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The Short Films of Norma Talmadge, 1910: Reviews

Love of Chrysanthemum
In Neighboring Kingdoms
(with viewing comments)
A Dixie Mother

Love of Chrysanthemum

Released May 28, 1910. Vitagaph. Director: Van Dyke Brooke. Cast: Norma Talmadge, Maurice Costello. 990 ft. A copy of this film is located at the National Film and Television Archive in London (35 mm.)

Review from Moving Picture World, June 11, 1910

Love of Chrysanthemum" Vitagraph).-A Japanese play with picturesque Japanese setting and acted by a Japanese company. It is the heart story of a poor, deceived Japanese girl, a tender little love plant, married to a wealthy ma many years her senior whom she does not love at all. When an American appears and makes love to her she believes him implicitly and finds great joy in her new experience. But it is short lived and she speedily discovers that he was only fooling her. Heartbroken, she kills herself as the only means of escape from an intolerable existence. The principal attraction of the picture lies in the reproduction of Japanese life and scenery by Japanese actors and in a real Japanese setting. It will arouse the emotions of the audience quite as strongly as "Madame Butterfly" arouses the emotions and one will not be able to forget the impression. It is one of those bits taken from life which are much too real for ones piece [sic] of mind and which not infrequently arouse one's emotions more than the speaking drama does. With acting far above the ordinary, with staging as accurate as careful study can make it, and with photography of exceptional quality, this picture will rank as one of the best the Vitagraph Company has ever produced. Its popularity will rest upon two features, first, the accurate reproduction of elemental human passion, strikingly embodied in the leading character; second, the Japanese setting is an artistic triump [sic] and will prove unusually attractive to a larger proportion of those who see it.

In Neighboring kingdoms

Released Dec. 27, 1910. Directed by Wm. Humphrey; scenario by Beta Breuil; with Norma Talmadge, John Bunny, Charles Kent. 995 ft. A copy of this film is located at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (35 mm. acetate negative and 16 mm. viewing copy)

Review from Moving Picture World, January 7, 1911

"In Neighboring Kingdoms" (Vitagraph).-Here are those irrepressible youngsters, a prince and princess in neighboring kingdoms, who refuses to wed as their fathers wish. They run away, assume disguises, meet, fall in love, but can't marry, because each tells the other that he or she is of royal blood. Then they relent and decide to accede to their fathers' wishes, only to discover upon the wedding day that they love each other after all. While the picture is not particularly striking, it has more interest than some of this type, because it depicts what two young people might really do under similar circumstances.

Viewing comments

A cute film with a good part for the young Norma Talmadge. She is not rally much of an actress yet, but she obviously has fun making faces, and the film gives her ample opportunity. Bunny doesn't have much to do in this film. The man playing the prince is not credited, and i didn't recognize him.
Print viewed: 16 mm Reel at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

A Dixie Mother

Released Dec. 31, 1910. Vitagraph Director: Van Dyke Brooke. Cast: Florence Turner, Carlyle Blackwell, Charles Kent, NT, Mary Maurice. 1 reel. A copy of this film is available at the National Film and Television Museum in London (35 mm.)

Review from Moving Picture World, December 31, 1910

"A Dixie Mother" (Vitagraph).-A story of the Civil War embodying all the most important sentiments, the love of country, the love of home, the love of mother and the love of wife. It is a somewhat complicated story, involving the death of a young Southern man at the hands of a party of Union soldiers, and the love of a Union officer for the sister of the slain man and the marriage of a brother of the slain man with a Northern girl and the parents' refusal to be reconciled to the North and the changes that war wrought in their family. The picture contains many elaborate dramatic scenes, but the most affecting are those were the mother receives a letter that the son is coming home with his Northern wife, which is followed by the father's refusal to see them. But the cradle and the knowledge that there is a grandson to fill it softens his heart, and in one of the most touching scenes ever put on a motion picture screen the family is reunited, and, as the little one grasps the flag all the sentiments stated at the beginning are so strongly depicted, that they make an impression which leaves scarcely a dry eye in the audience. The Vitagraph people have achieved as success well worth while bragging about in this production. It would be difficult to improve upon it.

Article from Moving Picture world, November 26, 1910


A Noteworthy Life Portrayal. Is it to be The Photoplay of the Year? Dame Rumor informed us that a photoplay had been lately produced by the Vitagraph company which all who had seen it referred to as the best and strongest play of the year. As this is a lofty term to apply to a photoplay which had not yet been submitted to that inexorable censor, the public, a World reviewer begged for a private view which was graciously accorded. Whether "A Dixie Mother" will live up to advance opinion it deserves to be called great. It will easily take a high position among dramas of the year because of its many fine qualities, and it deserves praise because plays of that sort answer captious criticism, and many like them would do away with censorship altogether. The fact that it is evenly balanced in the requisites of success makes it difficult to say whether it excels in inspiration, in acting or in scenic effect, but it may safely be pronounced eminent in each respect.

Very few dramatists and still fewer novelists have successfully depicted the American woman as she really is. She is so complex that she evades analysis. In "A Dixie Mother," however, she is a pure type. It would be difficult to name a nobler type of American woman than the Southern wife and mother during the Civil War. Northern mothers made equally noble sacrifices during the war, but, after it was all over, the sad burden of defeat fell on the shoulders of her Southern sister. The sentiment of the picture hovers around this beautiful central figure and is clearly shown in nearly every one of he many stirring and affecting scenes, scenes true to life.

"A Dixie Mother is strong as a character portrayal. The central character is not a forced one. Only once does the enraged mother show a strain of tigerish ferocity, when she picks out the man who killed her youngest son almost before her eyes. The rest of the portrayal is one of fortitude, great courage under affliction, depravation and danger. Her eldest son is wounded and taken prisoner, her despairing husband is also terribly wounded, she has a helpless household on her hands, but she is neither.

After the war is over, the Dixie mother is a gentle creature and shows another kind of fortitude in the patient way that she confronts hardship and privation. There is no change in her enduring affection for her family, but her husband refuses to become reconciled to a union of the North and the South that has produced a new generation. The new generation is typified by her eldest son's baby waving the old flag. Heartbroken over this after-hatred, the mother begs and entreats in vain. Then her proud spirit breaks at last. She is on the verge of mental dissolution and death when her irreconcilable husband relents. When he does yield, it is by no half-measure. He surrenders to the new generation with such old-time chivalry that we smile through our tears.

"The Dixie Mother" is a master stroke of genius. This kind of a picture will be far reaching in its influence and a popular one for the South and of especial interest to the whole country. We are not alone n these opinions and inform the trade that they may not miss this wonderful "Life Portrayal."

[Omitted, three photos labeled: Scenes from "A Dixie Mother." (Vitagraph). One of a woman with two wounded men, has caption: 'One son dead, the other wounded, the Dixie mother never falters." Second picture shows a woman behind a man with epaulettes with caption: "Placing a sword in the hand of her eldest son she sends him forth." The third picture shows a woman and man being married outdoors in a military camp, the man is wounded and seated on a cot. The caption: "The Southern soldier loves and marries his Northern nurse."

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Last revised, November 29, 2008

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