Tess of the Storm Country (1922)

Melodrama | 12 November 1922

Writer:

Elmer Harris

Cinematographer:

Charles Rosher

Production Designer:

Frank Ormston

Production Company:

Mary Pickford Co.
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HISTORY

According to the 26 Nov 1921 Exhibitors Herald, Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks bought the film rights to Grace Miller White’s 1909 novel, Tess of the Storm Country, from Famous Players-Lasky Corp., who had produced an adaptation in 1914, marking Mary Pickford’s first feature-length film in the title role. Famous Players reportedly turned down several large bids before agreeing to sell the property to Pickford, who included the condition that the production company withdraw the re-issue of Fairbanks’ 1917 Artcraft Pictures Corp. film, A Modern Musketeer (see entry), which she feared would hurt sales of Fairbanks’s current feature, The Three Musketeers (1921, see entry).
       Over two months later, the 11 Feb 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Pickford and Fairbanks had purchased the ten-acre Jesse D. Hampton Studios in Hollywood, CA, for the sum of $150,000 cash, and had begun a $60,000 construction project to update the facilities. Work on the new Pickford-Fairbanks Studios was to be completed within thirty days so that Fairbanks could commence on The Spirit of Chivalry (later renamed Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood) (1923, see entry), and Pickford could begin production on Tess of the Storm Country.
       Although the 26 Jan 1922 FD announced that Marshall Neilan would be directing the picture, the 21 Mar 1922 FD reported that director John S. Robertson, who was contracted to Famous Players-Lasky Corp., had been loaned to Mary Pickford to direct the film.
       An item in the 9 May 1922 FD noted that the picture would be retitled Tess.
       On ... More Less

According to the 26 Nov 1921 Exhibitors Herald, Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks bought the film rights to Grace Miller White’s 1909 novel, Tess of the Storm Country, from Famous Players-Lasky Corp., who had produced an adaptation in 1914, marking Mary Pickford’s first feature-length film in the title role. Famous Players reportedly turned down several large bids before agreeing to sell the property to Pickford, who included the condition that the production company withdraw the re-issue of Fairbanks’ 1917 Artcraft Pictures Corp. film, A Modern Musketeer (see entry), which she feared would hurt sales of Fairbanks’s current feature, The Three Musketeers (1921, see entry).
       Over two months later, the 11 Feb 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Pickford and Fairbanks had purchased the ten-acre Jesse D. Hampton Studios in Hollywood, CA, for the sum of $150,000 cash, and had begun a $60,000 construction project to update the facilities. Work on the new Pickford-Fairbanks Studios was to be completed within thirty days so that Fairbanks could commence on The Spirit of Chivalry (later renamed Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood) (1923, see entry), and Pickford could begin production on Tess of the Storm Country.
       Although the 26 Jan 1922 FD announced that Marshall Neilan would be directing the picture, the 21 Mar 1922 FD reported that director John S. Robertson, who was contracted to Famous Players-Lasky Corp., had been loaned to Mary Pickford to direct the film.
       An item in the 9 May 1922 FD noted that the picture would be retitled Tess.
       On 20 May 1922, Exhibitors Trade Review reported that preproduction had begun with camera testing of costumes, and a fall release was anticipated by United Artists. Filming was set to begin at Chatsworth Lake, outside Los Angeles, CA, where a timeworn fishermen’s village was recreated.
       The 17 Jun 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review announced that five weeks of production had occurred on location, with Pickford driving thirty miles daily to Chatsworth Lake, using a radiophone to frequently communicate with the studio. A news item in the 24 Jun 1922 FD noted that after five weeks, the crew had returned to the studio to film the remainder of the picture.
       According to the 17 Aug 1922 FD, production had completed on Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood at Pickford-Fairbanks Studios, and Tess of the Storm Country would conclude in ten day’s time. The 26 Aug 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review announced that the picture had been completed after fourteen weeks of “continuous work.”
       Mary Pickford reportedly purchased all remaining prints of the 1914 version of Tess of the Storm Country and had them destroyed, as stated in the 11 Nov 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review. She garnered special permission from Adolph Zukor, who produced the earlier version, before beginning actual work on her 1922 update. A statement was released from Mary Pickford Pictures Corporation declaring that the new version was in no way a re-issue, but that an entirely “new scenario and continuity” had been written.
       At the world premiere at the Strand Theatre in New York City, thousands of people lined up to attend the special screening with Mary Pickford making a personal appearance, according to the 25 Nov 1922 Exhibitors Trade Review. Some 4,000 fans were reportedly turned away during performances that evening. The news item noted that Pickford chose to update the picture because of her “love for the character Tess.” She had received high praise from film-goers and critics from her 1914 version.
       Several reviews lauded Pickford’s charming performance in the new picture, and deemed it her greatest film work to date, far outshining the original version, according to reviews listed in FD on 14 Nov 1922. The 2 Dec 1922 Exhibitors Herald review asserted that the picture was deserving of being praised “year after year.”
       Additional film adaptations were released in 1932 and 1960 (see entries). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
26 Nov 1921
p. 36.
Exhibitors Herald
2 Dec 1922
p. 36.
Exhibitors Trade Review
11 Feb 1922.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
20 May 1922.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
17 Jun 1922.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
26 Aug 1922.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
11 Nov 1922.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
25 Nov 1922.
---
Film Daily
26 Jan 1922
p. 1.
Film Daily
21 Mar 1922
p. 1.
Film Daily
9 May 1922.
---
Film Daily
24 Jun 1922
p. 4.
Film Daily
17 Aug 1922
p. 2.
Film Daily
14 Nov 1922
p. 4.
Film Daily
19 Nov 1922
p. 2.
New York Times
13 Nov 1922
p. 12.
Variety
17 Nov 1922
p. 41.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Trick photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Tess of the Storm Country by Grace Miller White (New York, 1909) and the play of the same name by Rupert Hughes (New York, 1911).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Tess
Release Date:
12 November 1922
Production Date:
late May--26 August 1922
Copyright Claimant:
Mary Pickford Co.
Copyright Date:
1 December 1922
Copyright Number:
LP18587
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
9,639
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Wealthy Elias Graves buys a house on a hill and tries to remove the squatters who live below. Harsh measures are urged on Graves by Dan Jordan, for whose murder Daddy Skinner is unjustly convicted. In leading the squatters' struggle for survival, Skinner's daughter, Tess, wins the sympathy and love of Graves's son, Frederick, but she loses him when Frederick discovers her with a child. Tess is reunited with her father and Frederick when Ben Letts is revealed as Jordan's murderer and when Frederick's sister, Teola, claims the baby as her own. Graves is reconciled with the ... +


Wealthy Elias Graves buys a house on a hill and tries to remove the squatters who live below. Harsh measures are urged on Graves by Dan Jordan, for whose murder Daddy Skinner is unjustly convicted. In leading the squatters' struggle for survival, Skinner's daughter, Tess, wins the sympathy and love of Graves's son, Frederick, but she loses him when Frederick discovers her with a child. Tess is reunited with her father and Frederick when Ben Letts is revealed as Jordan's murderer and when Frederick's sister, Teola, claims the baby as her own. Graves is reconciled with the squatters. +

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.