The Auction Block (1917)

135 mins | Melodrama | 2 December 1917

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HISTORY

The 26 January 1917 Variety announced: "Ben B. Hampton and Rex Beach have formed the Rex Beach Producing co. for the purpose of making for state right release all future Beach picturizations. Associated with them in the enterprise are Larry Trimble, who will be general director of all productions, and Adrian Gil-Speak, who is to be co-director." Their first picture was slated to be The Auction Block. The lead was offered first to Douglas Fairbanks, and then to Elmo Lincoln after Fairbanks turned down Beach's $10,000-a-week offer. Lincoln turned down the role when told his name could not go above Beach's own title.
       Scenarist Adrian Gil-Spear was acting in the capacity of Larry Trimble's assistant director, the 3 March 1917 Motion Picture News reported. Filming was set to start in late February, and Trimble expected the finished picture to be eight or nine reels.
       The 9 June 1917 Motography reported, "With the taking of a big gambling house raid, the final studio scenes of The Auction Block, the second production of the Rex Beach Pictures Co. [following The Barrier, see entry], were completed, and there remains only a steel mill scene which will be taken in Pittsburgh within the next few days. When this has been done, Director Trimble will start at once on his task of cutting and titling the picture which will be ready for exhibitors September 1. The Auction Block has a number of big sensational scenes, including an exact reproduction of the famous Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic with the showing going on and the audience present. Another sensational scene is the ...

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The 26 January 1917 Variety announced: "Ben B. Hampton and Rex Beach have formed the Rex Beach Producing co. for the purpose of making for state right release all future Beach picturizations. Associated with them in the enterprise are Larry Trimble, who will be general director of all productions, and Adrian Gil-Speak, who is to be co-director." Their first picture was slated to be The Auction Block. The lead was offered first to Douglas Fairbanks, and then to Elmo Lincoln after Fairbanks turned down Beach's $10,000-a-week offer. Lincoln turned down the role when told his name could not go above Beach's own title.
       Scenarist Adrian Gil-Spear was acting in the capacity of Larry Trimble's assistant director, the 3 March 1917 Motion Picture News reported. Filming was set to start in late February, and Trimble expected the finished picture to be eight or nine reels.
       The 9 June 1917 Motography reported, "With the taking of a big gambling house raid, the final studio scenes of The Auction Block, the second production of the Rex Beach Pictures Co. [following The Barrier, see entry], were completed, and there remains only a steel mill scene which will be taken in Pittsburgh within the next few days. When this has been done, Director Trimble will start at once on his task of cutting and titling the picture which will be ready for exhibitors September 1. The Auction Block has a number of big sensational scenes, including an exact reproduction of the famous Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic with the showing going on and the audience present. Another sensational scene is the chorus girl dinner given by a Pittsburgh millionaire which reveals New York's fastest at their merriest." The item went on to say that some characters were based on famous Broadway figures, including Flo Ziegfeld and "Diamond" Jim Brady. Another item, in the 17 November 1917 Moving Picture World, explained that the gambling house was based on a famous, defunct New York establishment from the 1840s, which was protected by a "sturdy bronze door...intended as a psychological and physical deterrent for the axe men of the strong arm days." The 11 August 1917 Exhibitors Herald mentioned that the film took six months to make.
       According to the 25 August 1917 Motography, novelist Rex Beach was going to write the titles for the films made from his books. "He argues that nobody can possibly know as much about what the titles ought to be as the man who wrote the story from which the play is made...It took six months to photograph The Auction Block, and the titles are going to be worthy of the picture." Since The Auction Block took place in New York City, Beach and director Larry Trimble "went right into the environment of the story for the people of the cast."
       This was former Ziegfeld dancer Rubye De Remer's first starring role. Her first name was sometimes spelled Ruby and her last name variously spelled as DeRemer and de Remer.
       An Item in the 25 September 1917 Exhibitors Herald announced that Goldwyn Pictures Corp. had taken over the distribution of Rex Beach films, including The Auction Block. Two months later, the 1 December 1917 Moving Picture World gave notice that the picture was being slotted into a 2 December 1917 release date, replacing Mabel Normand's Joan of Plattsburg, which Goldwyn suddenly pulled back because it contained "military material" about an army camp in Plattsburgh, NY, which "Government officials deem...unwise for Goldwyn to release" during the current political and wartime climate, the U.S. having entered the World War in April 1917. Although Samuel Goldwyn paid Beach a high price for The Auction Block, he agreed as part of his advertising to deliver the film to his contract customers at regular prices.
       The name of Beach's production company was listed variously as Rex Beach Film Corp., Rex Beach Pictures Corp., and Rex Beach Pictures Co. The length of The Auction Block was given variously as five, six, seven, and eight reels, which suggests several edits before Goldwyn picked up distribution; a list of picture releases in the 15 December 1917 Motography cited a 6,000-feet length. Wid's gave a screening time of 95 minutes.
       M-G-M made another adaption of the novel, also entitled The Auction Block, in 1926, directed by Hobart Henley and starring Charles Ray and Eleanor Boardman (see entry).
       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
Exhibitors Herald
11 Aug 1917
p. 24
Exhibitors Herald
25 Aug 1917
p. 45
Exhibitors Herald
15 Sep 1917
p. 22
Exhibitors Herald
8 Dec 1917
p. 44
Exhibitors Trade Review
22 Dec 1917
p. 297
Motion Picture News
3 Mar 1917
p. 1368
Motion Picture News
8 Dec 1917
p. 3911
Motion Picture News
29 Dec 1917
p. 4444, 4589, 4590
Motion Picture News
5 Jan 1918
p. 14
Motography
9 Jun 1917
p. 1226
Motography
25 Aug 1917
p. 399
Motography
15 Dec 1917
p. 1269
Moving Picture World
9 Jun 1917
p. 1634
Moving Picture World
16 Oct 1915
p. 74
Moving Picture World
17 Nov 1917
p. 1050
Moving Picture World
1 Dec 1917
p. 1349
Moving Picture World
8 Dec 1917
p. 1441
Moving Picture World
15 Dec 1917
p. 1654
Moving Picture World
29 Dec 1917
p. 1957
NYDM
2 Jun 1917
p. 25
NYDM
22 Dec 1917
p. 30
Picture-Play Magazine
Feb 1918
p. 276, 277
Variety
26 Jan 1917
p. 21
Variety
28 Dec 1917
p. 43
Wid's
20 Dec 1917
pp. 815-16
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 December 1917
Production Date:
late February--August 1917
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Goldwyn Pictures Corp.
17 November 1917
LP11718
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
135
Length(in feet):
6,000
Length(in reels):
6-8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Beautiful Lorelei Knight lands a job as a show girl in New York through the efforts of her unscrupulous parents and brother, who sent her to the city to marry her off to a wealthy suitor on the social auction block. Her parasitic family soon follows in order to live on her earnings. She loses her job and in desperation marries Bob Wharton, the drunken son of a millionaire, but refuses to consummate the marriage until he reforms. Bob makes an effort, but Lorelei's brother Jimmy drags him back to his dissolute life. Meanwhile, Lorelei meets fellow "auction block" girl Lilas Lynn, who is planning revenge on steel mill owner Jarvis Hammon, the man responsible for her father's death. Lilas shoots Hammon and Lorelei is implicated. Her brother and his gang blackmail Lorelei's now reformed husband for the crime, but after a turn of events the gang is broken up and all ends ...

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Beautiful Lorelei Knight lands a job as a show girl in New York through the efforts of her unscrupulous parents and brother, who sent her to the city to marry her off to a wealthy suitor on the social auction block. Her parasitic family soon follows in order to live on her earnings. She loses her job and in desperation marries Bob Wharton, the drunken son of a millionaire, but refuses to consummate the marriage until he reforms. Bob makes an effort, but Lorelei's brother Jimmy drags him back to his dissolute life. Meanwhile, Lorelei meets fellow "auction block" girl Lilas Lynn, who is planning revenge on steel mill owner Jarvis Hammon, the man responsible for her father's death. Lilas shoots Hammon and Lorelei is implicated. Her brother and his gang blackmail Lorelei's now reformed husband for the crime, but after a turn of events the gang is broken up 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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