Released 11/06/16 by Universal/Red Feather Photoplays; Director: Joseph De Grasse; Screenplay: Ida May Park, from a novel by Harriet T. Comstock; Cinematography: King Gray; 5 reels; Print Source: The Library of Congress (reels 2-5 only)

CAST: Jack Mulhall (Dick Travers), Dorothy Phillips (Priscilla Glenn), Lon Chaney (Jerry Jo), Joseph De Grasse (Anton Farwell), C. Norman Hammond (Nathan Glenn), Alice May Youst (Mrs. Glenn), Mr. Powers (Dr. Leydward), Grace Carlyle (Joan Moss), Countess Du Cello (Mrs. Travers)

SYNOPSIS: Priscilla Glenn was a wild, nature-loving child who lived in the woods with her mother and cruel father. Anton Farwell, the schoolmaster, has also come to the woods, but he is in hiding. He had once loved Joan Moss, and for her love he killed Dr. Leydward's brother. Leydward says he will not turn Farwell in if he remains in exile in the woods. Mrs. Travers and her crippled son Dick have come to the area, along with Dr. Leydward, a specialist who is able to straighten the boy's crooked limbs. Dick and Priscilla are attracted to each other, but he soon returns to the city. Jerry Jo, a half-breed, lures Priscilla to a house that has a wonderful library, and forces his attentions on her. She escapes unharmed, but her father thinks that she has been dishonored and forces her to leave his home. Priscilla goes to the city where she becomes a nurse in Leydward's hospital. There, she again meets Dick, but the two do not recognize each other. Ledyard's daughter, Margaret, is soon to marry Clyde Hunter. One day, Priscilla sees Jerry Jo, now a beggar, and taking pity on him, she decides to help him. Following him home, she comes to a tenement where some residents persuade her to help a dying woman and her baby. The woman is Joan Moss, who tells her that she is married to Clyde Hunter. Priscilla tells Margaret's father what has happened, then decides to return to her old home in woods. She finds that her mother has died and her Father is blind, but still refusing to allow her to set foot in his home. Priscilla tells Farwell that Joan has died, but does not tell him of her sordid existence. Priscilla returns to her place in the woods, where she hears a violin playing. It is Dick, who has returned to the woods, and the two are happily united.

"This contains some very picturesque and enjoyable scenic views. The story, while not of a dramatic type, is well constructed and holds the interest. Dorothy Phillips plays the part of Priscilla artistically; Lon Chaney portrays well the part of the half-breed." ---Moving Picture World

"THE PLACE BEYOND THE WINDS has its shortcomings and regretably they are not to be counterbalanced by its merits. There is fine photography, superb settings, good acting if not always apropos of the situation, but the story is weak." ---Motion Picture News

NOTES: THE PLACE BEYOND THE WINDS was the last of three pictures Chaney made for the Red Feather production company, and through one of the most bizarre episodes in film preservation history, two of these three films exist in partial form. In 1978, excavation had begun for a new recreation center for Dawson City. A bulldozer dug into the earth and came up with a shovelful of reels of nitrate film. Dawson City had been the end of the line for many film distributors, and the titles were stored at the local library until 1929 when the flammable nitrate was used as landfill in a condemned swimming pool and promptly forgotten. Stored for 50 years under the Yukon permafrost, the films were surprisingly well preserved, although sadly, many reels that had survived the years unscathed were damaged in thawing and show water marking on the edges. Also included in this amazing treasure trove were films by Pearl White, Harold Lloyd, and Douglas Fairbanks. THE PLACE BEYOND THE WINDS was missing reel 1 but was otherwise complete. Reels 1 and 4 were missing from IF MY COUNTRY SHOULD CALL. The surviving reels have been preserved and the films are now housed at the Library of Congress.

Viewing the film today reminds one what a sausage factory Universal was in the teens. The film was originally produced for $9,492, a fairly high budget for Universal films of that period, but a very low figure for a typical 1916 five-reel feature. The film plods along at a leisurely pace except for when Chaney is on screen. Cast as a crazed rapist, Chaney used make-up to appear as a scar-faced native who violently attacks the heroine, but is later reformed by her generosity. Chaney is the clear stand-out in an otherwise tepid cast, and it is clear to see why he soon left Universal to find better roles.

The working title of the film was MANSION OF DESPAIR.

© 1996,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis

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