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HISTORY

The 6 February 1915 Moving Picture World reported that George Soule Spencer studied for his role as "Sylvanus Rebbings" by attending the tabernacle meetings of evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935), who for the past couple of weeks had been "creating sensation after sensation with his preaching in Philadelphia." The Lubin motion picture and Sunday's local appearances began on the same day, so Spencer sat in a front seat most nights "watching closely every method used by the famous preacher in swaying his audience of 30,000 people." To practice, Spencer twice "stood on a barrel and preached on street corners to get atmosphere for the play. Each time a large crowd gathered, and in nearly every instance Spencer was mistaken for either Sunday himself or one of his numerous workers. On each occasion Spencer pleaded with the crowd to lead better lives, and crowds paid close attention to him somewhat bewildered, not so much at what he said, but because two motion picture cameras were clicking off every movement he made on the barrel. On another occasion Spencer preached to an overflow meeting just outside Sunday's tabernacle. The scene only took a few minutes, and during those few minutes Spencer used a variety of Sunday mannerisms as he shouted to the hundreds of men and women in front of him." Then, before the crowd could ask any questions, Spencer leaped down from the barrel and, with director Barry O'Neil, the cameramen, and a couple of other Lubin players, "bustled into a nearby automobile and drove off."
       During a strike scene, a mob of workmen was supposed to destroy a tavern, the 6 March 1915 Motography noted, so ...

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The 6 February 1915 Moving Picture World reported that George Soule Spencer studied for his role as "Sylvanus Rebbings" by attending the tabernacle meetings of evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935), who for the past couple of weeks had been "creating sensation after sensation with his preaching in Philadelphia." The Lubin motion picture and Sunday's local appearances began on the same day, so Spencer sat in a front seat most nights "watching closely every method used by the famous preacher in swaying his audience of 30,000 people." To practice, Spencer twice "stood on a barrel and preached on street corners to get atmosphere for the play. Each time a large crowd gathered, and in nearly every instance Spencer was mistaken for either Sunday himself or one of his numerous workers. On each occasion Spencer pleaded with the crowd to lead better lives, and crowds paid close attention to him somewhat bewildered, not so much at what he said, but because two motion picture cameras were clicking off every movement he made on the barrel. On another occasion Spencer preached to an overflow meeting just outside Sunday's tabernacle. The scene only took a few minutes, and during those few minutes Spencer used a variety of Sunday mannerisms as he shouted to the hundreds of men and women in front of him." Then, before the crowd could ask any questions, Spencer leaped down from the barrel and, with director Barry O'Neil, the cameramen, and a couple of other Lubin players, "bustled into a nearby automobile and drove off."
       During a strike scene, a mob of workmen was supposed to destroy a tavern, the 6 March 1915 Motography noted, so when director O'Neil set loose "his specially trained mob of Lubin extras," they "wrecked beyond repair the exterior and interior of a saloon in exactly two minutes and thirty-one seconds."
       An item in the 27 February 1915 Variety reported that Arthur V. Johnson would be handling a Billy Sunday role in Lubin's The Evangelst, but Johnson was not involved in the film. Variety also mentioned that Columbia Film Co. was releasing a one-reel movie about Billy Sunday himself.
       This film first appeared on release charts for February 1915 as a Lubin Special Feature and was reviewed in March and April 1915. One review said that it was six reels and was to be the first release of the newly formed V-L-S-E, but this was mistaken. The film was subsequently released on 24 January 1916 in four reels as part of a Lubin Unit Program. The actor listed as Charles Brant probably was Charles Brandt.
       The National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) included this film on its list of Lost U.S. Silent Feature Films as of January 2021.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture News
30 Jan 1915
p. 38
Motion Picture News
24 Apr 1915
p. 67
Motography
6 Mar 1915
p. 384
Moving Picture World
16 Jan 1915
p. 372
Moving Picture World
6 Feb 1915
p. 814
Moving Picture World
27 Mar 1915
p. 1914c
Moving Picture World
7 Jul 1915
p. 40
Moving Picture World
22 Jan 1916
p. 621
NYDM
22 Jan 1916
p. 26
Variety
27 Feb 1915
p. 6
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1915
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Lubin Mfg. Co.
17 January 1916
LP7438
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
4
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Christabel Nuneham, whose husband Philip, a hydraulic power plant contractor, neglects her for his work, accepts the attentions of a dashing young army lieutenant, Rex Allen. When Allen's regiment is suddenly called to India, he persuades Christabel to accompany him secretly to the naval port of Southampton to bid him farewell. She stays with him overnight, and the next day, on her way back to London, she is involved in an automobile accident that results in a broken arm. She is rescued by England's most celebrated evangelist, Sylvanus Rebbings, who agrees to keep her identity a secret. Rebbings is loved by regular people, but hated by the clergy for emptying their pews, as well as for his theatricality and his radical views of universal love and forgiveness—taken directly from the Gospels. After Phoebe Ransford, a poor shopgirl, is seduced and abandoned by factory foreman Stout, Rebbings prevents her suicide, sends her to Christabel for protection, and later rebukes Christabel for not receiving the fallen Phoebe into her home. When Allen returns from India, Christabel meets him to end their affair, but Philip catches them together and threatens to divorce her. He locks away their small daughter, Ione, but she communicates with her mother using flashing electric lights. Soon Rebbings convinces Philip to reconcile with Christabel for Ione's sake, and all ends ...

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Christabel Nuneham, whose husband Philip, a hydraulic power plant contractor, neglects her for his work, accepts the attentions of a dashing young army lieutenant, Rex Allen. When Allen's regiment is suddenly called to India, he persuades Christabel to accompany him secretly to the naval port of Southampton to bid him farewell. She stays with him overnight, and the next day, on her way back to London, she is involved in an automobile accident that results in a broken arm. She is rescued by England's most celebrated evangelist, Sylvanus Rebbings, who agrees to keep her identity a secret. Rebbings is loved by regular people, but hated by the clergy for emptying their pews, as well as for his theatricality and his radical views of universal love and forgiveness—taken directly from the Gospels. After Phoebe Ransford, a poor shopgirl, is seduced and abandoned by factory foreman Stout, Rebbings prevents her suicide, sends her to Christabel for protection, and later rebukes Christabel for not receiving the fallen Phoebe into her home. When Allen returns from India, Christabel meets him to end their affair, but Philip catches them together and threatens to divorce her. He locks away their small daughter, Ione, but she communicates with her mother using flashing electric lights. Soon Rebbings convinces Philip to reconcile with Christabel for Ione's sake, and all ends well.

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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.