Life Story Of John Lee, The, or, The Man They Could Not Hang

Life Story Of John Lee, The, or The Man They Could Not Hang (Robert Scott, 1912) wr. prod. Phillip Lytton, dp Herbert Finlay; Mervyn Barrington, Edna Phillips, Robert Scott, Robert Henry, Fred Cope; 4 reels

According to Scott, the film cost less than £300, and was shot in a tiny studio in North Sydney ... He described the result as 'crude' and Smith's Weekly, 8 January 1921, recalled it as 'about the worst ever'. Despondent about its commercial prospects, Lytton shelved the film without release, and later passed it on to a former employee, Arthur W Sterry, reportedly as a 'present' for his long service (Everyones, 4 March 1925). Pike & Cooper: 37.

Life Story Of John Lee, The, or The Man They Could Not Hang (Arthur W. Sterry, 1921) Sterry and Haldane, wr. Arthur W. Sterry; dp Tasman Higgins; Rose Rooney, David Edelsten; 6 reels; remake of the 1912 film of the same name

Arthur W Sterry and Frederick Haldane had earned a fortune with the 1912 film of The Life Story of John Lee. In 1921 they sought to rejuvenate their means of livelihood by making a new expanded version, including scenes of Lee's happy childhood to sweeten the grim events ahead. ... The crude sentimentality of the scenes of motherly love and self-sacrifice, and the studied cuteness of the children, are thickly evident in the film preserved today in the National Film and Sound Archive, and date the film far more than its crude technical standard. Pike & Cooper: 110.

Man They Could Not Hang, The (Raymond Longford, 1934) Invicta Productions, wr. Lorrie Webb from a 'dramatisation' by Rigby C. Tearle, dp George Malcolm, George Heath; Ronald Roberts, Arthur W. Sterry, Ethel Bashford, Olive Sinclair; based on true story of John Lee; 78 min.

In 1934 the story still carried enough reputation for Raymond Longford to try to salvage his career by making a talkie version, and Sterry was cast in a leading role. Again, despite a film of very doubtful quality, box-office records were easily broken. Pike & Cooper: 110.


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