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The Birth of a Man

(Synopsis drawn from Balboa Films 204):

Five reel drama. Balboa Amusement Producing Co.; Celebrated Players Film Co., Made for B. S. Moss Motion Picture Corp., released, Apr. 1916, by State Rights. Cast:  Henry Walthall, Joyce Moore, Henry Stanley, Jay Herman, Dick Johnson, William Reed, William Sheer.

Commentary: According to The American Film Institute Catalog, this movie was made earlier at Balboa Studios. Henry Walthall walked out Mar. 13, 1915 from his Balboa contract, heading for Majestic, later to Essanay. One reviewer noted that the movie seemed padded, as if the Balboa film were lengthened to five reels by the Celebrated Players Film Co. It is also possible that the film was released earlier under another title.  The title given here may have been used because Walthall was made famous with the Griffith film entitled The Birth of a Nation (70).

Summary: The American Film Institute Catalog recounts the plot as follows:

A millionaire, who has only contempt for the poor, is robbed and left in a burning barn in the country. He escapes, wanders in the hills for days and then returns to the city unshaven and tattered. He goes to his friends for help, but they cannot recognize him. When his servants refuse to admit him into his own home, he decides to break in, assisted by a poor man who had given him food. Once inside, the millionaire shaves and changes into his best clothes. He is immediately recognized, but while his appearance is now familiar, his outlook is different. He decides to devote his life to those less fortunate than he, because the poor man who fed him had shown him such kindness. (70)

Birth of a Man with Henry WalthallWalthall in Birth of a Man

Photos courtesy of Bryan Young.

Walthall in Brith of a ManWalthall in Birth of a Man