August 29, 2021

Prescott's Best Early Movie


If newspaper reviews are any indication, “The Power of Silence,” (the sixth movie made in Prescott,) was the best one Lubin produced there in 1912. After reading the glowing critiques and lively descriptions, one is left only to lament its loss.

  • “One of the best pictures being shown in this country! -Altoona (PA) Times
  • “One of the strongest dramatic situations presented in pictures…” -Leader Post (Regina Saskatchewan)
  • “A striking picture…by the talented Lubin players” -Bangor (ME) Daily News
  • “No expense has been spared to make it a realistic subject and some of the scenes are the kind that will hold one spellbound.” -Anaconda (MT) Standard
  • “One of the best features Lubin ever sent out…Truly a great, thrilling two-reel special!” -Hot Springs (AR) New Era

The film was an adaptation of the play “Where the Trail Divides” by Robert Edeson and was the only two-reel offering produced by Lubin in Yavapai County. It starred Edgar Jones and Clara Williams.

“A startling western drama,” the Anaconda (MT) Standard declared. “Aside from being one of the best of its kind that has been produced in a long time, it is also one of the best from a photographic point of view, and the staging of this film could not be better.” 

The excitement and scenes were tightly packed. Despite being twice the usual length of a Lubin western,

“every foot [of film] is essential to the picture,” the Great Falls (MT) Tribune declared.

Although terribly grainy, this is one of
the few surviving images of the film left.
It is presumed to be Jane, played by Clara Williams.

High praise was offered for the actor who played the “Silent One” (presumed to be Edgar Jones.) “The leading character—The Silent One—is done by a gifted actor, who very cleverly conveys certain human qualities, yet with a certain dominant and unnatural power,” the Bangor (ME) Daily News related. “Much has been written of hypnotism and kindred eerie powers,” the Alameda (CA) Evening Times echoed. “This will power was never more clearly portrayed than in…’The Power of Silence.'”

“Indians, half-breeds and moccasined [sic] maidens play an important part,” the Regina, Saskatchewan Leader-Post described, “while behind all looms the magnificent rugged mountain scenery, leading to a unique atmosphere; portrayed with gripping intensity.” 

Yet this western would be different. “[It’s] not one of those blood and thunder melodramas usually seen on most picture screens,” the (York PA) Gazette noted.

Here now is a narrative of the plot, compiled from eleven newspaper reviews to offer the fullest account:

Tom Lowery, a wealthy ranch owner, realizing that he is dying, makes his will in favor of his adoptive daughter, Jane. She’s in love with “The Silent One,” Lowry's sheep herder, who is known for his powerful, yet quiet, personality. The old ranchman approves of the love affair and the couple gets married. 

Then comes Bob Sinclair, a nephew of Lowry, from the big city back east. He's a fascinating, but unscrupulous man, who hoped to get the dying man’s estate by hook or by crook. After the wealthy ranchman passes away, Sinclair tried to steal his uncle’s will, but was caught in the act by the Silent One. So instead, Sinclair begins to seduce Jane.

Advertisement for "Power of Silence" at
the Lyric Theater in Sydney, Australia

She listens to his descriptions of the wonderful big city back east and because of his polished manners and sauve talk, she falls in love with him. The Silent One returns home one day to find her in the arms of Sinclair, but looks upon the sudden love match without comment. His love for Jane was so great that he wanted her to be happy no matter what. He tells her to go, but warns Sinclair that if any harm comes to Jane, “he had better take his own life.” 

After a few years, Sinclair squanders Jane’s money, deserts her, and she is left alone penniless, finally dying of a broken heart.

Sinclair learns that there are still some remaining sheep from his wife's estate left back west. With the little money he has left, he returns to try to sell the sheep. Upon learning of Sinclair’s return, the Silent One lures him into his cabin and reminds him of his warning. By force of will-power, the Silent One leads Sinclair off into a cave on the cliff, where a desperate struggle takes place. On the historic ground of ancient cliff dwellers (in the Verde Valley,) Sinclair and the Silent One battle for a dead woman’s memory before they tumble over a balcony of one of the cliff dwellings.

Down, down, down hundreds of feet, tumbling off projections in the rock; bounding from promontory to promontory, they roll at last into the bottom of a dark ravine--an unrecognizable mass of broken bones and flesh with the camera catching every movement. So brought the end of the careers of both the good and the bad.

While researching this film, the author came upon the mention of another short film produced during this time by Lubin: "The Cliff Dwellings on the Verde."

Arizona Daily Star, 1/29/1913; Pg. 8, Col. 4.

“The Power Silence” was released all across the US, as well as in Canada and Australia. Its success was noted by Paramount Pictures, who two years later, released its own adaptation using the name of the play: “Where the Trail Divides.”


Tourist Tip:

The Western Heritage Center, located in the old Sam Hill Hardware on historic Whiskey Row has an exhibit on the film history of Yavapai County. Included are stories, posters, the phone booth that appeared in Junior Bonner and a monitor playing 100 year old silent films that feature Prescott back then. Check their website for operating hours:



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Tennessean (Nashville); 1/12/1913, Pg. 31, Col. 6.

Mt. Carmel (PA) Item; 1/22/1913, Pg. 1, Col. 4.

Butte (MT) Miner; 1/14/1913, Pg. 14, Col. 3

Daily Arkansas Gazette; 1/10/1913, Pg. 4, Col. 3.

*Evening Times (Alameda CA); 2/12/1913, Pg. 6, Cols. 3-4.

*Daily Missoulian (MT); 1/15/1913, Pg. 10, Cols. 4-5.

*Bangor (ME) Daily News; 1/6/1913, Pg. 10, Col. 3.

*IBID. 1/7/1913, Pg. 10, Col. 1.

*Central New Jersey Home News; 1/30/1913, Pg. 3, Col. 2.

*Altoona (PA) Times; 1/28/1913, Pg. 12, Col. 6.

*Hot Springs New Era (AR); 1/14/1913, Pg. 4, Col. 6.

* Also contained utilized general information. 


Leader-Post (Regina Saskatchewan); 2/4/1913, Pg. 16, Col. 7.

Anaconda (MT) Standard; 1/18/1913, Pg. 5, Cols. 3-4.

Great Falls (MT) Tribune; 1/20/1913, Pg. 3, Col. 3.

Gazette (York PA);1/14/1913, Pg. 5, Col. 6.

Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald; 3/8/1913, Pg. 7, Cols. 6-7.

Picture: Fresno (CA) Morning Republican; 1/19/1913 Pg. 17, Col. 1.

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