Bluebird Photoplays

A Society Sensation (1918)
Early Japanese cinema were, of course, under the influence of D. W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and other early Hollywood cinema. Serial photoplays from Unites States and France, in addition to fast-paced westerns and Max Linder comedies were also textbook materials. Intolerance sent shockwave through young cinema lovers, while Zigomar was so sensational that it had to be banned in fear of copycat crimes. The films of Mourice Tourner, Thomas Ince and other Hollywood notables, plus early Italian epic films, and German Expressionisms were all flooding the Japanese cinema theaters. These films were universally acclaimed as influential and popular, so no surprise here.

One unique influence on Japanese cinema was of Bluebird Photoplays. Bluebird Photoplays was the subsidiary of Universal Pictures, providing run-of-the-mill melodrama between 1916 and 1919. Though some familiar names, Lois Weber, Rupert Julian, Rex Ingram, Tod Browning and even John Ford can be found among the list of directors, the studio itself failed to deliver materials attractive enough for the U.S. market. Some of the Lon Chaney films are also products of Bluebird Photoplays. The titles like “Shoes (1916, Dir. Lois Weber)”, “Southern Justice (1917, Dir. Lynn Reynolds)”, “The Ruggedy Queen (1917, Dir. Theodore Marston)” probably sunk in box office in U.S., but they were among the most highly appreciated in Japan, especially by young artists in the business such as Norimasa Kaeriyama, Teinosuke Kinugasa and Minoru Murata. Keriyama, heavily influenced by Bluebird films, directed “Miyama no Otome (1919)”, a remake of “The Ruggedy Queen”, while Kinugasa studied Rupert Julian’s films thoroughly down to the minutest details. Young Yasujiro Ozu left a list of his favorite Bluebird actresses in his high-school notebook.
Because only handful of the Bluebird films have survived, and even fewer are available for casual viewing, I am not in the position to give a full analysis on those films. Some contemporaries noted its “naturalness” (of acting and directing) was in stark contrast not only with Japanese cinema at the time, but also with Italian, German and, to some extent, Hollywood cinema at the time. Many of the cinematic language of the era were still somewhat theatrical and less dynamic. Some frame grabs of the film “A Society Sensation (1918, Dir. Paul Powell, noted for Rudolph Valentino appearance) (YouTube)” and “The Scarlet Car (1917, Dir. Joseph De Grasse) (Internet Archive)”are presented here. 
The Scarlet Car (1917)
Here is the list of Bluebird Photoplays productions (* denotes the titles with prints known to have survived even if they are fragments. Maybe some others exist…). The list is from Japanese Wikipedia page.
1916
Secret Love (Robert Z. Leonard)
Undine (Henry Otto)
Hop – The Devil’s Brew (Phillips Smally)
The Wrong Door (Carter DeHaven)
The Grip of Jealousy (Joseph De Grasse)
The Strength of the Weak (Lucius Henderson)
The Yaqui (Lloyd B. Carleton)
The Flirt (Phillips Smally)
Tangled Hearts (Joseph De Grasse)*
John Needham’s Double (Phillips Smally)
The Great Problem (Rex Ingram)
The Gay Lord Waring (Otis Turner)
The Crippled Hand (David Kirkland)
The Gilded Spider (Joseph De Grasse)
Naked Hearts (Rupert Julian)
Elusive Isabel (Stuart Payton)
A Son of the Immortals (Otis Turner)
The Eye of God (Phillips Smally)
Bobbie of the Ballet (Joseph De Grasse)
The Grasp of Greed (Joseph De Grasse)
The Three Godfathers (Edward LeSaint)
Shoes (Lois Weber)
Broken Fetters (Rex Ingram)*
The Love Girl (Robert Z. Leonard)*
The Silent Battle (Jack Conway)
The Secret of the Swamp (Lynn F. Raynolds)
Love’s Lariat (Harry Kelly/George Marshall)
Bettina Loved a Soldier (Rupert Julian)
Little Eve Edgarton (Robert Z. Leonard)
The Girl of Lost Lake (Lynn F. Raynolds)
The Unattainable (Loyd B. Carlton)*
A Miracle of Love (Loyd B. Carlton)
Saving the Family Name (Phillip Smally/ Lois Weber)*
Behind the Lines (Henry MacRae)*
The Evil Women Do (Rupert Julian)
Wanted: A Home (Phillips Smally)
The Chalice of Sorrow (Rex Ingram)
The Social Buccaneer (Jack Conway)*
Love Never Dies (William Worthington)
The End of the Rainbow (Lynn F. Raynolds)*
Gloriana (E. Mason Hopper)*
A Stranger from Somewhere (William Worthington)
The Measure of a Man (Jack Conway)
The Bugler of Algiers (Rupert Julian)
The Sign of the Poppy (Charles Swickard)
The Eagle’s Wing (Robert Z. Leonard)
The Price of Silence (Joseph De Grasse)
The Honor of Mary Blake (Edwin Stevens)
The Right to Be Happy (Rupert Julian)
1917
Black Orchids (Rex Ingram)
The Piper’s Price (Joseph De Grasse)
Her Soul’s Inspiration (Jack Conway)*
God’s Crucible (Lynn F. Raynolds)
The Devil’s Pay Day (William Worthington)
The Mysterious Mrs. Musslewhite (Lois Weber)*
The Reward of the Faithless (Rex Ingram)
The Man Who Took a Chance (William Worthington)
The Saintly Sinner (Raymond Welles)
The Boy Girl (Edwin Stevens)*
Hell Morgan’s Girl (Joseph De Grasse)
Mutiny (Lynn F. Raynolds)
Polly Redhead (Jack Conway)
The Gift Girl (Rupert Julian)
Susan’s Gentleman (Edwin Stevens)
The Pulse of Life (Rex Ingram)
A Jewel in Pawn (Jack Conway)
The Girl in the Checkered Coat (Joseph De Grasse)
The Clock (William Worthington)
Little Miss Nobody (Harry F. Millarde)
Treason (Allen Holubar)
The Flashlight (Ida May Park)
Southern Justice (Lynn F. Raynolds)
Bringing Home Father (William Worthington)
A Doll’s House (Joseph De Grasse)
The Little Orphan (Jack Conway)*
A Kentucky Cinderella (Rupert Julian)
Fires of Rebellion (Ida May Park)
The Car of Chance (William Worthington)
The Greater Law (Lynn F. Raynolds)
The Little Terror (Rex Ingram)
The Rescue (Ida May Park)
The Clean-Up (William Worthington)
The Show Down (Lynn F. Raynolds)
Mr. Opp (Lynn F. Raynolds)
The Charmer (Jack Conway)
Mother o’ Mine (Rupert Julian)
Triumph (Joseph De Grasse)*
A Stormy Knight (Elmer Crifton)
The Mysterious Mr. Tiller (Rupert Julian)
Flirting with Death (Elmer Crifton)
The Spotted Lily (Harry Solter)
Anything Once (Joseph De Grasse)
Bondage (Ida May Park)
The Desire of the Moth (Rupert Julian)
Princess Virtue (Robert Z. Leonard)
The Man Trap (Elmer Crifton)
The Lash of Power (Harry Solter)
The Winged Mystery (Joseph De Grasse)
The Door Between (Rupert Julian)
The Savage (Rupert Julian)
The Raggedy Queen (Theodore Marston)
The Girl by the Roadside (Theodore Marston)
My Little Boy (Elsie Jane Wilson)
The Scarlet Car (Joseph De Grasse)*
Face Value (Robert Z. Leonard)
1918
My Unmarried Wife (George Siegmann)
Broadway Love (Ida May Park)*
The Fighting Grin (Joseph De Grasse)
The Wife He Bought (Harry Solter)
Hands Down (Rupert Julian)
Morgan’s Raiders (Wilfred Lucas, Bess Meredyth)
The Girl in the Dark (Stuart Payton)
Hungry Eyes (Rupert Julian)
Brace Up (Elmer Crifton)
The Wine Girl (Stuart Payton)
Fast Company (Lynn F. Raynolds)
The Red, Red Heart (Wilfred Lucas)
A Rich Man’s Darling (Edgar Jones)
The Marriage Lie (Stuart Payton)*
The Two-Soul Woman (Elmer Crifton)
A Mother’s Secret (Douglas Gerrard)
The Bride’s Awakening (Robert Z. Leonard)
Danger Within (Rae Berger)
The Guilt of Silence (Elmer Crifton)
A Soul for Sale (Allen Holubar)
$5,000 Reward (Douglas Gerrard)
A Broadway Scandal (Joseph De Grasse)
Midnight Madness (Rupert Julian)
Which Woman? (Tod Browning)
The Eagle (Elmer Crifton)
The City of Tears (Elsie Jane Wilson)
After the War (Joseph De Grasse)
The Empty Cab (Douglas Gerrard)
Winner Takes All (Elmer Crifton)
The Deciding Kiss (Tod Browning)
The Dream Lady (Elsie Jane Wilson)
The Love Swindle (John Francis Dillon)
Playthings (Douglas Gerrard)
The Rough Lover (Joseph De Grasse)
Fires of Youth (Rupert Julian)
That Devil, Bateese (William Wolbert)
The Brazen Beauty (Tod Browning)
Beans (John Francis Dillon)
The Craving (Frances Ford/John Ford)
A Society Sensation (Paul Powell)*
The Velvet Hand (Douglas Gerrard)
The Lure of Luxury (Elsie Jane Wilson)
Together (O.A.C. Lund)
Hugon, the Mighty (Rollin S. Sturgeon)
All Night (Paul Powell)*
Tongues of Flame (Colin Campbell)
Set Free (Tod Browning)
She Hired a Husband (John Francis Dillon)
The Sea Flower (Colin Campbell)
The Cabaret Girl (Douglas Gerrard)
1919
The Nature Girl (O.A.C. Lund)
The Game’s Up (Elsie Jane Wilson)
Who Will Marry Me? (Paul Powell)
Sue of the South (Eugene Moore)
The Millionaire Pirate (Rupert Julian)
The Sealed Envelope (Douglas Gerrard)
The Little White Savage (Paul Powell)
A Taste of Life (John Francis Dillon)
The Light of Victory (William Wolbert)
Have you seen any of these films? Is there anything different, or exceptional about them?