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The Evidence of the Film (1913)

 -  Crime | Short  -  10 January 1913 (USA)
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A messenger boy is wrongfully accused of stealing bonds worth $20,000.

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Title: The Evidence of the Film (1913)

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Credited cast:
William Garwood ...
The Broker
Marie Eline ...
Messenger Boy
Riley Chamberlin ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Florence La Badie ...
Sister of Little Boy


A messenger boy is wrongfully accused of stealing bonds worth $20,000.

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filmmaking | See All (1) »


Crime | Short




Release Date:

10 January 1913 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


SPOILERS. When the sister discovers the footage of the crime being committed, the insert shots showing the film are of a different angle than what is actually projected later. See more »

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User Reviews

A Film within a Film and a Series of Coincidences
19 September 2013 | by (Rhode Island, United States) – See all my reviews

A title card identifies Henry Watson as a crooked broker. His client wants $20,000 returned to him or else he will initiate criminal proceedings. Watson craftily puts $20,000 in an envelope and seals it in front of two office employees. Secretly he has also stuffed another envelope with newspaper and keeps it in his pocket. When a messenger boy arrives he gives the valuable envelope to him for delivery. Watson hurries outside and intercepts the messenger boy, purposely bumping into him. While the boy is distracted, the broker switches envelopes. The messenger boy continues on his delivery route and inadvertently delivers the dummy envelope to the client. When the latter opens it he is infuriated and calls the police, who take in the boy for questioning and hold him. In court the broker has an alibi so only the boy is detained. Expressing no remorse for the innocent boy, the broker is convinced that he got away with the crime.

Coincidentally a moving picture company is shooting directly across the street from where the bumping occurred. The crooked broker never noticed the film crew even though it operated in the open. Meanwhile, and coincidentally, the boy's older sister works in a film editing studio. Again coincidentally, the studio happens to process the same company's film that unintentionally caught the "bump and switch" action of Watson. Spotting the criminal act on film, the sister notifies the judge. Then the evidence is shown to detectives. Watson, after being summoned and shown his guilty action, is appropriately arrested while the boy is freed. It is hard to believe that an eleven-year old would be held in some kind of jail or holding center. But it is 1913, one hundred years ago as of this writing, and there was even child labor then.

The one-reel film, shot in New Rochelle, NY by Thanhouser Film Corporation, has a conventional plot for the period. Bad guy (1) does wicked deed, (2) initially evades discovery, but (3) gets punished in the end. Note that the messenger boy is played by a girl, Marie Eline, who appears younger than eleven. Her (his) attractive older sister was played by Florence La Badie, who was Thanhouser's star actress for six years. She died at age 29 in 1917 because of injuries sustained in a car accident in which she was a passenger. La Badie was thus the first female film star to die by auto mishap. "The Evidence of the Film" has been added to the National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.

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