Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It Happened in Our Town or Col. Green: Silent Film Star

In 1922, during the silent film era, there was some notable films produced that are recognizable even to this day. These include Nosferatu, Robin Hood, Oliver Twist, Häxan, and others. In addition, Clara Bow and Walt Disney made their film debuts this year.

There is, however, one film produced during this time that you may be completely unaware of. Premiering in February, 1922 at the Rialto Theatre located in the Green Opera House building, was a short film entitled "It Happened In Our Town." It featured local "actors" Miss Marie Jesberg and Mister Calvin Bleam and included scenes around town such as the Woodbury Station and Rialto crowds, the trolley "flying up Broad Street", a wedding at the Episcopal Church, and Woodbury High School girls in calisthenics, amongst others. Something I would of particularly enjoyed seeing (besides the great crowds patronizing our city) are the scenes featuring G. G. Green, his Gray Towers mansion, and sun parlor!!

This appears to be a classic example of what is known as itinerant filmaking and after thorough research I feel that this film has vanished from existence, never having been archived. Billington (1993), the current Librarian of Congress states, "Fewer than 20% of the features of the 1920s survive in complete form" and that's only considering feature films! I hope I am mistaken but unless someone has the reel stored in a Victorian house attic somewhere, chances are slim of ever feasting our eyes on actual moving images of vintage roaring twenties Woodbury. Perhaps it's lying in the stockpile of original artifacts still in the Green Opera House awaiting discovery... time will tell.

February 1922 Woodbury Daily Times Ad

Billington, J. H. (1993, September). Film preservation 1993: A study of the current state of american film preservation. Retrieved from