Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1916
“Cousin Jim; or, the Mystery of the Stolen Fraternity Pin,” is the title of a movie which John T. McCutcheon, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, and C. W. Hitchcock have written for the Casino club. Two hundred people will be in the play, which will be filmed by the Vandee Producing company free of charge, and released for charity. Twenty-five per cent of the proceeds of the bookings will be turned over to the Casino club, who will distribute the entire sum through the American Red Cross. 1
The first scenes were taken at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roy McWilliams, 199 Lake Shore drive, Sunday night. The above “still” was snapped there. Roy McWilliams takes the part of a crook from New York, and Mrs. John Alden Carpenter, as a maid with the gentile name of Violet, a be-curlpapered head, and a strong arm, persuades him to take his crooked methods elsewhere. There are to be scenes on the polo field at Onwentsia, at the Assembly ball at the Blackstone, at the Saddle and Cycle club, and at the homes of well known Chicagoans.
Chicago Tribune, May 7, 1916
A half dozen “connect up scenes” for the Casino club’s all-society photoplay were filmed yesterday in and about the Spaulding residence before J. Allen Haines, the super-director, took alarm at the appearance of newspaper men and began a wild auto race to get rid of them.
The unwanted scriveners and photogs stuck along, however, as cheerfully as if they had the R.S.V.P. and other credentials right in their pockets.
“Really, you know, I am not at all glad to see you,” inflected Mr. Haines in something of a pet. “Indeed, I can’t say that I am.”
However, the reporters chugged up to the suicide bridge in Lincoln park just as the company was about to put on the death struggle for the cinema. J. Allen Haines seemed even more hurt than ever to observe the literary bounders, and, placing his company back in the cabs, took them off to the Casino club, where inside work occupied the rest of the afternoon.
Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1916
The amateur movies is not all kisses and straw bricks. Two young members of a set that is sometimes called lackadaisical did a thriller yesterday.
John Wentworth and John McIlvaine performed the darevil act. It was a leap for life, in curious curcus languag, from “suicide bridge” in Lincoln park—a leap that many a man has taken simultaneously with a decion to take his life.
“Can’t Be Done.”
It was only after a heated protest with the movie director and after a professional “leaper” had said: “It can’t be done,” that the two young men wriggled off the high bridge into the cold lagoon below. Bith are members of the Casino club, and have the roles of two policemen in “Cousin Jim, or the Lost Fraternity Pin,” the society movie which is furnishing a pastime for young people of the north side.
Billy Fuller is “Cousin Jim.” The scenario permits him to emulate a college youth with a reckless jag. With the two policemen, the professional movie director, a professional swimmer, to act as double in the leap, and the camera man, he began, ast suicide bridge, a harrowing flight from the clutches of the law.
With silk hat, cream gloves, and malacca walking stick, he climbed the steel girders that hold up the bridge. The two movie policemen followed at a reckless pace.
Loses His Nerve.
The chase led to the opposite side of the lagoon, where “Cousin Jim” discovered the steps. He was caught at the top of the bridge, and the director called a temporary halt.
The professional swimmer mused:
- Umm, I’d like that $250, but it simply can’t be don. The water is only ten feet deep. I’m afraid.
The professional double retired. The director dragged a straw stuffed copper from the supply car. There was a struggle on the cement railing of the bridge, and the figure flopped down toward the water. But the picture was spoiled. The dummy floated.
“Say,” suggested young Wentworth. “This is our picture. If this drop is in the scenario we’re here to make it.”
The director gasped. The young men were obdurate. It was decided that the struggle and leap should made from the girder a few feet below the top of the bridge. A park squirrel sat on thebopposite girder.
“‘S a wise squirrel,” commented a man below. “Coupla nuts up there.”
A moment later the squirming body of McIlvaine was pusged from the girder and the camera was getting the wiggling, kicking legs of Wentworth as he feigned an attempt to stick on the bridge. He lost his hold and dropped.
There were two splashes, almost simultaneously. Two men swam to shore.
“Where in blank is my hat?” asked McIvaine, as he reached the shore. It had been washed off when he struck the water.
“We’ll change for the next scene,” remarked Wentworth, kicking off some of the mud of the lagoon’s bottom from his shoes.
Chicago Tribune, May 24, 1916
The Casino club is planning to turn out en masse to “see themselves as others see them.” In fact, the applications for seats and boxes have nearly swamped the entertainment committee. “Cousin Jim” will be presented at the Strand theater on Friday evening, June 2. The movie will be shown promptly at 8:30, and in consequence of the early hour many have arranged to give supper parties preceding the movie ball at the Blackstone later in the evening rather than attempt to entertain at dinner before the picture.
Chicago Tribune, May 30, 1916
A real press agent couldn’t have evolved more newsy trouble for his employer than has actually developed in the making of “Cousin Jim,” the society film to be shown at the Strand theater on Friday evening and for several days thereafter, if the public cares for it.
Yesterday it was discovered that four scenes had been lost while assembling the picture. Consequently the director sent out an S.O.S. for Roy McWilliams who plays the low comedy part, and Charles Dewey, who appears as “Jack Rolton,” and retakes will be made today at Onwentsia club. The photographic work will be rushed, so that Maj. Funkhouser will be able to give “Cousin Jim” his censorial once over on Friday morning.
The authors of “Cousin Jim” are John T. McCutcheon and Kenneth Sawyer Goodman. The proceeds will go to charity.
Chicago Tribune, June 3, 1916
Society saw itself last night as others see them, and it was a joyous occasion for every one. Applause greeted every familiar face as it smiled a how-do-you-do on the screen.
“Scared to death.” “Looks as though he’d been eating jam,” came from laughing lips as they saw each other try to smile a la movie queen or matinée idol and saw the light refkected on faces shining with candid lack of makeup.
The Casino club sponsored the evening—the opening night of its movie, “Cousin Jim, or the Mystery of the Stolen Fraternity Pin.”
John T. McCutcheon and Kenneth Sawyer Goodman, as they bowed to one another and to the audience on the screen, were welcomed by much clapping of hearty hands and rustling finger tips. They wrote the scenario and gave every one the chance to have the time of their lives.
As each scene would flash upon the screen some yoiuthful voice would guffaw—yes, really, and it was a real guffaw, too—or the daintiest of voices would say, “O, look how dreadful I am!”
“Do yiou remember———” eould come from every side.
The entire cast was in the audience, and every little while you’d hear, “There you are, Helen,” or, “You took a good one that time,” when some one would stub his toe.
“Look at Billy doing the Charlie Chaplin stunt,” a braw youth in front of mr said as the picture of William A. Fuller II, as he appeared in the social register, was flashed in the Blackstone bar, and emerging therefrom and trying to catch a fish in the Great Lakes fountain, to the south of the Art Institute.
“That was 11 o’clock Sunday morning, and Michigan avenue was jammed with people,” vouchsafed another, anent the same scene.
When Mrs. John Alden Carpenter emerged from her flirtatious, black garbed maidhood into a picture of the luxury of sleep, hair done up in curl papers, sunk in the depths of a pillow and puffing away at her snoozing, the audience collapsed into one heap of glee.
Roy McWilliams trying to fill the house with smoke, so that he could turn in a fire alarm, and achieving said end by puffing with all his might on a cigar, made every one chuckle, too.
It was the chase, though, the good old fashioned movie chase, twice blessed in this film, which made society hold its sides. Nothing is more fun than to see your frinds make what some gentile writers used to call “a spectacle of themselves.”
The scenes were taken in the most elect of social settings—the Casino club—through whose portals it avows proudly no person of the press ever stepped; Onwestsia Country club, Indian Hill Country club, the Blackstone hotel, the annual assembly ball, than which nothing is more eclatish, and the apartments of Mr. and Mrs. Roy McWilliams at 199 Lake Shore drive, the Lake Shore drive in its sweep of grandeur.
It was hinted that the cast would be there garbed in spotless movie yellow, wearing the clothes in which it was pictured, but no one was. They were all there, sedately, in comparison, frocked, and evening suited.
Mrs. George M. Pullman, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Meeker, Mr. and Mrs. S,M. Felton, Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Swift were among those in boxes. The body of the house was filled to its utmost capacity.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gordon Fuller entertained a party including their daughter, Elizabeth, whom every one calls “Bobsy” and who was the heroine of the story, and William Fuller., known as Billy, who was “Cousin Jim.”
Mr. and Mrs A. B. Dewey entertained a party including their son, Charles S. Dewey, who was one of the blackhearted villains.
Mrs. Joseph G. Coleman, president of the Casino club was a hostess, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gardner, who, Mr. Paul, I mean, by the way, got all sorts of applause when he was shown making one of his famous drives.
Mr. and Mras. Hugh McBirney Johnston, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton McCormick, Mr. and Mrs. Louis F. Swift, Mr. and Mrs. R. Hall McCormick Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William R. Linn, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Forgan, Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Blair, Mr. and Mrs. Laurance Armour, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Strobel, Mr. and Mrs. Augustus S. Peabody, Mr. and Mrs. Francis T.A. Junkin, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Ludington Barnes, Mr. and Mrs. Tracy C. Drake, Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Robbins, and with them their daughter, Miss Isabelle Robbins, who had the second lead in the play, all entertained large parties.
Before the movie there were 156—actual count—dinner parties at the Blackstone. Afterward there was a gay and brilliant movie ball there.
And now for the surprise. The object to which the money from last night’s showing of the film is to go has been decided upon by the governors of the Casino club. It will be given to the American Red Cross for the establishment of a base hospital in Chicago for sick and wounded soldiers. A pretty patriotic way to begin preparedness day, wasn’t it?
Chicago Tribune, June 3, 1916
The legitimate transition from amateur theatricals to amateur movies has taken place. Chicago’s social circles have been transcribing circles for the last month in translating their histrionic ambitions into the sign of the celluloid. For the first time the fruit of their labors were presented for public consumption at the Strand last night, with all the pomp and eclat of dress suits and decollete.
But it was different than any other amateur histrionic performance. For here were gathered all the players, comfortably seated while they gazed upon themselves cavorting over bridges and girders, and threading the mazes of the dance. Stage fright was absolutely absent.
The other difference is that their performance will will go on and on for all the world to see, withiut the players being obliged ever again to lift their hands in incriminating gesture. The thing is done, and everybody, if he so wishes, may keep on his bookshelves as perpetual souvenir of his most strenuous streak of amateur playing a full pictorial record, to be brought to the life whenever desired.
The photoplay makes its bow as society’s year book of itself. In times In time the society photodrama may become as much a “thing” as the Junior league dance, in years to come supplying a most wonderful volume of social history.
The cast of “Cousin Jim” is enough to put the social register into a blue funk, for it contains sufficient social scintillators to set the film afire were it not carefully fireproofed.
Photoplayeditorially speaking: “Cousin Jim” is a farce comedy, non worse than many in theme, and, it must be confessed, no better. It is rather crudely all about a villain trying to steal a string of pearls, and it limps along in its procedure at times quite painfully. In fact, as a vehicle, it is scarcely worth the abilities of the players, for a photoplay is different than a dramatic sketch; it lives and goes abroad amongst folk who look at it simply as a picture play and not as a display window of social grandeur. In succeeding performances it doesn’t have the atmospheric surrounding that carries it across when its “crowd” is watching it. And a play of this sort, full of local interest, and special settings, is going to have a wide circulation.
The players, as a whole, do exceedingly well—better than many stage stars who have gone celluloiding at fabulous sums. The cast works energetically, sincerely, and unconsciously of the camera, to such an extent that, except for the story, they almost consign to oblivion the idea of amateur.
There isn’t enough fun in the picture. Thoughthere is a great deal of Keystoning, it doesn’t have the sparkle of ingenuity. It would go with more of a lilt if the comedy were not so studied.
The best bit is where “Cousin Jim” in his feminine gear seeks to strike a match for his cigaret while he is standing out in front of the Blackstone hotel.
It is, however, a lively and credible achievement working a unique combination in bringing society to the film world and the film world to society.
“Cousin Jim” is to be an added feature of the Strand bill all next week, sharing the screen with Triangle’s Lillian Gish. Those who missed out on the Red Cross night need not miss out on “Cousin Jim.”
Casino club players taken in Mrs. Roy McWilliams’ apartment, 199 Lake Shore drive.
Upper row: Mrs. Marie Louise Russell and Miss Helen Hinde.
Lower row: Miss Alice Cudahy, Miss Gladys High, and Miss Margaret Talbot.
Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1916
A few weeks ago a busy press agent went the rounds of the newspaper offices and let the city editors in on a secret. As a rule press agents have a cold in their noses for news. When they are willing to talk their heads off they usually have nothing to say of news value, but when information has to be dragged out by dint of hard pressure it is usually worth lending an ear to.
This press agent was canny. Chicago society was going into the moview for the saje of charity. It might be arranged, so the press agent hinted, that the papers could get in on the deal, possibly for a few live pictures of polo players in evening dress, society buds enacting thrilling scenes, and even some prominent matrons exhibiting their histrionic ability—all for the sake of charity.
Good story? A peach! News? Whenever anything is done for a charitable purpose—if it is done well—it is news. The papers FELL FOR IT! They fell so far that they have just landed and are rubbing their bruises. They have recovered consciousness sufficiently to realize just how much they were humbugged. And now they’re wondering how the press agent ever happened to put one over.
The picture was to be enacted by the “Casino Club Players,” all members of one of Chicago’s most exclusive clubs. It was. The scenario was to be written by John T. McCutcheon. It wasn’t. As far as can be ascertained from Mr. McCutcheon himself, he didn’t have anything to do with it at all. The proceeds were to be used for the benefit of the Red Cross. That was the charitable end of the thing that caused the city editors to sanction space given it.
BUT the Red Cross got only 25 per cent of the first night’s performance. Twenty-five per cent of the receipts of all future performances are to be turned over to the Casino club and the rest to go into the pocket of the Van Dee Producing company. And the film is to be shown all over the country.
Column After Column.
So instead of lending their aid to a local charitable undertaking the newspapers devoted column after column of free space to boosting a theatrical project in which it appears some society folk have lent themselves for the time being to the profession. Phineas T. Barnum in his palmiest days couldn’t have done half as well.
The papers published photographs of scenes of the play, “Cousin Jim,” on their news pages. They even spared photographers to save the movie camera man the trouble of making cutouts.
Reporters were assigned to use some of their valuable pre-convention time in covering the “stories.” Now come lurid advertisements of “a billion dollar cast” in a “society film” depicting ‘a dare devil leap from suicide bridge in Lincoln park,”an “awe inspiring assembly ball at the Blackstone crystal ballroom,” and “a polo game at the Onwentsia club. the exclusive playground of the Chicago millionaires.”
“Get a Glimpse.”
And finally comes the alluring invitation to the “ladies” to “come and get a glimpse at the gorgeously gowned society women at the various social functions depicted in this unusual film.” And, thanks to to the newspapers and the astute press agent, the public is coming and coming in droves.
But the next time society lends itself to a professional, commercial, theatrical project under the cloak of charity The Tribune wil have cotton stuffed in its ears when the press agent calls. The Tribune admits it was humbugged, and The Tribune is not one of the kind that is “born every minute.” The movie man is having his chuckle, but it won’t happen again. This is just to let him know that The Tribune knows he “put one over.” That’s all.
Motography, June 10, 1916
Five Dollars Admission Price
“Cousin Jim,” Chicago society’s own photodrama. written and acted entirely by members of the elite, received its premiere at the Strand Theater on June 2. Grand opera prices, from $2 to $5, ruled at this performance, the proceeds of which will be devoted to various charitable performances. The complete Strand-Triangle performance, including Bessie Bar- riscale in “The Sorrows of Love,” was also presented. Warde Johnstone, director of the famous Strand Symphony Orchestra, supplied special musical interpretation for “Cousin Jim,” which is a brilliant combination of exciting melodrama and comedy.
The authors of “Cousin Jim” are prominent in the Chicago social world. The production was staged by the Van Dee Producing Company of Chicago.
“Cousin Jim” is a thrilling story of imaginary life in the “400,” in which stolen gems, a mysterious nobleman and a dauntless detective are figures. Most of the scenes were actually laid at the exclusive Casino Club, the Onwentsia and Indian Hill Country clubs, and at the Blackstone Hotel. The mansions of a number of wealthy folk in Chicago and in Lake Forest were utilized for interior settings.
Motion Picture World, June 17, 1916
“COUSIN JIM,” SHOWING SOCIETY IN ITS LAIRS, IS UNIQUE FILM
The feature picture ” Cousin Jim,” in which scores of prominent Chicago so- ciety people appeared has been completed and will be shown at the Strand theatre, Chicago. This feature is unique in that it was made without the use of a single studio set. Interiors were taken in the residences of Chicago millionaires, in fashionable clubs, and in the Blackstone Hotel.
Moving Picture World, June 17, 1916
“Cousin Jim,” a photodrama written and acted exclusively by members of Chicago’s elite, was given its premier at the Strand theater, Wabash avenue and Seventh street, on Friday evening, June 2. Grand opera prices ranging from $2 to $5 ruled at the opening presentation, the proceeds of which will be devoted to various charitable enterprises. The authors of “Cousin Jim” are John T. McCutcheon, famous cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune; Keneth S. Goodman and C. W. Hitchcock, all prominent in Chicago and North Shore society circles. Only in the directing and technical departments was this society drama a professional production. It was staged by the Van Dee Producing Co. of Chicago, and the photogrophy and laboratory work was done by the Rothacker Film Mfg. Co. The latter company in securing the special sets in the interiors of prominent homes and leading clubs in the city and of the Blackstone Hotel, used its own special portable artificial lighting equipment. Watterson R. Rothacker, president of this company, is of the opinion that this is the first time that a feature picture has been made complete without using anything but special studio sets and special studio lighting.
Moving Picture World, June 17, 1916
Strand — Lillian Gish in “An Innocent Magdalene (Fine Arts), the Casino Club players in the society film “Cousin Jim” (Van Dee Producing Co.), and Mutt and Jeff cartoons.
Still from the moving picture, “Cousin Jim.”
Chicago Tribune advertisements for the showing of “Cousin Jim” at the Strand.
Left: June 13, 1916
Right:June 15, 1916
1 John T. McCutcheon was not only one of the 397 original members of the new Casino Club when it opened in 1914, he was one the club’s governors. The new members were dubbed “Chicago’s 400.”
Chicago Tribune, June 7, 1914
Chestnut Street, East of Lincoln Parkway.
The building was moved to Delaware Street in 1928 and the Casino Club still exists today.
Chicago Tribune, December 2, 1914