A charming pastoral about two unwanted children finding acceptance and love, Timothy’s Quest (1922) is a rare, cinematic gem based on a novel by Kate Douglas Wiggin (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), who was then known as “America’s best loved author of stories about children.”* The only production of the Dirigo Film Company, established in order to make films in the state of Maine adapted from works by Maine authors, Wiggin loaned her own home as one of the principal filming locations. Director Sidney Olcott — a true pioneer who was General Manager of Biograph and directed one of the earliest American feature films, From the Manger to the Cross (1912) — makes generous use of beautiful, local landscapes that look lovely and timeless in this tinted print.
The story centers around two orphans from the slums, Timothy (Joseph Depew) and "Lady Gay" (Baby Helen Rowland), who decide to strike out for the country rather than be sent to an asylum. They end up at White Farms, home of the bitter, old Miss Avilda Cummins (Marie Day). She takes a harsh attitude toward the children but agrees to house them for the night, warning her housekeeper, Samantha Ann Ripley (Margaret Seddon), that the kids are to be kicked out the next day. Eventually, though, the old spinster softens and, influenced in part by the tragic memories of her own ‘wayward’ sister, adopts and provides a home for both Lady Gay and Timothy.
In a touching and coincidental act of ‘stranger-than-fiction’ kindness, Olcott (who went on to direct many important productions starring the likes of Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, George Arliss, Richard Barthelmes, and Marion Davies) actually adopted and raised the handsome, young Joseph Depew, whose parents were killed in a boarding house fire when he was about 7-years-old. Depew, in turn, grew up to direct episodes of the long-running television series The Beverly Hillbillies, while Olcott opted to retire rather than adapt to talkies.
Flicker Alley and the Blackhawk Films® Collection are proud to present this newly re-mastered edition of Timothy’s Quest on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Featuring a digital stereo score compiled by Eric W. Cook and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, this little-known treasure of regional filmmaking in the silent era is “…a story for any and everybody who happens to have a heart.”*
* ""Timothy’s Quest," at Utah Theatre for Three Days." Ogden Standard Examiner 13 Feb. 1923, Theatre sec.: 8. Print.