Credits | Story | Comment | Reference
Produced by Centaur Film Manufacturing Company
Released in the United States on March 4, 1916
Producer: David Horsley
Director: William J. Bowman
Screenplay: Theodosia Harris
Captain Delmar: William Clifford
Rajah Selim: Sherman Bainbridge
Tara, Rajah's first favorite: Marie James
Soma, Rajah's current favorite: Margaret Gibson
Dorothy Delmar: Marvel Spencer
Lieutenant Grey: Walter Spencer
Singh, an Indian spy: Edward Alexander
Sahan, spy's assistant: Edward Roberts
Timur, another spy: Gordon Russell
Captain Delmar is appointed commander of the Tower Post in India where he served as a lieutenant 20 years earlier. At the same time as this appointment, Captain Delmar is also trusted with a secret mission to find and recover a famous jewel that was owned by the King of the United Kingdom but lost in India. Rajah Selim, an Indian prince, reads a public document handed to him requesting Rajah to pledge his loyalty to Captain Delmar. While reading it, however, he remembers the past and how the young Captain Delmar stole the heart of Tara, Rajah's harem favorite, 20 years before.
Captain Delmar had genuinely loved the Indian woman and when he was ordered to return to his homeland, decided to marry her. But, upon returning to the garden from which they were to leave and elope, he found her dead. He never found out who killed her, but suspects it was an Indian slave who wanted to steal the precious jewel she was wearing.
Captain Delmar returned to the United Kingdom with a broken heart but later married an English woman. They had a daughter, Dorothy, who is now an adult. When her father is requested to take over command of the post, Dorothy goes to India with him.
It was in fact Rajah who took undiscovered and terrifying revenge on his favorite Tara, who was planning to elope with Captain Delmar, stabbing her to death and stealing the jewel. Captain Delmar escaped because he was to soon leave India and return home. But as Captain Delmar is now back in India commanding the post, Rajah again swears revenge on him. Rajah skillfully covers up his true feelings and meets Captain Delmar and his daughter in the expected manner.
Rajah gives Dorothy some of the servants from his own palace for her use. Sahan, the leader of the servants, is in fact Rajah's spy and Rajah intends to use the spy to carry out his plot. A secret passage exists between the palace and the post with the door to the passage hidden in Captain Delmar's study. The spy uses this passage to carry messages. Rajah orders the spy to cut the telephone line, abduct Captain Delmar and his daughter and bring them to the palace.
When he notices the telephone line is cut, Captain Delmar orders Lieutenant Grey, Dorothy's fiance, to go to a nearby post to investigate. After Grey leaves, Captain Delmar and his daughter are abducted and their bungalow is set on fire to conceal the abduction and make it look like they were burnt to death. When Grey returns he finds the bungalow burnt down, and, as Rajah intended, believes that Captain Delmar and Dorothy are dead.
In the meantime, Captain Delmar and Dorothy are captured by Rajah, who threatens to lock Captain Delmar in a cell and make Dorothy join his harem. Seeing her father taken away, Dorothy becomes very upset. Rajah's current favorite in the harem is Soma, who, despite being his favorite, is not truly loved by him because of his obsession with the past. Soma knows what is to become of Dorothy, but has no power to save her.
Lieutenant Grey discovers the secret passage and investigates. He enters the palace and happens to meet Dorothy, who is in a frenzy of grief, and Soma who is beside her. Seeing her fiance, Dorothy recovers herself. Soma, realizing that Rajah is coming, tells Grey that he needs a rescue team to save Captain Delmar and Dorothy. Grey rushes to the nearby post and returns to the palace with cavalrymen.
In the meantime, Rajah, seeing that Dorothy has regained her composure, shows her the jewel worn by Tara. When Rajah sees Dorothy wearing the jewel, he becomes enchanted by her beauty. Rajah presents Dorothy in a harem costume to Captain Delmar, whom he has brought before him. Rajah orders his men not to feed his lions to make them hungry. Soma hides in Dorothy's room, intending to stab Rajah when he comes in.
Captain Delmar is taken into the jungle where the hungry lions are waiting to be fed. Before giving the order, Rajah goes to meet Dorothy. Grey and his cavalrymen reach the palace but are refused entry. A battle begins. Amid the confusion, Captain Delmar escapes and goes to save his daughter. Soma fails to stab Rajah, but Dorothy is saved. The jewel Dorothy is wearing is discovered to be the one that the British government has been looking for.
(Based on an article in Moving Picture World (March 4, 1916) pp. 1544-1546)
The restored U.S. film, The Heart of Tara, was originally five reels long but, apart from this footage, all the other reels are missing. It is not clear which of the five reels this footage is. The highly inflammable original 35 mm film is stained in sepia hue, and therefore its restoration was carried out by creating a 35 mm color negative (internegative). The film has been telecine-processed at 24 fps, which is far quicker than normal. The film should preferably be run at about 18 fps when shown in a cinema.
This film was produced by the Centaur Film Company established by David Horsley. The name of Centaur, at least, is well known in the history of film as it was the first company to build a studio in Hollywood under the name of Nestor Motion Picture Company. The circumstances surrounding Centaur and the cinematic world at that time are rather complicated, so only a brief explanation is given below.
David Horsley entered the film world in 1907 managing a cinema in the hopes of taking advantage of the nickelodeon cinema boom, but this first venture failed, resulting in a heavy loss. In 1908, he began producing films and built a small studio in Bayonne, New Jersey. This was the beginning of the Centaur Film Manufacturing Company.
However, when the major American film companies formed a trust called the Motion Picture Patents Company with the intention of monopolizing the entire market, Centaur was unable to join, and, effectively as an independent film company, had no choice but to engage in a tough battle with the majors. In 1909, when the trust was very influential, Centaur had trouble making any good films. The company resumed film production after Ludwig G.B. Erb joined but Horsley and Erb fell into discord and Erb eventually left Centaur and established his company, the Crystal Film Company.
After parting with Erb, Horsley established the above-mentioned Nestor Motion Picture Company in 1910 and the name "Centaur" disappeared. However, soon after moving Nestor to the West Coast in 1911 and building Hollywood's first studio, Horsley fell out with the Universal Film Company, which had begun to distribute Nestor's films. This made him decide to return to New Jersey, where, in 1913, he launched another company again named Centaur Film Manufacturing Company. He built a new studio in the same location, Bayonne.
Horsley later returned to the West Coast again, built a studio in Los Angeles and resumed film production. The Heart of Tara was produced by the second Centaur and filmed in this new Los Angeles studio.
The distributor of Centaur's films at the time?around 1916?was Mutual Film Corporation. Mutual was releasing a series of feature films under the name of "Mutual Master Picture Deluxe" and The Heart of Tara was one of these. Horsley developed a production schedule at the beginning of 1916 to produce one five-reel feature film and a single-reel comedy every week. According to the schedule The Heart of Tara was the second five-reel film produced.
The film advertisements emphasized romance unfolding in India with scattered thrills provided by animals skillfully trained by Bostock (Moving Picture World, March 11, 1916, p. 1656). From this advertisement, as well as the story, it seems that the climactic scene in which the lions appear was considered a major highlight of the film.
Horsley didn't make films only with the aim of meeting his schedule but placed importance on plots that would make his films truly entertaining and educational. It was from this perspective that he produced circus films using Bostock's animals (Reel Life, January 8, 1916, p. 1), and also featured trained animals in The Heart of Tara. Critics at that time were generally in favor of the film. The review in the New York Dramatic Mirror (critic: "S"), for example, can be summarized as below:
From the title we might expect an Irish folktale come to life, but to our surprise, Indians appear from the beginning and the entire film unfolds in an oriental setting. The story has the classic elements of a secret oriental plot, a young white woman, governor ... but there are also many original developments. Suitable locations have been used for shooting without a lot of money needlessly spent and the oriental backdrop is elaborative throughout and effective. The cast are colorless except Marvel Spencer, a young actress making her feature film debut. She has a very unique look and pleasant personality, and seems destined for popularity sooner or later. The makeup is unusually good for this kind of costume play. Even the best shots are not particularly noteworthy. The titles are terrible.
(New York Dramatic Mirror, March 18, 1916, p. 33)
Motion Picture News (critic: Harvey F. Thew) also gave the film a favorable review from the business viewpoint as summarized below:
From the viewpoint of the promoter, this is a good film. All in all, it has the qualities that attract audiences. The attractive setting and landscapes (although not always logical), melodramatic story, animals and actions ... It is this kind of film that will generate revenue for the promoter if appropriately publicized.
(Motion Picture News, March 18, 1916, p.1617)
The star actress of Centaur at that time was Margaret Gibson, who played the role of Soma in this film. Soma, however, is more of a supporting role and Gibson's charm was not so much in evidence. The review of Motography can be summarized as below:
The advertisement features Margaret Gibson and Bostock's animals at the top but neither Ms. Gibson nor the very famous animals have prominent roles. Ms. Gibson, who plays a self-sacrificing Indian woman, Rajah Selim's harem favorite, is reliable in both appearance and acting. The story by Theodosia Harris is a real melodrama with incredible characters and characteristic situations. However, if we get into the spirit of the story, the impossible plot of Rajah and not-so-intelligent actions of other characters can hold our interest. Director William Bowman did a great job with this material.
(Motography, March 18, 1916, p. 650)
Reference concerning Centaur
Anthony Slide: The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film
Industry. (Scarecrow Press, 1998)
References concerning David Horsley
Big Stories Is Horsley Slogan., in Reel Life. (January 8, 1916) p.1
Interesting Horsley Productions Coming., in Moving Picture World.
(March 11, 1916) p.1656
References concerning The Heart of Tara
Reel Life. (February 19, 1916) p.6
Reel Life. (February 26, 1916) p.3
Moving Picture World. (March 4, 1916) p.1544
New York Dramatic Mirror. (March 18, 1916) p.33
Motion Picture News. (March 18, 1916) p.1617
Motography. (March 18, 1916) p.650
|(Author: Hiroshi Komatsu, 21 COE Program promotion staff member)