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Irene Castle and Milton Sills

International Film Service/Wharton 1917 / 15 Chapters

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Heroine: Patria Channing (Irene Castle)
Her Pal: Donald Parr (Milton Sills)
Villains: Baron Huroki (Warner Oland), Juan De Lima (George Majoroni)
Main Henchman: Kato (Mike Rale)
Supporting Cast: Dorothy Greene, Wallace Beery, Marie Walcamp, Jack Holt, Rudolph Valentino
Directed by: Leo Wharton, Theodore Wharton, Jacques Jaccard

Plot: A munitions heiress joins Secret Service agent Donald Parr in his fight against anti-American machinations of spies from Japan and Mexico, led by Baron Huroki (Warner Oland in his first Asian-villain role).

Notes: Filmed in Ithaca, New York, where Irene Castle would later take up residence. Hearst financed this serial as an expression of his fear that Mexico and Japan might attack the U.S. during World War I. Objections from Woodrow Wilson to the anti-Japanese content caused the production company to replace Japanese character names with Mexican ones mid-serial, so Warner Oland’s character, originally called Baron Huroki, becomes Manuel Morales later on, and new scenes were shot to show Mexican mercenaries drilling and preparing for battle as well as additional material featuring Wallace Beery as Pancho Villa. A young Rudolph Valentino can be glimpsed in a group scene in a dance hall, filmed in New York City at a club where he was briefly employed.

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Warner Oland as Baron Huroki, Dorothy Green and George Majoroni


1. Last of the Fighting Channings: The night before munitions heiress Patria Channing is set to claim her inheritance, she is summoned to New York by her guardian. On her way to New York, she is attacked by men under the hire of Baron Huroki, leader of a gang of Japanese secret agents, but finds a valuable ally in U.S. Secret Service agent Donald Parr.
2. Treasure: After her guardian is murdered, Patria finds a note telling her of a secret vault under the house, containing 100 million dollars. Baron Huroki and his men sack the estate in search of the money and are willing to burn the place down if necessary to get it.
3. Winged Millions: Donald searches for the treasure box, stolen by Huroki’s men, but Patria follows him and unwittingly stumbles into a trap.
4. Double Crossed: Huroki schemes to replace Patria with a lookalike dancer named Elaine, whose jealous manager has other plans.
5. The Island God Forgot: Donald overhears a conversation about an island of Japanese spies and munitions and plans an attack on it, just as Patria washes up on the same island after she is thrown off a ship by the spies.
6. Alias Nemesis: Elaine, still posing as Patria, announces her engagement to Juan De Lima at a party, but when she goes back to her room, she finds the real Patria there, who forces her to change places again. After this, Elaine’s vengeful manager sneaks in and shoots Elaine. When Huroki arrives, Patria poses as Elaine and tells him that the corpse is the real Patria.
7. Red Dawn: Patria, still posing as one of Huroki’s spies, foils a plan to get her fortune, however, when De Lima insists on an immediate marriage to Patria, she and Donald must cook up a plan to get her out.
8. Red Night: Huroki attempts to ferment a strike at the Channing plant, but is foiled when Patria immediately concedes to the workers’ demands, on the condition that they all be given military training.
9. Cat’s Paw and Scapegoat: Huroki attempts to destroy Patria’s loyalty to Donald by setting him up to be discovered with another woman.
10. War in the Dooryard: Baron Huroki’s army stages an all-out attack on New York. Donald assists Patria’s factory workers, now trained as soldiers, in opposing them.
11. Sunset Falls: Patria and Donald leave New York for the Mexican border so that Patria can check on her ranch. However, as soon as they arrive, the ranch is attacked by Huroki, who has also migrated south.
12. Which Passeth All Understanding: Huroki plans a full-scale military assault on the Channing property while Patria prepares her men for battle.
13. The Wings of Death: Donald leads a group of men to rescue one of Patria’s friends from Huroki’s camp, while Patria gets into trouble with a government agent who is concerned about her private army.
14. The Border Peril: Patria’s army struggles to hold back Huroki’s attack, provoked by Patria’s murder of Huroki’s second-in-command.
15. For the Flag: After being forced back, Baron Huroki plans a night attack. Patria’s men can barely hold out until morning, when they attack the combined Japanese and Mexican forces with a tank!

Existing Editions: DVD (4 episodes, Serial Squadron)
Novel: Serialized in newspapers as adapted by Louis Joseph Vance


(Wharton 1917)
Produced by Theodore and Leopold Wharton
View Serial Description & Photos

Historical Consultant
Terry Harbin
Restored by
Eric Stedman
Filmed in Ithaca, New York in 1916
Published by
The Serial Squadron

PATRIA (pronounced “PAY-tree-ya,” sounds like “patriot”) was a “preparedness serial” (aka propaganda epic!) filmed in Ithaca, New York and featured well-known celebrity Irene Castle and actor Warner ("Charlie Chan") Oland.
The serial originally featured a Japanese spy ring, headed by Oland, after gold and munitions and the heiress Patria Channing, portrayed by Irene Castle. When then-President Woodrow Wilson learned about this story he asked the producers, the Wharton brothers, who were filming the serial in Ithaca with funding from William Randolph Hearst, to remove propagandistic Japanese references from it, which wasn't easy, considering that was the nationality of the main villains. New footage was then shot to suggest that the bad guys had hired Mexican  mercenaries to do their dirty work, and their own Japanese names were replaced by Mexican ones. It's been said that then a new villain portrayed by Wallace Beery was added to the story as the shooting location of the final chapters was moved to California and last few episodes directed by Jacques Jaccard, but we haven't turned up any evidence of Beery's involvement.

The story is a spy/sabotage thriller in which Oland's character, Baron Huroki, is out to plunder and destroy  munitions factory heiress and political activist Patria Channing and the Secret Service agent protecting her from the acts of sabotage on land and sea he initiates, with his not-too-small army of invaders. The action is fairly large-scale for a serial, chapter 10 being an out and out war between Huroki's army and the Channing factory workers,  and includes innovative miniature work by the Whartons' special effects team, predating the Lydecker brothers by many years, and a fantastic train trestle stunt!

Milton Sills is the hero of the story, playing a US Secret Service agent. The serial also features Mike Rale, who played the sinister Master of the Black Order in the MYSTERIES OF MYRA serial, as Huroki’s assistant Kato. Screen action takes place around Cayuga Lake and other recognizable Ithaca locations of historical interest. Interestingly, a very young Rudolph Valentino can be glimpsed in a group of dancers in a few shots in one episode which was filmed in a club where he was employed at a dance teacher at the time. It appears to be his earliest existing onscreen film footage.

The DVD includes:

Episode 2: "Treasure" in which Baron Huroki and his men sack the Channing estate in search of Patria’s secret defense fund and are willing to burn the place down if necessary to get it
Episode 3: "Winged Millions" in which Patria struggles to escape from a deathtrap in the ruins
Episode 4: "Double-crossed" in which Huroki schemes to replace Patria with a double, a dancer named Elaine, whose jealous manager has other plans
Episode 10: "War in the Dooryard" in which Baron Huroki’s army stages an all-out attack on New York and Captain Parr of the Secret Service assists Patria Channing’s men from the munitions factory, now trained as soldiers, in opposing them

(All the existing episodes include appearances by Warner Oland.) Added Bonus:
A 6 1/2 Minute Slideshow of advertisements and over 75 stills and behind the scenes photos from the serial

1 DVD; tinted & with new musical score, chapter markers; about 75 minutes
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