"Seven Keys to Baldplate" (1917)

Cohan Feature Film Corporation
Directed by Hugh Ford
Distributed by Artcraft Pictures Corp.

The film was shot at the Famous Players studio in New York City. Cohan's production company was called variously the George M. Cohan Film Corp., the Cohan Feature Film Corp. and the Cohan Feature Film Co. in news items appearing at the time.

Based on the play "Seven Keys To Baldpate" by George M. Cohan (New York, September 27, 1913) and the novel of the same name by Earl Derr Biggers (Indianapolis, 1913). Released October 27, 1917.

Cast: George M. Cohan, Anna Q. Nilsson, Elda Furry, Corene Uzzell, Joseph Smiley, Armand Cortes, C. Warren Cook, Purnell Pratt, Frank Losee, Eric Hudson, Carlton Macy, Paul Everton, and Russell Bassett.


A mystery-comedy about writer George Washington Magee (George M. Cohan) who arrives at Baldpate Inn to win a wager from its owner by beginning a novel at midnight one day and finishing it by midnight the next. He is interrupted in his endeavor by John Bland, who comes to the inn to bribe mayor Jim Cargan into awarding his boss, Thomas Hatdan, a building contract. Magee locks Bland in a room only to be interrupted once more by Mary Norton (Anna Q. Nilson), a newspaper reporter on the trail of the bribe story. After a series of interruptions which include gunplay, the theft of money and . . . "

The Reviews

Variety August 31, 1917: "Aw, go to H----- was the biggest laugh in the original stage version of "Seven Keys To Baldpate," but in the picturization which has been produced by Artcraft with George M. Cohan as the star, that punch line has been eliminated, and, incidently, the original play has been somewhat altered in other respects for film purposes while retaining considerable of the
mystery, if not quite as much of the farce that there was in the spoken drama. The laughs that came so freely in the spoken play are not to be found in the film, but George M. Cohan, as the hero-author of the piece, does deliver a likeable performance, and his supporting cast is all that could be asked . . . the picture has a lot of appeal that will attract patronage to the box office, and the audience will enjoy the feature, although those that saw the original play will be somewhat disappointed because they do not
get a chance to get the laughs out of the dialogue when it was spoken. "

Motion Picture News, September 15, 1917: "George M. Cohan's second appearance on the Artcraft program is by way of an adaptation of the comic-mystery play, "Seven Keys To Baldpate," which enjoyed a remunerative run on Broadway not so many years ago. It is, indeed, a laughable and, at the same time, intensifying piece of work . . . The staging of the picture under the direction of Hugh Ford is modeled after the original play as much as possible. The hotel set is excellent, and the many rapid entrances and exits of the characters have been handled deftly. The photography and lighting merit the warmest praise . . . Anna Q. Nilsson makes a most suitable opposite for the star, and, of the remainder of the supporting cast, Armand Cortes is the outstanding figure because of the extreme manner in which he burlesques a heavy role. "Seven Keys To Baldpate," with George M. Cohan, should, all
in all, prove an attraction over any theater -- and likewise in any theater. "

Anna Q. Nilsson

The first notable Swedish actress imported to Hollywood was Anna Q. (Querentia) Nilsson who entered American films in 1911 following a brief modeling career. She was very popular and starred in many silent films for Kalem and other studios before a riding accident (broken hip) ended her career shortly before the coming of sound. She later returned to the screen in character roles, and her last appearance was in Gloria Swanson's "Sunset Boulevard" in 1950. Very few of her films are available. In addition to "Seven Keys to Baldplate," she can be seen in "The Toll Gate" (1920) and "The Spoilers" (1923).

George M. Cohan

George M. Cohan -- singer, dancer, songwriter, playwright, screenwriter and radio actor -- began his sporadic screen career in films in 1916. He made six silent films, and three of them made in 1929 were also made in sound versions. Colleen Moore had a miniature doll house collection, and one of her most detailed houses has a miniature musical score, handwritten by George M. Cohan.

Selected Film Criticism 1912-1920 by Anthony Slide
The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz
Hollywood: The Golden Era by Jack Spears
Who's Who In Hollywood by David Ragan
The World Film Encyclopedia by Clarence Winchester.

copyright 2003 by John DeBartolo. All rights reserved.

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