MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: A Failure to Communicate

MOVIES WAY BACK WHEN: A Failure to Communicate title=
Image: Motography, February 1, 1913
Reads 1201

By Betsy J. Green

When the "Flying A" movie folks arrived in Santa Barbara at the beginning of July 1912, they began filming immediately. Back then, there were almost no regulations about where and when they could film, or who they needed to notify. No permits; no problem. Right?

Oops! There were a number of problems caused when actors and film crews showed up unannounced. They scared the bejeezus out of a couple of Chinese gardeners on a ranch just outside the city limits. The gardeners were minding their own business and working in a beanfield when a couple of the "Flying A" actors rode up on horseback, dressed as tough hombres, flashing their six-shooters.

The gardener ran out to the road, where he encountered a local police officer. In spite of the language barrier, the Chinese man was able to convince the copper that something terrible was going on. When they returned to the scene of the "crime," the film crew was able to explain the situation to everyone’s satisfaction one way or another. After that, the gardeners had a fun time watching the "bad hombres" do their thing.

This was not the last time that filming by the “Flying A” startled the inhabitants of Santa Barbara. More about that another time.

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​.
Login to add Comments


Show Comments
Please Login or Register to comment on this.