Here’s another early one-reel silent feature from the Thanhouser archives, completed during the same year as The Winter’s Tale (in addition to a bunch of other movies from this most prolific enterprise.) Once again, Thanhouser turns to “the classics” for its source material, adapting (and greatly simplifying) Oliver Goldsmith’s 1776 novel The Vicar’s Tale.
Among other innovations, the Thanhouser Company supposedly introduced the novel concept of writing a film’s narrative in advance, rather than shaping footage into one during the editing process. The Vicar of Wakefield is brief, but it does tell a concise story, which includes a small handful of head-spinning twists. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so let’s just say that when the fates of the various characters seem to be sealed, expect to have your assumptions blown to pieces. The Squire isn’t really so bad. Things turn out okay for the Vicar. Unhappy endings hadn’t been invented yet. And if you feel short-changed, there’s always Thanhouser’s 1917 version of the same story, which multiplies the length from one reel to a whopping eight.