peters and Lydia Yeamans Titus.
       An article in the 25 Dec 1915 Moving Picture World revealed that Farnum had fallen seriously ill with “malignant tonsillitis” and was confined to his bed for five days. The illness struck as the company was leaving for a location shoot at a 289,000-acre ranch near San Diego, CA. Completion of the intended scenes were consequently delayed for several days. Two weeks later, the 8 Jan 1916 Motography reported that Farnum had returned to work, although he had not yet fully recovered his health. The 15 Jan 1916 issue noted that principal photography was nearly completed. As stated in the 11 Mar 1916 Motion Picture News, a rented Los Angeles, CA, mansion, valued at more than $125,000, served as the “Winthrop City house.”
       According to the 12 Feb 1916 Motography, child actor Gordon Griffith, who played the title character as a young boy, performed his own stunts and rope tricks. The 21 Oct 1916 Motion Picture News listed cast member F. Burns as “Fred Burns.”
       Ben Blair opened 9 Mar 1916 to mixed reviews. While the 18 Mar 1916 Motion Picture News noted the film’s positive attributes, the 3 Mar 1916 Var ... More Less

The 25 Dec 1915 Motion Picture News announced that actor Dustin Farnum had recently begun work on the film at Pallas Pictures Studios in Hollywood, CA. The project was based on the 1905 novel by William Otis Lillibridge, Ben Blair: The Story of a Plainsman. Included in the cast were Page Peters and Lydia Yeamans Titus.
       An article in the 25 Dec 1915 Moving Picture World revealed that Farnum had fallen seriously ill with “malignant tonsillitis” and was confined to his bed for five days. The illness struck as the company was leaving for a location shoot at a 289,000-acre ranch near San Diego, CA. Completion of the intended scenes were consequently delayed for several days. Two weeks later, the 8 Jan 1916 Motography reported that Farnum had returned to work, although he had not yet fully recovered his health. The 15 Jan 1916 issue noted that principal photography was nearly completed. As stated in the 11 Mar 1916 Motion Picture News, a rented Los Angeles, CA, mansion, valued at more than $125,000, served as the “Winthrop City house.”
       According to the 12 Feb 1916 Motography, child actor Gordon Griffith, who played the title character as a young boy, performed his own stunts and rope tricks. The 21 Oct 1916 Motion Picture News listed cast member F. Burns as “Fred Burns.”
       Ben Blair opened 9 Mar 1916 to mixed reviews. While the 18 Mar 1916 Motion Picture News noted the film’s positive attributes, the 3 Mar 1916 Var argued that it was below the usual high standards of distributor Paramount Pictures Corp. According to the 10 Mar 1916 Var, this same reason was given by the management of the Broadway Theatre in New York City, which cancelled the picture’s scheduled engagement the following week. As stated in the 17 Mar 1916 issue, the theater cut the film to two reels and ran it as “filler.” Although the 25 Mar 1916 Motion Picture News reported that Denver, CO, censors had made some minor edits to the film, an article in the 22 Apr 1916 Moving Picture World noted that it was endorsed by the International People’s Association.
       On 15 Jul 1916, Moving Picture World stated that Page Peters had recently drowned off the coast of Hermosa Beach, CA.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture News
25 Dec 1915
p. 83
Motion Picture News
11 Mar 1916
p. 1459
Motion Picture News
18 Mar 1916
p. 1619
Motion Picture News
25 Mar 1916
p. 1752
Motion Picture News
21 Oct 1916
p. 58
Motography
8 Jan 1916
p. 93
Motography
15 Jan 1916
p. 146
Motography
12 Feb 1916
p. 378
Motography
18 Mar 1916
p. 645
Moving Picture World
25 Dec 1915
p. 2339
Moving Picture World
15 Jul 1916
p. 465
Moving Picture World
18 Mar 1916
p. 645
Moving Picture World
22 Apr 1916
p. 598
NYDM
22 Apr 1916
p. 694
Variety
3 Mar 1916
p. 22
Variety
10 Mar 1916
p. 23
Variety
17 Mar 1916
p. 25
Wid's Daily
9 Mar 1916
p. 420
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 March 1916
Copyright Claimant:
J. C. Ivers
Copyright Date:
16 February 1916
Copyright Number:
LP7683
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A young woman deserts her rancher husband and, with her son Ben, goes to live with the drunken Tom Blair. Blair raises Ben as his son, but kills Ben's mother, causing the boy to return to his natural father. There, Ben falls in love with Florence Winthrop. Later, Ben gains revenge for his mother's death by killing Tom, but he loses Florence, who decides to live in the East. When Ben learns that Florence has become engaged, he goes after her and issues an ultimatum: if she does not take him back, he will kill her fiancé. After first resenting Ben for his demand, Florence realizes that she loves him and returns West with ... +


A young woman deserts her rancher husband and, with her son Ben, goes to live with the drunken Tom Blair. Blair raises Ben as his son, but kills Ben's mother, causing the boy to return to his natural father. There, Ben falls in love with Florence Winthrop. Later, Ben gains revenge for his mother's death by killing Tom, but he loses Florence, who decides to live in the East. When Ben learns that Florence has become engaged, he goes after her and issues an ultimatum: if she does not take him back, he will kill her fiancé. After first resenting Ben for his demand, Florence realizes that she loves him and returns West with him. +

GENRE
Genre:


Subject
Subject (Major):

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.