The Lone Wolf

Contributors

The Lone Wolf , filmed in 1917, was one of the first motion pictures shot in New Orleans, and was produced and directed by Herbert Brenon.

Background

“The Lone Wolf” was a production shot by Herbert Brenon, an outside producer and director lured to New Orleans by the promise of convenient locations and climates. One unique aspect of Brenon’s time in New Orleans was the fact that Brenon got his start, in part, as a stock actor in the New Orleans theatre world, giving his return to the city a sense of cycle and closure. Brenon arrived in New Orleans on March 10, and concluded production on April 8, a timeline that indicates the majority of filming took place while in New Orleans. [1] During the course of filming, the city was said to have been extraordinarily accommodating, with even Mayor Behrman explicitly granting Brenon access to any “streets and city buildings and other city properties as needed.” [2] Brenon had earned fame previously by directing “The Daughter of Gods” and “War Brides.” Within the motion picture sphere, Brenon was known as “a wizard or photoplay, a master in production,” and was notably meticulous and artistic-minded in his directorial style. Brenon’s accomplishments in the world of film led to him being awarded the 1927 Photoplay Gold Medal as leading director in the United States, and in 1928 selected by newspapers as the world’s leading motion picture director.

The film itself was based upon a novel by Louis Joseph Vance, with a high-profile actor, Bertram Lytell, starring in the lead male role. The plot of the story takes place in Paris, and follows the life of a street thief trying to live as a “sentimental criminal,” until an incident involving his foster father leads him develop a hatred for both the police department and his former associates, “the pack” of fellow Paris criminals, until a chance meeting with Hazel Grace’s female lead sets him on the path towards romance. Joseph Echezebal, who played a minor role in “The Lone Wolf,” would later go on to become a stock actor in the Diamond Film Company. [3] “The Lone Wolf” opened in New Orleans theaters on January 6, 1918, when it was premiered at Loew’s Crescent Theatre and reviewed in New Orleans papers as “one of the most entertaining pictures Mr. Loew has yet staged.” [4]

Relevance

In terms of popular reception, “The Lone Wolf” played a role in the construction of a pervasive narrative of the desirability of New Orleans as a film locale and the viability of the film industry to become a dominant force in the New Orleans culture and economy. Numerous articles rave, in the wake of “Wolf,” New Orleans has been brought to national attention as a filming site, thanks to its lighting, setting, atmosphere, architectural charm, climate, and abundance of cheap labor. [5] “The Lone Wolf” is also a example of the precise type of film, in the eyes of commentators, to which the New Orleans so clearly lends itself, being set in Paris, and thus able to use the “French atmosphere” of neighborhoods such as the Latin Quarter. The overall narrative of the inevitable rise of New Orleans film was crucial in building the momentum and enthusiasm that fueled the rise and admittedly short-lived success of Nola Film Company, and later Diamond Film Company.

Works Cited

  • LA REGIONAL
  • LA REGIONAL
  • “Diamond Film Co. to Make Films in New Orleans,” New Orleans Item, April 17, 1918
  • “Loew Crescent Held ‘The Lone Wolf’ Premiere,” New Orleans Item, January 17, 1918
  • “Orleans May Be ‘Movies Center’,” New Orleans Item, November 25, 1917

This page was last modified on 04 May 2012, at 09:32