Movies Way Back When: Bad Dog!

Image: courtesy of Dana Driskel title=
Image: courtesy of Dana Driskel
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By Betsy J. Green

The movie comedian W.C. Fields is famous for saying that he hated to share the screen with children or animals. Sometimes they stole the show, and sometimes they ruined the take. Here's an example of the latter that happened during a filming in Santa Barbara in 1914 with the American Film Company, nicknamed the "Flying A."

Peter the movie dog did a naughty thing during the Flying A’s filming of “Suspended Ceremony.” No, not the kind of naughty thing that necessitates a 15-minute cleanup and half a roll of paper towels. No, Peter actually followed his instincts, and he thought he was being a Good Dog!

As part of the action in the film, an actor, who was Peter’s owner and trainer in real life, was thrown into the lake. Peter, who, like some people, had trouble differentiating between Real Life and Art (or real life and reel life) jumped into the lake and “rescued” his owner. Unfortunately, the rescue was not in the script, and the scene had to be reshot after the actor dried off.

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​.
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