Original 11x14-inch lobby card for a later re-release of "The Apostle of Vengeance" starring William S. Hart (Kay-Bee Pictures 1916).
(Note: Despite the re-release, "The Apostle of Vengeance" is a lost film.)
From left: Nona Thomas, William S. Hart, Gertrude Claire.
Handwriting on the back of this lobby card reads: Triangle Film Co. / Thomas Ince / 5 Reels / March 24, 1916 / Directed by Wm. S. Hart / Cost $15,681 production.
"The Apostle of Vengeance" is a Hatfield-vs.-McCoy story written by Monte M. Katterjohn where the family names are Hudson and McCoy. Today, the story seems about as sappy as a Hart film gets — and that's saying something. Hart is a Hudson, but he's also a preacher. One of the McCoys captures his sister and tries to have his way with her. Hart is expected to avenge the affrontery, but when the McCoy boy begs for his life, Hart the apostle spares it. Spoiler alert: Hart ends up marrying a McCoy, the families become fast friends, and all live happily ever after.
The film was distributed by Triangle Film Corp.'s distribution arm, Triangle Distributing. S.A. Lynch was Stephen Andrew Lynch (Sept. 3, 1882 — Oct. 4, 1969), a onetime baseball standout from North Carolina who aggressively bought up so many movie theaters in the South in the 1910s that he was able to swing an exclusive distribution deal with Paramount (then a distributor, not a production company). In 1916 he bought into Triangle Distributing and sometimes branded its releases with his own company name. Read more about Lynch here.
Around that time, Triangle started to unravel, and Lynch milked its product by re-cutting films that Triangle previously distributed and releasing them as new films.
There are three reasons to think this lobby card is associated with a slightly later re-release of this film.
One, it's the wrong date. Lynch started releasing earlier Triangle films in 1917, and this film originally came out in 1916.
Two, the lobby card is the wrong size and paper stock for 1916. Lobby cards in the 1910s were 8x10 glossies. This is an 11x14 matte print on heavy, buff-colored stock.
The 11x14 size and the buff-colored stock weren't used for lobby cards until 1919 or 1920. Judging from the relatively poor image quality, Lynch probably printed this 11x14-inch card off of
an 8x10 print from the initial release.
Three, the overprint. The thing that looks like a Star of David in the lower right-hand corner of this lobby card probably isn't. The original Triangle logo — an inverted triangle, pointy side down
— is barely visible underneath the star, but it's there. The "star" is probably actually a sticker (or glued-on paper) with Lynch's logo, covering up the Triangle logo. The sticker was probably
affixed to the 8x10 print, and then the photo-with-sticker was used as the master for printing the 11x14 cards. Lynch's logo was
his intials, SAL, in a pyramidal layout, like a right-side-up triangle, with "Enterprises" below — as seen on a different lobby card with an SAL/Triangle overprint at right.
"Enterprises" was probably printed beneath the intials on the sticker, but it's too dark to show up when reproduced.
By now you're asking: So what? So ... by examining this one lobby card we can see that distributors and theater owners (which at the time were usually the same people) were making money off of Bill Hart films for years after the actor was paid his salary. There weren't any residuals and there wasn't much profit sharing in the early days of film.
As for Lynch, after Triangle faded away, Paramount rose up as a major production house and Lynch became a key player for Paramount as the studios battled
to buy and/or control movie theaters before the Federal Trade Commission charged him and others with racketeering and put a stop to it. Paramount paid him off for $5.7 million in 1922, but he returned to Paramount as an executive a decade later to help steer the bankrupt company through the Great Depression.
About "The Apostle of Vengeance"
From Koszarski (1980:46): Produced by the Triangle Film Corporation under the supervision of Thomas H. Ince; distributed by Triangle; in production February 3-March 24, 1916; released June 25, 1916; production cost, $15,281.89; five reels.
Directed by William S. Hart; story and screenplay by Monte M. Katterjohn; photographed by Joe August; assistant director, Clifford Smith.
Credited Cast: William S. Hart (David Hudson); Nona Thomas (Mary McCoy); Joseph J. Dowling (Tom McCoy); Fanny Midgley ("Marm" Hudson); John Gilbert (Willie Hudson); Marvel Stafford (Elsie Hudson); Gertrude Clair; "Rags" (as himself). Not credited: Jean Hersholt.
Synopsis (from Motion Picture World, June 24, 1916): David Hudson is a young minister living in Vermont. He is the son of a family of Kentucky feudists. The mortal enemy of the Hudsons is the McCoys. At the very time the young minister is being honored by a call from a richer and more influential parish in the North his father is killed in a pitched battle between the Hudsons and the McCoys. The same mail that brings the young minister word of his promotion brings him a letter from home, telling him of the killing of his father and asking him to return and aid in the extermination of the McCoys.
"Dave" Hudson declines the call from the church in the North and goes back home, but not to murder but to preach the gospel. His family is so enraged at his refusal to take up arms against their enemy that they turn him from the house. He takes up his residence in a little mountain cabin and puts out handbills announcing he will preach the following Sunday on "Love Thy Neighbor."
Chance gives him the opportunity to rescue Mary McCoy, the favorite daughter of the Hudsons' worst enemy , from the brute who attacked her. A little later the oldest McCoy boy attacks little Elsie Hudson and hurls her from the bridge into the river, where she would have been drowned had not Dave seen her floating downstream and rescued her.
The attack of a McCoy on a defenseless girl is more than Dave can stand and he renounces for the moment his ministry and goes forth to kill the man who had attacked his sister with his bare hands. Straight to the McCoy house Dave makes his way and there learns that the elder McCoy, having wrung a confession from his son, had turned the boy out and disowned him. Dave starts back to the woods in search of the man he sought. A terrific storm breaks and at its height Dave begs the God he has served to bring the man he was after into his power. As though in answer to his prayer, young McCoy falls down an embankment and lands at the very feet of the man who has sworn to kill him. As Dave's hands close on the man's throat, his victim begs for his life to be spared and makes his plea "for God's sake." The words strike Dave hard and he unloosens (sic) his grip on the man's throat.
Dave has returned to his preaching. He has allowed the man he sought to escape when he had him in his very grasp, but the effect had been better than if he had killed him. A feeling of friendship sprang up between the families that had been enemies for twenty-five years. Dave eventually marries Mary McCoy and the oldest and bitterest enemies in the two families become friends.
Review (from New York Dramatic Mirror, June 24, 1916): We fancy that Mr. Katterjohn had Hart in view when he wrote his scenario, for there are few other men that are capable of lending such strength to the character as does Mr. Hart.