The Law of Contact

Broncho Billy's Sentence (February 13, 1915)

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Broncho Billy's Sentence
 

Released on February 13, 1915: Broncho Billy, the first cowboy movie star, is a thief who not only steals another man's fortune but steals a kiss from a young girl who then shoots him with her shotgun.

Produced by Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson

Directed by Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson

The Actors: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson (Broncho Billy), Virginia True Boardman (the girl in the cabin), Ernest Van Pelt (the girl's father), Carl Stockdale (the minister), Evelyn Selbie (the minister's wife), True Boardman (the sheriff), Mervyn A. Breslauer (prisoner), Bill Cato (unknown), Thomas J. Crizer (prisoner), Frank Dolan (prisoner), Earl Esola (prisoner), Charles La Due (unknown), Spider Roach (prisoner), Jack Roberts (prisoner), Frank Rose (prisoner), Warren Sawyer (prison guard), Lee Scott (prisoner), Frank Stockdale (prisoner), Harry Todd (prison warden), Lee Willard (prisoner), Fred Windemere (prisoner), Henry Youngman (prisoner)

 
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Motion Picture's First Cowboy

Roy Rogers . . . no, he wasn't the first cowboy movie star, he was a cowboy singer hired by a movie company to possibly replace singing cowboy Gene Autry when he was making big contract demands. Gene Autry . . . no, he was by far not the first cowboy star, you need to go back . . . . waaaaaay back to the very early days of motion pictures and to a studio named Essanay Film Manufacturing Company - 'Essanay' is the phonetic word derived from 'S and A' - the names of the founders, George K. Spoor and Gilbert A. Anderson . . . Spoor and Anderson, or S and A, or Essanay!

Gilbert Anderson was selected by Thomas Edison's film company in 1903 to play three parts in the first motion picture blockbuster production, The Great Train Robbery, a twelve minute early motion picture. Anderson was so intrigued by this new invention of motion pictures that after a few years he teamed up with George Spoor and founded his own motion picture company in Chicago. For ten years this company turned out some of the finest silent motion pictures in the world, including many of the best films of Charlie Chaplin. But Gilbert Anderson must have had a bit of cowboy in him, because in addition to writing, producing and directing many of the first motion pictures in the world, he enjoyed acting as character Broncho Billy - motion picture's very first cowboy star.

Unlike the silver screen cowboy stars of later years, Broncho Billy was not always the 'good guy,' in fact, in this 17 minute adventure our very first glimpse of Gilbert 'Broncho Billy' Anderson shows him stealing from someone's strong box and then going on the run from the law. Adding to his crime of theft, he intrudes on a father and daughter in a humble cabin nearby and does the unthinkable - he grabs the young girl and plants a lusty kiss on her lips, turning away with a satisfied grin before leaving the cabin. But this is no ordinary girl, papa hands her a shotgun and she runs out of the cabin and shoots Broncho Billy in the head.

That is as far as I will take you in this adventure, but let me point out a couple of notable things: First, on a personal note, I have decided that from this point onward I will present all silent era films as they were presented to theaters exactly as they were created by the film companies . . . silently . . . without any of the added music that some folks have added later. In this early film the action and acting is so well done that you might not notice, but inter-titles were not used. There were no screens with sentences printed that explained what was happening, but even without any written or spoken words, today, a hundred years later, you will still understand everything very well.


Gilbert 'Broncho Billy' Anderson in the prison scene for Broncho Billy's Sentenct
Gilbert 'Broncho Billy' Anderson  with True Boardman
Gilbert 'Broncho Billy' Anderson with True Boardman
Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert Anderson
Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert Anderson
Virginia True Boardman, Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert M. Anderson
Virginia True Boardman, Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert M. Anderson
Carl Stockdale and Evelyn Selbie in the church service
Carl Stockdale and Evelyn Selbie in the church service
Carl Stockdale and Evelyn Selbie
Carl Stockdale and Evelyn Selbie
Carl Stockdale
Carl Stockdale
Ernest Van Pelt and Virginia True Boardman
Ernest Van Pelt and Virginia True Boardman
Evelyn Selbie and Carl Stockdale
Evelyn Selbie and Carl Stockdale
Evely Selbie and Gilbert M. Anderson
Evely Selbie and Gilbert M. Anderson
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson steals a kiss from Virginia True Boardman
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson steals a kiss from Virginia True Boardman
Carl Stockdale, Gilbert M. Anderson and Evelyn Selbie
Carl Stockdale, Gilbert M. Anderson and Evelyn Selbie
Gilbert M. Anderson
Gilbert M. Anderson
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Harry Todd and Gilbert M. Anderson
Harry Todd and Gilbert M. Anderson
Harry Todd as the prison warden in Broncho Billy's sentence
Harry Todd as the prison warden in Broncho Billy's sentence
The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company logo
The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company logo
True Boardman as the Sheriff
True Boardman as the Sheriff
Virginia True Boardman, Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert M. Anderson
Virginia True Boardman, Ernest Van Pelt and Gilbert M. Anderson
Virginia True Boardman shoots Broncho Billy with her shotgun
Virginia True Boardman shoots Broncho Billy
Virginia True Boardman takes aim at Broncho Billy after he steals a kiss from her
Virginia True Boardman takes aim at Broncho Billy after he steals a kiss from her
Virginia True Boardman and Ernest Van Pelt after Broncho Billy steals a kiss from her and then runs away
Virginia True Boardman and Ernest Van Pelt after Broncho Billy steals a kiss from her and then runs away
Virginia True Boardman tells Ernets Van Pelt about the kiss that Broncho Billy stole from her
Virginia True Boardman tells Ernets Van Pelt about the kiss that Broncho Billy stole from her
Warren Sawyer as the prison guard in Broncho Billy's Sentence
Warren Sawyer as the prison guard in Broncho Billy's Sentence