Clara Kimball Young home

The Claw (1918)

The Claw (1918) C.K.Y. Film Corp. Distributor: Select Pictures Corp.; A Select Star Picture. Presenter: Clara Kimball Young. Director: Robert G. Vignola. Scenario: Charles E. Whittaker. Camera: Louis J. Physioc. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Milton Sills, Henry Woodward, Mary Marsch, Jack Holt, E.M. Kimball, Marcia Manon. 5 reels. This film is apparently LOST

Clara Kimball Young on a horse in the Claw A still from the film Thanks to Jane from the Historical Ziegfeld site for this photo
Click thumbnail for a larger image.

Still Photo on The Silent Film Still Archive

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, June 14, 1918

The Claw
Mary Saurin Clara Kimball Young
Anthony Kinsella Milton Sills
Richard Saurin Henry Woodward
Judy Saurin Mary Mersch
Mrs. Valetta Marcia Manon
Maurice Stair Jack Holt
Postmaster E.M. Kimball

Clara Kimball Young is found in the midst of weird surroundings in this Select feature, the story of which is interesting in spite of the lurid imagination of its author. It is set in the South Africa veldt in and around a small settlement presided over, presumably by a resident British commissioner.

Mary Saurin, an English girl, goes to visit brother Dick, the commissioner of this isolated place. Visiting them also is a Mrs. Valetta, while close by lives Maurice Stair, the assistant commissioner. There is, too, Major Kinsella, who appears to be the most important individual in the community. He is known as "Kim," and for some strange reason wears earrings. Otherwise he is a regular person.

Mrs. Valetta is much smitten with Kim, who doesn't reciprocate, but he almost immediately falls in love with Mary, and they become engaged. Stair, too, falls in love with Mary. An uprising of the natives is whispered about and the men of the village are assembled for drilling under Kim. They ride off the meet the savages, who quickly surround the whites and kill off all but Kim, who simulates insanity, knowing that the natives will not kill a demented person, whom they look upon as sacred.

At the start of the fight, Stair proves a coward and succeeds in making an escape. He tells those in the village that all have been killed save himself, and brings a message to Mary that it was Kim's last wish that he look after her. He shows her an earring supposed to have been taken from the ear of the "deceased" major.

A few weeks later Mary and Stair are wedded. After the ceremony she discovers the fake and tells Stair that though she will remain with him it must be a marriage in name only, until at some later time when she might learn to develop friendship for him. Stair in repentance agrees to rescue Kim, and that is affected, although Stair is shot by a native and dies upon their return.

There are many improbable points and a number of leads which end nowhere, or is there any attempt to push them to a conclusion. Mary on her way to the village is driven in a cart across the supposed veldt. She is alone, save for the driver, who becomes drunk and right in the midst of a country infested with lions and tigers, he drives his mules off to a "stable" for the night. The man tells her she can come along or remain with the beasts, which she does. Then a flock of lionesses prance around the canvas covered cart, which would be enough to scare any woman. But suddenly Kim comes along and a fire is built, which keeps the jungle cats away.

Whether the inconsistencies were present in the original form as written by Cynthia Stocklen, or whether Clas. E. Whittaker found the job of adapting it to a scenario too tough a proposition, is a matter for conjecture. Miss Young does well as Mary, yet the opportunity for stellar work is not abundant. Milton Sills as Kim creates a likable character. Jack Holt as the cowardly Stair does good work, while Marcia Manon gives an excellent impression as Mrs. Valetta. Robert C. Vignola no doubt had his hands full in directing "The Claw," and in spite of the technical defects, has maintained the interest. Louis J. Physioc's camera work was commendable save in some of the night scenes.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

June 22, 1918

Clara Kimball Young Stars in Well Produced Select Picture of South African Life
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

Stories of South African life written by Cynthia Steckley are always correct as to detail. "The "Claw" is one of this author's most interesting novels, and the five-part screen version produced by Select, with Clara Kimball Young as the heroine, has been skillfully directed by Robert G. Vignola. The scenes in the book showing Mary Saurin's life in London and her first meeting with Major Kinsella, the hero, are left out of the screen version, the picture opening with the heroine traveling across the South African veldt in a cart driven by a drunken driver. She is rescued from danger by Kinsella, and when she joins her brother in Fort George becomes the belle of the post.

Stair, the resident commissioner at Fort George, is smitten by Mary and makes up his mind to cut out the Major at any cost. An uprising of the blacks sends Kinsella and Stair on the warpath after them. Stair runs away after the battle begins and Kinsella is captured by the natives. By making the blacks think he is crazy he avoids being put to death. Stair goes back to Fort George, tells Mary that Kinsella has been killed and prevails upon her to marry him. News is finally brought that the Major is a prisoner, goes to his rescue, is fatally wounded and dies in Mary's arms, after reaching Fort George with Kinsella.

The human interest is carried along cleverly. "The Claw" will not rank among the most dramatic of the Clara Kimball Young pictures, but its atmosphere will please. The part of Mary Saurin has few strong scenes and the star is not severely taxed by it. She dresses becomingly and makes the most of her opportunities. Milton Sills is manly and convincing as Major Kinsella, Henry Woodward, Mary Mersch, Marcia Manon, Jack Holt and E.M. Kimball complete the excellent cast. Louis J. Physioc had charge of the photography.

July 6 1918

Clara Kimball Young Presents Herself and Her Own Company in a Picturization of Cynthia Stockley's Novel of the Same Title.


Mary Saurin Clara Kimball Young
Anthony Kinsella Milton Sills
Richard Saurin Henry Woodward
Judy Saurin Mary Mersch
Mrs. Valetta Marcia Manon
Maurice Stair Jack Holt
Postmaster E.M. Kimball
Directed by Robert G. Vignola

The Story: The action of the tale takes place in South Africa. Mary Saurin is left in the road by a drunken stage coach driver. She hears lions nearby. Her shot brings to her assistance Major Anthony Kinsella, who wears earrings. Mary is on her way to Fort George to meet her brother Dick. Kinsella follows to protect her. When the natives rebel, Kinsella, Dick, and Maurice Stair, the resident commissioner, who is smitten by the charms of Mary, ride off at the head of the British troops. Stair returns some days later with the news that the entire troop has been wiped out, and that Kinsella's dying wish was to have him (Stair) marry Mary in order that she might be well taken care of. To dispel her doubts, Stair shows Mary an earring which he declares Kinsella sent her. But after their marriage Mary learns of Stair's cowardice, and she leaves him. She hears that Kinsella is kept prisoner in the mountains by Stair. Realizing his infamy, Stair releases Kinsella, and is forgiven by Mary. Kinsella and Mary find happiness together.

Feature Clara Kimball Young as Mary Saurin and Milton Sills as Anthony Kinsella.

Program and Advertising Phrases: Superb Screen Queen Charms Man and Beast in Exciting Drama of the African Veldt.
Absorbingly Dramatic Portrayals of Intensely Emotional Role.
Beauty's Charms Soothes the Savage Breast of Man and Beast.
Intensely Dramatic Story Replete With Thrills and Excitement.
Superb Dramatic Performance in Thrilling Story of Darkest Africa.
Famous Screen Queen Has Most Dramatic Role in her Career.

Stunt Suggestions: Get your jewelers to display earrings with a card, "Earrings for men. If you don't believe that men wear them see "The Claw," Clara Kimball Young's newest production, at (house and date)." Play up the star rather than the picture, using as much portrait paper as possible.

Advertising Aids: Two one-sheets, two three-sheets, one six-sheet, one 24-sheeet. Window cards, 14x21. Heralds. Lobby display photographs, 8x10, 11x14, 22x28. Slides. Cuts, two one-column, two two-column cut of star, and one one-column and one two-column cuts of star. Released in June.

Back to Filmography
Back to Clara Kimball Young Home

Last revised March 15, 2009