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God's Crucible

1920
5,960 feet, black and white, 35mm
Silent
Director Henry MacRae
Producer Ernest Shipman
Writer Faith GreenRalph Connorbased on his novel "The Foreigner, A Tale of Saskatchewan"
Cinematographer William Thornley
Principal Cast Gaston GlassWilliam G. ColvinGladys CoburnWilton LackayeBradley BarkerBigelow CooperAnn Sutherland
Production Company Winnipeg Productions
Ivan Kalmar (Gaston Glass), his sister Irma (Edna Shipman), his father Michael (Wilton Lackaye) and their servant (Ann Sutherland), are political refugees from Russia recently arrived in Winnipeg. Ivan’s masterful violin playing leads to his meeting Marjorie Menzies (Gladys Coburn), the daughter of Sir Robert Menzies (Bigelow Cooper). They fall in love despite the opposition of Marjorie’s suitor, local lawyer Mortimer Staunton (Bradley Barker). One evening, at the home of Makaroff (William G. Colvin), a long-time enemy of the Kalmars, Irma is insulted. A fight follows, the lights go out, and the insulter is killed. Ivan is arrested and tried for the murder but his father confesses and is sent to prison. Ivan then becomes the foreman in a coal mine which Makaroff is trying to acquire. When this fails, Makaroff attempts to blow up the mine and all the workers, but dies in the explosion himself. The Kalmer’s family servant confesses to the earlier murder, Michael is released from jail and Ivan and Marjorie are reunited.

The second feature produced in Canada by Ernest Shipman, God's Crucible was largely shot on location in Winnipeg and the foothills of the Rockies in the summer of 1920 (originally under the title The Foreigner). It was released in the United States in September 1921 (a year after its preview screening in Winnipeg) and received a mixed critical reception. The acting and the sense of atmosphere were uniformly praised, but most reviewers pointed out the film’s uneven, melodramatic construction.

By Peter Morris
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