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Santa Cruz County History - Films
Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. March 13, 2008. p. 5
PATHETIC SCENES ARE ENACTED; WILLIS ROBARDS TAKING LEADING PART
by Josephine Clifford McCrackin
After having laughed at some of the funny scenes in the suffragette play which the Reid-Robards Company is now filming, I went to their studio at Laveaga Park Monday and happened just in time to witness one of the saddest, most affecting scenes ever thrown on the screen.
The reader--at least the ladies--will remember the "seating of the first woman judge," represented by Dorothy Davenport, Mrs. Wallace Reid. As the play proceeds, we find Mr. Robards as the husband of Mrs. Judge, and she also has a sister who is blind, the part taken by Miss Marcella Russell, Mrs. Hal Reid. The blind girl has wealth as well as beauty, and a young newspaper reporter, played by Mr. Utell, lays siege to her heart and fortune.
Then there are several other villains in the play, who in real life are the Messrs. Kurfess, Griffith and Tavares, who throw bombs and explode the newspaper office, and the chiefest among these villains places the blame on the shoulders of the husband of the governor, Mr. Robards.
Though Mrs. Judge knows, or believes, her husband innocent, she will not pardon him, and we find him in his prison cell with the death watch.
Enter Father Sweeney, who is Mr. Kearns, to prepare the prisoner for death. Although the miscreant who threw the bomb has confessed to Father Sweeney, the priest can not make use of this knowledge since it was imparted to him in the confessional, and he administers the last rites to the prisoner though he knows that an innocent man is going to the gallows. And do you know that even the men who had been joking and plaguing each other before this scene was acted, were in tears, and there was a deep hush while the camera was doing its work.
Both Robards and Reid have been active as playwrights more than as players, but Robards was simply grand in this act, and Kearns was impressive as Father Sweeney.
Later I heard the most entertaining gossip about the villains in the play. Not only did Tavares and Griffith blow up the newspaper, but they are champion ukulele players and will have a ukulele meet at Piedmont Court on Sunday. As for Mr. Utell, it is said that a Santa Cruz widow's bright eyes are following his coming and his going. And how true it is I don't know, but they accused Mr. Kurfess of running his auto through a barbed wire fence at the rate of 60 miles an hour.
All these are good jokes, no doubt; but a more serious mishap occurred on Saturday night. After rehearsing with those truly terrific lights turned on, some of the players complained of pains in their eyes, and Marcella Russell, Mrs. Hal Reid, was completely blinded. She was under the physician's care all night, and has only just now recovered entirely.
They claim to have the cleverest camera man in the country, in this company, Mr. Lundien. I believe it, and I believe also that his office is no sinecure. Hal Reid was the moving and guiding spirit throughout, and I rise to remark that a director's office is no sinecure either.
Copyrighted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. Reproduced by permission.