A Reincarnation Story

The Mystery of the Sleeping Death
R: Kenean Buel. B: Doty Hobart. D: Alice Joyce, Harry F. Millarde, Bob Walker, Tom Moore, Henry Hallam, Benjamin Ross. P: Kalem. USA 1914
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“Alice Joyce plays a safe cracker who get caught by millionaire Tom Moore and this causes them to fall into a deep sleep. It seems they are reincarnations of ancient Indian lovers who were cursed by a priest with the ‘sleeping death’ as their love was forbidden. Their story is told by a modern mystic who says they can now wake up and live happily ever after.”
Ken Wlaschin: Silent Mystery and Detective Movies: A Comprehensive Filmography. McFarland 2009, p. 158

“By the later years of the 1910s, it appears that the hypnotism theme was beginning to wear thin, and was frequently watered down with more esoteric and less scientifically sound ideas. Metro’s A Sleeping Memory (1917), for example, features an intriguing premise that quickly descended into implausible complications. (…) Reincarnation enjoyed a brief vogue in films such as The Image Maker (1914) and the serial The Mystery of the Sleeping Death (1914), but was never as popular, perhaps due to its outright breaking of the rules of scientific plausibility that the psychological drama was only ever intended to strain.”
Camille Scaysbrook
Brooksie’s Silent Film Collection

About Alice Joyce
“It used to be that stock players in a company went uncredited in their films, and Kalem was one of the first companies to start naming them – that is, to market films around actors, and create stars. Alice was one of their first, and her name began appearing in reviews and in advertising. She was a household name in no time. For a time, she spent her days between New York and California, making movies on both coasts. While in New York, she was making different kinds of films, moving away from the brash Westerns for more dramatic fair – it would not be uncommon, for example, to see her play princesses and poverty-stricken women of beauty and talent, like singers. By 1913, fans were just wild about her, naming her their favourite actress and clamoring for more. Kalem, picking up on this adulation, started making two-reel ‘Alice Joyce Series’ films in 1914, so that fans could see her on screen literally every couple of weeks. Some films from 1914, many of which co-starred Tom Moore (whose brother was furtively married to Mary Pickford) include: The Cabaret Dancer, The Show Girl’s Glove, The Mystery of the Sleeping Death, The Viper, The Girl and the Stowaway, The Riddle of the Green Umbrella, The Price of Silence and The Mayor’s Secretary.”
Tammy Stone
The Silent Collection

>>> more films by Kenean Buel: A Kind of “Heist Picture”,   Civil WarKenean Buel, Director

Measured Timing and Gags

A Night Out
R: Charles Chaplin. B: Charles Chaplin. K: William C. Foster, Harry Ensign. D: Charles Chaplin, Charles Allen Dealey, Edna Purviance, Bud Jamison, Ben Turpin, Leo White, Frank Dolan. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915

“Chaplin’s second film for Essanay was the first of five films shot in and around the company’s Niles studio in northern California. The plot is a variation of the teaming of Chaplin and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in the Keystone film, The Rounders (1914). This time he is paired with Ben Turpin. In the film Chaplin forms an excellent comedy partnership. Chaplin and Turpin are drunks about town, starting at a café and ending in a risqué hotel room mix-up with a pretty girl, similar to the situation in the Keystone comedy Caught in the Rain (1914), yet this time with Edna Purviance, in her first film with Chaplin.”
Charlie Chaplin

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538-night out







“This is one of the early films Charlie Chaplin made at Essanay Studios during his year there after he left Keystone. It has many of the familiar elements from Keystone – men with silly facial hair, women who seem to enjoy flirting with transients, a dull-witted policeman, a large jealous husband, hotels and bar rooms, and a world populated with people with a propensity for solving problems with physical violence – but has more measured timing and use of the individual gags, plus a much longer run time than most of the shorts he did there. (…) One thing Charlie did do was take the time to elaborate some of his gags, which he wouldn’t have done at the faster pace. For example there’s a sequence in the hotel room where Charlie has drunkenly confused the phone with a water dispenser, and keeps trying to pour into his cup from it. That’s the sort of little touch that rarely made it into a Keystone. On the whole, though, it isn’t up to the level of later ‘feature-length’ work like Burlesque on Carmen, nor even the sustained zaniness of The Tramp.”
Century Film Project