The Million Dollar Mystery
|The Million Dollar Mystery|
Brochure for Episode 3 showing actor James Cruze
|Directed by||Howell Hansel|
|Produced by||Edwin Thanhouser|
|Written by||Lloyd Lonergan
|Starring||Florence La Badie
|Distributed by||Thanhouser Film Corporation|
|Running time||23 chapters|
The film was produced by Thanhouser Film Corporation and filmed in New Rochelle, New York. The film serial was the company's biggest success, largely due to the popularity of La Badie who performed her owns stunts. Publicity gimmicks, including a prize for the member of the public who sent in the best idea for a conclusion to the serial, were used to boost the serial's success.
The serial was released with the gimmick that the last chapter was unwritten. Twenty two chapters were written based only on the title, while the serial was left purposefully unfinished with no final chapter.
A prize of $10,000 was offered for the best suggestion (advertised as "$10,000 for 100 words"). Thousands of letters were received in response to this and Ida Damon, a secretary from St. Louis, won the prize. In a further publicity stunt, the character Florence Hargreaves was actually reported missing. Details of the plot were fed to newspapers and the police as if they were real events. Seven days passed before this story was exposed as fiction.
The serial follows a secret society called "The Black Hundred" as they go on a trek in an attempt to obtain a lost one million dollars.
- Florence La Badie as Florence Hargreaves
- Marguerite Snow as Countess Olga Petroff
- James Cruze as Jim Norton
- Frank Farrington as Braine
- Sidney Bracey as John Hargreaves / The Butler
- Lila Chester as Susan Farlow
- Donald Gallaher in Bit Part (possible cameo as himself)
Release, sequel, and remake
- The serial was highly successful and the stockholders received a return of 700% on their investment, receiving $1.5M at the box office for a cost of $125,000 "or so."
- As a result, another serial already in production was changed to become a sequel to The Million Dollar Mystery. The serial Zudora was renamed The Twenty Million Dollar Mystery and changes were made to the plot halfway through its release. It was not, however, as successful as its predecessor.
- In June 1918, The Million Dollar Mystery was re-edited to six reels and released as a feature film through Arrow Film Corporation.
- In 1927, the film was remade as a feature-length silent film starring James Kirkwood.
- The Airship in the Night
- The False Friend
- A Leap in the Dark
- The Top Floor Flat
- At the Bottom of the Sea
- The Coaching Party of the Countess
- The Doom of the Auto Bandits
- The Wiles of a Woman
- The Leap from an Ocean Liner
- The Elusive Treasure Box
- In the Path of the Fast Express
- The Borrowed Hydroplane
- Drawn Into the Quicksand
- A Battle of Wits
- The Million Dollar Mystery
- The Mystery Solved
- Stedman, Raymond William. "Drama by Installment". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 14 & 22. ISBN 978-0-8061-1695-2.
- "Progressive Silent Film List: The Million Dollar Mystery". Silent Era. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Lahue, Kalten C. "1. A Bolt From The Blue". Continued Next Week. p. 6.
- Eckel Theatre Weekly Program, week commencing Sept. 7, 1914, Syracuse, NY