O. Henry's short story 'The Green Door' is not among his best-known tales, but it's one of my favourite O. Henry stories (marred only by some unfortunate racial dialect). Rudolf Steiner is a shy piano salesman who longs for adventure. He seems to get some one night in Manhattan's theatre district, when he spots an odd-looking man handing out business cards advertising the services of a local dentist. When Steiner tries to walk past without receiving a card, this man slips him a card reading only 'The Green Door'. All the other pedestrians are given cards bearing a dental advert. Intrigued, Steiner walks past again, and once more he -- and he alone -- is given a card reading 'The Green Door', while everyone else is given an advertisement for the dentist. What's happening? Eventually, Steiner finds a green door. Behind the green door is ... no, not Marilyn Chambers, but a fair damsel in distress. Eventually, in one of O. Henry's more plausible twist endings, Steiner discovers the circumstances that sent him to this lady's rescue.
This low-budget silent film of 'The Green Door' was made by Thomas R. Mills, an English-born actor-showman who appears to have made a speciality of adapting O. Henry's stories for the screen ... possibly because O. Henry's well-made plots were very popular and (most importantly) in the public domain. It looks like a photographed play, with very few cuts and some very stagey camera set-ups.
Intriguingly, the producers of this movie (who helped themselves to O. Henry's story without worrying about petty details such as copyrights) went to a great deal of trouble to protect their ownership of the film prints. At several points in this story, a large serif letter "V" (the logo of the Vitagraph Company) is 'hidden' somewhat obtrusively in the set dressing, to discourage other film distributors from copying this movie and re-releasing it (with new credits and intertitles) as their own work. I had more fun spotting the hidden "V"s than watching this movie, even though the source story is one of my favourites. I'll rate 'The Green Door' 3 points out of 10.
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