B.C. movie time capsule: 2

Victoria's 'quota quickies' (1932-38)

Published: Dec 27 2013, 01:01:am

Prepared for Chuck Davis and The Vancouver Book — August,  1975

[PART 2: 1932 - 1938]

(Features produced in whole or in part on B. C. locations other than Vancouver.)

THE CRIMSON PARADISE (adventure-romance, 1932): w/p. Kenneth J.  Bishop;  based on the novel The Crimson West by Alex Philip; d. Robert Hill; l.p. Nick Stuart, Lucile Browne, Kathleen Dunsmulr. Two young men, a rich Bostonian (Stuart) who left home in disgrace, and a French Canadian (McGrath), work for a lumber company and compete for the affections of the boss's daughter (Browne). Alternate title: FIGHTING PLAYBOY.
    English-born producer Ken Bishop was determined to build a film industry In Victoria. He was encouraged by the British Cinematograph Act of 1927, which created a quota system for the United Kingdom that generously defined Commonwealth-produced films as British. Bishop converted Victoria's Willow Race Course buildings into a studio and went to heiress Kathleen Dunsmuir for financing. Miss Dunsmulr and her family estate, Cralgdarrach Castle, both played Important roles in his first production, The Crimson Paradise. Actors Nick Stuart and Lucile Browne were imported from Hollywood, and stayed on to star in Bishop's second feature, 1932's Secrets of Chinatown. The Crimson Paradise was probably the first sound feature made In B.C.

THE SECRETS OF CHINATOWN (suspense-mystery, 1933): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Guy Morton; d. Fred C. Newmeyer; l.p. Nick Stuart, Lucile Browne, Raymond Lawrence, James Flavin. When a police officer investigating a murder in Victoria's Chinatown disappears, a consulting detective (Lawrence) is called in and, with the help of his young friend (Stuart), uncovers a drug smuggling ring.
    Filmed in and around both Vancouver and Victoria, the film, alternately known as THE BLACK ROBE and THE PURPLE ROBE, was the subject of a diplomatic protest by China's consul over its portrayal of the Asian community. Although the picture was not a financial success, hopes for the expected B.C. film boom shifted away from Vancouver to Victoria and Bishop's new Central Films studios.

LUCKY FUGITIVES (adventure-romance, 1935): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Robert Watson; d. Nick Grinde; l.p. David Manners, Maxine Doyle. A writer (Manners), who bears a striking resemblance to an escaped convict, is arrested and then takes flight while handcuffed to a beautiful woman (Doyle). Alternate title: STOP, LOOK AND LOVE.
    This was the first of 12 features produced by Bishop in Victoria for Central Films, a company established in Canada by Hollywood's Columbia Pictures to make movies for the British quota market. The others were:

LUCKY CORRIGAN (adventure-romance, 1936): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Philip Conway; d. Lewis D. Collins; l.p. William Gargan, Molly Lamont, James McGrath. Troubles between rival lumber camps are resolved by a mysterious young stranger (Gargan) who solves problems and finds love with his boss's daughter (Lamont). Alternate title: FURY AND THE WOMAN.

SECRET PATROL (adventure, 1936): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. J.P. McGowan; d. Ford Beebe, David Selman; l.p. Charles Starrett, Henry Mollison, Finis Barton, J.P. McGowan. Going undercover to investigate a plot to destroy a lumber company through a series of engineered accidents, a Mounted Police officer (Starrett) finds the man responsible for the death of his best friend (Mollison).

STAMPEDE (western, 1936): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Robert Watson; d. Ford Beebe; l.p. Charles Starrett, Finis Barton, J.P. McGowan, Reginald Hincks. A horse buyer (Starrett) saves a rancher (Millman) from a gang attempting to force him to sell his herd and property.

TUGBOAT PRINCESS (adventure, 1936): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Robert Watson; d. David Selman; l.p. Walter C. Kelly, Valerie Hobson, Edith Fellows, Reginald Hincks. When a young member of his crew (Fellows) breaks her leg, a tugboat captain (Kelly) mortgages his vessel to pay for her care, falling in love with her nurse (Hobson) in the process.
    Based on an original story by Dalton Trumbo and Isador Bernstein, this waterfront drama took advantage of Victoria's Outer Wharf and other coastal locations in an attempt to follow the success of the Tugboat Annie pictures.

VENGEANCE (mystery, 1936): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. J.P. McGowan; d. Del Lord; l.p. Lyle Talbot, Wendy Barrle, Marc Lawrence. A disgraced provincial police officer (Talbot) quits the force to infiltrate and destroy a criminal gang. Alternate title: WHAT PRICE VENGEANCE.

DEATH GOES NORTH (mystery-romance, 1937): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Edward Austln; d. Frank McDonald; l.p. Edgar Edwards, Sheila Bromley, Rln Tin Tin Jr., Jameson Thomas. A Mounted Policeman (Edwards) and his dog (Jr.) save a young woman (Bromley) from the machinations of a phony uncle who is plotting her death and the theft of her lumber yard.

MANHATTAN SHAKEDOWN (mystery, 1937): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Edgar Edwards; Leon Barsha; l.p. Rosalind Keith, John Gallaudet, Reginald Hincks, George McKay. A newspaperman (Gallaudet) attempts to expose a prominent psychoanalyst (Hincks) as a blackmailer, but finds himself falling in love with the doctor's daughter (Keith), leading to a confrontation in a Greenwich Village brownstone.

MURDER IS NEWS (mystery, 1937): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Edgar Edwards; d. Leon Barsha; l.p. Iris Meredith, John Gallaudet. The reporter from Manhattan Shakedown (Gallaudet) returns to solve a murder (despite the fact that no body can be found) in a plot that involves stock manipulation.

WOMAN AGAINST THE WORLD (drama, 1937): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Edgar Edwards; d. David Selman; l.p. Ralph Forbes, Alice Moore, Sylvia Welsh, Reginald Hincks. A farm girl (Moore) marries the hired hand (Edwards) against her father's wishes, and sets off a chain of tragic events that make her life miserable until a crusading attorney (Forbes) enters the picture.

CONVICTED (mystery, 1938): p. Kenneth J. Bishop; w. Edgar Edwards; d. Leon Barsha; l.p. Rita Hayworth, Charles Quigley, Marc Lawrence, George McKay, Edgar Edwards. A nightclub singer's brother (Edwards), convicted of his girlfriend's murder, is saved through the efforts of the singer (Hayworth) and her police detective boyfriend (Quigley).
     While under contract to Columbia, and before becoming a major star, Rita Hayworth made two pictures for the studio's Central Films farm team. Convicted was followed by . . .

SPECIAL INSPECTOR (mystery, 1938): p. Kenneth J. Bishop;  w. Edgar Edwards; d. Leon Barsha; l.p. Rita Hayworth, Charles Quigley, George McKay, Edgar Edwards. Working in co-operation with U.S. Customs, an undercover RCMP officer (Quigley) and his girlfriend (Hayworth) catch a criminal gang smuggling furs into the States. Alternate title is ACROSS THE BORDER.
    This would be the last of the Central Films productions. Ken Bishop's output had not gone unnoticed in Britain. In 1938, the British legislation was revised to remove quota exemptions from such backdoor Hollywood films.

The above is Part 2 of a seven-part restoration of a Vancouver Book article by Michael Walsh originally published in 1976. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

B.C. Feature Films — Part 1 [Introduction; the Silents]; Part 2 [Outside Vancouver, 1932-38]; Part 3 [Outside Vancouver, 1942-75]; Part 4 [Vancouver, 1932-68]; Part 5 [Vancouver, 1969-71]; Part 6 [Vancouver, 1972-75]; Part 7, [Miscellany & Sources].