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Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Vitagraph Company of America
advertises three new films,
From Shadow to Sunshine, Elektra
and The Conqueror,
to be released on 5, 8 and 9 April 1910 respectively


a advertisement for The Vitagraph Company of America
with a photograph of Mary Fuller (1888-1973) as Orestes in Elektra,
which also featured Maurice Costello

(from The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 2 April 1910, p. 19b)

'From Shadow to Sunshine (Vitagraph, April 5 [1910]). - No one can deny the affecting qualities of this picture. The story is extremely simple in its plot - simple as a child's story, but it is natural and unstrained, and appeals to the cockles of the heart with a strength that leaves few dry eyes in the house during and after the telling. There was an astonishing blast of snuffling noses at the Union Square [New York] when this reviewer witness the film, and the spectators were mostly men at the time, too. The story runs smoothly, as all immensely ''goody-good'' stories should. A young girl working extra in a dramatic stock company has a sick mother and a dependent sister. She is late for the performances, and is warned that she will be discharged. The leading man sees her crying back of the scenes during the play, and after the ''show'' he learns the reason, interceding and securing her reinstatement. Then he goes home with her, hires a doctor and orders medicine. As a result the poor mother recovers. Years after we see the young actress a prosperous leading lady, and the actor down and out from the results of a physical breakdown. He is seeking for work, and at last gets a small part, but is overcome by his weakness and ill-health so that he has to send word that he cannot report for rehearsal. The leading woman is told of the sudden failure of a no-account actor to appear. The name is familiar to her, and she remembers. She hurries to his room, even as he had gone to her own poor, little home in the past, and in the lst scene we see him convalescent and rejuvenated, reaping the good seed that he had sown in his prosperous days. Too ''goody-good'' to be true to life? Perhaps, but this reviewer is not ashamed to say that he likes it in every one of its touching and unaffected scenes.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, Saturday, 16 April 1910, p. 17c)

'Elektra (Vitagraph, April 8 [1910]. - In this truly powerful subject the Vitagraph producers have given us a masterpiece. The splendid settings, the perfectly clear adaptation of the tragic plot, the smoothness of the stage-management, and the convincing acting, terribly intense in its expression, without being overdone, combine to make the film probably the most notable one the Vitagraph Company has ever issued. The film shows Agamemnon returning victorious from a foreign war and bringing back Cassandra as a slave. His infatuation for her enables Aegisthus, the lover of Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra, to work upon the latter's jealousy until she is induced to murder her husband. The dead man's children now enter to mourn over the deal and Elektra [played by Mary Fuller], the daughter, and Orestes, the young son, vow revenge. Ten years are now supposed to elapse and Elektra is a crazed outcast, while Orestes is returning from exile in secret. Joining his sister, he is armed by her with the very axe that had been used in the murder of their father. With this weapon he seeks out first the murderess and then her accomplice, both of whom he kills. Elektra follows his movements, displaying her maniacal joy over the executions and in an ecstasy of delight dances and laughs until she falls over dead. The part of Elektra is a fine piece of work, and Orestes and Clytemnestra are also admirably presented. Indeed, every part is well taken. The tragic scenes are most skilfully handled, so that their gruesome character is well concealed without weakening the tragic power of the situations.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 16 April 1910, p. 19a). For one of M.J. Moriarty's Movie Stars playing cards with a portrait of Mary Fuller, issued in the United States in 1916, see

'The Conqueror (Vitagraph, April 9 [1910]). - We have in this picture another story of the ''happy ending'' class that roves wonderfully effective in the sympathetic interest it arouses. There is one scene that appears a cheap subterfuge for advancing the prospects of the hero, the scene where a fire is introduced to give him the opportunity to save a child's life and thus gain a good job and a chance to redeem himself. Some less trite incident should have been chosen. It is the story of a country youth who goes to the city to make his fortune, but only succeeds in missing it by idleness and dissipation, although he writes home glowing letters of success. Finally he starts home, a ragged ''bum,'' beating his way on a freight train, and arriving at his old home at night. Looking in the window, he hears his father and mother praying for his welfare, and it so impresses him that he resolves to go back to the city and try again. Now comes the fire, referred to, the rescue, the offer of the job and, finally, his promotion to the position of manager, followed by his return to visit the old folks at home in a condition that makes them justly proud of their boy. The acting throughout shows intelligent care to maintain absolute naturalness in every movement. It is this quality that makes the picture so strongly effective and interesting.'
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 16 April 1910, p. 17c)

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© John Culme, 2009