Movies Way Back When: A Diplomatic Mission

By Betsy J. Green

Santa Barbara’s “Flying A” studio was not the only film company making movies in this area. In 1918, Vitagraph Studios used the Gillespie estate in Montecito as the location for a movie set in the South Seas during World War I.

A young American man looking for adventure and romance finds a whole lot more than he bargained for. First, he meets a beautiful Englishwoman and guess what happens? They fall in love. When someone insults her, he gets into a fight and has to move to another island that’s occupied by Germans. In the end, the American and the Englishwoman are rescued by a U.S. Navy warship.

No copies are known to exist.

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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