H. M. Horkheimer’s Brain-Child: The Red Circle
January 16*: The Moving Picture World (“Horkheimer on the Job”): Will M. Ritchey, chief scenario editor, advised H. M. Horkheimer that Ritchey was winding up the scripts for “The Red Circle,” the detective serial which Balboa is giving to the screen, via Pathé’s releasing agency. The original idea for this series came from H. M. Horkheimer himself.
*[N.B: In this same article, it is explained that H. O. Stechhan, the publicity chief, submitted to Horkheimer the scrapbook which is identified on this website as Press Clippings, vol. 1, housed today at the Historical Society of Long Beach. Although on the job only six months in January 1916, Stechhan succeeded in getting the name of Balboa into many publications that had never before shown any particular interest in motion pictures.]
The Strongest Links at Balboa
January 16 continues: The Moving Picture World (“Horkheimer on the Job”): Among the strongest links in the Balboa organization are the Brothertons. Two of them have charge of departments. Robert or “Bob” is the head of the laboratory; while a sister, May, presides over the assembly room. To the expert work of these much of the finish of Balboa pictures as they appear on the screen is due.
William Beckway, head cameraman; John Wyse, stage manager; James W. Loy, superintendent of construction; W. T. Kearns, electrical chief,; Roy Frechette, master scenic artist, and P. V. Wall, custodian of properties, all submitted detailed reports of their respective departments.
The men who actually make the productions–the directors and cinematographers–also called at the little office in response to “H. M.’s” summons. Bertram Bracken, dean of directors; Harry Harvey, Sherwood MacDonald and Henry King outlined what they have put on since August; while Joe Brotherton, George Rizard and Roland Groom spoke of their camera triumphs and troubles.
Executive reports were made to President Horkheimer by R. R. Rockett and E. J. Moore. The former has charge of the Balboa office force and routine, while acting as private secretary to Mr. Horkheimer, at the same time. Mr. Moore is the company auditor. Both of these departments were found in ship-shape condition.
Financial Advisor for Balboa: “Pleased with Balboa’s Progress”
January 16 continues: The Moving Picture World (“Horkheimer on the Job”): With all this information at his command, President Horkheimer met with R. G. Judkins, head of the First National Bank of Long Beach. Ever since its inception two years ago, Mr. Judkins has been the financial adviser of the Balboa company. Success has been due in a large measure to the manner in which his counsel has been followed. Mr. Horkheimer outlined his plans for the ensuing year and they were strongly approved by Mr. Judkins. He was particularly pleased with Balboa’s progress in the very recent past.
“The future looks good to Balboa,” said H. M. Horkheimer in speaking of the trade outlook. “Without telling any secrets, I can say that there are several big consolidations under way, which may culminate almost any day now. Two of the old line film producers** have offered to join with Balboa. They recognize the need of new blood and seem to have picked us as the psychological people to save them from wrecking.”
**[N.B.: 1916 was a pivotal year in the American film industry, theretofore dominated by the old guard companies of Chicago and New York, but by 1916, California was fast becoming the new national film capital. Moreover, the Edison trust had been challenged and defeated in the courts by independent filmmakers in 1915. Of the old guard in 1916, only Vitagraph, Essanay and Pathé showed signs of surviving the powerful and vastly expanding newer companies. As for Pathé, it was saved from oblivion in large part due to the enormous success of its serials with popular Pearl White and Ruth Roland. Regarding Horkheimer’s remark above, one of the two “old line film producers” that decided to join with Balboa was Knickerbocker Star Films.]
Hotel Virginia Ball: Tableaux Vivants
March: The Moving Picture World (“Balboa Stars Shine at Hotel Virginia Ball”)
“One Hundred Horkheimer Players Attend Annual society Festival of Famous Long Beach Hostelry”: One of the most successful society events in Southland this season was the annual Ball at the Hotel Virginia, Friday evening, February 11.
By courtesy of President H. M. Horkheimer of the Balboa Company, three magnificent “Tableaux Vivants” were put on by the Balboa players. The first of these tableaux was called the “War of the Nations,” in which was represented all the crowned heads of the belligerents. The second tableau was a scene from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the third living picture visualized the “Spirit of ’76.” As a grand finale the “Spirit of 1916” was charmingly portrayed by dainty Miss Ruth Roland.
More than one hundred Balboa players took part in these tableaux, which were staged by Business Manager Norman Manning and costumed from the wardrobes of the Balboa Company.
The players in the picture (not available) from left to right are–first row: Makato Inokuchi (Emperor of Japan), Norman Manning (Punchinello), Daniel Gilfether (Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria), R. Henry Grey (Prince Mirko of Bulgaria), Charles Dudley (Abraham Lincoln), Corenne Grant (Pocahontas), Henry Stanley (Hans Brinker), R. R. Rockett (Uncle Sam), Frank Erlanger (Victor Emanuel, King of italy), Andrew Arbuckle (Little Eva).
Second row (photo not available): Harry Harvey (Captain Courtesy), Reaves Eason (clown), Ruth White (Spanish girl), Joyce Moore (“Red Circle” girl), Frank Mayo (the Roumanian crown prince), Philo McCullough (Grand Duke Sergius of Russia), Bruce Smith (Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany), Henry King (Balboa), Bert Ensminger (Magyar noble), Gordon Sackville (Albert, King of Belgium).
After the ball was over a supper dance was given for the Balboa people. Manager Nestle of the Virginia Hotel said that this was the most successful affair ever held at the hotel.
One of the Biggest Sets
April 29: The Moving Picture World: One of the biggest sets ever erected on a stage was put up by James Loy, Balboa’s carpenter-in-chief, for the production of “Sultana,” a Balboa feature in which Ruth Roland and William Conklin are featured. The set was so large that the cameras had to be placed two hundred feet away to get all of the construction into the picture.
Little Mary Sunshine and Pete the Bear
Released March 3: This movie started a world-wide campaign promoting better films for children, and this photoplay was used as an example by many groups, including the women’s clubs of America. Most importantly, the “Mary Sunshine” series at Balboa became the forerunner of the “family film” genre that would follow, with tiny tots like Jackie Coogan, Baby Peggy, and later Shirley Temple–all of whom would also share their leading roles with adult actors. This movie not only launched Baby Marie into global stardom, it also broke all records for five-reel photoplays. Pathé immediately contracted with Balboa to do a total of six features in the “Mary Sunshine” series, with Henry King directing. In addition, this series made Henry King world-famous as a director.
Pete the Bear, appearing in the photo, bottom right, was a valuable asset to Balboa, a claim supported by the following publicity about the studio’s failed attempt to buy life insurance among American companies for Pete. It is still not known whether Pete was eventually insured by Lloyds of London:
Many Pathé Hits Made by Balboa
September 16: The Moving Picture World (“Many Pathé Successes Made by Balboa”); “Something About That Enterprising Concern and the Three Directors (Henry King; Harry Harvey; Sherwood MacDonald) Who Made the Pictures”: The Balboa Company is among the best known of the companies which J. A. Berst, vice-president and general manager of Pathé, has assembled under the title “Producers of Gold Rooster Plays.” Three years ago, when Pathé was still releasing through the General Film Mr. Berst purchased from H. M. Horkheimer some of the very first photoplays which had been made under the Balboa mark. Since that time Balboa pictures have been almost continously upon the Pathé program. Nor has the Horkheimer work upon Pathé serials, such as “Who Pays?” “Neal of the Navy,” “The Red Circle” and “The Grip of Evil,” interfered with their production of a number of Gold Rooster plays. “Comrade John,” “Little Mary Sunshine” and “A Matrimonial Martyr” are a few of the titles. Of these “Little Mary Sunshine” is worthy of more than passing notice, since it has played to capacity business everywhere and has been heralded as a truly unusual picture.
Pathé’s Holiday Attractions
December 16: The Moving Picture World (“Pathé Has Fine List of Holiday Attractions”): Now is the time for exhibitors to figure carefully on the extra features which they are going to show during the holiday season. For their convenience, Pathé has drawn up a list of subjects which have proven valuable. On all of them, Pathé Exchanges have an extensive supply of advertising matter, furnished at the regular rate.
December 16 (continues): The Moving Picture World (“Pathé Has Fine List of Holiday Attractions”): Scheduled for release on December 3, “The Life of Our Saviour,” in seven reels, Pathé colored, is now ready for exhibitors. This is the great Passion Play in picture, as big as the Passion Plays of old, which has proven so popular among exhibitors that the prints were all worn out and new ones have been made. In addition to the new prints, a new supply of advertising matter is on hand and “The Life of Our Saviour” is Pathé’s leader for the holidays.
Other holiday offerings are as follows (N.B., 5 of the 14 recommendations were produced by Balboa, those in bold letters):
- “Esther,” 3 reels, Biblical drama.
- “Joseph’s Trials in Egypt,” 3 reels, hand-colored drama.
- “A Rose Among the Briars,” 3 reels, hand-colored drama, featuring Jackie Saunders.
- “Adventures of a Madcap,” 4 reels, hand-colored drama, featuring Jackie Saunders.
- “Queen Margaret,” 5 reels, hand-colored historical drama.
- “Pro Patria,” 6 reels, hand-colored historical drama.
- “Hazel Kirke,” 5 reels, heart interest drama, featuring Pearl White and Bruce McRae.
- “Shrine of Happiness,” 5 reels, hand-colored drama, featuring Jackie Saunders and Paul Gilmore.
- “Beloved Vagabond,” 6 reels, hand-colored drama, featuring Edwin Arden and Bliss Milford.
- “Little Mary Sunshine,” 5 reels, hand-colored drama, featuring Baby Marie Osborne and Henry King.
- “The Shadows of Her Past,” 5 reels, drama, featuring Lina Cavaliera and Lucien Muratore.
- “The Shrine Girl,” 5 reels, heart interest drama, featuring Gladys Hulette.
- “Prudence, the Pirate,” 5 reels, comedy drama, featuring Gladys Hulette.
- “Shadows and Sunshine,” 5 reels, comedy drama, featuring Baby Marie Osborne.