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The Primal Call (1911)

A young woman who is engaged to a millionaire she doesn't love meets and falls in love with a rough sailor.


D.W. Griffith


Emmett C. Hall


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Credited cast:
Wilfred Lucas ... The Fisherman
Claire McDowell ... The Woman
Grace Henderson Grace Henderson ... The Woman's Mother
Dell Henderson ... The Creditor
Joseph Graybill ... The Millionaire
John T. Dillon John T. Dillon ... The Millionaire's Friend / At Club (as Jack Dillon)
Vivian Prescott ... The Millionaire's Girlfriend
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Donald Crisp
Francis J. Grandon Francis J. Grandon ... At Party / At Club
Robert Harron ... On Ship
Florence La Badie ... A Servant
Walter Long ... Undetermined Role
Marguerite Marsh ... At Party (unconfirmed)
W. Chrystie Miller ... The Minister
George Nichols ... On Ship


A society mother, whose creditors are becoming insistent, and wishing to keep up her ostentation, sees relief in her daughter marrying a low-charactered, pusillanimous millionaire. Hence, she persuades her daughter to accept his proposal, arguing that they must have money. The girl goes to the seashore to rest before the wedding, and there meets the mate of a tramp schooner anchored in the bay. This man appeals to her as being so different from others, a primal type of man. She indulges in that dangerous pastime of flirting with this sincere fellow and when her fiancée visits her, the seaman realizes he has been made the dupe, so he seizes the girl and is carrying her off by force. However, he suddenly reasons that she isn't worth it and recoils from her, but she now realizes that she truly loves him and begs him to take her away, so grabbing her up in one arm, and a minister who is passing by, in the other, he hustles aboard his boat, where the marriage is performed. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Plot Keywords:

ocean | See All (1) »


Romance | Short







Release Date:

22 June 1911 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Redondo Beach, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Pretty much what you'd expect from Griffith
11 May 2018 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In his day, director D.W. Griffith was a hot commodity...making films the public loved. When you see most of them today, however, they seem old fashioned and highly moralistic...often with obvious messages about proper behavior. "The Primal Call" is no exception, as it drives home the director's message that it's better to marry for love than money.

The story begins with a young lady being pressured by her family to marry a rich guy who's interested in her. However, he's a real nasty piece of work ad is a serious womanizer...and yet the family wants this marriage to occur. In the meantime, she meets a sailor and she is instantly smitten by him. So what's she to do...marry for love or money?

The film is reasonably well made for 1911. Today, it just seems a bit obvious and simple.

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