PATRIA (Wharton 1917) Featuring MILTON SILLS, IRENE CASTLE and WARNER OLAND
PATRIA (pronounced “PAY-tree-ya,” sounds like “patriot”) was a “preparedness serial” (aka propaganda epic!) filmed in Ithaca, New York and featured well-known celebrity Irene Castle and actor Warner ("Charlie Chan") Oland.
The serial originally featured a Japanese spy ring, headed by Oland, after gold and munitions and the heiress Patria Channing, portrayed by Irene Castle. When then-President Woodrow Wilson learned about this story he asked the producers, the Wharton brothers, who were filming the serial in Ithaca with funding from William Randolph Hearst, to remove propagandistic Japanese references from it, which wasn't easy, considering that was the nationality of the main villains. New footage was then shot to suggest that the bad guys had hired Mexican mercenaries to do their dirty work, and their own Japanese names were replaced by Mexican ones. It's been said that then a new villain portrayed by Wallace Beery was added to the story as the shooting location of the final chapters was moved to California and last few episodes directed by Jacques Jaccard, but we haven't turned up any evidence of Beery's involvement.
The story is a spy/sabotage thriller in which Oland's character, Baron Huroki, is out to plunder and destroy munitions factory heiress and political activist Patria Channing and the Secret Service agent protecting her from the acts of sabotage on land and sea he initiates, with his not-too-small army of invaders. The action is fairly large-scale for a serial, chapter 10 being an out and out war between Huroki's army and the Channing factory workers, and includes innovative miniature work by the Whartons' special effects team, predating the Lydecker brothers by many years, and a fantastic train trestle stunt!
Milton Sills is the hero of the story, playing a US Secret Service agent. The serial also features Mike Rale, who played the sinister Master of the Black Order in the MYSTERIES OF MYRA serial, as Huroki’s assistant Kato.
Screen action takes place around Cayuga Lake and other recognizable Ithaca locations of historical interest.
Interestingly, a very young Rudolph Valentino can be glimpsed in a group of dancers in a few shots in one episode which was filmed in a club where he was employed at a dance teacher at the time. It appears to be his earliest existing onscreen film footage.
The DVD includes:
Episode 2: "Treasure" in which Baron Huroki and his men sack the Channing estate in search of Patria’s secret defense fund and are willing to burn the place down if necessary to get it Episode 3: "Winged Millions" in which Patria struggles to escape from a deathtrap in the ruins Episode 4: "Double-crossed" in which Huroki schemes to replace Patria with a double, a dancer named Elaine, whose jealous manager has other plans Episode 10: "War in the Dooryard" in which Baron Huroki’s army stages an all-out attack on New York and Captain Parr of the Secret Service assists Patria Channing’s men from the munitions factory, now trained as soldiers, in opposing them
(All the existing episodes include appearances by Warner Oland.)
Added Bonus: A 6 1/2 Minute Slideshow of advertisements and over 75 stills and behind the scenes photos from the serial
1 DVD; tinted & with new musical score, chapter markers; about 75 minutes