Sally of the Sawdust (1925)

Comedy | 2 August 1925

Director:

D. W. Griffith

Writer:

Forrest Halsey

Cinematographer:

Harry Fischbeck

Editor:

James Smith

Production Designer:

Charles M. Kirk

Production Company:

D. W. Griffith, Inc.
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HISTORY

The 4 Mar 1925 Var announced that D. W. Griffith would direct the forthcoming film, then referred to as Poppy, based on the 1923 theatrical musical of the same name, written by Dorothy Donnelly, with music by Stephen Jones and Arthur Samuels. The picture would be produced independently by Griffith, and released by United Artists (UA), marking his last production with UA distribution. An anticipated budget of under $400,000 was listed.
       On 18 Mar 1925, Var reported that Griffith had begun production on the film two-weeks before, at Paramount Studios in Long Island, New York. Following completion of the picture, expected to be around 1 Jun 1925, Griffith would begin work immediately on his first production under his new contract with Famous Players-Lasky Corp., The Sorrows of Satan (1927, see entry).
       The 25 Mar 1925 FD noted that actor Edmund Burns would not be portraying the male lead in the picture, despite previous reports otherwise. After three weeks of searching, Griffith selected actor Alfred Lunt as Carol Dempster’s co-star, thus completing casting for the picture, according to the 1 Apr 1925 Var. W. C. Fields reprised his stage performance as “Prof. Eustace McGargle,” and Glenn Anders, Dorothy Bicknell, and Allan Simpson were also listed in the cast.
       Noting the title change to Sally of the Sawdust, the 8 Apr 1925 Var announced that Griffith was ahead of production schedule, and had nearly finished the picture in weeks, as opposed to his standard six to eight months. The director praised the cooperation of Famous Players-Lasky Corp. for helping him complete production in record ...

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The 4 Mar 1925 Var announced that D. W. Griffith would direct the forthcoming film, then referred to as Poppy, based on the 1923 theatrical musical of the same name, written by Dorothy Donnelly, with music by Stephen Jones and Arthur Samuels. The picture would be produced independently by Griffith, and released by United Artists (UA), marking his last production with UA distribution. An anticipated budget of under $400,000 was listed.
       On 18 Mar 1925, Var reported that Griffith had begun production on the film two-weeks before, at Paramount Studios in Long Island, New York. Following completion of the picture, expected to be around 1 Jun 1925, Griffith would begin work immediately on his first production under his new contract with Famous Players-Lasky Corp., The Sorrows of Satan (1927, see entry).
       The 25 Mar 1925 FD noted that actor Edmund Burns would not be portraying the male lead in the picture, despite previous reports otherwise. After three weeks of searching, Griffith selected actor Alfred Lunt as Carol Dempster’s co-star, thus completing casting for the picture, according to the 1 Apr 1925 Var. W. C. Fields reprised his stage performance as “Prof. Eustace McGargle,” and Glenn Anders, Dorothy Bicknell, and Allan Simpson were also listed in the cast.
       Noting the title change to Sally of the Sawdust, the 8 Apr 1925 Var announced that Griffith was ahead of production schedule, and had nearly finished the picture in weeks, as opposed to his standard six to eight months. The director praised the cooperation of Famous Players-Lasky Corp. for helping him complete production in record time.
       According to the 9 May 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review, the title change was required due to contract stipulations, which prevented the mentioning of the musical title Poppy in regard to the film adaptation. Reportedly, “a half-dozen” well-known film stars appeared as uncredited background actors in the picture.
       The 9 May 1925 Moving Picture World announced that interior filming had completed. Exterior footage was delayed until foliage began to appear on trees and shrubs, following winter, according to the 30 May 1925 Moving Picture World. The news item reported that Griffith had resumed production, and was currently filming in “wide open spaces” in Syosset, NY, and Greenwich, CT, with his reassembled cast and crew.
       The 13 Jun 1925 Moving Picture World announced that principal photography was completed on Sally of the Sawdust, and listed additional locations “along the [Long Island] Motor Parkway,” and in several “towns and villages on Long Island.”
       The 15 Jul 1925 Var indicated that the picture would make its world premiere at the Roosevelt Theater in Chicago, IL, on 20 Jul 1925.
       In a Jul 1925 Motion Picture Magazine article, Carol Dempster credited D. W. Griffith for starting her acting career, after he saw her dancing as part of the Ruth St. Denis dance troupe in CA. As of Jul 1925, she had appeared in at least fifteen Griffith productions, beginning in 1916 with an uncredited role in Intolerance (see entry).
       The picture’s New York City debut was held at the Strand Theatre on 2 Aug 1925, as noted in the 5 Aug 1925 Var review, which praised the performances of W. C. Fields and Carol Dempster, but criticized Sally of the Sawdust’s excessive length and deemed the comedy “fine,” but not “great.”
       The stage musical, Poppy, was also the basis for the 1936 Paramount film of the same name, directed by Edward Sutherland. W. C. Fields recreated the role of "Prof. Eustace McGargle" for that film, which co-starred Rochelle Hudson (see entry).

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jun 1925
p. 24.
BFI/Monthly Film Bulletin
Dec 1974
p. 289.
Daily Herald (Chicago, IL)
24 Jul 1925
p. 15.
Exhibitors Trade Review
9 May 1925
p. 56.
Exhibitors Trade Review
22 Aug 1925
p. 50.
Film Daily
25 Mar 1925
p. 4.
Film Daily
9 Aug 1925
p. 6.
Life
27 Aug 1925
p. 26.
Motion Picture Magazine
Jul 1925
p. 45.
Moving Picture World
9 May 1925
p. 226.
Moving Picture World
30 May 1925
p. 566.
Moving Picture World
13 Jun 1925
p. 788.
Photoplay
Aug 1925
p. 50.
Variety
4 Mar 1925
p. 26.
Variety
18 Mar 1925
p. 34.
Variety
1 Apr 1925
p. 29.
Variety
8 Apr 1925
p. 27.
Variety
15 Jul 1925
p. 28.
Variety
5 Aug 1925
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical Poppy , book and lyrics by Dorothy Donnelly, music by Stephen Jones and Arthur Samuels (New York, 3 Sep 1923).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Poppy
Release Date:
2 August 1925
Premiere Information:
World premiere at the Roosevelt Theater in Chicago: 20 Jul 1925; New York opening: 2 Aug 1925; Los Angeles opening: 12 Sep 1925
Production Date:
early Mar--mid Jun 1925
Copyright Info
Claimant
DATE
CopyrightNumber
D. W. Griffith, Inc.
8 September 1925
LP21804
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
9,500
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Sally is in the care of sideshow faker Eustace McGargle, who loves her dearly but isn't above training her to dance and perform as a warm-up for his own act, which includes juggling and other feats of legerdemain. McGargle moves to Green Meadows, where a new carnival job offers the likelihood of a possible reunion with Sally's grandparents Foster, and the two hire on for the afternoon with a local baker, promising to mind his kiln in return for a stake with which to purchase a bit of respectability to take with them to the Foster home. Sally soon meets Peyton Lennox, scion of a leading social clan, and though she is favored by the wistful and daughterless Mrs. Foster, she is jailed by insidious society leverage and accused of the shell game which her mentor, McGargle, has developed into a highly sophisticated con. McGargle falls in with bootleggers but returns in time to prevent Sally's sentencing by the austere judge, who is informed that he very nearly sent his own granddaughter up the river. The Fosters also take the gregarious McGargle under their ...

More Less

Sally is in the care of sideshow faker Eustace McGargle, who loves her dearly but isn't above training her to dance and perform as a warm-up for his own act, which includes juggling and other feats of legerdemain. McGargle moves to Green Meadows, where a new carnival job offers the likelihood of a possible reunion with Sally's grandparents Foster, and the two hire on for the afternoon with a local baker, promising to mind his kiln in return for a stake with which to purchase a bit of respectability to take with them to the Foster home. Sally soon meets Peyton Lennox, scion of a leading social clan, and though she is favored by the wistful and daughterless Mrs. Foster, she is jailed by insidious society leverage and accused of the shell game which her mentor, McGargle, has developed into a highly sophisticated con. McGargle falls in with bootleggers but returns in time to prevent Sally's sentencing by the austere judge, who is informed that he very nearly sent his own granddaughter up the river. The Fosters also take the gregarious McGargle under their wing.

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

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