Status: Missing and presumed lost
If ever there was a tale to showcase leading men, this is it. Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel features three juicy parts for the boys: The flashy playboy, the mature stalker and the solid (and stolid!) suitor-in-waiting. There is also a doozy of a leading lady part and a few nice supporting roles for actresses as well.
I am an enormous fan of both the novel and of the 1967 British production starring Terrence Stamp (Sgt. Troy, the playboy), Peter Finch (Farmer Boldwood, the stalker), Alan Bates (Gabriel, Mr. Stolid), and Julie Christie (Bathsheba, the independent farmerette they all pursue).
The novel was filmed in 1909 as a short. I cannot find information on whether the 1915 version was a short or a feature but given the time period, I suspect it was at least a 4 or 5 reel feature.
American actress Florence Turner began making films in England with her own production company. She took on the leading role as wild Bethsheba. She was supported by British players in the male leads, Henry Edwards as Gabriel, Malcolm Cherry as Farmer Boldwood, and Campbell Gullan as Sgt. Troy. The film was directed by Turner’s friend Laurence Trimble.
I am eager to see this version. It was filmed just 40 years after the novel was published and the story was not filmed again for another 52 years! Reportedly, the film made every effort to reproduce the spirit of Hardy’s famed Wessex setting.
No word on where the film is, if it still exists at all. In the meantime, do read the novel. It is in the public domain even! If you just aren’t in a reading mood, check out the 1967 film version (it’s pretty swell) or wait a year as there is a new version being filmed, as of this writing, with Carey Mulligan starring as Bathsheba.