The Bells (1911 film)

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The Bells
Directed by W. J. Lincoln
Produced by William Gibson
Millard Johnson
John Tait
Nevin Tait
Written by W. J. Lincoln
Based on the play The Bells by Erckmann-Chatrian
adapted by Leopold Lewis
and W. J. Lincoln
Starring Arthur Styan
Nellie Bramley
Cinematography Orrie Perry
Release date
7 October 1911 (Melbourne)[1]
Running time
4,000 feet[2]
Country Australia
Language Silent film
English intertitles

The Bells is a 1911 Australian feature-length film directed by W. J. Lincoln. It is based on the famous stage melodrama by Erckmann-Chatrian adapted by Leopold Lewis, which had been adapted for the Australian stage by Lincoln.[3][4]

It is considered a lost film.


Mathias (Arthur Styan) is an innkeeper in a village in Alsace, happily married to Catherine (Miss Grist) and with a daughter Annette (Nellie Bramley). However he is greatly in debt so on Christmas Day 1833 murders a Polish Jew (Mr Cullenane) who visits the inn for his gold. He uses this to pay off his debts and rise in society, becoming the burgomeister of the town – however he is always tormented by guilt.

Fifteen years later on Christmas Day, Mathias becomes delirious and hears the sound of the Jew's sleigh bells. He dreams he is being tried for the murder and is found guilty. He awakes and dies, leaving his family none the wiser.


  • Arthur Styan as Mathias
  • Nellie Bramley as Annette
  • Ethel Grist as Catherine
  • John Ennis as Walter
  • Ward Lyons as Hans
  • Charles Lawrence as Christian
  • Mr Johns as mesmerist
  • Mr Ebbsmith as Dr Zimmer
  • George Kensington as notary
  • Mr Devon as Tony
  • Mr Devine as Fritz
  • Mr Cullenane as the Polish Jew
  • Mr Coleridge as judge
  • Mr Sinclair as clerk
  • Marion Willis as Sozel


The film was an adaptation of a well known play and featured the only known screen appearance of stage actor Nellie Bramley.[5] It was shot partly on location of Mount Donna Buang in Victoria.[6]

Sam Crews was the scenic artist, and John Ennis was the stage manager.[2] Stage scenery was hired from J.C. Williamson Ltd.[7]


Screenings of the film were often accompanied by a lectured from J Ennis, who was in the film.

The film was released in the US in 1914 by Sawyers Inc.[8]


  1. ^ Mary Bateman, 'W.J. Lincoln', Cinema Papers, June–July 1980 p 214
  2. ^ a b "The Picture World.". Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 - 1939). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 8 September 1927. p. 29. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Mary Bateman, 'W.J. Lincoln', Cinema Papers, June–July 1980 p 174
  4. ^ "The Picture World.". Table Talk. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 8 September 1927. p. 29. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "LIFE & LETTERS.". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 4 May 1946. p. 5. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 25.
  7. ^ "Film Year Book: The 1922-23 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures" p 171 accessed 24 june 2015
  8. ^

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