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The Great Shadow

Year: 1919
Format: 35mm Black & White
Director: Harley Knoles
Producer: George Brownridge
Writer: Eve Unsell, Rudolph Berliner
Cinematographer: Philip Hatkin, George Coudert
Editor: Ralph Ince
Cast: Tyrone Sr., Donald Hall, Dorothy Bernard, John Rutherford, Louis Sterne, Eugene Hornbostell, E Emerson
Production Company: Adanac Producing Company

Labour union head Jim McDonald (Tyrone Power Sr.) is negotiating for better wages with factory owner Donald Alexander (Donald Hall). Alexander is sympathetic, but their negotiations are threatened by Bolsheviks led by Klimoff (Louis Sterne) who have penetrated the union, created unrest and fomented a strike. In the sabotage that follows, McDonald’s child is killed and Alexander’s daughter, Elsie (Dorothy Bernard), is kidnapped by the Bolsheviks. She is rescued by her lover, a secret service agent (John Rutherford) who also captures the agitators. Public opinion is aroused and at a subsequent union meeting McDonald wins new support from the union members. A deal is made with the owner that will eliminate any strike action for a year.

This anti-Communist film (one of a number produced in North America at the time) was produced by George Brownridge at the Trenton studios and on location with financing ($86,000) from several industrial companies. Critical reaction in Canada was adulatory – one critic found it “more valuable” than The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance; another called it “a masterpiece”. Box-office returns were healthy in Canada but less so in the United States; after producing one more (short) film, the company ceased activities.

By: Peter Morris