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HISTORY

In early May 1919, a fifty-member production unit traveled from National Film Corp. of America’s studios in Hollywood, CA, to begin principal photography in New York City, as stated in the 11 May 1919 Camera. Star Billie Rhodes had a prior obligation and planned to join the company at a later date. Rhodes was the wife of studio president William “Smiling Bill” Parsons. The 16 May 1919 LAT noted that location scenes were also to be filmed in New Orleans, LA, and on the island of Cuba before the unit returned to Hollywood. The entire trip was expected to last ten weeks. The 21 Jun 1919 and 26 Jul 1919 editions of Exhibitors Herald and Motography listed Ross Fisher as cameraman, Martin J. Doner as art director, and included Allene Hale among the cast, as did several other sources. An item in the Aug 1919 Motion Picture Classic listed character actor Alan Hale as a cast member, but this may have been a misprint.
       The 13 Jul 1919 LAT related the details of an altercation between Billie Rhodes and a policeman during production in New York City. While the crew was loading equipment outside a Broadway theater, Rhodes waited in the lobby, still in costume as a street urchin. Unaware of the actress’s identity, the policeman ordered her to leave, and when she resisted, he threatened to remove her by force. Once outside and in full view of her colleagues, Rhodes scolded the officer and threatened to have him “run into the river” if he attempted ...

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In early May 1919, a fifty-member production unit traveled from National Film Corp. of America’s studios in Hollywood, CA, to begin principal photography in New York City, as stated in the 11 May 1919 Camera. Star Billie Rhodes had a prior obligation and planned to join the company at a later date. Rhodes was the wife of studio president William “Smiling Bill” Parsons. The 16 May 1919 LAT noted that location scenes were also to be filmed in New Orleans, LA, and on the island of Cuba before the unit returned to Hollywood. The entire trip was expected to last ten weeks. The 21 Jun 1919 and 26 Jul 1919 editions of Exhibitors Herald and Motography listed Ross Fisher as cameraman, Martin J. Doner as art director, and included Allene Hale among the cast, as did several other sources. An item in the Aug 1919 Motion Picture Classic listed character actor Alan Hale as a cast member, but this may have been a misprint.
       The 13 Jul 1919 LAT related the details of an altercation between Billie Rhodes and a policeman during production in New York City. While the crew was loading equipment outside a Broadway theater, Rhodes waited in the lobby, still in costume as a street urchin. Unaware of the actress’s identity, the policeman ordered her to leave, and when she resisted, he threatened to remove her by force. Once outside and in full view of her colleagues, Rhodes scolded the officer and threatened to have him “run into the river” if he attempted to manhandle her again.
       The company’s arrival in Hollywood was reported in the 15 Jun 1919 Camera. An item in the 10 Jun 1919 Wid’s Daily noted that additional location shots were made in Chicago, IL, during the return trip. As stated in the 21 Jun 1919 Motion Picture News, the film told a story of the Salvation Army, which Billie Rhodes commended for its efforts on behalf of the underprivileged. The conclusion of principal photography was expected within the next two weeks. An article in the 9 Aug 1919 Motion Picture News claimed that the film took more than six months to complete, deemed necessity due to exhibitor demand for higher production values from the studios. It was also noted that the film was a stand-alone feature intended for “selective booking,” rather than one entry in a packaged series of releases starring Billie Rhodes.
       The Blue Bonnet premiered on 10 Aug 1919 at the Kinema Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. It was later revealed in the 16 Aug 1919 and 23 Aug 1919 editions of Motion Picture News that theater manager Emil Kehrlein ran the film in place of the latest Mary Pickford release, upon learning that the entire U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet would be landing in nearby San Pedro, CA. Kehrlein presumed that the Billie Rhodes vehicle would have greater appeal for the 30,000 sailors visiting the city and was reportedly proven correct. Public response was equally favorable, according to the 25 Oct 1919 Motion Picture News.
       The 12 Jul 1919 Exhibitors Herald and Motography noted that music publishers McCarty and Fisher released a song inspired by the picture, also titled “The Blue Bonnet.”
       On some release charts, this film was called a five-reeler.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Camera
11 May 1919
p. 3
Camera
18 May 1919
p. 6
Camera
15 Jun 1919
p. 3
Camera
13 Jul 1919
p. 9
Camera
9 Aug 1919
p. 15
Exhibitors Herald and Motography
21 Jun 1919
p. 36
Exhibitors Herald and Motography
12 Jul 1919
---
Exhibitors Herald and Motography
26 Jul 1919
p. 120
Exhibitors Trade Review
14 Jun 1919
p. 111
Exhibitors Trade Review
8 Nov 1919
p. 1982
Los Angeles Times
16 May 1919
p. 28
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1919
p. 29
Motion Picture Classic
Aug 1919
p. 120
Motion Picture News
21 Jun 1919
p. 4173
Motion Picture News
9 Aug 1919
p. 1252
Motion Picture News
16 Aug 1919
p. 1446
Motion Picture News
23 Aug 1919
p. 1656
Motion Picture News
25 Oct 1919
p. 3157
Moving Picture World
13 Dec 1919
p. 847
Moving Picture World
25 Jul 1919
p. 44
Variety
31 Oct 1919
p. 61
Wid's Daily
24 Apr 1919
---
Wid's Daily
10 Jun 1919
---
Wid's Daily
31 Aug 1919
p. 23
Wid's Daily
7 Sep 1919
p. 4
DETAILS
Release Date:
10 August 1919
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 10 Aug 1919
Production Date:
May--early Jul 1919
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Ruth Drake is abandoned as an infant by a heartless mother after being stolen from her loving father. She is raised by a pawnbroker, and later joins the Salvation Army to help the misguided people she has observed while growing up. Ruth goes to France during World War I and meets a man who has had an affair with an actress. After they return home, the actress is upset that her former admirer has snubbed her for Ruth, so she implicates the girl in a robbery. At the trial, the actress discovers that she is Ruth's mother and the defense attorney is revealed to be Ruth's father, resulting in the family’s ...

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Ruth Drake is abandoned as an infant by a heartless mother after being stolen from her loving father. She is raised by a pawnbroker, and later joins the Salvation Army to help the misguided people she has observed while growing up. Ruth goes to France during World War I and meets a man who has had an affair with an actress. After they return home, the actress is upset that her former admirer has snubbed her for Ruth, so she implicates the girl in a robbery. At the trial, the actress discovers that she is Ruth's mother and the defense attorney is revealed to be Ruth's father, resulting in the family’s reunion.

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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.