Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William S. Hart & "White Oak" Company

Victorville, California

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Company in Victorville


Lobby Card (Orig. Release)


Tobacco Card


Strip Card

William S. Hart stands in front of the Stewart Hotel in Victorville with the cast and crew of the feature film, "White Oak," in 1921.

How do we know that, if there is no written information accompanying this 8x10 photograph a century later? The photograph tells its own story.

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Chief Luther Standing Bear (Brulé Lakota), the man wearing his traditional Native American regalia, left of center, appeared in just one Hart film — "White Oak."

Actress Vola Vale, in the middle between Chief Standing Bear and Hart, is wearing the same costume she wears in a known publicity photo from "White Oak."

We know from Hart biographer Ronald L. Davis (2003) that "White Oak" was filming in Sacramento in November and December 1920 and then moved on to Victorville for the desert scenes (pp. 150-151). The weather was bad, Hart got sick, there were production delays, and while it's possible our photograph was made in December 1920, January 1921 is more likely.

As for the location, the sign above the entry iden­tifies the establishment as an "Official Hotel of the Automobile Club of Southern California." The Stewart Hotel in Victorville is listed in early Auto Club guides as such. Also, the 6-panel transom windows above the entryway match up with known photographs of the hotel. (A later ~1940s photo of the hotel is shown below; the signage has changed, but the windows haven't.)

Research assistance by Margi Bertram, William S. Hart Museum.

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About "White Oak."

Produced by the William S. Hart Company; distributed by Paramount-Artcraft; released December 18, 1921; ©August 15, 1921; seven reels (6208 feet).

Directed by Lambert Hillyer; screenplay by Bennet Musson from the story "Single Handed" by William S. Hart; photographed by Joe August; art director, J. C. Hoffner; edited by William O'Shea; art titles by Harry Barndollar.

CAST: William S. Hart (Oak Miller); Vola Vale (Barbara); Alexander Gaden (Mark Granger); Robert Walker (Harry); Bertholde Sprotte (Eliphalet Moss); Helen Holly (Rose Miller); Standing Bear (Chief Long Knife).

SYNOPSIS: Oak Miller, square gambler, deals cards at the Red Fort Saloon, Independence, Missouri, and watches for a chance to punish the man who deceived his sister Rose with a promise of marriage. Rose is ill and under the care of Barbara, with whom Oak is in love. Eliphalet Moss, stepfather of Barbara, is jealous of Oak. Granger, the man Oak is searching for, comes to town disguised and determines to possess Barbara. Granger plots with Chief Long Knife to attack a rich emigrant train. The chief is unaware that Granger misused his daughter, Little Fawn. Rose dies. Barbara's stepfather tries to enter the cabin at night and is shot to death by her brother Harry, a tool of Granger's. Barbara is suspected of the crime. To save her, Oak robs Moss's bank and leaves evidence pointing to himself as the robber. Oak is arrested for murder. The emigrant train is attacked [by Indians]. Barbara sends a dog with a message for Oak. He breaks jail, goes to the rescue of the emigrants and the Indians are repulsed [when he captures Chief Long Knife as a hostage]. Long Knife kills Granger. Barbara and Oak are united. [Exhibitor's Trade Review, November 12, 1921]

REVIEWS: Once again Bill Hart has undertaken to write his own story and if he can continue the good work there's no reason why he shouldn't, for White Oak is a splendid picture. ... It contains plenty of action, fine detail and a real atmosphere of the old West with Injuns 'n' everything. And best of all it offers probably the most popular of Western portrayers in a role ideally suited to him. As usual, Hart does fine work. ...[Wid's, November 6, 1921]

The star's fans will find White Oak immensely interesting, for it presents him in his best-liked role of a hard-riding, straight-shooting man. The continuity is smooth and the suspense well built up. Some of the exterior scenes, too, are especially striking, notably those where the Indians circle in clouds of dust around the beleaguered caravan. But it does tax the imagination a bit to see the hero's revolver bringing down galloping Indians a quarter of a mile away. Perhaps our own lack of skill with the weapon makes us unduly skeptical, but we should like to see such shooting in real life. [Sumner Smith, Moving Picture World, November 12, 1921]

LW3670: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2019 by Leon Worden.
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