Juan and Juanita

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Wilbert Melville made just a few films at Betzwood in December 1912 before Lubin sent him to California to found the Lubin West branch studio in Los Angeles. Melville had only months before made films in Texas and Arizona near the Mexican border and “Mexican” films were his specialty. Unfortunately, he had a tendency to feed into the routine stereotypes of the day and his Mexican characters are often unsavory and even cartoon like. This is probably why Lubin assigned Earl Metcalfe to work with him. Metcalfe specialized in playing unsavory characters and his acting was often “over the top.” Here Mexican bandits hold up a train and Juan saves the day by catching the crooks. Juanita is his reward.

The only surviving print of this film turned up in Holland nearly twenty years ago with Dutch intertitles. The spectacle of Dutch-speaking Mexicans holding up the Pennsylvania Railroad comes close to being surreal. The Archive has two video copies of the film, one with the original Dutch intertitles and another with translations inserted by the technical staff of Montgomery County Community College. The purchase of the Dutch  video copy, from the Museum of Modem Art, was made possible by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1912. Directed by Wilbert Melville. Starring Earl Metcalfe and Edna Payne.

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