Lost Film: The Village Blacksmith

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  • Directed by: John Ford (then known as Jack Ford)
  • Produced by: William Fox
  • Distributed by: Fox Film Corporation
  • Release Date: November 1922
  • Cast: 
  • Will Walling as John Hammond, Blacksmith (as William Walling)

  • Virginia True Boardman as Mrs. John Hammond

  • Virginia Valli

  •  as Alice Hammond, the Daughter

  • Ida Mae McKenzie as Alice as a Child

  • David Butler as Bill Hammond, the Son

  • Gordon Griffith as Bill as a Child

  • George Hackathorne as Johnnie Hammond, Another Son

  • Francis Ford as Asa Martin

  • Bessie Love as Rosemary Martin, the Daughter

The Village Blacksmith is a silent black and white film that was based off of Henry Wadsworth Lonfellow’s poem The Village Blacksmith. You can find a link to the poem here. This is a lost film and only a portion of the reel has been recovered and it currently remains in the UCLA Film and Television Archive and it is currently part of the public domain.  Below is a link to the remaining video of the Village Blacksmith. 

Below is a summary of film, as described by AFI:

In a prolog, Johnnie, one of the village blacksmith’s two sons, falls from a tree that Anson Brigham, the squire’s son, had dared him to climb and is crippled. The squire is an enemy of the blacksmith, who married the woman the squire loved. The main story shows the children grown up. Bill, the other son, has become a doctor, and Alice, the daughter, is having an affair with the squire’s son, who has just returned from college. Bill is injured in a train accident, and Alice, accused of stealing some money belonging to the church, tries to commit suicide. The blacksmith rescues Alice; the elder brother recovers and successfully operates on Johnnie’s legs, and the film ends happily. 

This is a picture of Betty Love in a New York Tribune on Sunday Nov. 19, 1922 advertising for the film. Betty Love plays the role of the Rosemary Martin. 

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Below is a picture of Virginia Valli who plays the role of Alice Hammond, the daughter of the blacksmith, in the New York Tribune, the following week, on Sunday Nov. 26, 1922.

 

ImageBoth adverts above, and the one below advertise the Village Blacksmith to be shown at the Fouty-Fourth Street Theater. The below advert is taken from the Evening World on Wednesday November 22, 1922. 

ImageThe Below 2 pictures are screen shots of reviews of the film taken from the news papers of that time. The first is a review of the film from the New York Tribune on Sunday Nov. 4, 1992 and the following is a review from the Evening Tribune on Friday, Nov. 3, 1922, written by Don Allen. 

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Lastly below is the registration of the copyright for The Village Blacksmith, taken from the Catalogue of Copyright Entries in 1923.

ImageThis film was released in 1922 in New York and then more widely in January of 1923 and was initially perceived as a hit, playing to all the emotions with masterful direction and story telling. There are few interesting facts to note about the Director, John Ford. Initially known as Jack Ford, Ford changed his name to John Ford in 1923, around the same time as the release of this film. This officially marked the end of Ford’s apprenticeship in the industry and moved on to directing for Fox and created thirty-one films from 1921-1931 with one of the first ones being the Village Blacksmith. This film helped Jack Ford become the famous John Ford, showcasing his talents before moving on to western style films. Additionally, Ford grew up in Portland, which is also the birthplace of the write of the poem, The Village Blacksmith, Lonfellow. 

Works Cited Links:

http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/AbbrView.aspx?s=&Movie=13027

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1922-11-26/ed-1/seq-50.pdf

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1922-11-19/ed-1/seq-50.pdf

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030193/1922-11-03/ed-1/seq-23.pdf

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030193/1922-11-22/ed-1/seq-18.pdf

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1922-11-04/ed-1/seq-8.pdf

http://tinyurl.com/villageblacksmith-CCE

http://tinyurl.com/JF-BioBib

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