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RORY O’MORE (1911)

Production company: Kalem Co.
Country of origin: USA
Producer/director: Sidney Olcott.
Script/adaptation: Gene Gauntier, from the ballad and novel Rory O’More by Samuel Lover (1836), dramatised (1837).
Photography: George Hollister.
Scenic artist: Henry Allen Farnham.
Locations: Killarney and surrounding area, Co. Kerry.
Black and white; silent; length: 761; 1,000 feet; format: 35mm.
USA release, 4 September 1911; re-issued, 26 September 1914.
Copy: IFA; NFTVA (761 ft).

Cast: Jack J Clark (Rory O’More), Gene Gauntier (Kathleen), Robert G Vignola
(Black William), Arthur Donaldson (Father O’Brien), J P McGowan (English
Commander of Regiment), Anna Dark (Rory’s mother).

Summary: While fleeing from British soldiers, Rory O’More, a rebel with a price on his head, stops to bid his sweetheart, Kathleen, good-bye. Black William, an informer, learns of Rory's whereabouts and brings the military to the scene. Rory flees while Kathleen delays the pursuit by flirting with the officer in command of the soldiers. The soldiers continue their chase across the Kerry mountains. Nearing capture, Rory plunges into a lake and one of the soldiers follows him. The two are some distance from shore when Rory hears the soldier shout for help. Abandoning his opportunity to escape, Rory saves the man from drowning. The officer compliments his behaviour and is willing to free him, but the informer. Black William, demands that Rory be arrested so that he can receive the reward for his capture. Rory is imprisoned and sentenced to death after a trial at which he declares, ‘If to fight for Irish be a crime, then I am guilty’. Fr O'Brien is encouraged by Rory’s mother and Kathleen to help him. While administering the last rites on the scaffold, Fr O’Brien succeeds in cutting Rory's bonds. Rory jumps over the wall behind the scaffold and there finds a horse waiting for him. During the escape, Fr O'Brien is shot by soldiers. Making his way to the sea, Rory finds a boat in which Kathleen is waiting for him, ready to take them to America.

Notes:  Filmed in Ireland. The historical figure Sir Rory O’Moore was a leader of the 1641 Rising against English rule in Ireland, though the period of this film is probably 1798-1803. Beyond the published roles, Herbert Reynolds has identified the parts played by J P McGowan and Anna dark in the extant film. Robert G Vignola is sometimes referred to as ‘assistant director’ for this film, but this is unsubstantiated and, in any event, a credit of doubtful significance, as Reynolds relates: ‘Vignola briefly directed his own production unit for Kalem during 1910 but had abandoned directing because he preferred acting under Olcott, in whose unit almost everyone served as an assistant to the director in one way or another. (Vignola's speciality was as a prop master.)’. Reynolds further points to the complexity of crediting the work of other Kalem members. ‘If it is to be used at all, the title “assistant director” would probably belong to Gene Gauntier, but the term has virtually no specific meaning other than that Kalem thought of her (the scenario writer and leading lady, and one-time director herself) as the second most important individual in the group. Alien Famham was the “scenic artist” (a contemporary description of what would later be known as art director) for the Kalem’s work in Ireland from this release (RORY O’MORE) onward. George Hollister was the sole cameraman for the unit, as Sidney Olcott was their one and only producer/director, so it is always a certainty that the scenic design is Famham’s and the photography is Hollister’s, as the producing and directing is Olcott’s. We have thus been inclined to credit the work of these men even though they may not have been awarded formal credits at the time. The case with Gauntier is more complicated; assistant director/scenario writer/leading lady though she was, we cannot always be certain that a given script is her own, as others sometimes contributed story ideas that she would type and polish up - with scenario credit frequently going to the contributor. Therefore, we have aimed at awarding her with writing credit only if she was formally acknowledged. Muddying the records in Gauntier's case is the fact that, for a few weeks in 1912, she returned to the USA while the others were at work in Ireland - during which time they were shooting scenarios that she had prepared in advance, but she was obviously neither acting nor “assistant director”. This hiatus seems to have included THE KERRY GOW and IRELAND THE OPPRESSED.’

References: Bioscope, 7 September 1911:519; Bioscope, 19 October 1911:xvi; Kalem Kalender, 1 September 1914:5 (reissue); MPW, 29 August 1911:445-6; MPW, 2 September 1911:637. Film User,  September 1958:386; Sight and Sound, October/December 1953:96.

Film details from entry on www.tcd.ie/Irishfilm.

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Contact: irishfilm@tcd.ie | Last updated: Apr 19 2011.