William S. Hart and Lousie Glaum star in "The Disciple," 1915. Thomas Ince, producer. Magic lantern
slide (used as a trailer).
Produced by the Triangle Film Corporation under the supervision of Thomas H. Ince; distributed by Triangle (Kay-Bee Ince brand); in production May 27-July 2, 1915; released November 21, 1915; © November 1, 1915; production cost, $8,356.12; five reels.
Directed by William S. Hart; story and screenplay by S. Barret McCormick and Thomas H. Ince; photographed by Joe August; original score by Wedgwood Nowell.
CAST: William S. Hart (Jim Houston); Dorothy Dalton (Mary Houston); Thelma Salter (Alice Houston); Robert McKim ("Doc" Hardy); Charles K. French ("Birdshot" Bivens); Jean Hersholt (an extra).
SYNOPSIS: Jim Houston, the "Shootin' Iron Parson," comes to Barren Gulch to reform the morals of the frontier community. He receives the support of "Birdshot" Bivens, the sheriff of the county. Jim's wife, Mary, however, is a weak character. She falls a prey to the seduction of "Doc" Hardy, the village gambler and saloon keeper, and elopes with him. Jim Houston, forsaking the ministry, goes to the mountains and cares for his child in a log cabin home.
Later the child falls very ill. Mary, in a mountain storm, comes unwittingly to their door. Dr. Hardy is sent for as the only physician in the district. He ministers to the child and confronts Houston, who intends to kill him. Mary is asked to make her choice between Houston and Dr. Hardy. She points toward the child and goes to its bedside. Houston forgives his wife and instead of killing Hardy allow him to go unharmed. [Moving Picture World, November 6, 1915]
REVIEWS: Hart, as the parson, entirely convinced the audience, in spite of the fact that his role does not permit the expression of any great variety of emotion. The Ince eye for detail was exercised splendidly in The Disciple. The sets showing the Western village and the crucifixion leave nothing to be desired. [Oscar Cooper, Motion Picture News, October 30, 1915]
Reminiscent of the days of which Bret Harte wrote, The Disciple is a strong, stirring exposition of primitive human emotions, and though it is only another drama written along the lines of the eternal triangle, still this much used theme seems to acquire new strength when given the rough setting of the great uncouth West in the days of its making. The picture is replete with dramatic situations ... admirably handled by William S. Hart and Dorothy Dalton ... although it may be said of the former that he showed a slight inclination to pose . ..." ["E.," New York Dramatic Mirror, October 30,1915]
About Triangle Film Corp.
Triangle Film Corp. was started July 19, 1915, by three of Hollywood's most successful producers and directors: Thomas Ince, who launched William S. Hart's film career and created the assembly-line approach to film production; director D.W. Griffith ("Birth of a Nation"); and Mack Sennett (Keystone Studios, Pathé Exchange). Triangle was one of the first vertically integrated film companies, handling production, distribution (through Triangle Distributing Corp.) and theater operations.
In addition to Hart, Triangle signed some of the biggest stars of the day including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian Gish and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and it produced the Keystone Cops comedies. The studio was located at 10202 W. Washington Blvd., on property Ince purchased from Harry Culver in Culver City. Ince named the company "Triangle" because the studio property looked like a triangle from the air.
It didn't last long. Ince sold out to Griffith and Sennett in 1918, about the time Samuel Goldwyn bought the Triangle lot. Ince briefly teamed up with competitor Adolph Zukor to form Paramount-Artcraft Pictures and took Hart with him. Ince struck out on his own again (leaving Hart behind at Paramount) from 1919 until he (Ince) fell ill aboard investor William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1925 and died.
A production-distribution-screening system such as Triangle's would not be possible today. In 1921 the Federal Trade Commission began to crack down on "block booking," where production companies owned so many movie theaters that they were able to force independent theaters to pay for "blocks" of films, including lousy ones, sight-unseen, if they wanted to show the good ones. The FTC charged 12 film companies with "conspiracy and restraint of trade" in violation of anti-trust laws, and the battle waged for more than 20 years until finally in 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court demanded a separation of theater ownership from production and distribution. That's why film production companies can't own and operate movie theaters.