Brennan of the Moor, an Irish film for St. Patty's Day


Brennan of the MoorBrennan of the Moor

I was out of the country for Saint Patty's Day, but I want to post some information here about a film Tom Meyers of the Fort Lee Film Commission celebrated on St. Patrick's Day: The three-reeler Brennan of the Moor, produced by Alice Guy for Solax and directed by Edward Warren.

According to Solax’s advertising, Barney Gilmore was a well-known Irish stage actor.  Dublin Dan was billed as an “Irish” story, with Dan as a member of the FBI chasing down a group of counterfeiters, who in the process falls in love with Rosalie (Blanche Cornwall), the ward of the villain, whom he has to rescue from kidnappers. The film has some interesting touches like an entrance to a counterfeiter’s den hidden behind a painting.  The visual style, especially the slow rhythm of the performances, the “early noir” quality of the depictions of the criminals show that the serials of Feuillade might have been an inspiration.  One of the criminals is played by Lee Beggs, and an old woman in the group is played by Mrs. Hurley.  The film has some excellent lighting setups and high production value and was marketed with an elaborate color poster.

            A long and detailed interview with  “Madame Blaché” appeared in the May 17, 1913 issue of The Moving Picture World.  One of the striking things about this article is that the journalist compares the Solax production – written and directed by Alice Guy – of Dick Whttington and his Cat to Les Misérables, and Quo Vadis.  In the interview, Guy describes the preparation for two of Solax’s upcoming features:


            In a talk on this subject with Madame Blaché, president and manager of production of the Solax Company, and herself the producer of features like “Fra Diavolo,” “Dick Whittington and His Cat,” and a few others said: “Besides an expenditure of large sums of money, the production of a feature means weeks of tedious preparation and research.  Before a single foot of film was taken, “Dick Whittington and his Cat” consumed five weeks of my time and the time of my staff.  Our coming feature with the famous Barney Gilmore in the leading role, “Kelly from the Emerald Isle,” was produced after six weeks of preliminary work.  There were consultations with the director, with Mr. Gilmore, with the author of the scenario, and with the scenic artists.  After the scenario was finally in shape, it was beyond the recognition of the author.  Then followed the routine work of sketching costumes for the costumers, of laying out plans and sketches of sets, of going the rounds for props and incidentals, and finishing touches.  Mr. Gilmore’s friends in the old country were of considerable assistance.  They sent over a trunk full of stuff for atmosphere and local color. The sheebeens (country taverns of Ireland), Irish sitting-rooms, and dwellings and furnishings for those sets were secured with considerable difficulty.

            There are several scenes in the production which are genuinely thrilling.  In one, Kelly, and his sweetheart clinging to his neck, is seen climbing down a declivity several hundred feet deep.  Another scene shows Kelly escaping death by jumping on the cow-catcher of a train going at full speed.  There is also a spectacular destruction of a hut by gunpowder and dynamite. (The Moving Picture World, Vol. XVI, No. 7,  May 17, 1913 p. 711)

            This article not only indicates that Guy was considered by the trade press as a skilled director and producer of feature-length films, it also shows that Guy was perfectly aware of every element required to make a “blockbuster”: action, intrique, exotic locations, thrills, some of which were achieved with special effects, and last but not least, stars.

You can see the film here. Unfortunately, this copy has subtitles in Dutch: