Santa Cruz County History - Films

Full Text Newspaper ArticleSanta Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. July 17, 1925. p. 5


by Preston Sawyer

From Universal City, the film center adjacent to Hollywood, has come the troupe of some 35 movie people, who are now established at Boulder Creek, augmenting to a considerable extent the present movie population of this end of the county.

The company is shooting "exteriors" for the new Bill Desmond chapter play, "The Winking Idol," directed by none other than Francis Ford, king of serial directors, who has only recently returned to the Universal fold after an absence of seven years.

"It certainly seems like home to be back again on the Universal lot," said Ford, in conversation last night in Boulder Creek with this Sentinel scribe. "I hadn't realized before what we were missing by not shooting scenes up here long ago," he added. "We have been working in this vicinity all week, as you know, and have made scenes in a number of locations close by and along the Bear Creek road. Today we were working close to the Big Basin. About a week and a half more will be required for us to finish up here."

"The Winking Idol," a chapter play of thrills and mystery, is taken from a story upon which the late Charles Van Loan was working at the time of his death. The rights to this and several other of his works was purchased by Universal. The present is Ford's second serial since returning to Universal, his first being "Swiss Family Robinson," featuring Joe Bonomo, the screen's greatest strong man.

Further conversation with Ford, who proved to be a friendly, generous and kindly personality, elicited the information that today the serial shooters will be filming on Boulder's stream only a short distance from Alpine Inn and the S. P. depot. In a few days a thrill sequence is to be shot that will require the blowing up of a boxcar, somewhere along a spur track not far from the station in Boulder Creek.

Eileen Sedgwick, Grace Cunard and Helen Broneau play the leading feminine roles, while the well-known trouper, Jack Richardson, is Lange, "heavy." Bert Sutch is doing a character role, and Les Sailor, recently from the stage, is comedian. Frank Bacon is also playing a character role.

Eddie Ullman is cameraman. Ullman photographed "Lucille Love," the mystery serial, for Ford, as much as ten years ago.


Les Sailor, comedian, is a recent acquisition, having come over to films from the vaudeville circuit, where he had been doing Orpheum and Pantages time.

Francis Ford will be remembered as the director and co-star of "Lucille Love," "The Broken Coin," "Peg O' the Ring" and other famous successful Universal serials. Also, he directed many of this company's earlier feature photoplay successes, bringing some of the first Universal multiple reel features produced on the west coast into being.

Bill Desmond, star, and Les Sailor, comedian, made a personal appearance at the California theater, Watsonville, Wednesday night in connection with the showing of a late episode of Desmond's last serial, "The Riddle Rider." The theater was packed.

Mrs. William Palmer Lucas of San Francisco, sister of Jack Richardson, and his son, Harold Richardson, will be down from the metropolis to spend the week end with the prominent film player.

"The Winking Idol" marks the return to professional affiliation of Grace Cunard and Francis Ford, a famous team of ten to twelve years ago. Ford does not appear before the camera this time, however.

Bert Sutch, playing a character role in "The Winking Idol," was for nine years an assistant director with D. W. Griffith.

Copyrighted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Morning Edition. Reproduced by permission.