AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Escape
Director: David W. Griffith (Dir)
Release Date:   1 Jun 1914
Duration (in reels):   7
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Donald Crisp ("Bull" McGee)  
    F. A. Turner (Jim Joyce)  
    Robert Harron (Larry Joyce)  
    Blanche Sweet (May Joyce)  
    Mae Marsh (Jennie Joyce)  
    Owen Moore (Dr. Von Eiden)  
    Ralph Lewis (The Senator)  
    "Tammany" Young (McGee's henchman)  
    Fay Tincher (An adventuress)  
    Walter Long    

Summary: After a prologue illustrating the careful reproductive process of microbes and farm animals, as opposed to the random selection of humans, the effects of unwise selection are depicted by the Joyce family, whose brutal father Jim turns his gentle dreamer son Larry into a deceitful sadist who delightedly wrings a kitten's neck. While treating Larry for venereal disease, Dr. Von Eiden advises Larry's sister May to leave home. She does, but unable to find work, she becomes the mistress of a wealthy man whom she refuses to marry. Jennie, May's consumptive sister, marries Bull McGee, May's loutish former suitor. Jennie gives birth to a sickly child, who is crushed to death by McGee when he trips over the baby's crib in a drunken state. Jennie becomes deranged and replaces the child with a doll, thus disgusting McGee who sells her to a gang of pimps. Jennie is rescued from a life of prostitution, but dies shortly thereafter in May's arms. Larry has an operation that restores his gentle nature, and in the end, having left her wealthy lover, May accepts Von Eiden's proposal of marriage. 

Production Company: Majestic Motion Picture Co.  
Distribution Company: Mutual Film Corp.  
Director: David W. Griffith (Dir)
Photography: G. W. Bitzer (Cam)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play The Escape by Paul Armstrong (New York, 20 Sep 1913).
Authors: Paul Armstrong

Physical Properties: b&w:

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Eugenics
  Family life
Subjects (Minor): Disease
  Proposals (Marital)
  White-slave traffic

Note: According to contemporary sources, Thomas E. O'Brien was a production assistant for this film. Additional credits from modern sources list James Smith and Rose Richtel as film editors. This film was released late in 1914 to the state rights market by Western Import Co. According to the 21 Oct 1916 MPSD , Samuel De Vall, who worked in films as a technical director and on construction, worked on the film. According to the NYT , Dr. Daniel Carson Goodman "put together" the prologue. The exact nature of Goodman's work is unclear from this reference.
       Another film adaptation of Paul Armstrong's play was produced by the Fox Film Corp. in 1928. That film, which was directed by Richard Rosson, starred William Russell (see entry below). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Motog   22 Aug 14   p. 270.
MPN   24 Oct 14   p. 69.
NYDM   10 Jun 14   p. 42.
New York Times   11 Dec 15   p. 2031.
Variety   5 Jun 14   p. 19.
MPW   13 Jun 14   p. 1515.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.