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«The Reward of Courage (1921) A rediscovered cancer film of the Silent Era David Cantor, PhD Office of History, National Institutes of Health ...»

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George Rosen, The Structure of American Medical Practice, 1875–1941 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 32–36, 50–51, 97–98.

“Consolidated Report of the President and Executive Committee,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 3 (March 1922): [3–4], at p.[3].

“Textile Strike Spreads to Three Big Pawtucket Mills, which are Forced to Close,” Providence News, February 9, 1922, 1. See also “Strike at Jencks Spinning Company, Pawtucket [29 July 1919],” Report of the Commissioner of Labor Made to the General Assembly for the Years 1916–1917–1918–1919, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Providence: E.L. Freeman Company Printers, 1921), 200–201. “Jencks Workers Want Same Wage as Textile Folks,” Providence News, May 26, 1920, 4.

Cantor, “Uncertain Enthusiasm,” 42 and 54. David Cantor, “Choosing to Live:

Cancer Education, Movies, and the Conversion Narrative in America, 1921– 1960,” Literature and Medicine 28 (2009): 278–332, p. 280.

American Society for the Control of Cancer, Vital Facts About Cancer, 1.

There is a continuity error in the chase scene: Marshall is prompted to rush to his wife’s aid by a telegram he receives from Washington D.C. that reveals Morris Maxwell’s deceit. Maxwell is due at his home that morning, and Marshall arrives just as Anna hands over a $200 check to the quack. The telegram is dated July 12, 1921; the check August 25, 1921 — a very slow race to the rescue.

James Harvey Young, The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), especially chapter 4, “Fraud in the Mails.” Some viewers have assumed that the male patient examined by Dr. Dale and a nurse in the company clinic is Simpkins. However, the filmmakers do not identify the patient.

In the NLM version of the film Marshall is responsible for putting the workers in his factory at the mercy of Maxwell. He informs the quack that Dale has diagnosed a number of workers in his factory with cancer, and suggests that Dale can provide Maxwell with the names. Perhaps the race to the rescue is also Maxwell’s redemption. For a different account of how Maxwell gets this list see “The Reward of Courage,” Educational Film Magazine 6, 6 (December 1921): 11.

Everett S. Lain (Oklahoma State Director American Society for the Control of Cancer), “Cancer, A Neglected Subject,” Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association 15 (1922): 236–37, p. 236.

Tichenor’s educationals sometimes employed titles of entertainment films, perhaps as tool for attracting audiences. See Cantor, “Between Movies, Markets, and Medicine.” This point is developed further in Cantor, “Uncertain Enthusiasm.” Osborne to Richardson, July 29, 1921.

One report noted that Dr. Robert B. Greenough, director of the Harvard Cancer Commission and a founding member of the ASCC, assisted in directing part of the film. It is unknown which part. “Consolidated Report of the President and Executive Committee,” [3].

The animated sequences were prepared from material supplied by Francis Carter Wood, the director of the Crocker Institute for Cancer Research at Columbia University and a founding member of the ASCC “Consolidated Report of the President and Executive Committee,” [3].

Kirsten Ostherr, “Medical Education through Film: Animating Anatomy at the American College of Surgeons and Eastman Kodak.” In Learning with the Lights Off, 182.

“The Reward of Courage,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 2 (February 1922): [1].

“The Reward of Courage.” The film was sold at a cost of $85 f.o.b. New York.

The ASCC had three copies for loan purposes.

In addition to the above references there is no mention of the film in a local Rhode Island report of the Cancer Week, “R.I. Branch American Society for the

Control of Cancer,” The Rhode Island Medical Journal 4, 12 (December 1921):


“Will Show Cancer Film,” Sun (Baltimore), November 4, 1921, 9. “Doctors Urge City Hospital. Medical Society Also Sees Film Based On Cancer,” Sun (Baltimore), November 5, 1921.

“Reports on Three More States,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 6 (June 1922): [1–3], p. [1].

“Washington’s Belated Campaign” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 6 (June 1922): [3].

Haecker, “Report. Division of Education and Publicity,” 57.

Osborne reported in 1923 that the ASCC originally supplied one copy of the film to each of the Society’s 10 Regional Directors and kept two at the office for loan purposes. In addition, 22 others were ordered and paid for by State Departments of Health, members of the Society’s committees, and other interested persons and agencies. This made a total of 34 copies of the film in circulation, and the Society later had two other copies made, one for the American College of Surgeons and another for ASCC headquarters, the last to meet growing demand for loans of the film. Osborne also noted that the ASCC should supply a copy to Canada. F.J. Osborne to W.S. Richardson, January 25, 1923.

“Gleanings from Cancer Week,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 12 (December 1921): [1–4], pp.[1–2]. The absence of any mention of the use of motion pictures during the Cancer Week refers to the introduction to several reports from the states about the week, and suggests that film did not live up to expectations for those who compiled this report for head office. However, it should also be noted that the film is mentioned in some of the reports from the states, suggesting that state organizers were equally disenchanted with movies. See also Table 2.

The journalist H.L. Mencken distributed a letter (instructing the public about cancer) to be read in all churches and synagogues in Baltimore during Cancer Week, “Maryland Committee Letter,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 12 (December 1921): [4].

“City Cancer Week Aroused Citizens to Need of Care,” Denver Post, November 15, 1921, 3. col. 2. The figures here are slightly different from those in table 2, which suggests that 208,000 saw the slides. The 3,000 figure for seeing the film is a puzzle. If this refers to all 28 screenings of the film in Colorado (table 2) then this was an average of 107 people per showing, a very small number given that the Auditorium theatre could hold over 3,000 people at one sitting. Perhaps the 3,000 figure refers to only one screening of the film. However, even if all Colorado showings were in the Auditorium, and the Auditorium was full to capacity with each screening, the numbers viewing the film at all 28 events in Colorado would still come to no more than 84,000. The Auditorium was the largest capacity theater in the state. It is unlikely that all screenings were there, so the 84,000 is probably an overestimate.

F.J. Osborne, “Suggested Plans for National Cancer Week. November 12–18, 1922,” International Journal of Surgery (Advertising Section) 35, 9 (September 1922): 20–28, p.20.

In Worcester, Massachusetts (February 24): “Cancer Day,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 186 (1922): 405. Spokane, Washington (July 5): “Business Meeting of the Pacific North-west Medical Association,” Medical Sentinel 30 (1922): 407–8, p. 408. Wallace, Idaho (July 11): “Entertainment,” Medical Sentinel 30 (1922): 412–13, p. 412.

“Some Unique Publicity Methods.” Edward H. Risley, “The Cancer Control Problem,” Journal of the Maine Medical Association 13, 9 (April 1923): 217-29, p. 221.

J. Louis Ransohoff, “Report of Cancer Council,” Cincinnati Medical Journal 4 (1923/1924): 337-38, p. 328.

“Campaign Suggestions,” Campaign Notes of the American Society for the Control of Cancer 5, 8 (August 1923): [1–4], p. [3].

“Washington Conference,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 5 (May 1922): [2–4], at p. [4].

“Activities in Canada,” Campaign Notes of the American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 9 (September 1922): [3–4].

“Publicity by News Weeklies,” Campaign Notes of the American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 11 (November 1922): [2].

“Final Cancer Week Reports,” Campaign Notes of the American Society for the Control of Cancer 5, 6 (June 1923): [4].

Cantor, “Uncertain Enthusiasm.” Cantor, “Choosing to Live.” On Eastern’s involvement with this film see Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Welfare Division, National Health Council. Film List Including Information on Visual Aids and Their Producers and Distributors, Fifth Edition (New York: Prepared and printed by Welfare Division, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1928): 44.

“By the Way,” Campaign Notes of the American Association for the Control of Cancer 11, 9 (September 1929): 7. “Booklet Trailer,” Campaign Notes of the American Association for the Control of Cancer 11, 9 (September 1929): 6. On the background to this film see Ella Hoffman Rigney, “Cancer Publicity — Ten Years of Growth,” Quarterly Review (New York City Cancer Committee) 1, 3 (October 1936): 42–52, esp. pp. 46–47. The cartoons were produced by the illustrator Francis Rigney, Ella’s husband. On Rigney see “Francis Rigney is Dead,” New York Times, April 21, 1962, 17. See also Chuck Romano, “The Art of Deception or the Magical Affinity Between Conjuring and Art,” The Linking Ring (September 1995): 75–78. Chuck Romano, The Art of Deception, or, The Affinity Between Conjuring and Art (South Elgin, IL: C.J. Romano, 1997).

When Colorlab inspected the Library of Congress’s copy of the nitrate film it found a date code that was used in films made in 1925, 1936, 1947 (date codes were reused periodically). This date code is probably why the Library of Congress originally dated the film in MAVIS as 1925. Colorlab also found that the main title might have been added later — the film stock is date-coded for 1941, 1961, or 1981, raising the possibility that the film might still have been in use after the 1930s. Colorlab, “Inspection Report: The Reward of Courage,” Work Order: 40109, August 6, 2006. The 1925 date has now disappeared from MAVIS, where the film is now listed as 1921. MAVIS (Merged AudioVisual Information System) is an online database containing specialized inventory and tracking records for certain of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress’ nitrate, safety, video, and paper holdings. At the time of my research, MAVIS was accessible only in the Motion Picture and Television Reading Room reading room. On the prints before 1923 see Osborne to Richardson, January 25, 1923.

See for example, “Motion Picture Films in the Loan Library of Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield Ill.,” Illinois Health News 14, 2 (February 1928): 61–63, p. 62. M.C. Haecker (Director, Division of Education and Publicity), “Biennial Report. Division of Education and Publicity, 1926–1928.” In Eighth Biennial Report of the South Dakota State Board of Health (July 1, 1926June 30, 1928): 46–50, p. 47. The Division of Education and Publicity is not mentioned in Biennial reports of South Dakota after 1928, nor is the film The Reward of Courage.

As noted above, the date code on the film suggested a 1925 print. Colorlab, “Inspection Report.” Roger Smither, ed., and Catherine A. Surowiec, assoc. ed., This Film is Dangerous: A Celebration of Nitrate Film (Brussells: Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film, 2002).

Patrick Loughney, “The American Moving Image Diaspora: The Archeology of US Movies in International Archives,” American Studies International 42, 2/3 (June-October, 2004): 149–56. See also Smither and Surowiec, This Film is Dangerous.

Colorlab, “Inspection Report.” More generally on music and sound in silent films see Rick Altman, Silent Film Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

Prior to recording the sound track for The Reward of Courage, Maurice Saylor and the Snark Ensemble had composed and recorded soundtracks for DVD collections of early silent movie stars including Harry Langdon and Charley Chase. The Harry Langdon Collection: Lost and Found (Alexandria, VA: Allday Entertainment, 2007). Becoming Charley Chase (Alexandria, VA: Allday Entertainment, 2009). See also, Maurice Saylor, The Hunting of the Snark. An Agony in Eight Fits (Hong Kong: Naxos, 2011).

Colorlab, “Inspection Report.” Colorlab, “Tint Log: The Rewards [sic] of Courage,” Work Order: 40109, September 13, 2006.

Colorlab, “Inspection Report.” The precise figure for preserving the nitrate film, making a safety film, video, and DVD copies was $6,896.90. This figure is not excessive compared to other film preservation projects. NLM’s experience has been that, in 2012, a routine film-to-film transfer — the best form of preservation — costs on average about five thousand dollars, and is determined by the length of the film. However, older film, especially nitrate film, usually needs additional preservation work, which raises the price considerably. Film-to-video transfer is considerably less expensive, but only when the original is in good shape, which is not often the case.

Most databases of public health education films tend to include films that existed in library and other collections at the time the database was created.

They generally do not include films that have not survived, or include only a

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