"Children of the South" by William S. Hart, 24 pages octavo, 1925. Rare.
William S. Hart was finished in the film business by 1925 when United Artists released the motion picture that proved to be his most enduring (thanks to a modified 1939 re-release) — but he didn't know it, and he didn't go down without a fight. Sixty years old and claiming to be 10 years younger, Hart had every intention of making more of the melodramatic, bad-guy-turns-good morality plays that had made him one of Hollywood's top draws during World War I. But the war ended, and audiences wanted to party. The Roaring Twenties were tailor-made for flashier movie cowboys like Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson and Buck Jones, who'd sooner rope an outlaw than a damsel in distress.
The studios shut him out. He grew bitter and litigious, suing the studio bosses for breach of contract when they skimmed his earnings and suppressed his final films with poorly timed releases and limited engagements. He might have won, but it was over. Compounded by a failed marriage that produced a son he rarely if ever saw, Hart felt betrayed by nearly everyone. It's why he left his Newhall estate to the County of Los Angeles and his De Longpre house to the City of Los Angeles (later West Hollywood). He wanted to leave his worldly possessions to the only people who never betrayed him — his fans. That was how he reckoned he could do it.
But that's a bigger story. This is a little story about a little story that Hart wrote in 1925 for the screen but which never made it there for the reasons stated.
"Children of the South" is set in Old Mexico. It's a cruel tale of loyalty and sacrifice as Pancho Villa and his men ride into Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916. The line, "Wolf dog loved Juanita as only animals can love" (emphasis in the original) is telling. Hart's dogs were faithful to the end. They had one of the best rooms in the house.
Hart started writing his own stories in 1919-1920 because the screenwriters were no longer churning out the type of scenarios he deemed worthy for the screen. They were busy writing to audience demand. Hart had modest success with his own "Travelin' On" (story 1920, movie 1922) and "White Oak" (1921); he intended for "Children of the South" to follow in that vein.
Hart had this scenario printed in a short run of possibly fewer than 10 copies by a local mom-and-pop (actually father-son) print shop in Los Angeles that he used more than once for the purpose of securing copyright. At the time, the prevailing copyright law (Copyright Law of 1909) required the appearance of the copyright notice and distribution to the public without restrictions. It did not specify the number of copies that constituted "publication." (Subsequent law specified "one or more" copies; see H.R. Rep. No. 94-1476). In 1925, Hart would have had to deposit two copies with the copyright office. It is unknown how many other copies survive. (At this time, we're checking with the L.A. County Natural History Museum, which operates the Hart Museum.)
Believed to be scenarios written by Hart:
- By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them, 1919 (became "The Toll Gate," 1920)
- Nellie Grey, 1919
- Travelin' On, 1920 (movie of same name, 1922)
- Patrick Henry, 1920
- Children of the South, 1925
- In the Days of '52, 1925
About the Printer, Will A. Kistler Co.
From Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge.
William A. Kistler established a printing business in Los Angeles in 1910. After World War I he purchased a lithography firm. His son, Lynton Kistler (1897-1993), learned offset lithography there in the late 1920s, and also began working on lithographic stones. He was one of a few local printers who became proficient with this process. Merle Armitage and Jean Charlot were his first customers. In 1932 Kistler printed Armitage's "The Work of Maier-Krieg" using the offset process. Vernon Grant's graphic art appears on several advertisements for the company during the 1930s.
In 1936, William Kistler sold his business, but Lynton continued making lithographs out of his garage studio. After briefly opening his own business, he moved to New York in 1941 where he worked in the printing trade. While working for Blanchard Press in New York he published a pamphlet on airplane profile recognition. On returning to Los Angeles in 1945, he resumed working on projects for Merle Armitage who brought him more work from other artists such as Edward Weston, Millard Sheets, and Warren Newcombe and his wife Beatrice Wood.
Kistler stopped making lithographs in 1952 because of an allergic reaction he developed to the acids used in lithography, and the expense of working on stone. He turned to more commercial printing and purchased a plant at 1653 West Temple Street in Los Angeles. The business prospered and his financial situation improved. In 1970, he sold this plant to purchase a larger facility at Washington and Normandie Boulevards. He sold the business in 1976 and retired from commercial printing.
LW3217: pdf of original book purchased 2018 by Leon Worden. Download individual pages here