Friday, February 27, 2009

Final Thoughts on Harry Davenport - Last Day to Purchase Tickets

The Bradford County Historical Society will be in Canton tomorrow. Will you? Today is the last day to get your tickets for the program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor," although there are few tickets remaining.

I have heard from several regular followers of this blog during February who have enjoyed learning about this topic through weekly movie clips. Unlike many historical figures in our county history, we can actually see Harry Davenport's expressions, and hear him talk through these old films. Perhaps that is what makes this so interesting. There is added depth to the person that isn't normally available.

I've also received requests from those who are interested in this being the topic of a future book. If you would be interested in seeing this Bradford County story developed into a book, email me at and let me know so that we can guage how much interest there would be in such a publication.

As March begins, we will get back to some other news and topics of interest around the historical society. Meanwhile, we are ready for a great event tomorrow. For those of you who can't be there, we hope to post some photos of the event right here on the blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Should I be Interested in Harry Davenport?

This Saturday, February 28th, the Bradford County Historical Society will present a program at the Rialto Theatre in Canton, PA entitled "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor". As many have discovered, this topic is not just of interest to Canton residents, but to all of northeastern Pennsylvania and classic movie lovers across America.

We will tell a story, illustrated by over 100 professional and personal photographs of the Davenport family, two movie clips, and quotes and stories as only Harry Davenport could tell them. This is perhaps one of the most fascinating, but least told stories in Bradford County history. Various members of the Davenport family had a constant presence in Bradford County
for approximately 80 years.

They travelled from Canton to Mansfield to Towanda to Troy and many other towns to stage performances for the benefit of the community during the 1920's and 30's.

Harry brought actors, actresses and a film crew to Canton to film the exterior scenes of three silent films.

And just when he thought his acting career had come to an end, Hollywood made him one of the most in-demand character actors of the 1930's and 40's.

If you enjoy classic films, you have no doubt seen him in a variety of rolls. He was Dr. Meade in "Gone With the Wind," Judge Thaddeus Turner in "The Batchelor and Bobby Soxer," Grandpa in "Meet Me in St. Louis," and appeared in an almost endless list of other Hollywood movies.

This year marks 60 years since Harry's death and there is no better time to learn about this piece of Bradford County history than now.

Harry Davenport's grandson, an actor/director/producer/writer in California, has sent a special message for all those who attend the program.

Call the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240, Wednesday through Friday, to get your tickets; or call and leave a message today. First come, first served, as they are going fast! You may also stop at the Canton Independent-Sentinel and purchase them there.

This is a "once in a lifetime" event. See you this Saturday!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feature #4 - The Hunchback of Notre Dame ~ Harry Davenport Program this Saturday in Canton

We present Feature #4 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. This is the final week to get your tickets for our special event, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor."

It will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00. No tickets will be available at the door.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: A member of the Davenport family, and cast member of the movie, "Gone With the Wind" is sending a special message for the people of Canton. Don't miss this event!

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ The Hunchback of Notre Dame ~

Released: December 29, 1939
Character: King Louis XI
Notes: This movie was released the same year as Gone With the Wind, in which Harry also appeared. It was certainly a busy year for him as these are two of the most well known movies in which he was a character actor. This movie was made only four years after Harry left Canton, Pa.

Movie Synopsis:
Ignorance, cruelty and superstition pervade France of the fifteenth century. Frollo, the King's high justice, exploits these evils, persecuting the gypsies and opposing any mode of progress.

When the lovely gypsy dancer Esmeralda is threatened by the King's men, she seeks refuge in a church, Notre Dame, where she meets the grotesque hunchback Quasimodo. Frollo, who is Quasimodo's guardian, orders the hunchback to take the girl captive, and Esmeralda, terrified, escapes to the underworld of Clopin and his beggars. There, she saves the life of the poet Gringoire by consenting to take him as her husband, although she truly loves the soldier Phoebus.

Frollo lusts after Esmeralda, however, and, unable to tolerate her love for Phoebus, kills his rival. Esmeralda is arrested for the crime, and Frollo, claiming that the girl had bewitched him with the power of Satan, demands her life.

As Esmeralda is marched to die on the gallows, Quasimodo leaps from the building above and carries her to the sanctuary of the church. Not to be denied Esmeralda's life, Frollo incites the nobles to deny sanctuary, and the beggars, concerned for the girl's safety, storm the church.

Amid the chaos, Frollo enters the church. Justice is finally served as Quasimodo hurls Frollo to his death from the bell tower.

Turner Classic Movies

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feature #3 - Harry Davenport Plays a College Professor

We present Feature #3 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. Our program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are now on sale at $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00.

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ Jack London ~

Released: December 24, 1943
Character: Professor Hilliard (University of California at Berkeley)
Notes: This clip features a discussion between Professor Hilliard (Harry Davenport) and Jack London (Michael O'Shea). A professor is somewhat different from the roles that Harry usually played. This movie was produced by Samuel Bronston Pictures, Inc.

Movie Synopsis:
In Oakland, California, in 1890, Jack London, who dreams of becoming a writer, quits his cannery job after a female employee's hands are crushed in a machinery accident. Mammy Jenny, Jack's maid and surrogate mother, lends him her savings so that he can buy a boat and earn his living hauling oysters from the San Francisco Bay.

After he buys the boat from French Frank, who gets a cut of all his business, Jack discovers oyster pirate Mamie stowed aboard, and agrees to a partnership with her. They are later joined by a third partner, Scratch Nelson. Early one morning, the boat pulls into dock after a night's work of stealing from other traps and is fired at from the dock by the police. Scratch is killed, and although Mamie has fallen in love with him, Jack decides that oyster piracy is too dangerous a business and quits.

Later, Jack signs on as an able-bodied seaman for a seven-month sealing trip. When his shipmates tease him about his reading habits, weathered sailor Old Tom comes to his defense, and the two become fast friends. One day Jack turns the tables on Red John, a rough practical joker who has harrassed him since his first day aboard ship, and proves his manhood once and for all in a fistfight with the sailor. That night, Jack writes about the sailor, calling him "the sea wolf," and is encouraged in his literary efforts by Old Tom.

After his ocean adventures, self-educated Jack enrolls at the University of California at Berkeley. When a teacher selects one of his stories as an example of an overactive imagination, Jack defends his work, stating that having witnessed the vagaries of life, he only writes about cruelty with the hope of alleviating it.

Realizing that formal training will not give him the education he craves, Jack leaves school and goes to Dawson City, Alaska, intending to capitalize on the gold strikes in the Yukon. One night in a saloon, Jack meets Greek singer Freda Maloof, and is delighted by her knowledge of Lord Byron's poetry. Although Freda falls in love with Jack, he leaves as soon as news spreads of a major gold strike eighty miles away, determined to earn enough money so that he can spend his time writing instead of working.

Eventually Jack ensconces himself in a remote cabin in the wilderness with his German shepherd, Buck, and writes a novel about the dog titled Call of the Wild. Publisher George Brett pays Jack for his manuscript, and when Jack meets his secretary, Charmian Kittredge, he learns that she has already become smitten with him through his writing. Jack soon falls in love with Charmian, and on New Year's Eve, a newspaper publisher asks Jack to cover the Boer War for him. In keeping with her promise that she will never entrap Jack, Charmian encourages him to go. Jack returns, older and wiser, bearing many gifts for Charmian, who still wants to marry him.

The next day Maxwell sends Jack to cover the burgeoning war between Japan and Russia, and Charmian again agrees to wait for him. Jack is one of many correspondents in Japan, most of whom believe that Russia will soon make peace with Japan. Jack, however, is suspicious of Japanese intentions, knowing that they are sending troops into Korea. When the Japanese refuse to allow correspondents to travel into Korea, Jack makes a bet with reporter Dick Davis, who is sure that Jack cannot cross the Korean border. Jack disguises himself as a Chinese worker, and gets passage on a "sampan" which crosses the Yellow Sea. Once there, he witnesses Japan's invasion of Korea firsthand.

In Korea, Jack is befriended by Oxford-educated Captain Tanaka, who treats him as a guest and outlines for him Japan's plot to take over all of Asia, and ultimately, the world. Jack scoops all of the other papers and sends his report about the Japanese invasion of Korea.

After some time, Jack is arrested as a Russian spy, and is thrown into prison with the Russian prisoners. Jack is horrified by the brutal treatment of the prisoners, who are denied water. When the dehydrated prisoners break free of their cell to slake their thirst at a well, the Japanese guards laugh as they gun them down. Davis learns of Jack's arrest and alerts the American government in Washington, D.C. President Theodore Roosevelt demands from the Japanese government Jack's immediate release, but upon his return home, he finds that no one believes his story of the Japanese plan to overtake the world, and is disappointed when Maxwell refuses to print his articles. As Jack and Charmian leave the publisher's office, Charmian reaffirms her love for Jack, and celebrates him for his courage and honesty.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

ATTENTION PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENTS: Please contact your state representatives and senators this week!


This is an urgent notice for all Pennsylvania residents who value local county historical societies. Governor Ed Rendell recently announced his proposed budget for FY2009-10. As a part of this budget proposal, he has deleted the Museum Assistance line item and has also proposed never funding it again. This line item is the only source for this essential grant program that has provided much-needed dollars for museums and historical organizations since 1985. Each official county historical society, including Bradford County, relies on general operating support funding from this program to be able to survive. If this line item is not restored to the budget, the cut will have devastating effects across Pennsylvania, including the elimination of preservation and education services in each county.

While the Governor cut the Pennsylvania History and Museum Grant Program to $0, he retained the grants for the nine “non-preferred” museums with a suggested reduction of ten percent. Art museums obtain their general operating support funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and should anticipate an eight-to-nine percent cut. This is grossly unfair to all the history museums, historical societies, science museums and technology centers, nature centers and arboreta, zoos, children’s museums, maritime museums, transportation museums and others that have received and depended upon Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC) grant funding in the past.

Our state senators and state representatives can return the funds to the Pennsylvania History and Museum Grant Program. However, it is up to you to tell your elected legislators now about how the elimination of museum funding will affect your county historical society and your community. Write letters to your state senator and state representative or even better visit their district offices. Contact information for our representatives and our senator in Bradford County can be found below. This affects every county, so even if you don't live in Bradford County, please contact your own legislators. Contact information can be found at

On Monday, February 23rd, the State House Appropriations Committee will hold budget hearings on the PHMC’s budget. It is crucial to contact your legislators by Friday, February 20th. We know that the most powerful incentive for legislative action is constituent response. For your convenience, a sample letter can be found below. When you contact your legislators, please also send a copy (email or letter) to the Bradford County Historical Society so that we can report how much of a response we were able to provide. Email me at or mail to BCHS, 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA 18848.

Thank you very much for your valuable help!

Matthew E. Baker

115 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202068
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2068

(717) 772-5371
Fax: (717) 705-1850

Tina Pickett

211 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202110
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2110

(717) 783-8238
Fax: (717) 260-6536


Senate District 23 Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna (part) and Union (part) Counties.

Gene Yaw

Senate Box 203023
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3023

(717) 787-3280


Note: If you would like to receive this letter as a Word document, email me at and I'll send it out ASAP.


[Legislator Name]

Dear Senator or Representative:

Please support returning the Museum Assistance line item to the FY2009-2010 budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As you are aware, Governor Edward G. Rendell has proposed $0 for this line item that funds the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s (PHMC) grant program that has provided invaluable assistance to Bradford County Historical Society for several years. Not only has the Governor recommended $0 for this budget year, he also wants to eliminate the program in future years. Every year, this grant program has supplied vital support for hundreds of worthwhile community institutions across the Commonwealth.

PHMC grant funding is integral to the programs and operations of my organization. If the PHMC’s grant program disappears, my historical society will suffer with cuts in educational programming in Bradford County, the reduction of valuable services to the community such as school tours and the preservation of objects and archival material that are important to the county and state.

In addition, the Bradford County Historical Society and other museums and historical organizations are not only important cultural assets to the people in this District; they are also economic assets that help to keep Bradford County healthy. I would like to provide you with information regarding the economic and community impact of my institution. It employs individuals who contribute to the economic base of our community, both by their purchasing of goods and services and paying taxes. The Bradford County Historical Society serves over 1,000 visitors each year, including school children, seniors, and visitors from 16 states and three other countries.

As you know, museums derive their funding from a variety of sources, all being influenced by the current economic downturn. Public support is critical to our survival. I recognize the difficulty of impending choices when crafting a state budget, but urge you to consider the important contribution that institutions like the Bradford County Historical Society provide to the economic and cultural health of our community.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bonus Feature - Alice Davenport and Charlie Chaplin

This is a bonus feature for our upcoming program "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor." Harry's first wife was Alice Davenport. Later in life she appeared in several silent films with Charlie Chaplin. Below is a portion of the movie, Making a Living, in which Alice appears. Be sure to get your tickets to our February 28th program at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Historical Society at 570-265-2240.

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ Making A Living ~

Released: February 2, 1914
Character: Mother
Notes: The woman wearing the stole is Alice Davenport. The movie, Making a Living, was Charlie's first film.

Movie Synopsis:
An out-of-work swindler takes a job as a reporter. After witnessing a car go over cliff, he grabs a rival reporter's camera and races to the newspaper office to enter the photo as his own. His rival is delayed when he gets caught in a woman's bedroom by her jealous husband. The swindler follows the distribution of the paper containing his 'scoop' around town where he is once again chased by the rival reporter. Both end up on the cow-catcher of a streetcar.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Research Library Closed Until Spring...and Other News from BCHS

The BCHS Board of Trustees met last Saturday for an exceptionally busy meeting. With the organization growing and changing all the time, these busy meetings help us review the progress we are making toward accomplishing our goals. Here are some updates on some things that are happening right now.


First, if you are signed up for our email list, you have received a message announcing that our Research Library is closed, effective this week until early April. As I'm sure you can appreciate, the cost to heat our facility to a comfortable working temperature is quite expensive. Very cold temperatures this winter have caused our furnaces to work overtime to heat our library. Much of the funding budgeted for this year's heating season has already been used. As a result, we now find it necessary to close for the remainder of the winter months. Our museum is always closed during the winter and our Research Library is the only historical facility in the county, besides Tioga Point Museum, that has remained open year round.

The historical society staff will continue to operate as usual, except that Denise, our Library Clerk, will operate from a smaller room so that we can lower the heat in the library. You can still contact us for any business either by phone or email. We just won't have library hours until April.

Thank you for your ongoing support!


This is a special opportunity for all those interested in sponsoring the educational programming of the Bradford County Historical Society. If you follow my blog, you know that we are gearing up for the program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" at the Rialto Theatre in Canton on February 28th.

We are offering five different levels of support. Under Level 1, if you will donate a gift of $25.00 to BCHS in sponsorship of this program, your name will be listed on the back of the program that will be distributed to all event participants. Do you want the community to know that you believe local history programs are important in Bradford County? If so, consider contributing and let us know what name you would like on the program. There are also four other levels, each with increasing gifts such as free tickets in honor of your donation. Email me at to find out more about Levels 2-5.

Donating is simple. Either send a check to BCHS, 109 Pine Street, Towanda, PA 18848 and write "Davenport" in the memo; or click the "Donate" button on my blog and you can make a safe and secure donation using a credit card through Paypal. You don't have to create a Paypal account to be able to donate.


We are currently in the process of changing our phone system in order to provide better service to you. The change should take place this week and includes new voicemail for the library and also the Curator's office, new business phones, and other features that will make it easier for staff to help you when you call.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Feature #2 - The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer

We present Feature #2 in our series of movies in which Harry Davenport, former resident of Canton, Pa., is an important character actor. Our program, "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" will be presented on February 28th at 1 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre in Canton. Tickets are now on sale at $6 each and are available at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or by calling the Bradford County Historical Society at 570-265-2240. If you would like the tickets mailed to you, add $1.00.

This event benefits the Bradford County Historical Society. It includes a presentation featuring over 100 rare photographs and movie clips depicting the life of Harry Davenport, beginning as a young boy in Bradford County and ending in Hollywood as the oldest actor in the nation. The program opens with an arrangement of music from two of the most popular movies in which Harry appeared.

If you like the classic movies of the 1930's and 40's, you don't want to miss this event! Refreshments are included in the ticket price!

EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: To watch the movie clip below, go to the blog by clicking here.

~ The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer ~

Released: September 1, 1947
Character: Judge Thaddeus Turner
Notes: Harry is featured as a cantankerous old judge in this movie and his interactions with Cary Grant are amusing. Also included in this movie are Myrna Loy and a 17 year old Shirley Temple. This movie was produced and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

Movie Synopsis:
After Margaret Turner, an attractive, single judge, hears a case involving Dickie Nugent, a playboy artist on trial with three acquaintances for brawling in a Los Angeles nightclub, she issues a warning and dismisses the defendants.

Later that day, Dickie delivers a lecture on art at a local high school, and Margaret's teenage sister and ward Susan, who is in attendance, becomes infatuated with him. Inspired by a vision she has of Dickie as a knight in shining armor, Susan insists on interviewing him for the school paper. To satisfy Susan's over-eager curiosity, Dickie invents a lurid past for himself and agrees offhandedly to use her as a model for one of his "Americana" paintings.

That night, Susan reveals her infatuation to a disapproving Margaret and, after sneaking away from home, wangles her way into Dickie's empty apartment. Susan falls asleep while waiting for Dickie, causing Margaret and her boyfriend, Assistant District Attorney Tommy Chamberlain, to panic with worry. Just as Margaret deduces where Susan has gone, Dickie returns home and finds the teenager half-asleep on his couch. Margaret and Tommy burst in on the couple, and by the next morning, Dickie is in jail, having been arrested for, among other things, slugging Tommy.

While in his cell, Dickie is visited by court psychiatrist Dr. Matt Beemish, who is also Margaret and Susan's uncle. Sensing Dickie's innocence, Matt convinces Margaret, Tommy and the judge who is hearing Dickie's case to drop all charges on condition that Dickie agree to "date" Susan as a way of curing her of her infatuation. As mandated, Dickie escorts Susan to a high school basketball game, where her boyfriend, player Jerry White, becomes distracted with jealousy. Although Dickie tries to push Jerry back into Susan's arms by inviting them for a post-game soda, Jerry declares that he is resigned to losing Susan and offers to be her friend. After a frustrated Dickie says goodnight to Susan, he attempts a sincere flirtation with the serious-minded Margaret, but is awkwardly rebuffed by her.

That weekend, Dickie accompanies Susan, Margaret, Tommy, Matt and Susan's other uncle, Judge Thaddeus Turner, on a neighborhood picnic. At Susan's urging, Dickie participates in several races, but loses them all in humiliating fashion to the smug Tommy. Desperate to prove his manhood, Dickie enters the big obstacle race, and because Jerry and Susan have bribed their teenage friends to perform badly and sabotage other entrants in the competition, Dickie beats Tommy and wins. As Dickie accepts his trophy, the now smitten Margaret envisions him as a knight in shining armor, just as her sister had before, and calls him that night for a date. Though exhausted, Dickie eagerly agrees to meet her at the Tick Tock Club, then to confuse Tommy, who has come to confront him, "confesses" that he is madly in love with Susan.

Margaret and Dickie's romantic evening at the Tick Tock is shortlived, however, as Susan, Tommy, Jerry and Joey and Agnes Prescott, two of the co-defendants from Dickie's court appearance, join them at their table. While Susan denounces Margaret for "stealing" Dickie, Jerry becomes angry at Susan for not caring about his recent draft notification. A jealous Tommy then accuses Dickie of immoral conduct, and as the rest of group argues noisily, Agnes screams that Dickie has ruined her birthday.

After Susan and Margaret storm home, Matt uses his psychological skills to convince the younger sister that she is not in love with Dickie. Susan apologizes to Margaret, who then is persuaded by Matt to fly away for a short vacation to "forget" Dickie. Unknown to Margaret, however, Matt has spoken to an equally depressed Dickie and knows that he is planning to fly out the next day. At the airport, Matt tricks the police into preventing Tommy from arresting Dickie by telling them that Tommy is a mental patient who believes he is the district attorney, and brings the reluctant lovers together at last.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Harry Davenport Press Release

The Bradford County Historical Society is coming to the Rialto Theatre in Canton for a second presentation of the program, "Harry Davenport – Canton’s Famous Actor."

Originally presented last September in Towanda, the program has created so much interest in the topic that the historical society has decided to offer it again.

The program will be presented on February 28, 2009 at 1 p.m. Tickets are now on sale for this event and must be purchased in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door. Proceeds from the event will be used to cover the cost of bringing the program to Canton and will also be used to support the preservation work of the Bradford County Historical Society.

The "Davenport Era" in Canton was a fascinating time for both the community and the county. The story begins with Harry Davenport’s father, E.L. Davenport. The September 2008 issue of the society publication, "The Settler," featured a history of the life of E.L. Davenport, and program participants are encouraged to read this story to understand the background of this family. Limited copies will be on sale at the event or may be purchased in advance by calling the historical society.

As an actor in such movies as "Gone with the Wind," "Meet Me in St. Louis," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Harry Davenport was much loved by his hometown in Bradford County, and his friends across the United States. This program will feature information and over 100 photos that will highlight the life of Davenport, who was the oldest actor in the nation at the time of his death. Movie clips of Davenport will also be included.

The program has been updated since last September and several new photos have been added or exchanged. As a result, those who attended the September presentation will be guaranteed a new experience, such as photos of Harry inside his Hollywood home.

The use of the Rialto Theatre for this event is important to the story of the Davenport family. A silent movie filmed in Canton and directed by Harry Davenport will be discussed as part of the program. The 1917 premier of this movie was shown in the Crawford Theatre, now known as the Rialto Theatre. Participants in this program will sit in the very room where this premier took place.

The program will be presented by Matthew Carl, Managing Curator at the Bradford County Historical Society. Refreshments are included as part of the ticket price. A selection of local history books will also be on sale.

To see movie clips of Harry Davenport, visit the BCHS Curator's Blog each week in February to see him in four different roles. There will also be commentary about this topic on the blog leading up to the event. The blog can found online at

Tickets are $6.00 and may be purchased at the Canton Independent-Sentinel or the Bradford County Historical Society, 109 Pine Street, Towanda. Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling the historical society at 570-265-2240. If you would like to have the tickets mailed to you, please include $1.00 extra.

The Bradford County Historical Society is a recipient agency of the Bradford County United Way and the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. More information about the society can be found online by visiting

Monday, February 2, 2009

Attention Email Subscribers

If you subscribe to this blog by email, be sure to click on the blue headline at the top of the email to go directly to the blog and see the Harry Davenport movie clips that are referenced in my comments. You will not see the video screen appear in your email. If you have any problems, just go to directly.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Feature #1 - Harry Davenport Program Coming to Rialto Theatre

The Bradford County Historical Society is pleased to announce the program "Harry Davenport - Canton's Famous Actor" to be presented at the Rialto Theatre, Canton, PA on February 28, 2009 at 1 p.m. Harry Davenport grew up in Canton and spent much of his life here in Bradford County before going to Hollywood where he subsequently appeared as a character actor in over 100 movies. Tickets are now on sale at the Canton Independent-Sentinel, Main Street, Canton; the Bradford County Historical Society, Pine Street, Towanda; or by calling the historical society research library at 570-265-2240.

This week we feature the movie entitled, "The Amazing Mrs. Holliday." The video clip below shows Harry in this interesting movie. More details about the movie plot can be found below. Come back next Monday as we feature Harry Davenport in another Hollywood classic.

~ The Amazing Mrs. Holliday ~

Released: February 19, 1943
Character: Commodore Thomas Spencer Holliday
Notes: This is a great clip as it shows Harry Davenport in a variety of scenes. His interactions with children and his threat to those who want to "make something of it" are memorable. This movie was produced and distributed by Universal Pictures Company, Inc.

Movie Synopsis:
Young schoolteacher Ruth Kirke is transporting a group of war orphans from South China to San Francisco when their cargo ship is torpedoed and sunk in the mid-Pacific. Along with sailor Timothy Blake, they are the only known survivors of the enemy attack.

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Ruth is told by immigration officials that the undocumented children will be held unless someone posts a $500 bond for each child, guaranteeing that they will "not become public charges." Ruth and Timothy go to the home of Commodore Thomas Holliday, the wealthy owner of their sunken ship, to ask for his family's help. When they refuse, Timothy states that Ruth and the commodore were married aboard ship. For the good of the children, Ruth goes along with the deception, and she, Timothy and the war orphans move into the Holliday estate. They are later joined by the commodore's grandson, Thomas Spencer Holliday III.

Ruth tells Tom how her father's mission was destroyed in a Japanese bombing raid, and she was sent south on the Burma Road with the European children. Along the way, they found a dying Chinese woman, and Ruth agreed to take care of her child as well.

After Ruth learns that she is to inherit the commodore's vast shipping fortune, she and the children try to sneak out of the mansion in the middle of the night, but they are caught by Tom. She then confesses all, telling Tom that she smuggled the children aboard the commodore's ship, thinking that it was going to Calcutta. Once at sea, the commodore then promised to help her get the children into the United States, even if it meant adopting them. After their ship was torpedoed, Ruth and Timothy put the children into a lifeboat, but once they were away from the sinking ship, they discovered that one child, Pepe, had been left behind.

The angry Tom insists that Ruth stay and continue the charade until the publicity about her "marriage" dies down, but agrees to care for the orphans at the Holliday estate once she leaves.

Later, the children's immigration papers arrive, and Ruth, as promised, prepares to leave for her hometown of Philadelphia, despite the fact that she has fallen in love with Tom. As she waits for her train, Timothy tells Tom that Ruth is engaged to the man sitting next to her. The two are then forced to leave the train station when the innocent man, Jeff Adams, accuses them of a marriage "shake down."

Later, a China relief ball is held at the Holliday estate, at which Ruth and Tom finally admit their true feelings for each other. The commodore and Pepe are also at the ball, having been rescued themselves, and knowing of the children's plight, the commodore continues the ruse. He then tells Ruth that he plans to marry her for real and raise the orphans as his own children. The commodore's plans are dashed when his brother Edgar, his sister Louise and his sister-in-law Karen tell him about the romance between Ruth and Tom. The commodore then announces that he and Ruth were never really married, but she is about to become Mrs. Holliday, as she and Tom are to be married in the Holliday estate in a few days.

Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.