Back to God's Country (1919 film)

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Back to God's Country
Directed by David Hartford
Produced by James Oliver Curwood
Ernest Shipman (uncredited)
Written by James Oliver Curwood (short story: Wapi, the Walrus)
Nell Shipman
Starring Nell Shipman
Charles Arling
Wheeler Oakman
Wellington A. Playter
Cinematography Dal Clawson
Joseph Walker
Edited by Cyril Gardner
Canadian Photoplays Ltd.
Distributed by First National Exhibitor's Circuit (later to become First National Pictures)
Release date
October 27, 1919
Running time
73 min
Country Canada
Language Silent (English intertitles)
Back to God's Country

Back to God's Country is a 1919 Canadian drama film directed by David Hartford. It is one of the earliest Canadian feature films. The film starred Canadian actress Nell Shipman. With an estimated budget of over $67,000, it became one of the first major Canadian pictures.

The film is noteworthy as it starred Nell Shipman and was produced by her husband, Ernest Shipman. It was the most successful silent film in Canadian history. Nell Shipman was one of the first women to do a nude scene on screen in the movie.[1]

In 1918, Nell Shipman created a production company called Shipman Curwood Producing Company to produce Back to God’s Country. The film was the only film the company would produce. This film was based on a short story written by Curwood.

Curwood's work was adapted to the screen by Nell herself. Nell also was the lead of the film, which featured her in a controversial nude scene. She adapted the protagonist of the film from the Great Dane, Wapi to the female lead, Delores. Shipman also shaped her character into a heroine, who saves the lead man. Curwood was infuriated with Nell because she changed the scenario of his short story. Commercially, the film was extremely successful, posting a 300% profit by grossing a million and a half dollars.


After her father is killed by an outlaw, Dolores LeBeau (Nell Shipman) marries Peter Burke (Wheeler Oakman). While they are at sea in the Arctic, Dolores meets the ship's captain (Wellington A. Playter), who is the man who killed her father. The captain causes an 'accident' to happen to Peter, so Dolores is all alone and defenceless as they drop anchor in a remote harbour.[2]


  • Nell Shipman ... Dolores LeBeau
  • Charles Arling ... 'Sealskin' Blake
  • Wheeler Oakman ... Peter Burke
  • Wellington A. Playter ... Captain Rydal (as Wellington Plater)
  • Ronald Byram ... Peter Burke (original casting) (uncredited)
  • William Colvin ... Mountie Shot by Rydal (uncredited)
  • Roy Laidlaw ... Baptiste LeBeau, Dolores' Father (uncredited)
  • Kewpie Morgan ... Bully in Bar Who Shoots Chinaman (uncredited)
  • Charles B. Murphy ... The Half-Breed (uncredited)

Preservation status[edit]

The film has been re-made twice by Hollywood, but the original version was believed to have been lost. However, a print of the original film was found in Europe, restored in 1985, and re-released. A copy of the film is in the Library of Congress film archive,[3] and it has been released on dvd by Milestone Films.

Back to God's Country screenshot

See also[edit]


External links[edit]