Human Wreckage (1923)

Drama | 17 June 1923

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HISTORY

The 12 Apr 1923 FD stated that director John Griffith Wray would be assisted by co-director Reeves Eason . According to the 21 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News, Mrs. Wallace Reid, also known as actress Dorothy Davenport, was soliciting bids from distributors with a deadline of 23 Apr 1923. The winning bidder would be chosen the following day, and announced later in the week. Production was underway in Culver City, CA, with an anticipated release date of 1 Jul 1923. Originally titled The Living Dead, the picture was an indictment of the drug culture that took the life of Mrs. Reid’s husband, actor Wallace Reid. The article listed Jean Orfa Shontz of the Juvenile Court, Dr. R. D. Bird of Occidental College, Dr. Miriam Van Waters of the National Prison Reform Commission, Miss Harris of the Church Federation, and Father Clifford of the Los Angeles Diocese as members of the cast. One week later, the 28 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News announced Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) as the winning bidder.
       On 12 May 1923, Motion Picture News reported that Mrs. Reid traveled to Washington, DC, earlier that month to confer with President Warren G. Harding and attend the National Anti-Narcotic Conference. FBO dispatched representatives to the annual convention of the United Federation of Women’s Clubs of America in Atlanta, GA, to promote the release. With the assistance of the Los Angeles Anti-Narcotics League, Mrs. Reid received endorsements from politicians, judges, government agencies, the financial community, and “society leaders.” The League opened chapters across the country and made efforts ...

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The 12 Apr 1923 FD stated that director John Griffith Wray would be assisted by co-director Reeves Eason . According to the 21 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News, Mrs. Wallace Reid, also known as actress Dorothy Davenport, was soliciting bids from distributors with a deadline of 23 Apr 1923. The winning bidder would be chosen the following day, and announced later in the week. Production was underway in Culver City, CA, with an anticipated release date of 1 Jul 1923. Originally titled The Living Dead, the picture was an indictment of the drug culture that took the life of Mrs. Reid’s husband, actor Wallace Reid. The article listed Jean Orfa Shontz of the Juvenile Court, Dr. R. D. Bird of Occidental College, Dr. Miriam Van Waters of the National Prison Reform Commission, Miss Harris of the Church Federation, and Father Clifford of the Los Angeles Diocese as members of the cast. One week later, the 28 Apr 1923 Motion Picture News announced Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) as the winning bidder.
       On 12 May 1923, Motion Picture News reported that Mrs. Reid traveled to Washington, DC, earlier that month to confer with President Warren G. Harding and attend the National Anti-Narcotic Conference. FBO dispatched representatives to the annual convention of the United Federation of Women’s Clubs of America in Atlanta, GA, to promote the release. With the assistance of the Los Angeles Anti-Narcotics League, Mrs. Reid received endorsements from politicians, judges, government agencies, the financial community, and “society leaders.” The League opened chapters across the country and made efforts to recruit various community, religious, and artists associations to their cause. William J. Burns of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) was quoted in the 19 May 1923 Motion Picture News, describing the film as “the greatest broadaxe which could be wielded on the fight against narcotics.”
       On 7 Jun 1923, Motion Picture News announced FBO’s publication of an “elaborate” pressbook as part of its publicity campaign. As reported in the 30 Jun 1923 Motion Picture News, the film premiered 9 Jun 1923 at the Ackerman-Harris Century Theatre in San Francisco, CA. San Francisco officials proclaimed a “Narcotic Educational Week” to coincide with the premiere. Mrs. Reid was present for the event, accompanied by several “dramatic critics” and prominent members of the motion picture industry. The 30 Jun 1923 Moving Picture World stated that the premiere set a new attendance record for the theater. A preview screening for critics, “club women and city officials” was held on 8 Jun 1923. The picture opened the following week at the Grauman Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, and the Lyric Theatre in New York City. The latter event was heralded by a parade float, featuring an effigy of Mrs. Reid dressed as St. Joan of Arc. The real Mrs. Reid was also present at the New York City debut, according the 7 Jul 1923 Motion Picture News. The film garnered universal acclaim. Mrs. Reid embarked on a nationwide tour, which included a visit to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, NY, as reported in the 28 Jul 1923 Motion Picture News. The 9 Sep 1923 Motion Picture News announced the tour’s final stop at the Orpheum Theatre in Chicago, IL.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
12 Apr 1923
p. 8
Film Daily
14 Jun 1923
p. 4
Film Daily
29 Jun 1923
p. 5
Film Daily
1 Jul 1923
p. 4
Motion Picture News
21 Apr 1923
p. 1869, 1890
Motion Picture News
28 Apr 1923
p. 2137
Motion Picture News
12 May 1923
p. 2270
Motion Picture News
19 May 1923
p. 2409
Motion Picture News
2 Jun 1923
pp. 2685-2686
Motion Picture News
16 Jun 1923
p. 2862, 2891
Motion Picture News
30 Jun 1923
p. 3171, 3189, 3191
Motion Picture News
7 Jul 1923
p. 47
Motion Picture News
14 Jul 1923
p. 211
Motion Picture News
28 Jul 1923
pp. 444-445
Motion Picture News
4 Aug 1923
p. 527
Motion Picture News
18 Aug 1923
p. 773
Motion Picture News
5 Sep 1923
p. 1179
Moving Picture World
30 Jun 1923
p. 774
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Living Dead
Release Date:
17 June 1923
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Thomas H. Ince Corp.
17 June 1923
LP19143
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
7,215
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

"Treats the evils of drugs, pointing out the disasters which visit several figures in general and the MacFarlands in particular. The husband is an attorney who suffers a nervous breakdown. Becomes addicted to morphine and his efforts to shake off the habit are fruitless until he realizes that his wife is encouraged to take up the habit because of his weakness and the futility of trying to cope with it." ( Motion Picture News , 14 Jul ...

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"Treats the evils of drugs, pointing out the disasters which visit several figures in general and the MacFarlands in particular. The husband is an attorney who suffers a nervous breakdown. Becomes addicted to morphine and his efforts to shake off the habit are fruitless until he realizes that his wife is encouraged to take up the habit because of his weakness and the futility of trying to cope with it." ( Motion Picture News , 14 Jul 1923.)

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GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Social


Subject

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.