Title: Chicago Letter

Periodical: The Moving Picture World

Date: September 27, 1913

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Chicago Letter

By Jas. S. McQuade

During the week beginning Monday, September 8, The Colonel Wm. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) Historical Pictures Company was incorporated under the laws of Colorado. The officers are: F. J. Bonfils, president; Wm. F. Cody, vice-president; George K. Spoor, treasurer; H. H. Tammen, secretary and V. R. Day, assistant secretary. Messrs. Bonfils and Tammen are proprietors of the Denver Post and the Kansas City (Mo.) Post, and also owners of the Sells-Floto shows. George K. Spoor is known wherever moving pictures are shown, as the president of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, and V. R. Day is his manager. Colonel Cody requires no introduction.


George K. Spoor

In my Chicago Letter, issue of September 6, it was stated that Messrs. Bonfils and Tammen had purchased all the best animals and equipment of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at Denver, August 26, with the object of filming the entire life of the famous scout and Indian fighter. Since then they concluded that it would be wiser to ally themselves with one of the well known film manufacturers of America, who had all the means ready at hand to enter upon the work immediately, and the result was the formation of the company already mentioned. Mr. Spoor, Mr. Day and Charles F. Stark, commercial manager of the Essanay Company, went on to Denver early during the week of September 8 and returned Sunday, September 14. The contract was closed Wednesday night, September 10, for the production of the Buffalo Bill films.

The last stand of the Cheyennes, the battles of Wounded Knee, the Little Big Horn, the Mission, and all other big engagements of the pioneer days of the West, in which William F. Cody took part, are to be featured in all parts of the World in moving picture films. Not only will Buffalo Bill be the stellar attraction in the great battles between the soldiers and Indians, but his whole life and service in the West will be shown from his boyhood days. He is to be pictured as the buffalo hunter, the Indian scout, the pacifier of the reds, the greatest factor in the settlement of the plains, the real pathfinder and trail blazer, one to whom the West owes a debt of everlasting gratitude. Nor will his home life be omitted from the pictured history, nor his picturesque circus career.

Buffalo Bill, Indians, cowboys, soldiers, and all the other characters are to fight over again the terrific battles of plain and canon on the exact spots where the original engagements took place. These are expected to be the most realistic pictures yet produced, with none of the true-to-life details lacking. The famous duel scene between Chief Yellow Hand and Colonel Cody will also be included. This duel took place the morning after the Custer massacre and Yellow Hand was slain. In extreme bitterness and rage over the butchery of Custer and his command, the day before, Colonel Cody scalped the dead Indian, a deed seldom practiced by the white man.

The first of the pictures of this big feature, for which no number of reels has been assigned, it being the purpose to combine the entire filmed history under one title and subject, are now being taken out in Cody, Wyoming. There the big Cody county fair is being held at the time of writing, and will last several days. Director Theodore Wharton, lately stationed at the Essanay studio, in Ithaca, N. Y., is on the spot, with Charles Kauffman, an Essanay expert camera man. Two other camera men from the Essanay forces will be engaged in the taking of pictures. Wild West sports, the branding and bulldogging of steers and other interesting features of the Cody fair that will convey Western atmosphere will be pictured, with Colonel Cody as the principal figure.

Another prominent personage will appear in these opening pictures, no less than the Prince of Monaco, on whom the daily press has showered news paragraphs ever since his arrival in New York City. The visit of the Prince to Cody, has been given generous space by the Chicago press, and the scribes have given out that he is going there on a bearhunt, and that an old bear, which has never been frightened at the sight of a man for over ten years, has been reserved for the royal hand. There may be a bearhunt, and an elk hunt besides, during the Prince's stay in Wyoming; but he never would have included Cody on his itinerary had it not been for the quick-witted showmanship and business enterprise of H. H. Tammen. The latter, just as soon as the news was flashed that the Prince had landed in New York, wired his Highness an invitation to meet Colonel Cody, in the little town named after the latter, and view the stirring scenes of the Western county fair. It will not be Colonel Cody's fault if the heir to Monte Carlo will not be revealed in some interesting stunts in the opening reel.

It is the purpose to make these reels educational in character. The progress of the Indian will be shown from his most savage state, when bows and arrows were his only weapons, up to his present civilized state, with his schools and colleges, his modern homes and farms and his craft and skill in various forms of handiwork.

V. R. Day will leave Chicago for Pine Ridge, about September 25, to act as general superintendent and paymaster of the entire field force engaged in the production.

The accompanying pen sketch of George K. Spoor was made by Mr. Gregg, staff artist of the Denver post.