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Womanhood, The Glory of the Nation (1917)

Womanhood, the Glory of the Nation (1917) Vitagraph Co. of America. A Vitagraph Special. Distributor: Greater Vitagraph (V.L.S.E., Inc) Supervisor: J. Stuart Blackton. Producers: J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith. Director: J. Stuart Blackton and William P.S. Earle. Scenario: Helmer W. Bergman. Story: J. Stuart Blackton and Cyrus Townsend Brady. Camera: Clark R. Nickerson. Editor: Albert J. Ohlson. Artistic effects: Ferdinand Earle. Military advisor: Captain George W. Johnston. Pyrotechnician: Herman Rottger. Cast: Alice Joyce, Harry T. Morey, Naomi Childers, Joseph Kilgour, Walter Mcgrail, Mary Maurice, James Morrison, Peggy Hyland, Templar Saxe, Bobby Connelly, Edward Elkas, Bernard Siegel, John Costello, Theodore Roosevelt. 7 reels This film appears to be LOST

Another propaganda epic by J. Stuart Blackton, this film was supposed to be a sequel to the 1914 film The Battle Cry of Peace, and was originally entitled The Battle Cry of War. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were alleged to have appeared in the film. It is reported that the Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Preparedness Society, The American Defense League, the National Security Society and the Navy League had made plans for a nation-wide campaign to make sure that every able-bodied man would see this film.

A newspaper supplement with a picture of a flag-draped Joyce advertising this film. This picture must have been popular because it turns up quite often on Ebay. Thanks to Derek Boothroyd for these scans
Click on the thumbnail for a larger view
A lobby card with unidentified actors
A glass slide advertising the film

A herald for the film, front, back and the inside.

Review from Variety
Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror
Review from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, April 6, 1917

Mary Ward Alice Joyce
Paul Strong Harry T. Morey
Marshal Prince Dario Joseph Kilgour
Count Dario Walter McGrail
Alice Renfrow Peggy Hyland
Philip Ward James Morrison
Jane Strong Naomi Childers
Julia Strong Mary Maurice
Baron Reyva Templar Saxe

In an effort to put out a wonderful photodrama and at the same time an effective and compelling argument for preparedness, Vitagraph in "Womanhood" has overshot the mark, and overplayed the game, thereby weakening the effort as a whole. The scenario by H.W. Bergman, leads itself to plenty of heavy dramatic work, with a love episode an important feature and the hinge on which the development of the plot hangs, but with the memory of other preparedness plays comparatively fresh it is easy to see where the blowing up of fake battleships, and the bombing of trenches, and the lurid glare of burning villages, and the marching and fighting of armies, and the general wreck, ruin and devastation of a campaign of invasion, have had their force lessened by too constant and insistent repetition, and when in an attack by airships of New York the whole lower part of the city is shattered, it seems rather strange that enemy marksmen moving swiftly through the air should be able to spare such notable structures as the Woolworth tower and the big Municipal building. Preparedness is sorely needed, but much stronger arguments can be made for it than "Womanhood" presents. The cast leaves nothing to be desired. Mary Ward, returning from Ruritania to the United States by way of the Orient, learns in Manila that war had been declared, New York stricken, and her mother and sister killed. Paul Strong, in Manila at the time, is called home and he and Mary travel together, he being appointed minister of Energies on his arrival. Count Dario, of Rurtiania, has sought Mary's hand, she had promised him an answer when they meet in New York, not knowing of the war plans, and finds him an officer of the invaders. To help her country she joins forces with the Count, and does valuable services as a spy, but is compelled to witness the shooting of Paul's sister, who had won the title of the "American Joan of Arc." Strongs handling of the country's resources naturally bring about the final victory. Count Dario is shot by his father, the Prince, for disobedience of orders, and with the remnants of the Ruritanian army defeated, practically wiped out, and its big navy destroyed by a new naval war engine called the "firebugs," the love episode between Strong and Mary comes to the conventional happy ending, her brother, Philip, who has been blinded, being taken fond care of by Jane Strong, who had been disfigured in the course of the mixup, and to whom his blindness was a blessing in disguise. It is very doubtful if any who are inclined to disloyalty to the flag will be influenced the other way by the spectacle, any more than the patriotism of the loyal will be enhanced by it. As propaganda of a certain kind it is excellent, but in spite of all its hurrah it leaves a feeling of disappointment that no more powerful argument has been presented for the cause than has been shown along not dissimilar lines many times before.

Review from the New York Dramatic Mirror, April 7 1917


Vitagraph Production Stirs Spectators to High Pitch of Enthusiasm--Speeches Bring Cheers

Militant Spectacle by J. Stuart Blackton and Cyrus Townsend Brady, featuring Alice Joyce and Harry Morey, produced by Grater Vitagraph, Directed by J. Stuart Blackton and W.P.S. Earle. Scenario by Helmar W. Bergman; Photographed by C.R. Nickerson.

Mary Ward Alice Joyce
Paul Strong Mr. Harry T. Morey
Marshal Prince Dario Mr. Joseph Kilgour
Count Dario Mr. Walter McGrail
Alice Renfrow Peggy Hyland
Philip Ward Mr. James Morrison
Jane Strong Naomi Childers
Julia Strong Mary Maurice
Baron Reyva Mr. Templar Saxe
Ortos Mr. Edward Elkas
The Little Boy Bobby Connelly
Carl, the Spy Bernard Siegel
Prime Minister John Costello

"Womanhood: the Glory of the Nation." Greater Vitagraph's militant film spectacle which began an indefinite run at the Broadway Theater, New York, last Sunday night, will be one of the most convincing evidences of the value of motion pictures in a time like the present. It is the most powerful of arguments for preparedness and the least enthusiastic American could scarcely fail to be stirred by the fervor of its patriotic purpose. The producers are to be congratulated upon having, at a vital time, released a spectacle which should aid recruiting and bring home to the people of this country the necessity of preparing against the possibility of alien invasion.

The premiere was an occasion for a patriotic outburst. When J. Stuart Blackton was introduced by Burr McIntosh and gave a rapid-fire talk on preparedness he was applauded to the echo. Burr McIntosh followed with a smashing address, in which pacifist leaders were flayed and the cause of patriotism given a stirring impetus. His speech brought cheers. All this occurred during the intermission.

As a picture "Womanhood" ranks with the best of its kind. It tells of the capture of New York and Philadelphia by a foreign power, whose identity was thinly veiled under the name "Ruritania." An American girl, inspired as was Joan of Arc, aids recruiting and is captured and murdered by the invaders. Her brother becomes Director of Energies and through him, and by the aid of Mary Ward, serving as a spy, the tables are finally turned and the invading army annihilated. The battle scenes are immense; the incidental action vivid, the pathos convincing. Alice Joyce as Mary gives a sympathetic portrayal and Harry Morey presents a powerful characterization in the role of Paul Strong. Naomi Childers is a pathetic and appealing figure as the martyred modern Joan. The others in their respective roles are excellent. The photography is clear throughout and the scenes effective. The direction results in the swift and inspiring development of a story which is fraught with calamitous moments, but which ends with America triumphant, as she must ever be. There is a tone of sincerity to the film which deserves the success it will undoubtedly achieve.


Review from Moving Picture World, April 21, 1917

"Womanhood, the Glory of the Nation"
Powerful and Timely Spectacle by J. Stuart Blackton, Produced by the Greater Vitagraph Company
Reviewed by Louis Reeves Harrison.

"WOMANHOOD" is in very respect a finer example of artistry than "The Battle Cry of Peace," primarily because the story is not continually broken by preachment. The subtitles of great vigor fit naturally into the composition, a harmonious part of it, enhancing rather than destroying interest. With the same obvious purpose in view, "Womanhood" reaches deeper into the sympathies of an audience, and will on that very account make a more profound impression. "The Battle Cry of Peace" was an intellectual argument. "Womanhood" is an inspiring appeal to chivalry, to manhood, to ennobling sentiments which lie deep and strong in the American heart, though almost smothered by material prosperity.

High tension is set up from the start by the elimination of all but essential activities among the main characters, the story scenes flashing along at high speed, with an occasional relief of large assemblies from real life, one intensifying the other in cleverly arranged structure. The unrelaxed grip on emotion is especially valuable in driving home imprinted sentiment--the mind of the spectator is reached through his heart. There is a story continuously and successfully presented in the midst of a grand spectacle.

There is no fault to find with Mr. Blackton's sincerity, none with his structure, none with his treatment; but it becomes quite obvious as the development proceeds that he is actuated largely by a sense of justice and a desire to arouse a fuller conception of the wrongs perpetrated by a mentally cunning and warlike nation--wrongs which may be brought home to us in bitter experience. The motif of the play is involved in a warning to prepare, with only a suggestion as to our deeper motives for entering a world conflict. There is no doubt that our people are deeply moved by the terrible wrong and injustice being done by a powerful autocracy in Europe--the fact that we have sent millions to relieve distress shows how we feel--but we have realized our own impotence, and have held aloof, with a hope that some adjustment might be reached in the European situation without our direct interference.

The Russian revolution has done much to transform our passive attitude into an active one, because the issue is fast becoming that of our own Revolutionary War; the issue of our Civil War. Those are issues we cannot evade, and they are suggested all too mildly in "Womanhood." The great world issue becomes ours when it is clearly defined as that of democracy in opposition to organized tyranny. Here and there, Mr. Blackton makes this point, and whenever he does the audience storms its approval. As it is never to late to add an effective subtitle, he might interpolate that when this Gibraltar of democracy goes into the world war it will stay until there is neither Hohenzollern nor Hapsburg left to break world peace.

There is great power in the presentation of "Womanhood," and it is so timely that it is bound to win wherever adequately shown.

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Last revised February 2, 2014