Anyone know UNICORN FILM SERVICE - 1914?

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pickfair14

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Anyone know UNICORN FILM SERVICE - 1914?

PostThu Jun 10, 2010 10:01 am

I have two posters in my Mary Pickford collection, I'm trying to find out more about. The story I've put together is that the Unicorn Film Service bought up some old Biographs, and re-issued them in 1914 after Mary "broke out" with the film Tess of the Storm Country.

The 3-sheet, called "Broken Hearts" is actually a 1909 Biograph called "Broken Locket" and the poster scene takes place about 50 seconds into the film.
top row 3rd image
http://www.211university.ca/items.php?t ... ar=&q=&p=1


The 1-sheet, called "Divided Love" is actually a 1909 Biograph called "The Mountaineer's Honour" and this poster scene with James Kirkwood pops up about 15 seconds in. 2nd row, 4th imnage
http://www.211university.ca/items.php?t ... ar=&q=&p=4

Anyone know anything about Unicorn? How long they were around, how they got these Biographs, and any repercussions from them re-issuing them with different titles?
Last edited by pickfair14 on Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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pickfair14

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 10:18 am

I can add jpeg images, if someone can tell me how to do it?
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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silentfilm

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 11:15 am

Image

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pickfair14

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 11:22 am

excellent - thanks
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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DShepFilm

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 12:06 pm

I believe Unicorn was actually a British reissue distributor. I've come across Mutual and NY Motion Picture films in UK reissues with the Unicorn label.

David Shepard
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pickfair14

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 12:14 pm

thanks David - does the year fit with what you've come across? I obtained these from 2 different sources, and both quoted them as 1914 re-issues
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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DShepFilm

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PostThu Jun 10, 2010 8:49 pm

Just a guess -- 1914 makes sense, as there would have been little market for the shorts I referenced by 1915, plus shipment of nitrate film across the North Atlantic was very limited during the period of unrestricted submarine warfare.

DS
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pickfair14

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 8:17 am

yes, that logic fits. Mary was still making Biographs up to 1912, before her first features with Famous in 1913. leaves a short window prior to the start of WWI in 1914

Any idea why Unicorn would change the titles? If they were simply a legit British distributor, it would seem they would just reissue what they brought over. If they spent money to change the titles and print the posters as such, it would make sense they would also change the titles on the actual film print. Again, a cost that seems illogical, unless there was something a bit shady, like dodging copyright issues?

Were the titles also changed on the Mutuals & NY Motion Picture films that you've seen?
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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Penfold

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 9:20 am

Seeing 'Corporation' in the company title, rather than 'Company' or 'Limited' makes it seem American....as does this Share Certificate.

http://www.scripophily.net/unfiseco19.html

Doesn't mean that they didn't have UK offices, of course, but I don't have trade directories going that far back. Nothing turns up in a search of British national newspapers.
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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DShepFilm

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 9:51 am

Were the titles also changed on the Mutuals & NY Motion Picture films that you've seen?[/quote]

Yes The Unicorn reissue of THE INDIAN MASSACRE (1912) was changed to HEART OF AN INDIAN and this film, with the Unicorn title, is on our DVD set "Saved From the Flames." They also added a cast list (and got it wrong).

The original source of info about Unicorn was William K. Everson.

DS
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pickfair14

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 12:03 pm

that 1916 share certificate indicates they were around for at least 2 years then. I'm still stumped on why they would go to all the trouble of changing the titles, regardless of originating producer (Biograph, Mutual etc)

Getting around some sort of copyright issue seems the only logical answer
My Mary Pickford Collection: http://www.211university.ca/
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Penfold

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 12:15 pm

pickfair14 wrote:that 1916 share certificate indicates they were around for at least 2 years then. I'm still stumped on why they would go to all the trouble of changing the titles, regardless of originating producer (Biograph, Mutual etc)

Getting around some sort of copyright issue seems the only logical answer


Googling also reveals a 1917 court case versus Selig Polyscope, seemingly over a film titled The Rosary; whether copyright infringement, or a battle over two films of the same name, I can't tell.
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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rudyfan

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 2:17 pm

Those are beautiful posters, Rob.
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missdupont

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 3:21 pm

Selig released THE ROSARY in 1915, so I would assume it's a copyright infringement case.
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Penfold

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PostFri Jun 11, 2010 3:40 pm

There seems to have been a 1916 The Rosary too, from The Puritan Film Co., distributed by Unicorn.....unless, of course, it's actually the same film.
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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Beth C-D

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Re: Anyone know UNICORN FILM SERVICE - 1914?

PostWed Jul 18, 2012 4:44 pm

Ok, I know i'm a little late on this, but I was looking for info about Unicorn myself because I saw the name on some posters at the Heritage Auction website.

Here's a link that should bring up a few of them:
http://www.ha.com/common/search_results ... %20Service

Anyway, I'm quite certain they are a US company because the posters were all printed by Otis Litho. which was based in Cleveland, and are 27 x 41, which is the standard size for US one-sheets -- the Brits used different sizes back then.
Of course, that still doesn't answer any questions about who the heck they were. . . I'm also curious, for poster-related research questions.
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gmovies

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Re: Anyone know UNICORN FILM SERVICE - 1914?

PostThu Jul 20, 2017 12:53 am

Hi! The "Divided Love" poster is from Biograph's "The Renunciation" 1909 NOT "The Mountaineer's Honor" 1909. Very different costumes, similar cast. Thread is old, but I hope this helps!
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Turpinutz

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Re: Anyone know UNICORN FILM SERVICE - 1914?

PostFri Jul 21, 2017 12:54 pm

Hi. Great collection! Your Pickford posters are recreations of the original Biograph release posters, used to attract a crowd for the later reissues, or re-releases. Many of the early Biograph shorts were picked up and distributed by an American "States-Right" corporation, Unicorn Film Service, under their "Buffalo" affiliate, as mentioned on your posters. Divided Love was re-released by Unicorn on May 17, 1916 and Broken Hearts reissued on June 7, 1916.

- SteveR

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