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In 1917, The Whartons became their own distributors and set up an office in NYC to release The Wharton brand of films. No longer would they be at the whims of others and they could produce and distribute wholesome Super Features along with short comedies and their main staple, serial films. The Whartons were one of the first Independent producers to release their productions on a states rights basis. This concept of promotion was established as a way to compete with the larger studios that had huge budgets. It was an exciting time and many producers went the independent route. Unfortunately the visions and lofty expectations were not to be. The bigger studios had their strongholds and nothing would unravel their dominance of the industry. Many a good company went under after the independents futile efforts were exhausted. The Whartons could have become the exception they had established themselves nicely in the scheme of things. They controlled, produced, marketed and distributed their own products through the states rights market.
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In March of 1917 The Whartons produced their first Super-Feature entitled
The Great White Trail. This film was written by Leopold Wharton and Gardner Hunting (who later formed Cayuga Pictures) and was subtitled "An Epic of the Arctic," The film would highlight the Ithaca area and its snowy environment. But as luck would have it the 1917 winter season produced very little snowfall. Many scenes would be filmed in the Adirondack region of New York State in the Saranac Lake territory. A Wharton acquaintance named Caribou Bill had a complete Alaskan village with cabins, dogsleds and plenty of snow. When Ithaca' snow finally returned many local scenes would feature the Enfield Park and Lucifer Falls landscape. A film crew also traveled to Ludlowville for several scenes in and around the falls. The film was released in June of 1917 in the heat of summer and brought the crowds in to beat the heat. The film was quite successful and gave the Whartons a nice nest egg to plan their future productions. The film starred a Syracuse native, Doris Kenyon, in the title role. Paul Gordon, Edgar Davenport, F.W. Stewart, Dick Bennard, Bessie Wharton, Louise Houghtaling and Thomas Holding made up most of the cast. This film still exists on film in a five reel release; the original eight reel release was cut and re-cut (taking out the excessive nature scenes and extended hiking and mushing that was constant during the picture.) With the release of The Great White Trail came some short comedies that featured Eddie Vogt, Bessie Wharton, Dick Bennard, Malcolm Head, Howard Cody and Mame Hennessey. The two reelers were distributed by the Wharton Releasing Company and the titles were Below Zero, The Missionary and Kute Kids Vs Kupid.