Pearl of Paradise 1916

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Scene from Pearl of Paradise
Cueva Valdez, Santa Cruz Island, 1916


PEARL OF PARADISE was filmed, in part, on Santa Cruz Island in 1916. This silent film was directed by Harry Pollard (1879-1934). Pollard entered films as an actor in 1912 with the Selig Company, and starred in several silents. He soon turned to directing, which he did for the remainder of his career. He was married to film star, Margarita Fischer, who had the leading role in Pearl of Paradise. Fifty people were stationed at Pelican Bay for the filming, which took place on location at Orizaba Flats, about three miles to the west. Alice, a sixty-foot two-masted schooner from San Diego was hired to assist in the production. Pearl of Paradise was released on November 2, 1916. Copies of the film still exist.

Synopsis: In this strange South Seas tale, John Dellows (Harry Pollard) is washed up onto an island after a shipwreck, where he meets expatriate Spaniard Gomez (Joseph Harris) and his adopted daughter Yulita (Margarita Fisher). Yulita has grown up on the island and although she is unaware of most civilized ways, a romance springs up between her and Dellow. Captain Van Dekken (J. Gordon Russell), who is in charge of Gomez's schooner, wants the girl himself so he kidnaps her after tying up her lover and father and setting their hut on fire. But Yulita escapes, swims ashore and saves Gomez and Dellow. The three of them board the schooner, which is in the harbor, and make their escape from the island. Yulita is the Pearl of Paradise.


HARRY POLLARD: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_A._Pollard



In the News~

March 7, 1916 [TI/Avalon]: “Mr. Pollard representing the World Film Company visited Avalon last week for the purpose of finding locations for a picture his company will make here. After viewing considerable of the island coast he left for Los Angeles where his company is located. The picture entitled Pearl of Paradise will be of five reels and will be a story of the South Sea islands.”


March 17, 1916 [SBMP]: “Pollards come for big island picture. Popular players who left here years ago return on new venture. Harry Pollard and Margarita Fisher (Mrs. Pollard) arrived in Santa Barbara yesterday and with a company of picture players expect to proceed today to Santa Cruz Island...”


March 29, 1916 [SBMP]: “The moving picture actors who have been camping at Pelican Bay, Santa Cruz Island for the past week, will finish their labors this week and return to the southern city. Mr. Pollard was for a long time connected with the American Film Company in this city, and he has many friends here. His company at work on the island numbers twenty-five men and women.”


March 31, 1916 [LAT]: “According to a telephone message received at San Diego last night by M. R. MacKinstry, manager of the Pollard Picture Plays Company of New York, a party of motion picture actors who came from the East about three weeks ago to take part in a large production by Harry Pollard, are in grave danger on Santa Cruz Island, opposite Santa Barbara. Mr. MacKinstry said last night that the party, including about twenty-five members of the company, with Margarita Fischer, the well-known star, left San Diego two weeks ago on the yacht, Ida A, which was chartered for the trip to the island. They were expected to return to this city in about a week, but until last night, nothing was heard from them. The message to Mr. MacKinstry came from the captain of a steamer that arrived in San Diego yesterday. The captain said some of the actors had been injured as a result of a recent storm that struck the island. Mr. MacKinstry left early this morning for Santa Barbara, where he will charter a steamer to rush supplies for the relief of the stricken party.”


April 2, 1916 [LAT]: “Rescuers find players safe. The rescuing party that put out from Santa Barbara for Santa Cruz Island for the relief of Harry Pollard and Margarita Fischer, found that the Pollard picture players had passed through a most harrowing experience during the recent violent equinoctial storm. The company of about thirty members was found encamped on the wild shores of the island on short rations and recuperating from a terrible experience at sea. Mr. Pollard, who is personally directing the production of The Pearl of Paradise, in which Miss Margarita is being featured…”


April 3, 1916 [SBDN]: “Yep, it’s a hard life. Here the good old ship, Sea Wolf, was in port last week to commandeer a cargo of swords and scabbards and other instruments that was making Santa Cruz Island such a fine old place for taking pirate pictures, and the reported filled himself up with tales of the black flag, walking the plank, and crew-lty dire, unaware all the time that the moving picture company’s press agent was suffering the tortures of shipwreck and starvation. Inasmuch as we didn’t get the real stuff abroad then we did give it to you as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times of Sunday. On with the ink, boys, on with the ink—‘ The rescuing party that put out from Santa Barbara for Santa Cruz Island for the relief of Harry Pollard and Margarita Fischer, found that the Pollard picture players had passed through a most harrowing experience during the recent violent equatorial storm. The company of about thirty members was found encamped on the wild shores of the island on short rations and recuperating from a terrible experience at sea. Mr. Pollard, who is personally directing the production of The Pearl of Paradise, in which Miss Margarita Fischer is being featured, in order to obtain some of the marvelous scenery around the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, chartered the schooner Ida A from San Diego and established quarters at Eaton’s camp on the island. While taking scenes on board the boat in the channel between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands, a terrific northwest squall blew up. The ship’s anchors failed to hold and the boat was forced to put out to sea. The lifeboats were carried away and a huge steel oil drum, which had been lashed to the deck broke its lashings and rolled about the deck, injuring some of the players. The Ida A was forced to stand out from shore for more than twenty hours. Miss Fischer displayed great nerve and bravery. ‘In my several years of starring in motion picture drama,’ said Miss Fischer, ‘I have been called upon to perform many nerve-testing feats, and have passed through many adventurous experiences, but in the face of what we have just passed through, all of my other experiences seem mild. The waves were mountains and we could see the breakers dashing on the rocky shore fully one hundred feet high. We had nothing to eat for over thirty-six hours, but I think everyone was too frightened to be hungry.’ The members of the company left ashore when the Ida A was carried out to sea, being forced to return to camp afoot, were lost and when rescued were half-starved and in a deplorable condition.”


April 4, 1916 [SBMP]: “A rather sensational story has appeared in Los Angeles papers regarding alleged perils of the Harry Pollard Company at Santa Cruz Island. The picture people have really been having a fine time, but the fact that they are working on an island probably carried a Robinson Crusoe suggestion to the mind of a press agent. The Company will work at the island another week.”


April 5, 1916 [SBDN]: “Thirty people with the Fox Film Company of Los Angeles will arrive here tomorrow on their way to Santa Cruz Island where they will take some moving pictures. They will make Pelican Bay their headquarters. Santa Cruz Island is becoming a Mecca for moving picture people who find the scenery there an excellent background for pictures of many types. The Pollards, who have been on the island for several weeks taking pictures, have returned.”


April 9, 1916 [SBMP]: “Captain Ira Eaton goes to Pelican Bay in the Sea Wolf this morning to take over Harry Pollard's camp ten extra people to assist in Pollard's production of the photo play on which he and his big company are engaged on the island, The Pearl of Paradise. This cargo of talent consists of Kanakas and Filipinos, known as water dogs, who will be used in special canoe stunts, surf riding, etc. on the island shores.”


April 13, 1916 [SBMP]: “Pelican Bay, Captain Ira K. Eaton's Santa Cruz Island camp, is just now the center of great activity in the moving pictures business. Harry Pollard's company of 32 people is in the rush stage in the working-up of The Pearl of Paradise, and the Fox Company of Los Angeles, under direction of Oscar C. Apfel, with 35 members, is engaged on a play to be called The Battle of Hearts. The star of the latter company includes William Farnum, one of the most famous screen actors in the profession, and Miss Elda Furry is the leading lady. The Fox people have just recently commenced operations, but the Pollard company's work on the island is nearly done. Mr. Pollard has succeeded in getting some of the most beautiful bits of the island scenery, including what is declared to be a wonderful view of the interior of the Painted Cave, the first ever taken of this scenic marvel for a moving picture.”


December 20, 1916 [SBDN]: “Margarita Fischer is at the Palace Theatre today and tomorrow in The Pearl of Paradise, many scenes for which were pictured at Santa Cruz Island. It is a South Sea story, in which Miss Fischer is cast as the daughter of a trader. There is plenty of intrigue with a very delightful love story. This is the first of the new Miss Fischer series. Miss Fischer is best known in Santa Barbara through her work in the American Beauty Films. Some of the single reels that appeared under that brand were classics and were among the very best issued in that length…”