The Honor of His Family (1910)

Melodrama | 24 January 1910

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HISTORY

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “This is the story of the father of a Confederate Army officer who shoots his cowardly son, and carries his body to the battlefield to make it appear that he died in combat. The film begins as the father shows the son paintings of his forebears who had won honors on the field of battle. The scene shifts to the battlefield; there are many camera positions of troop movements, artillery and rifle fire, trench warfare, and cavalry maneuvers. Near the end, a general and his staff confront the father with a statement that his son was seen running from the battle. The father strikes the general and offers to find his son. They proceed to the battlefield where the Confederate officers find the body of the cowardly son where the father had placed it.”
       For a similar theme, see D. W. Griffith’s The House with Closed Shutters (1910).
       The 5 Feb 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A study in the standards of honor maintained by some men and the cowardice of a son from whom much was expected. It is dramatic to the highest degree, and reaches its climax when the old colonel kills his son, drags his body to the battlefield and leaves it lying where appearances, at least, will be in the son’s favor. It is one of those pictures of which adequate description is impossible and must be seen to be appreciated. Perhaps it is more attractive for what it suggests than for what it actually shows. The conception of honor so graphically portrayed here might not be the ... More Less

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “This is the story of the father of a Confederate Army officer who shoots his cowardly son, and carries his body to the battlefield to make it appear that he died in combat. The film begins as the father shows the son paintings of his forebears who had won honors on the field of battle. The scene shifts to the battlefield; there are many camera positions of troop movements, artillery and rifle fire, trench warfare, and cavalry maneuvers. Near the end, a general and his staff confront the father with a statement that his son was seen running from the battle. The father strikes the general and offers to find his son. They proceed to the battlefield where the Confederate officers find the body of the cowardly son where the father had placed it.”
       For a similar theme, see D. W. Griffith’s The House with Closed Shutters (1910).
       The 5 Feb 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A study in the standards of honor maintained by some men and the cowardice of a son from whom much was expected. It is dramatic to the highest degree, and reaches its climax when the old colonel kills his son, drags his body to the battlefield and leaves it lying where appearances, at least, will be in the son’s favor. It is one of those pictures of which adequate description is impossible and must be seen to be appreciated. Perhaps it is more attractive for what it suggests than for what it actually shows. The conception of honor so graphically portrayed here might not be the one which would appeal to everyone, but the sufferings of the father, which are faithfully depicted, are sufficient to create a feeling of deep sympathy for him; and may be those who sympathize with the father will agree that the son received more than he deserved, though the sense of justice is somewhat marred by the false appearance which the father placed upon his death by placing the body in a favorable position upon the battlefield. So many delicate questions are suggested by this picture that it promises to be popular, and to appeal strongly to very many people.”
       Interiors were filmed at the Biograph studio at 11 East 14th Street in New York City.
       An advertisement in the 29 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World billed this film as “A Biograph Story of the Civil War.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BIOB2
p. 162.
BPL
pp. 122-123.
EMP
p. 144.
LCMP
p. 26, column 3.
LCPP
pp. 192-193.
Moving Picture News
12 Feb 1910
p. 15tl.
Moving Picture World
29 Jan 1910
p. 136tl, 136ta, 137ts, 146tl.
Moving Picture World
5 Feb 1910
p. 169tr.
The Daily Worker
p. 71.
Variety
29 Jan 10
tr.
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 January 1910
Copyright Claimant:
Biograph Co.
Copyright Date:
26 January 1910
Copyright Number:
J137729
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
988
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“As Shakespeare said, ‘Cowards die many times before their death; the valiant never taste death but once,’ so we may assumed that George Pickett, Jr., felt the imaginary hand of death several times before the real hand‘s final clutch. George was the son of old Col. Pickett, and the last of a haughty military family. The old Colonel was proud of the records of his ancestors, and he himself had bravely barred all smirch from the family ’scutcheon, for to him ‘life was but a word, a shadow, a melting dream compared to essential and eternal honor.’ The war declared, the little Southern village make their offering to the cause, a company of volunteers in command of young George. There wasn’t a prouder man in all the South than Col. Pickett as he grasped his son’s hand at his departure. His last behest was, ‘Go, my boy; emulate the brave deeds of those who have gone before you. Be fearless, brave, and fight, fight.’ Amid encouraging cheers, the fluttering flags and handkerchiefs of the fair maidens, and to the beat of the drums, the volunteers march to their post. The old Colonel is beside himself with joy, and as his faithful servants gather about him he exclaims: ‘Ah! my boy. He’s the stuff. The name of Pickett is still alive.’ Meanwhile, on the field an attack is made and the conflict is furious. Young George is overcome with fear, and deserting his men runs to safety. Wildly he dashes through the woods, each volley from the guns striking terror to his soul. The old Colonel, at home, is viewing with field-glasses from his window the smoke of the battle. ... +


“As Shakespeare said, ‘Cowards die many times before their death; the valiant never taste death but once,’ so we may assumed that George Pickett, Jr., felt the imaginary hand of death several times before the real hand‘s final clutch. George was the son of old Col. Pickett, and the last of a haughty military family. The old Colonel was proud of the records of his ancestors, and he himself had bravely barred all smirch from the family ’scutcheon, for to him ‘life was but a word, a shadow, a melting dream compared to essential and eternal honor.’ The war declared, the little Southern village make their offering to the cause, a company of volunteers in command of young George. There wasn’t a prouder man in all the South than Col. Pickett as he grasped his son’s hand at his departure. His last behest was, ‘Go, my boy; emulate the brave deeds of those who have gone before you. Be fearless, brave, and fight, fight.’ Amid encouraging cheers, the fluttering flags and handkerchiefs of the fair maidens, and to the beat of the drums, the volunteers march to their post. The old Colonel is beside himself with joy, and as his faithful servants gather about him he exclaims: ‘Ah! my boy. He’s the stuff. The name of Pickett is still alive.’ Meanwhile, on the field an attack is made and the conflict is furious. Young George is overcome with fear, and deserting his men runs to safety. Wildly he dashes through the woods, each volley from the guns striking terror to his soul. The old Colonel, at home, is viewing with field-glasses from his window the smoke of the battle. He sits down with a satisfied air and remarks, ‘My boy, he is leading them on to victory, and...’ At this moment young George bursts into the room and crouches, nearly dead with fear. At his entrance the old Colonel is stunned, confused and amazed. He does not realize the cause of his appearance. At length the truth dawns on him, verified by the boy’s confession that he ran, a coward. What a blow to the old father. His boy a coward. His boy will be hanged as a coward. What a blot on the honor of his family. As he denounces his boy a thought occurs to him. ‘He shall not hang.’ Approaching his son, he bids him arise. He does, only to fall back mortally wounded. Hiding his body until nightfall, [Colonel Pickett] then carries it out to the scene of the skirmish, where he lays it, sword in hand, facing the enemy’s lines, thereby making it appear that he died in the conflict. The officers call to extend their sympathy to the old Colonel for his son’s disgrace. This he spurns. ‘My son a coward? Never. He is there either fighting or slain for the cause. Come, gentlemen, we shall see.’ Going to the field, they, of course, find the body, and appearances are favorable for the son. Returning home, the old man drops into a chair, crushed and disappointed, his heart breaking. The honor of his family remains unsullied; but, oh, at such a price.”—29 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World +

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.