My Search For “Let Women Alone”, The Lost Silent Shot On The Coastside

In the 1977 letter to me, the American Film Institute (AFI) enclosed a pamphlet: “FILM PRESERVATION: WHY NITRATE WON’T WAIT”

Here’s the introduction:

“When the American Film Institute was established in 1967 as a private, non-profit organization, its first priority was the preservation of American films. At the time that The American Film Institute archives program was started, it was estimate that over half of the feature films produced in the United States had been lost. Thousands of early American motion pictures, regarded by the film industry as unprofitable, were destroyed or left to crumble in their cans. What remained was in serious danger…..”

“Let Women Alone” was filmed on nitrate tape which is highly volatile, and when not stored properly, has an extremely short lifespan. “Let Women Alone” is considered a missing film.

Maybe you know where it is. The film–or even prints– could be in someone’s attic or garage, long forgotten.

If you have information on the whereabouts of the 1925 silent film “Let Women Alone”–please email me and/or contact the AFI.

“Let Women Alone: Lost Silent Filmed on Coastside, Part III

pstudio_2.jpg(Photo: Peninsula Studios, San Mateo County History Museum).

But it was rough going for the indie Peninsula Studios.

What a disappointment it must have been when “Let Women Alone” opened at San Francisco’s Cameo Theater in 1925 and the silent received the briefest mention in the local newspaper: “plenty of fun and a considerable portion of drama.”

Starring in the six-reel silent film was Pat O’Malley, fresh from a role as a reformed young Bowery gang leader in “Fools Highway,” a remake of the acclaimed silent “Regeneration.”

The comically talented Wallace Beery co-started along with such unknowns as Wanda Hawley and Ethel Wales. Frank Woods, a former New York drama critic, produced; Paul Powell directed.

“Let Women Alone: Lost Silent Filmed on Coastside, Part II

pstudio_2.jpg(Photo: Peninsula Studios, San Mateo County History Museum, Redwood City)

In January 1925 the Half Moon Bay Review reported that Peninsula Studios had released “Let Women Alone.” The silent motion picture was adapted from “On The Shelf,” a short story by Viola Brothers Shore that appeared in the “Saturday Evening Post.”

In the silent version, the wild tug boat chase was filmed on location at Princeton. In the 1920s, Princeton, with its colorful roadhouses, buzzed with feverish activity as wary rumrunners unloaded illegal whiskey at one of three wooden piers.

Peninsula Studios built a “cinema city” in San Mateo in the early 1920s (see “The Golden Gate and the Silver Screen” by Geoffrey Bell). Two “mammoth” stages featured the most high tech lighting equipment. Individual buildings housed editing rooms, a lab for developing film, and, when needed, there was plenty of open land for the construction of exterior sets.

The stars weren’t forgotten as their private dressing rooms included luxurious bathrooms.

The maverick motion picture company was taking a big financial risk–in the 1920s the well-financed film industry was headquartered in New York and Hollywood–NOT the Bay Area. Thwarting conventional thinking, Peninsula Studios moved ahead intending to produce successful theatrical films.

…To Be Continued…