Captain Salvation (1927)

87 mins | Melodrama | 14 May 1927

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HISTORY

The scenario was based on the 1925 novel, Captain Salvation by Frederick William Wallace, which was later serialized in the Hearst chain of newspapers. Articles in the 24 August 1926 [Kenosha, WI] News and the 26 August 1926 [Brooklyn, NY] Daily Eagle stated that the novel was being adapted by Lorna Moon for William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Productions, to be filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) Studios in Culver City, CA, under the direction of George Hill. Tentative plans were made to film in the South Pacific Islands, in keeping with the story.
       According to film historian Jay Weissberg, Lorna Moon and Kate Corbaley were initially assigned to adapt and scenarize the source novel. Their work was later archived at the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, CA. Both were replaced by Jack Cunningham, with titles by John Colton. Reginald Barker was chosen as director prior to George Hill. John S. Robertson was announced as director in the 8 January 1927 Exhibitors Herald, after which the 6 February 1927 [Salt Lake City] Tribune credited Grant Whytock as producer, with M-G-M executive Hunt Stromberg overseeing the project.
       News items in the 16 January 1927 Film Daily, the 30 January 1927 Los Angeles Times, and the 24 February 1927 Daily Eagle noted that location shooting would take place on “uninhabited islands off the lower Mexican coast.” However, the 4 March 1927 Los Angeles Evening Citizen News and the 17 March 1927 New York Daily News later reported that filming took ...

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The scenario was based on the 1925 novel, Captain Salvation by Frederick William Wallace, which was later serialized in the Hearst chain of newspapers. Articles in the 24 August 1926 [Kenosha, WI] News and the 26 August 1926 [Brooklyn, NY] Daily Eagle stated that the novel was being adapted by Lorna Moon for William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Productions, to be filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) Studios in Culver City, CA, under the direction of George Hill. Tentative plans were made to film in the South Pacific Islands, in keeping with the story.
       According to film historian Jay Weissberg, Lorna Moon and Kate Corbaley were initially assigned to adapt and scenarize the source novel. Their work was later archived at the Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, CA. Both were replaced by Jack Cunningham, with titles by John Colton. Reginald Barker was chosen as director prior to George Hill. John S. Robertson was announced as director in the 8 January 1927 Exhibitors Herald, after which the 6 February 1927 [Salt Lake City] Tribune credited Grant Whytock as producer, with M-G-M executive Hunt Stromberg overseeing the project.
       News items in the 16 January 1927 Film Daily, the 30 January 1927 Los Angeles Times, and the 24 February 1927 Daily Eagle noted that location shooting would take place on “uninhabited islands off the lower Mexican coast.” However, the 4 March 1927 Los Angeles Evening Citizen News and the 17 March 1927 New York Daily News later reported that filming took place over a period of six or seven days at the Isthmus of Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California. The 18 March 1927 Los Angeles Times revealed that the company’s “square-rigged ship,” known as the Santa Clara, was driven off course by powerful gale-force winds, landing near the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego, CA. A passing northbound steamship came to the aid of the Santa Clara. The 4 April 1927 [Oshkosh, WI] Northwestern noted that the ship’s crew consisted of forty Swedish sailors, reportedly the only men on the Pacific Coast capable of handling a square-rigged vessel. As stated in the 27 March 1927 New York Daily News, the company’s misadventures at sea followed a dismal stay in Catalina, where the cast and crew were plagued by three days of heavy rain, during which both the steam heat plant and the plumbing system malfunctioned. The cooking facilities were reduced to a single wood stove and a supply of wet fuel. Lead actor Lars Hansen was accompanied by his wife, Karin Nolander. Also joining the cast were approximately 200 men and women, described in the 15 May 1927 [San Francisco, CA] Examiner as being indistinguishable from “the world’s most hardened criminals.” The 20 March 1927 New York Times claimed that an unidentified second ship was used in the production.
       Captain Salvation was released on 14 May 1927, preceded by a 6 May 1927 opening at Loew’s State Theatre in Los Angeles. An article in the 2 July 1927 Exhibitors Herald accused Chicago, IL, censors of mutilating the film by removing much of its substance, rendering it “the sticky skeleton of a strong story.”
       According to the Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Database, this film is extant.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Brooklyn Daily Eagle [Brooklyn, NY]
26 Aug 1926
p. 28
Brooklyn Daily Eagle [Brooklyn, NY]
24 Feb 1927
p. 32
Exhibitors Herald
8 Jan 1927
p. 65
Exhibitors Herald
2 Jul 1927
p. 52
Film Daily
16 Jan 1927
p. 8
Film Daily
3 Jul 1927
---
Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA]
6 Apr 1927
p. 1
Kenosha News [Kenosha, WI]
24 Aug 1926
p. 12
Los Angeles Evening Citizen News [Los Angeles, CA]
4 Mar 1927
p. 5
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1927
Section C, p. 13
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1927
p. 26
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1927
p. 23
Motion Picture News
11 Mar 1927
p. 902
MPN Booking Guide
Oct 1927
p. 23
New York Daily News
17 Mar 1927
p. 112
New York Daily News
27 Mar 1927
p. 26
New York Daily News
10 May 1927
p. 18
New York Daily News
11 May 1927
p. 438
New York Times
20 Mar 1927
Section X, p. 5
New York Times
27 Jun 1927
p. 25
Oshkosh Northwestern [Oshkosh, WI]
4 Apr 1927
p. 3
Photoplay
Jul 1927
p. 54
Salt Lake Tribune [Salt Lake City, UT]
6 Feb 1927
p. 54
San Francisco Examiner [San Francisco, CA]
15 May 1927
p. 53
Variety
14 Jul 1926
p. 17
Variety
29 Jun 1927
p. 19
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A John S. Robertson Production
A Cosmopolitan Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
John S. Robertson
Dir
WRITERS
Titles
Author of "Rain" and "The Shanghai Gesture"
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Settings
Settings
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel, Captain Salvation by Frederick William Wallace (New York, 1925).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 May 1927
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 May 1927
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
17 May 1927
LP23972
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in feet):
7,395
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Young Anson Campbell returns from a theological seminary to his New England coastal village, where he is swayed by the call of the sea. When the bigoted villagers scorn Bess Morgan, a fallen woman, he champions her, espousing a broad view of Christianity, but is rejected by the puritanical inhabitants. He goes to sea aboard a convict ship, and upon discovering the rejected girl on board, he exacts from her a promise not to revert to her old life. When she can no longer resist the advances of the ship's captain, Bess kills herself, effecting Anson's return to prayer and faith. Anson engages in a battle with the captain atop a mast, and after taking command of the ship, he converts the convicts and returns home to marry his sweetheart, Mary ...

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Young Anson Campbell returns from a theological seminary to his New England coastal village, where he is swayed by the call of the sea. When the bigoted villagers scorn Bess Morgan, a fallen woman, he champions her, espousing a broad view of Christianity, but is rejected by the puritanical inhabitants. He goes to sea aboard a convict ship, and upon discovering the rejected girl on board, he exacts from her a promise not to revert to her old life. When she can no longer resist the advances of the ship's captain, Bess kills herself, effecting Anson's return to prayer and faith. Anson engages in a battle with the captain atop a mast, and after taking command of the ship, he converts the convicts and returns home to marry his sweetheart, Mary Phillips.

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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.