The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)

Western | 27 November 1926

Director:

Henry King

Writer:

Frances Marion

Cinematographer:

George Barnes

Production Designer:

Karl Oscar Borg

Production Company:

Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
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HISTORY

The 17 Feb 1923 Exhibitors Herald noted that actor Bert Lytell was considering a film version of the bestselling 1911 Harold Bell Wright novel, The Winning of Barbara Worth, as his second screen vehicle for producer Sol Lesser. Nearly two months later, the 7 Apr 1923 and 12 Apr 1923 editions of FD reported that the film was to be produced by Lesser’s Principal Pictures Corporation. Scenarist Walter Anthony was traveling to Tucson, AZ, to confer with the author, who had already licensed screen rights to Lesser, according to the 12 May 1923 Motion Picture News . Florence Vidor was cast in the title role.
       Five days later, FD stated that the project was being postponed until Oct 1923 to avoid the extreme heat of the desert filming location. John Bowers and Tully Marshall had since been added to the cast. Meanwhile, the 19 May 1923 Motion Picture News announced that Walter Anthony and Harry Carr, managing editor for the LAT, had completed the screenplay. The intended filming location was identified as California’s Imperial Valley. The 26 May 1923 Motion Picture News noted the casting of Joseph Kilgour. Also joining the production were writer Percy Heath and director Edward F. Cline, as stated in the 29 Sep 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review. Nearly a month later, the 20 Oct 1923 Exhibitors Herald reported Harold Bell Wright’s arrival in Los Angeles, CA, to assist Cline and the writing team in pre-production. An article in the 5 Jan 1924 Exhibitors Trade ... More Less

The 17 Feb 1923 Exhibitors Herald noted that actor Bert Lytell was considering a film version of the bestselling 1911 Harold Bell Wright novel, The Winning of Barbara Worth, as his second screen vehicle for producer Sol Lesser. Nearly two months later, the 7 Apr 1923 and 12 Apr 1923 editions of FD reported that the film was to be produced by Lesser’s Principal Pictures Corporation. Scenarist Walter Anthony was traveling to Tucson, AZ, to confer with the author, who had already licensed screen rights to Lesser, according to the 12 May 1923 Motion Picture News . Florence Vidor was cast in the title role.
       Five days later, FD stated that the project was being postponed until Oct 1923 to avoid the extreme heat of the desert filming location. John Bowers and Tully Marshall had since been added to the cast. Meanwhile, the 19 May 1923 Motion Picture News announced that Walter Anthony and Harry Carr, managing editor for the LAT, had completed the screenplay. The intended filming location was identified as California’s Imperial Valley. The 26 May 1923 Motion Picture News noted the casting of Joseph Kilgour. Also joining the production were writer Percy Heath and director Edward F. Cline, as stated in the 29 Sep 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review. Nearly a month later, the 20 Oct 1923 Exhibitors Herald reported Harold Bell Wright’s arrival in Los Angeles, CA, to assist Cline and the writing team in pre-production. An article in the 5 Jan 1924 Exhibitors Trade Review revealed that principal photography had been postponed again, with tentative plans to film later that year.
       On 24 Mar 1925, FD reported that Lesser was in the process of selling the bulk of his studio complex to Earle Hammons, founder of Educational Pictures. What property Principal Pictures retained was to be developed for retail space. Lesser continued to run his company from rented offices at neighboring United Artists Studios in West Hollywood, CA.
       According to the 1 Apr 1925 Var, production was scheduled to begin on 15 May 1925. Lesser and his associate, Mike Rosenberg, engaged scenarist Jack Cunningham to write the adaptation, and Sam Wood was hired to direct, as stated in the 16 May 1925 Moving Picture World.
       The 11 Jul 1925 Motion Picture News reported that filming was delayed until 1 Aug 1925. The budget was estimated at “not less than $500,000,” and a distribution deal had been arranged with Hiram Abrams of United Artists Corp. (UA). The 18 Jul 1925 Moving Picture World claimed that every major distributor had been vying for the film, as it was based on the most popular American novel to date, with sales in excess of two million copies. As originally planned, location filming was to take place in the Imperial Valley, with additional locations in Arizona.
       Four months later, the 17 Oct 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin the following week. The 21 Oct 1925 Var noted that Charles Brabin had replaced Sam Wood as director. Nearly a month passed before the 14 Nov 1925 Motion Picture News revealed that filming was delayed while Lesser sought a lead actress. A contest was held, with the cooperation of the West Coast Theatres chain, in which photographs of young women between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two were solicited as possible candidates. In addition, cameraman William Gibson was dispatched to various West Coast Theatre locations, seeking ten candidates from each town for screen tests. The winner was to be cast as “Barbara Worth,” with the four runners-up being “guaranteed at least four weeks of work by various producers.” The 27 Dec 1925 FD reported that Lesser recruited William Sistrom of Metropolitan Studios, B. P. “Bernie” Fineman of Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), and Harry Rapf of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to assist Brabin and Rosenberg with the selection and training of the winning candidate. However, after viewing 497 screen tests, none of the young hopefuls was considered suitable.
       Meanwhile, the 22 Nov 1925 FD stated that scenarist Harry Behn had joined the production to “write the continuity,” and was scouting locations in Arizona, with tentative plans to confer with Harold Bell Wright.
       On 5 Jan 1926, FD reported the casting of Marceline Day in the title role. The 10 Jan 1926 issue credited James Dugan as assistant director. One month later, the 9 Feb 1926 FD announced that producer Samuel Goldwyn had purchased the property from Lesser, who decided to abandon filmmaking and focus on his chain of theaters. Goldwyn assigned Henry King to direct. United Artists retained distribution rights. The next day’s issue noted that Vilma Banky and Ronald Colman were given the starring roles. According to the 18 Mar 1926 FD, production was to take place at De Mille Studios in Culver City, CA. The 20 May 1926 issue stated that Henry King had begun scouting locations in Utah.
       The 30 May 1926 FD reported that Colman was expected at the first shooting location on 4 Jun 1926. Vilma Banky would arrive later, as she was in the process of completing her role in Son of the Sheik (1926, see entry). Co-star Clyde Cook’s character was referred to as “Texas Joe,” although he is listed as “Tex” in other sources.
       The 20 Jun 1926 FD identified one filming location as Gerlach, NV. As noted in the 21 Jul 1926 Var, the 1,100-member company was moving 100 miles north to “the newly created desert town of Barbara Worth,” near the Oregon state line. Approximately thirty days of filming remained, at a cost of $20,000 per day. According to the Sep and Oct 1926 editions of Motion Picture, a permanent town, costing $100,000, was constructed at the location. Goldwyn was soliciting bids from buyers willing to occupy the town following the end of production. The city was called “Barba” in the picture, built by the characters after their previous settlement, “Kingston,” was destroyed by a flood. Local communities provided about 600 of their citizens for background actors, several of whom were “carefully selected” by Henry King for featured roles. Some had reportedly never seen a camera before. King later identified the region as the Black Rock Desert in the Jan 1927 Motion Picture. The director stated that he and his chauffeur were lost in Nevada and suffering from heat stroke when they stumbled upon the ideal location, which he claimed had never been filmed before.
       The production’s return to Culver City was announced in the 10 Aug 1926 FD. Editing was underway soon after, as noted in the 1 Sep 1926 issue. Later that month, however, the 21 and 24 Sep issues of FD revealed that King was shooting retakes at an undisclosed desert location.
       The Winning of Barbara Worth premiered 14 Oct 1926 at the Forum Theatre in Los Angeles. That day’s FD noted that tickets were selling at a maximum price of $5.00. According to the 12 Nov 1926 FD, UA made an unsuccessful attempt to reserve Madison Square Garden for the New York City debut. The picture opened instead at the Mark Strand Theatre on 27 Nov 1926. Other openings included the Orpheum Theatre in Chicago, IL, and the Loew’s State Theatre in St. Louis, MO, that same day, and the Madison Theatre in Detroit, MI, on 28 Nov 1926. Reviews were generally positive.
       The film marked the first credited screen appearance of two-time Academy Award-winning Best Actor Gary Cooper (1901--1961). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
17 Feb 1923
p. 81
Exhibitors Herald
20 Oct 1923
p. 56
Exhibitors Trade Review
2 Jun 1923
p. 25
Exhibitors Trade Review
29 Sep 1923
p. 810
Exhibitors Trade Review
5 Jan 1924
p. 13
Exhibitors Trade Review
17 Oct 1925
p. 16
Film Daily
7 Apr 1923
p. 55
Film Daily
12 Apr 1923
p. 10
Film Daily
3 May 1923
p. 1
Film Daily
17 May 1923
p. 2
Film Daily
24 Mar 1925
p. 1, 3
Film Daily
27 Aug 1925
p. 5
Film Daily
22 Nov 1925
p. 13
Film Daily
27 Dec 1925
p. 4
Film Daily
5 Jan 1926
p. 2
Film Daily
10 Jan 1926
p. 10
Film Daily
9 Feb 1926
---
Film Daily
10 Feb 1926
---
Film Daily
18 Mar 1926
---
Film Daily
20 May 1926
---
Film Daily
30 May 1926
p. 33
Film Daily
20 Jun 1926
p. 11
Film Daily
10 Aug 1926
p. 5
Film Daily
1 Sep 1926
p. 8
Film Daily
21 Sep 1926
p. 5
Film Daily
24 Sep 1926
p. 18
Film Daily
5 Oct 1926
p. 2
Film Daily
14 Oct 1926
pp. 1-2
Film Daily
12 Nov 1926
---
Film Daily
19 Nov 1926
p. 5
Film Daily
12 Dec 1926
p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
1 Oct 1926
p. A9
Motion Picture
Sep 1926
p. 112
Motion Picture
Oct 1926
p. 5
Motion Picture
Jan 1927
p. 108
Motion Picture News
12 May 1923
p. 2265
Motion Picture News
19 May 1923
p. 2418
Motion Picture News
20 May 1923
p. 2503
Motion Picture News
26 May 1923
---
Motion Picture News
11 Jul 1925
p. 179
Motion Picture News
14 Nov 1925
p. 2251
Moving Picture World
16 May 1925
p. 359
Moving Picture World
18 Jul 1925
p. 346
Moving Picture World
4 Dec 1926
p. 363
New York Times
29 Nov 1926
p. 16
Photoplay
Apr 1926
p. 86
Photoplay
Dec 1926
p. 53
Story World and Photodramatist
May 1923
p. 87
Variety
3 Jan 1924
p. 130
Variety
1 Apr 1925
p. 58
Variety
21 Oct 1925
p. 25
Variety
21 Jul 1926
---
Variety
28 Jul 1926
p. 46
Variety
20 Oct 1926
p. 60
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Winning of Barbara Worth by Harold Bell Wright (Chicago, 1911).
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 November 1926
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 14 October 1926
New York opening: 27 November 1926
Production Date:
early June--late September 1926
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Goldwyn, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 December 1926
Copyright Number:
LP23391
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
8,757
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Willard Holmes, an eastern engineer, comes West to assist his unscrupulous stepfather in the execution of a vast desert irrigation project, and he meets Barbara Worth, adopted daughter of banker Jefferson Worth, who originated the reclamation plan. Holmes's stepfather, Greenfield, builds a cheap and dangerous intake at the river to fleece the settlers of their money. Worth moves away to form another city, offering the settlers free land and water. The avaricious Greenfield shuts off Worth's credit and breeds discontent among his workers. To bring money, Holmes and Abe Lee make a desperate ride across the mountains and succeed, though Lee is wounded. Greenfield's dam overflows and floods his town, but Holmes succeeds in building a new dam and marries ... +


Willard Holmes, an eastern engineer, comes West to assist his unscrupulous stepfather in the execution of a vast desert irrigation project, and he meets Barbara Worth, adopted daughter of banker Jefferson Worth, who originated the reclamation plan. Holmes's stepfather, Greenfield, builds a cheap and dangerous intake at the river to fleece the settlers of their money. Worth moves away to form another city, offering the settlers free land and water. The avaricious Greenfield shuts off Worth's credit and breeds discontent among his workers. To bring money, Holmes and Abe Lee make a desperate ride across the mountains and succeed, though Lee is wounded. Greenfield's dam overflows and floods his town, but Holmes succeeds in building a new dam and marries Barbara. +

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

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