“The Story of the Star Spangled Banner” (1921)

I’m trotting out this rare silent short for the holiday weekend. It’s “The Story of the Star Spangled Banner” (1921). Best I have been able to figure out is that it was released by Pathé Exchange and was made available for the non-theatrical and education markets in 16mm not long thereafter.

Frame grab from the 2012 telecine transfer of my 16mm print.

You may have better luck than I had going searching on Lantern/MHDL for info on this.

It stars Frank Holland, and the rest of the cast and crew is unidentified. Research I did when I scored and posted this in 2012 turned up the tidbit that one of the actresses in the film is Kathleen Key. She supposedly is related in some way to Francis Scott Key. I also vaguely recall that there was an incident between her and Buster Keaton in the early 1930s…

I won this 16mm print on eBay maybe 15 years ago or so. It was on Dupont film stock and looked like it was struck in the 1930s. It’s a one-reel version of the film, and I recall seeing a tinted two-reel 35mm safety print on eBay a few years later — it’s on someone’s shelf somewhere now I suppose. My print was already starting to decompose, and I got it to my friend and colleague Eric Grayson to do a transfer before the print went to diacetate heaven.

Happy 4th, however you observe or celebrate, and I hope you enjoy this rare silent from my collection.

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Benita Auge

Thank you for giving us a look at this rare classic!