Race Suicide

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Only one reel of this six reel feature survives today. It is apparently the second reel, and tells a story set in the time of ancient Rome.  Originally the film was intended as a response to D. W. Griffith’s multi-story masterpiece, Intolerance, which had been released the year before. Race Suicide also consisted of a series of stories set in different historical times, but they were presented sequentially and not intertwined as in the Griffith film. The basic theme of Race Suicide seems to have been the self destructive tendencies of the human race, and probably reflects the appalling loss of life and destruction that had already taken place in Europe as a result of the on-going First World War. The mood of this surviving episode is dark and the ending is unusually somber and cynical. Lubin usually insisted on happy endings.

The film was produced by Lubin’s son-in-law, Ira Lowry, and represented the company’s last attempt to produce a film equal to the increasingly high standards of the audiences and film critics of the day, standards which had been elevated by the efforts of D. W. Griffith. Lubin was already on the verge of bankruptcy, and several months after the release of Race Suicide—which was not successful—he closed his studios at Betzwood, North Philadelphia, and in California. The studio in Florida and the stock company stationed in Rhode Island had already been withdrawn.

Though Griffith’s Intolerance was a critical success, it did not do well at the box office. In 1919 Buster Keaton poked fun at both Griffth’s Intolerance and Lubin’s Race Suicide, with a comedy tale in three different centuries, The Three Ages.

Lubin Manufacturing Company, 1916. Directed by George Terwiliger. Starring Earl Metcalfe and Ormi Hawley. 

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