The House with Closed Shutters (1910)

16:32 mins | Melodrama | 8 August 1910

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HISTORY

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “The story concerns a young female member of a proud Southern family who saves the family’s honor by taking over her brother’s military mission, is killed, and buried under her brother's name. Many camera positions were used, starting with scenes of Confederate soldiers leaving home, combat scenes of the infantry behind buttresses firing their rifles, and scenes of cavalry skirmishes. The last scenes take place twenty-five years later, and show the brother who has been imprisoned to keep others from learning of his cowardly behavior. It is interesting that make-up was used to age the principal actors in this film.”
       The 20 Aug 1910 Moving Picture World called The House with Closed Shutters “a thrilling commentary upon the difference between cowardice and bravery.... It is a picture that stirs the emotions. No picture that we have seen for many days in Keith's, our favorite stamping ground, so roused the enthusiasm of a large audience. The realism of the battle scenes, the intense mental strain of the mother, contrasted with the actions of the cowardly and profligate son, the heroism of the young girl, and the constancy of her lover[s], all combined and elucidated by careful acting, made this the feature film of the week.”
       Exteriors were filmed at the Champion Film Company studio in Coytesville, NJ. Interiors were shot at Biograph’s studio at 11 East 14th Street in New York City. Later that year, Champion Film Company remade this story, without attribution, under the title A Western Girl's Sacrifice (1910, see entry).
       Biograph reissued The House with Closed Shutters on ... More Less

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: “The story concerns a young female member of a proud Southern family who saves the family’s honor by taking over her brother’s military mission, is killed, and buried under her brother's name. Many camera positions were used, starting with scenes of Confederate soldiers leaving home, combat scenes of the infantry behind buttresses firing their rifles, and scenes of cavalry skirmishes. The last scenes take place twenty-five years later, and show the brother who has been imprisoned to keep others from learning of his cowardly behavior. It is interesting that make-up was used to age the principal actors in this film.”
       The 20 Aug 1910 Moving Picture World called The House with Closed Shutters “a thrilling commentary upon the difference between cowardice and bravery.... It is a picture that stirs the emotions. No picture that we have seen for many days in Keith's, our favorite stamping ground, so roused the enthusiasm of a large audience. The realism of the battle scenes, the intense mental strain of the mother, contrasted with the actions of the cowardly and profligate son, the heroism of the young girl, and the constancy of her lover[s], all combined and elucidated by careful acting, made this the feature film of the week.”
       Exteriors were filmed at the Champion Film Company studio in Coytesville, NJ. Interiors were shot at Biograph’s studio at 11 East 14th Street in New York City. Later that year, Champion Film Company remade this story, without attribution, under the title A Western Girl's Sacrifice (1910, see entry).
       Biograph reissued The House with Closed Shutters on 29 May 1916.
       This film has been restored and is available from various sources. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BIOB2
p. 219.
BPL
pp. 128-129.
EMP
p. 147.
LCMP
p. 27, column 1.
LCPP
p. 193.
Moving Picture News
13 Aug 1910
p. 15tl.
Moving Picture World
13 Aug 1910
p. 363ts, 364tl.
Moving Picture World
20 Aug 1910
p. 402ar, 407tr.
Nickelodeon
1 Aug 1910
p. 76.
The Daily Worker
p. 87.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 August 1910
Copyright Claimant:
Biograph Co.
Copyright Date:
11 August 1910
Copyright Number:
J144163
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
16:32
Length(in feet):
998
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“What a contemptible type of human animal is the coward. He is totally devoid of all the elements that go to make up a man. Charles Randolph was one such as this, bombastic and haughty but with no real courage, and what was worse, a heavy drinker. His sister Agnes and mother were the only survivors of an old and distinguished fighting family. Agnes is high-spirited and lovable, and at the beginning of the Civil War, Charles is carried away by the enthusiasm, and urged by Agnes, procures a commission in the Confederate service and is assigned to General Lee’s staff. Members of the same regiment are Lieutenants Wheeler and Carter, both good-natured rivals for the hand of Agnes. The story opens with the departure of the boys with the regiment for General Lee’s headquarters, taking with them a large Confederate flag which Agnes has just completed. In Lee's tent Charles is given sealed dispatches and launched on a most important mission. It is a perilous undertaking, and during the course of the journey he becomes panic-stricken with fear, and drinks heavily, hoping to revive his waning courage. Completely overcome, he dashes madly toward his own house, where he seeks to hide himself. Here he becomes very drunk, and Agnes and the mother are horrified at the awful disgrace that threatens the family name. With sudden impulse Agnes decides to don Charles’ uniform and proceed on the mission in his stead, to return in time that he, when sober, may go back to report to General Lee the result. She makes the perilous journey and delivers the dispatch, but on the return she is caught in the battle’s maelstrom ... +


“What a contemptible type of human animal is the coward. He is totally devoid of all the elements that go to make up a man. Charles Randolph was one such as this, bombastic and haughty but with no real courage, and what was worse, a heavy drinker. His sister Agnes and mother were the only survivors of an old and distinguished fighting family. Agnes is high-spirited and lovable, and at the beginning of the Civil War, Charles is carried away by the enthusiasm, and urged by Agnes, procures a commission in the Confederate service and is assigned to General Lee’s staff. Members of the same regiment are Lieutenants Wheeler and Carter, both good-natured rivals for the hand of Agnes. The story opens with the departure of the boys with the regiment for General Lee’s headquarters, taking with them a large Confederate flag which Agnes has just completed. In Lee's tent Charles is given sealed dispatches and launched on a most important mission. It is a perilous undertaking, and during the course of the journey he becomes panic-stricken with fear, and drinks heavily, hoping to revive his waning courage. Completely overcome, he dashes madly toward his own house, where he seeks to hide himself. Here he becomes very drunk, and Agnes and the mother are horrified at the awful disgrace that threatens the family name. With sudden impulse Agnes decides to don Charles’ uniform and proceed on the mission in his stead, to return in time that he, when sober, may go back to report to General Lee the result. She makes the perilous journey and delivers the dispatch, but on the return she is caught in the battle’s maelstrom with her horse shot down. She becomes imbued with the spirit of the conflict and, rushing into the very vortex, fights as Charles never could have. In the retreat the flag is in danger of capture, and Agnes leaping over the breastworks, seizes it only to be shot down by a shell. No one has suspected that the gallant soldier was other than Charles, and news is sent to the Randolph homestead of his death. At the reception of this information, Charles realizes what a contemptible dog he is, and the mother, fully appreciating the awful disgrace the exposition of it would be, commands that Charles remain forever where he is for the good of the family name, that the world may not know his sister died protecting a coward. The shutters are closed and barred, and all is mysterious and gloomy. At the close of the war the young suitors return, but are told that Agnes is not to be seen, being crazed from grief over her brother’s death. Year and year it continues the same. The constant suitors, growing old, leave their floral tributes at the door. Inside the darkened rooms Charles goes through the bitter years from youth to old age paying the price of his cowardice until death mercifully releases him.”—13 Aug 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.