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Captivating Mary Carstairs (1915)

Captivating Mary Carstairs (1915) National Film Corp. Directed by Bruce Mitchell, Scenario by Anthony W. Coldewey. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Alan Forrest, Bruce Mitchell, Jack Livingston, Frank Brown, Constance Talmadge. Comedy in which a father, who hasn't seen his daughter since he separated from her mother, hires a youth to kidnap her, but the youth falls in love with her in the process. 5 or 6 reels. This film is LOST

This lost film was Norma Talmadge's first starring feature role, and her first film after leaving Vitagraph. According to Anita Loos, Norma signed with National Pictures for four features at $400 a week and four first class train tickets to Hollywood for herself and her family. But National lacked capital and know how, and the background, settings, and costumes were cheap, and even the lighting was bad. There doesn't appear to have been much money spent promoting the film, either, since no reviews appeared in the major trade publications. An ad did appear in Moving Picture World of July 10, 1915, optimistically referring to Talmadge as "the international darling."

Seeing that National was not going to be a successful venture, Norma got out of her contract, and she and sister Constance looked for work at the Hollywood studios of Triangle, where both were quickly signed.

The film was re-edited and re-released in 1920, but no prints are known to survive from either version. The following short news items are among the few that appeared about this mysterious film.

New York Dramatic Mirror, September 8, 1915, p. 32

"Captivating Mary Carstairs," the first six-reel feature production of the new National Film Corporation was shown at a private run at the Hollywood Theater on the night of August 27 after the completion of the regular performance. Many well-known thespians were present and round of applause greeted the work of Norma Talmadge, Allen Forest and Bruce Mitchell.

Moving Picture World, August 21, 1915

Bruce Mitchell is directing the first dramatic feature to be released by the National Film Corporation. "Captivating Mary Carstairs," adapted to the screen by A.W. Coldewey from the book of that name by Henry Sydnor Harrison, author of "Queed." In this story of five reel Miss Talmadge, who recently arrived in Los Angeles from New York to enter on a two-year contract with the National, is being featured along with Mr. Mitchell. Other prominent photoplayers in the cast are Allen Forrest and Jack Livingston, both of whom have been retained permanently by the National.

Moving Picture World, April 10, 1920

"Captivating Mary Carstairs" announced for early release"

Captivating Mary Carstairs, the Norma Talmadge picture made by the National Film Corporation, and which this company announced it would reissue, is now being put through the final stages to make it ready for market. The film has been re-edited and is now being retitled. New prints only will be distributed. A new set of lobby displays, posters and other advertising matter will be available.

"'Captivating Mary Carstairs' will be a big money maker for state rights buyers," says Joe Brandt, eastern representative for National, "as it features a popular feminine star in a splendidly photographed Bruce Mitchell production. The story is by Henry Sydnor Harrison, the novelist."

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Last revised, August 5, 2007