One of my favorite discoveries of the last few years has been the World Film Company, a Fort Lee, New Jersey concern that produced and/or distributed high quality, entertaining films but has been, in my opinion, unjustly neglected. Let me share some recommendations.
The studio’s star director was Maurice Tourneur. I previously found his pacing to be as dull as his films were gorgeous but his early work at World was much snappier. This list will be quite Tourneur-centric. You have been warned. (And he is the father of Jacques!)
The company was ambitious and, among other things, adapted McTeague to the screen in 1916, years before Erich von Stroheim started production on Greed. Alas, it is considered a lost film.
The Wishing Ring (1914)
This is my perennial go-to recommendation, I love it so. It’s a romantic comedy with likable characters and luscious cinematography. If you want a feel-good film, this is it!
A Girl’s Folly (1917)
A movie about the movies, this picture has everything: pathos, humor, wit and behind the scenes shots of the New Jersey film industry. Screenplay by Frances Marion.
The Heart of a Hero (1916)
This American Revolution picture stumbles over its history but the chemistry between the romantic leads, Gail Kane and Robert Warwick, makes it worth seeing.
Alias Jimmy Valentine (1915)
It plods a bit but this tale of a gangster’s redemption features stunning cinematography and scenes shot inside Sing Sing prison. Yipes!
The Dancer’s Peril (1917)
A curious picture about a Russian ballerina imperiled in Paris. You’ll want to see this for Alice Brady. Have you ever seen her as a leading lady?
The Beloved Blackmailer (1918)
A weaker entry but still well worth seeing. It’s a romantic comedy about a milquetoast whose girlfriend has him kidnapped by pugilists. I’ll be you didn’t predict reading THAT synopsis this fine March morning.
This list is not exhaustive, of course, and is just a selection of six films that I personally think are worth checking out. I hope you give some of these rare treats a shot because I would love to have more fans in the World Film club. If you have your own World favorites, do share them!
I just ordered “A Girl’s Folly” – looks intriguing! Have you seen any Thanhouser films? Jeanne Eagels was in a few, don’t know if available. I saw a couple of Thanhouser films at the Library of Congress years ago; don’t remember what, but interesting.
You can stream a Jeanne Eagels feature from thanhouser.org right here:
I agree, World Film Company made quality films. I have seen stills from “the Face in the Moonlight (1915) starring Robert Warwick; it looks intriguing but the film doesn’t seem to have survived. World Film Company seemed to have had great and lavish sets.
They definitely knew how to make the most of their resources and Tourneur was quite a “get” for them with his cinematography chops.
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