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HISTORY

According to an item in the 28 October 1916 editions of Motion Picture News and Moving Picture World, Essanay president George K. Spoor, in order to make the film realistic, obtained the services of Captain Michael P. Evans, the chief of the Chicago Bureau of Identification, along with Evans' son, his assistant identification inspector, and several headquarters detectives "to take part in the play." Evans "works through several scenes, reproducing the exact methods of the police in taking records of criminals by the Bertillon system. He also follows out his clews thus received in capturing members of the [counterfeiting] band." The Bertillon system was a pre-fingerprinting method of identifying criminals with the use of a catalog of physical measurements and personal features. The 7 December 1916 Wid's complained that "there was a little too much detail to the scene showing the making of the Bertillon measurements. This has been done quite frequently before, and so it was hardly worth all the footage given it."
       Exteriors were filmed "in the worst district of Chicago," the 4 November 1916 Moving Picture World reported. "An entire vacant tenement was leased for a month by Essanay so that the scenes, requiring half a day, would be taken without inconvenience."
       The 9 December 1916 Motion Picture News reported that the film had originally been scheduled for 18 December, but had been moved forward two weeks to 4 December 1916.
       Reviews were mostly positive, praising both the suspense and humor of The Breaker.
       A full-page Essanay advertisement for The Breaker in the 9 December 1916 Moving Picture World ...

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According to an item in the 28 October 1916 editions of Motion Picture News and Moving Picture World, Essanay president George K. Spoor, in order to make the film realistic, obtained the services of Captain Michael P. Evans, the chief of the Chicago Bureau of Identification, along with Evans' son, his assistant identification inspector, and several headquarters detectives "to take part in the play." Evans "works through several scenes, reproducing the exact methods of the police in taking records of criminals by the Bertillon system. He also follows out his clews thus received in capturing members of the [counterfeiting] band." The Bertillon system was a pre-fingerprinting method of identifying criminals with the use of a catalog of physical measurements and personal features. The 7 December 1916 Wid's complained that "there was a little too much detail to the scene showing the making of the Bertillon measurements. This has been done quite frequently before, and so it was hardly worth all the footage given it."
       Exteriors were filmed "in the worst district of Chicago," the 4 November 1916 Moving Picture World reported. "An entire vacant tenement was leased for a month by Essanay so that the scenes, requiring half a day, would be taken without inconvenience."
       The 9 December 1916 Motion Picture News reported that the film had originally been scheduled for 18 December, but had been moved forward two weeks to 4 December 1916.
       Reviews were mostly positive, praising both the suspense and humor of The Breaker.
       A full-page Essanay advertisement for The Breaker in the 9 December 1916 Moving Picture World cited a screen running time of one hour and 23 minutes.
       The National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) included this film on its list of Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films as of February 2021.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture News
16 Sep 1916
p. 1682
Motion Picture News
28 Oct 1916
p. 2672
Motion Picture News
2 Dec 1916
p. 1384
Motion Picture News
9 Dec 1916
p. 3674
Motion Picture News
16 Dec 1916
p. 3724, 3859, 3870
Motion Picture News
23 Dec 1916
p. 3928
Motography
16 Dec 1916
p. 1345, 1346
Moving Picture World
28 Oct 1916
p. 572
Moving Picture World
4 Nov 1916
p. 725
Moving Picture World
9 Dec 1916
p. 1460, 1504, 1505, 1551
New York Clipper
13 Dec 1916
p. 34
NYDM
21 Oct 1916
p. 22
NYDM
9 Dec 1916
p. 26
Variety
1 Dec 1916
p. 28
Wid's
7 Dec 1916
p. 1159
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Jackson J. Rose
Cam
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Breaker" by Arthur Stringer in The Saturday Evening Post (15-29 Jan 1916).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 December 1916
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Essanay Film Manufacturing Co.
22 November 1916
LP9584
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
83
Length(in reels):
5, 000
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Door-to-door water-filter salesman John Widder unwittingly agrees to hold a suitcase filled with counterfeit bills for an Italian-American criminal named Piazzia, who knows he is under surveillance by police. After Piazzia is arrested, John realizes that he has phony money but is too frightened to do anything about it. Meanwhile, suspicious of John and eager to confiscate the cash, authorities hire Alice Treadwell, John's boardinghouse neighbor, to keep an eye on him. Alice, a stenographer, finds an opportunity to engage John and tell him of her dire financial straits, and, to keep her from being evicted, he exchanges a bad twenty dollar bill at a store and gives the legitimate money to her. Soon, he confesses everything to Alice, who realizes that her kindly neighbor could not have had anything to do with Piazzia. She makes him place the mone in a locker at the train station, which works in John's favor when police arrest a Piazza confederate who breaks into his apartment to retrieve the suitcase. After getting a two-thousand-dollar reward from the police, Alice gives a twenty dollar bill to John, so that he can get back the phony bill he passed and destroy it. Now that they have money, John and Alice decide to get ...

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Door-to-door water-filter salesman John Widder unwittingly agrees to hold a suitcase filled with counterfeit bills for an Italian-American criminal named Piazzia, who knows he is under surveillance by police. After Piazzia is arrested, John realizes that he has phony money but is too frightened to do anything about it. Meanwhile, suspicious of John and eager to confiscate the cash, authorities hire Alice Treadwell, John's boardinghouse neighbor, to keep an eye on him. Alice, a stenographer, finds an opportunity to engage John and tell him of her dire financial straits, and, to keep her from being evicted, he exchanges a bad twenty dollar bill at a store and gives the legitimate money to her. Soon, he confesses everything to Alice, who realizes that her kindly neighbor could not have had anything to do with Piazzia. She makes him place the mone in a locker at the train station, which works in John's favor when police arrest a Piazza confederate who breaks into his apartment to retrieve the suitcase. After getting a two-thousand-dollar reward from the police, Alice gives a twenty dollar bill to John, so that he can get back the phony bill he passed and destroy it. Now that they have money, John and Alice decide to get married.

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

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