A Thomas H. Ince Production
Distributed by Famous Players-Lasky Corp.
Directed by Fred Niblo, and based upon a story by Dunn Byrne that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.
Cast: Lloyd Hughes, Barbara Castelton, Claire DuBrey, Leo Morrison, Jack Richardson, Gordon Mullen, and Walt Whitman.
"Dangerous Hours" is a Thomas H. Ince production produced during the Red Scare immediately following World War 1. In addition to the Bolshevist overthrow of the Czar, anti-war demonstrators and Bolshevists had rioted in several German cities just before the Armistice. Four years of war had taken its toll in Europe, and anti-war demonstrations had taken place in Italy, France and in England. Although the owners of the mills, shipyards and munitions plants had made enormous profits during the war, wages had remained low and a series of strikes broke out in the United States. The Ku Klux Klan and the "100 percent " Americans saw the purity of their native heritage being destroyed by the "foreigners ".
Hysteria both to foreigners and foreign ideas saw waves of hatred against German, Russian, Japanese, Italian and Jewish immigrants.
In 1918 vigilante violence against individuals of German origin was widespread, with destruction of property, public floggings and tarring-and-feathering - and at least one lynching. The Wilson administration did nothing to calm such behavior and contented itself with appeasing it. Hundreds of Communist union members of foreign origin were deported and in August, 1920, a mob in the southern Illinois mining town of West Frankfort went on a three-day rampage against Italian immigrants, beating and stoning them and then burning their homes.
Henry Ford launched a propaganda campaign against the Jews, many who were of German origin and " doubly " suspect. Under such hysteria was " Dangerous Hours " produced.
In April, 1920, "Dangerous Hours" was canceled from showing at Keith's 81st Street Theater in New York City because the Keith management thought that the Bolshevism outlined in the film, while renounced by the main character, was potentially antagonistic.
The Immigration Act Of 1924 restricted the foreigners entering the country and eased the laws to deport foreigners. Although released for public distribution on February 29, 1920, the film was shown privately on December 19, 1919, and Variety reviewed the film during the week of February 6, 1919. Sources vary in listing the release date.
The story is a drama full of Bolshevism, Bolshevists, laboragitators, mobs, strikes, explosions, extortion, the Patterson (New Jersey ), textile mills, and shipyards. During a strike at a silk mill, young John King (Lloyd Hughes), falls under the spell of a seductive Bolshevist agitator, Sophia Guerni (Claire DuBrey). Then the Bolsheviks decide that their next target is a ship yard that is run by May Weston (Barbara Castleton), his childhood sweetheart.
John agrees to the shipyard strike although May is also supporting John's poverty stricken father. But when John overhears the plot to bomb the shipyard that is not on strike, he renounces his revolutionary doctrine.
Variety, February 6 1919 - "This feature again depicts the picture warnings of picture directors of the scarlet red of terrorism as it affected the industrial element in certain sections of the United States, and it brings home to an audience the moral that there are insidious forces ostensibly transported to America to sow the seed of discontent among the peaceful, toiling class, whose wont is to follow their occupations without complaining, and do until aroused by a frenzied state of hysteria by " the blind not leading the blind, but the advance of the vultures. "
Thomas H. Ince (1882-1920) was a producer, director, screenwriter, and actor. He came from a theatrical family and after appearing in a few films began directing. The Ince name became associated with well-constructed action dramas and consistent popular appeal. By 1915, Ince was recognized alongside D. W. Griffith as film's most prominent producer-director.
Lloyd Hughes (1896-1958) received his first billing in 1918 and his last appearance was in the 1952 serial "Flash Gordon." A few of the films in which he appeared are available including "The Sea Hawk," "The Lost World," "Ella Cinders," and "The Mysterious Island."
Fred Niblo , born Federico Nobile (1874-1948), had a long career as a director, actor and writer which began in 1916. Many of his silent features are still available including "The Mysterious Lady," "Camille," "Ben Hur," "Blood and Sand," "The Three Musketeers," "Sex," and "The Mark Of Zorro."
Very interesting as a thin slice of American attitudes and hysteria.
copyright 2001 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.
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