The Courtship of Miles Standish (1923 film)

Last updated

The Courtship of Miles Standish
Courship-of-myles-standish - charles-ray-vintage-photoplay-advert1923.jpg
Contemporary magazine advertisement
Directed by Frederic Sullivan
Written by Albert Ray
Based on The Courtship of Miles Standish
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Starring Charles Ray
Enid Bennett
E. Alyn Warren
CinematographyGeorge Rizard
Charles Ray Producing
Distributed by Associated Exhibitors
Release date
  • December 30, 1923 (1923-12-30)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
English intertitles

The Courtship of Miles Standish, also known as The Courtship of Myles Standish, [1] is a 1923 American silent epic historical romantic drama film about Myles Standish produced by and starring Charles Ray, Enid Bennett, and E. Alyn Warren. [2] Directed by Frederic Sullivan, nephew of the famous composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, and scripted by Albert Ray, the film is based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 poem The Courtship of Miles Standish . [3] No prints of the film are known to exist and it is now presumed lost. [4]


Background and production

Actor Charles Ray had risen to fame in the mid to late 1910s playing young, wholesome fun country bumpkins in silent comedy films directed by Thomas H. Ince for Paramount Pictures. [5] By 1920, Ray was earning $11,000 a week (approximately $149,000 today). [6] He left Paramount in 1920 after Adolph Zukor reportedly refused to give him a substantial raise, and formed his own production company, Charles Ray Productions. [5] The company produced several fairly successful comedy films from 1920 to 1922, several of which were written by (and featured assistant direction from) Albert Ray, Charles Ray's first cousin.

By 1922, Ray had grown tired of playing country bumpkin roles and decided to reinvent himself as a dramatic actor in romantic leading man roles. [5] [7] Against the advice of producers and friends, Ray chose to make a historical epic costume drama based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1858 narrative poem The Courtship of Miles Standish . [8]

After failing to secure financial backing from a major studio, Ray put up $500,000 of his own money to fund the project. [9] The scenario for the film, taken from Longfellow's poem, was written by Albert Ray, with direction by Frederic Sullivan (although all creative decisions on the film rested entirely with Charles Ray himself).

The film was shot in part at the Charles Ray Studio located on Sunset Boulevard (now known as the KCET Studios) in Los Angeles which Ray purchased shortly after leaving Paramount in 1920. [10] On one of the studio's sound stages, Ray had a 180-ton rocking replica of the Mayflower built that cost a reported $65,000 (approximately $1,034,000 today). [11] [12] Other sequences were shot in Lake Arrowhead, California where Ray had three full sized log cabins built solely for exterior shots. [13] By the end of filming, Ray had spent over $1 million of his own money and the film's budget reportedly rose to a reported $3 million (approximately $47,713,000 today). [14]



Upon its release, The Courtship of Miles Standish received some favorable reviews from critics, but was not well received by audiences. [3] [15] [16] Frederick James Smith described the film as "merely dull" and that "the acting is not much." Smith wrote, "Ray seems oppressed by the historical significance of John, and he allots himself entirely too much film. Enid Bennett makes Priscilla a simpering and almost insufferable ingenue." [17] The film was a box office failure, losing $1 million and effectively ruining Charles Ray's career. [18] Ray's production company went bankrupt and he was forced to declare personal bankruptcy. [10] For his part, Frederic Sullivan never directed another film.

Ray's career would never rebound from the failure of The Courtship of Miles Standish. He continued acting, but appeared in smaller budget productions, in supporting roles. During the sound era, Ray appeared in bit parts and filed for bankruptcy a second time in 1934. [5] He died of a systemic infection in November 1943. [19] [20]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Wadsworth Longfellow</span> American poet and educator (1807–1882)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator. His original works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was the first American to completely translate Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and was one of the fireside poets from New England.

<i>Sunset Boulevard</i> (film) 1950 film by Billy Wilder

Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 American black comedy film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after a major street that runs through Hollywood, the center of the American film industry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Myles Standish</span> English military officer hired by the Pilgrims (1584–1656)

Myles Standish was an English military officer and colonist. He was hired as military adviser for Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts, United States by the Pilgrims. Standish accompanied the Pilgrims on the ship Mayflower and played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony from its foundation in 1620. On February 17, 1621, the Plymouth Colony militia elected him as its first commander and continued to re-elect him to that position for the remainder of his life. Standish served at various times as an agent of Plymouth Colony on a return trip to England, as assistant governor of the colony, and as its treasurer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Arthur</span> American actress (1900–1991)

Jean Arthur was an American Broadway and film actress whose career began in silent films in the early 1920s and lasted until the early 1950s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sam De Grasse</span> Canadian actor (1875–1953)

Samuel Alfred De Grasse was a Canadian actor. He was the uncle of cinematographer Robert De Grasse.

<i>The Courtship of Miles Standish</i> 1858 poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Courtship of Miles Standish is an 1858 narrative poem by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the early days of Plymouth Colony, the colonial settlement established in America by the Mayflower Pilgrims.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Priscilla Alden</span> Member of Massachusettss Plymouth Colony of Pilgrims

Priscilla Alden was a noted member of Massachusetts's Plymouth Colony of Pilgrims and the wife of fellow colonist John Alden. They married in 1621 in Plymouth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Walter Wanger</span> American film producer (1894–1968)

Walter Wanger was an American film producer active from the 1910s, his career concluding with the turbulent production of Cleopatra, his last film, in 1963. He began at Paramount Pictures in the 1920s and eventually worked at virtually every major studio as either a contract producer or an independent. He also served as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1939 to October 1941 and from December 1941 to 1945. Strongly influenced by European films, Wanger developed a reputation as an intellectual and a socially conscious movie executive who produced provocative message movies and glittering romantic melodramas. He achieved notoriety when, in 1951, he shot and wounded the agent of his wife, Joan Bennett, because he suspected they were having an affair. He was convicted of the crime and served a four-month sentence, then returned to making movies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Ray (actor)</span> American actor, director, producer and screenwriter

Charles Edgar Ray was an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter. Ray rose to fame during the mid-1910s portraying young, wholesome hicks in silent comedy films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enid Bennett</span> Australian actress

Enid Eulalie Bennett was an Australian silent film actress, mostly active in American film.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frederic Richard Sullivan</span> American film director and actor

Frederic Richard "Dickie" Sullivan, was an English-born American film director and actor of the silent era. He directed 34 films between 1913 and 1923. He also appeared in 29 films between 1913 and 1935. He also acted on stage. He was a nephew of the composer Arthur Sullivan.

Pecksuot was a warrior of a Massachusett tribe led by Chickatawbut in the early 17th century until his death c. 1623. He was killed by Myles Standish either in 1624 in the battle at Wessagusset Colony as immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Courtship of Miles Standish or, more probably, during a dinner arranged by Standish in 1623.

<i>The Aryan</i> 1916 film

The Aryan is a 1916 American silent Western film starring William S. Hart, Gertrude Claire, Charles K. French, Louise Glaum, and Bessie Love.

<i>Ebb Tide</i> (1937 film) 1937 film by James P. Hogan

Ebb Tide is a 1937 American Technicolor adventure film directed by James P. Hogan and starring Oscar Homolka, Frances Farmer and Ray Milland.

<i>When Knighthood Was in Flower</i> (1922 film) 1922 film

When Knighthood Was in Flower is a 1922 American silent historical film directed by Robert G. Vignola, based on the novel by Charles Major and play by Paul Kester. The film was produced by William Randolph Hearst for Marion Davies and distributed by Paramount Pictures. This was William Powell's second film. The story was re-filmed by Walt Disney in 1953 as The Sword and the Rose, directed by Ken Annakin.

The Biggest Show on Earth is a surviving 1918 American silent drama film directed by Jerome Storm and written by Julien Josephson and Florence Vincent. The film stars Enid Bennett, Bliss Chevalier, Ethel Lynne, Melbourne MacDowell, Jack Nelson, and Earle Rodney. The film was released on April 28, 1918, by Paramount Pictures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Sullivan (actor)</span> American actor

Billy Sullivan, also known as W. A. Sullivan, William A. Sullivan, and Arthur Sullivan, was an American character actor of the silent and early sound film eras.

<i>Big Brother</i> (1923 film) 1923 film by Allan Dwan

Big Brother is a 1923 American silent drama film directed by Allan Dwan and written by Rex Beach and Paul Sloane. The film stars Tom Moore, Edith Roberts, Raymond Hatton, Joe King, Mickey Bennett, Charles Henderson, and Paul Panzer. The film was released on December 23, 1923, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>A Midnight Bell</i> 1921 film

A Midnight Bell is a 1921 American silent comedy film. The film was directed and produced by its star, Charles Ray. His brother, Albert, is thought to have co-directed some scenes. The film is believed to be lost.

<i>The Vamp</i> (film) 1918 film

The Vamp is a lost 1918 American silent wartime comedy-drama film directed by Jerome Storm and starring Enid Bennett and Douglas MacLean. It was produced by Thomas H. Ince with distribution by Paramount Pictures.


  1. IMDb entry and some advertisements
  2. White Munden, Kenneth (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1921–1930. University of California Press. p. 149. ISBN   0-520-20969-9.
  3. 1 2 Snow, Stephen Eddy (2008). Performing the Pilgrims: A Study of Ethnohistorical Role-Playing at Plimoth Plantation. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 20. ISBN   978-1-60473-181-1.
  4. Progressive Silent Film List: The Courtship of Miles Standish at
  5. 1 2 3 4 Slide, Anthony (2002). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses . University Press of Kentucky. pp.  325–326. ISBN   0-8131-2249-X.
  6. "Hollywood Star Walk: Charles Ray". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  7. Motion Picture, Volume 45. Macfadden-Bartell. 1933. p. 86.
  8. Marion, Frances (1972). Off With Their Heads!: A Serio-Comic Tale Of Hollywood. Macmillan. p. 107.
  9. Beauchamp, Cari (1998). Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood. University of California Press. p. 159. ISBN   0-520-21492-7.
  10. 1 2 Alleman, Richard (2013). Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie L.A. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 169. ISBN   978-0-8041-3777-5.
  11. Rasmussen, Cecilia (August 1, 1999). "Film Pioneer Griffith Rode History to Fame". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  12. Brownlow, Kevin (1979). Hollywood, the pioneers . Knopf. p.  247. ISBN   0-394-50851-3.
  13. Cozad, W. Lee (2002). Those Magnificent Mountain Movies: The Golden Years 1911–1939. p. 95. ISBN   0-9723372-1-0.
  14. Transatlantic, Issues 1-16. Writers' War Board. 1943. p. 37.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. Hart, James David (1961). The Popular Book: A History of America's Literary Taste. University of California Press. p. 232.
  16. Nash, Jay Robert; Connelly, Robert; Ross, Stanley Ralph (1988). Motion Picture Guide Silent Film 1910–1936. Vol. 10. Cinebooks. p. 53. ISBN   0-933997-10-8.
  17. Smith, Frederick James (April 1924). "New Screenplays in Review". Screenland. New York: Screenland, Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  18. Karney, Robyn (1984). The Movie Stars Story. Crescent Books. p. 34. ISBN   0-517-43736-8.
  19. "Charles Ray Of Films Dies". Berkeley Daily Gazette. November 23, 1943. p. 1. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  20. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 68. ISBN   0-786-40983-5.