Movies Way Back When: Last Pre-Quake Film in Montecito

Movies Way Back When: Last Pre-Quake Film in Montecito title=
Image: Moving Picture World, November 14, 1925
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By Betsy J. Green

“East Lynne” was a silent movie filmed in the months before the big 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. It was released on November 23. The Fox Film Corporation filmed scenes at one of the million-dollar mansions in Montecito.

The novel "East Lynne," dating to the 1860s, has been performed on stage, on radio, on television, and on the silver screen countless times. Obviously, the general public never tired of watching rich people behaving badly, and then getting their well-deserved comeuppance in the end. Previous versions of the film had been made in 1913, 1916, and 1921.

(There are no known copies of this film.)

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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bjgreen Nov 27, 2021 01:50 PM
Movies Way Back When: Last Pre-Quake Film in Montecito

Good questions. Actually, the last movies made by the “Flying A” were in 1921, and a number of those were just reissues and renamed. Our local studio peaked in the mid-19teens. After that, the industry began to change because audiences preferred longer movies. So, the “Flying A” made longer, but fewer movies. And since they were the only studio in town, there were fewer opportunities for actors and crews. Whereas in the LA area, if you were not employed by one studio, you could probably find work at another.
When I was researching my book about the 65 silent movies made in the million-dollar mansions of Montecito, I discovered that the last “Flying A” movie was filmed there in 1918. (They made 30+ movies in ‘cito.) After that, the remaining silents made there were filmed by studios that came here from the LA area.

John Wiley Nov 27, 2021 10:18 AM
Movies Way Back When: Last Pre-Quake Film in Montecito

As you unfurl the prior 100 years in our history, I'll be interested to know if the '25 quake was a major factor in ending local film studios. Maybe damage to studio buildings and equipment, but also loss of important infrastructure and housing?

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