The Moving Picture Girls Series   

The Moving Picture Girls Series
by Laura Lee Hope

"That's it!" exclaimed Alice petulantly.  "Girls ought to be brought up able to do something so they could earn their living if they had to, instead of sitting around doing embroidery or tinkling on the piano.  I wouldn't know even how to clerk in a store if I had to."

— pages 54–55, The Moving Picture Girls

Titles in the Moving Picture Girls Series:

  1. The Moving Picture Girls, 1914
  2. The Moving Picture Girls at Oak Farm, 1914
  3. The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound, 1914
  4. The Moving Picture Girls Under the Palms, 1914
  5. The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch, 1914
  6. The Moving Picture Girls at Sea, 1915
  7. The Moving Picture Girls in War Plays, 1916

This seven volume Stratemeyer Syndicate series was published from 1914 to 1916 by Grosset and Dunlap and was later reprinted by World Syndicate and Goldsmith.  The reprint publishers also added a book named The Moving Picture Girls' Holidays to this series, even giving the author's name as Laura Lee Hope, but The Moving Picture Girls' Holidays is actually from the Ethel Morton series by Mable S.C. Smith and has nothing to do with this series.

The Moving Picture Girls series recounts the struggles of Hosmer, Ruth, and Alice DeVere while Hosmer DeVere waits for an acting engagement.  Mr. DeVere finally accepts a position at a film company, and his daughters join him.  Ruth DeVere is 17 years old and very serious while Alice is 15 years old and lively.  A young film operator, Russ Dalwood, is interested in Ruth, while Alice has won the heart of a young actor named Paul Ardite.

The acting troupe at the Comet Film Company consists of an interesting group of people.  Wellington Bunn is a former Shakespearean actor who feels that nearly everything that the manager, Mr. Frank Pertell, requests of him is beneath his dignity.  Bunn continually threatens to quit but always comes through grudgingly for Mr. Pertell.  Pepper Sneed is the resident grouch who is always expecting something bad to happen.  Carl Switzer is the comedian and is a German with a strong accent.  Switzer is delighted when his role requires that he make a laughingstock of Wellington Bunn.  Miss Pearl Pennington and Miss Laura Dixon are former vaudeville actresses who are intensely jealous of the DeVere girls, resent the popularity of the DeVeres, and have an inflated sense of their own importance.

The books describe the process of making moving pictures, which is during the time of the silent movies.  Since the sound is not recorded, the director calls out directions and changes in instructions for the actors even while the camera is still recording.  Many of the most interesting scenes that are captured on film occur by accident when something unexpected happens during filming.

It is not easy to acquire a complete set of this series in decent condition.  It is somewhat easier to acquire the reprints by World Syndicate and Goldsmith than the original Grosset and Dunlap books, but even the reprints are uncommon.  It is very difficult to acquire dust-jacketed examples of both the original Grosset and Dunlap books and the later reprints.

Dust Jacket Gallery

  #1 The Moving Picture Girls
       Or First Appearance in Photo Dramas
Ruth and Alice DeVere and their father Hosmer DeVere struggle to make ends meet while Mr. DeVere seeks another theactrical engagement.  The family celebrates after Mr. DeVere finally wins a leading role in an upcoming play.  Just as the opening day approaches, Mr. DeVere's old voice affliction suddenly returns, rendering him extremely hoarse.  Despite voice rest and medical treatment, Mr. DeVere's voice fails to improve, and he loses his role in the play.  Mr. DeVere desperately searches for work to no avail.

Ruth and Alice's friend Russ suggests that Mr. DeVere come work as an actor in the moving pictures, but Mr. DeVere considers the moving pictures to be vulgar and cheap.  It is only after the family is served with an eviction notice and after the grocer and butcher refuse all future deliveries to the family that Mr. DeVere gives in to the inevitable and accepts work in the moving pictures.

The Moving Picture Girls
The family's financial situation improves considerably, and in time, Alice and Ruth win positions with the film company.  The girls have several thrilling adventures during their first few films and help Russ prevent thieves from stealing his new invention away from him.
  #2 The Moving Picture Girls at Oak Farm
       Or Queer Happenings While Taking Rural Plays
Ruth and Alice eagerly begin their stay at Oak Farm as the film company films a series of plays at the farm.  Country life is a welcome change from the bustle of the city; however, more than one mystery lurks at the farm.

Sandy Apgar and his parents risk losing the farm because they cannot afford to pay the mortgage.  Sandy's uncle had borrowed an inheritance from Sandy's parents but never paid them back.  Sandy believes that Uncle Isaac intended to return the money but lost his mind and died before he was able to do so.  The Apgars have searched repeatedly for the money with no luck.

A tramp is discovered loitering on the farm and runs each time he is spotted.  While the tramp appears to be doing nothing wrong, Sandy is deeply concerned about the tramp's motive.  Meanwhile, the actors and actresses fall victim to several mishaps that occur during the filming of the plays.

The Moving Picture Girls at Oak Farm
Through a stroke of luck, the missing money box left by Uncle Isaac is found.  The Apgars save their farm, and the film company wraps up their work at the farm.
  #3 The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound
       Or The Proof on the Film
Dan Merley has accused Mr. DeVere of failing to return five-hundred dollars.  Mr. DeVere has already repaid the debt, but Merley was drunk at the time and failed to give Mr. DeVere a receipt.  Mr. DeVere can hardly afford to repay the money a second time, but may have no choice.  Curiously, Alice and Ruth witness Dan Merley as he is nearly run over by a train.  The man doesn't appear hurt, yet he complains of injuries and insists upon being taken to the hospital.  The girls feel certain that Merley is up to some scheme.

The film company departs for the northern woods for the filming of several winter plays.  While at Elk Lodge, Alice and Ruth experience both danger and adventure.  The girls are nearly attacked by a wildcat during the filming of one scene, and on an outing are trapped in an ice cave.  The weather proves to be a hardship after a fierce snowstorm traps the group inside the lodge.

The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound
During a hike near Elk Lodge, Alice and Ruth spot Dan Merley with two hunters.  Merley walks without a limp, and the girls recall that they had read of a lawsuit against the railroad in which Merley claimed to be crippled.  Russ films Merley without his knowledge, and after Merley is shown the film, he withdraws his lawsuit and his claim against Mr. DeVere.
  #4 The Moving Picture Girls Under the Palms
       Or Lost in the Wilds of Florida
Ruth and Alice eagerly anticipate warm weather and palm trees in Florida, where they are to film a series of dramas.  They also think of the possibility of reacquainting themselves with two girls from Florida whom they met briefly while traveling to Elk Lodge.  During the voyage, the film company has its usual share of adventures when the ship catches on fire.  Russ films many scenes of the fire, evacuation, and rescue of the passengers to be used in a future play.

After arriving in Florida, a steamer is hired to carry the film company into the interior of the state.  Both Ruth and Alice feel nervous after reading of two girls who recently went missing from Lake Kissimmee, the very place to where the film company will travel.  They worry that their old friends may be the two girls and wonder whether something similar could happen to them as well.

The Moving Picture Girls Under the Palms
Alice, Ruth, Russ, and Paul leave the rest of the film company one day to shoot some scenes in the drama.  During their return trip, they find themselves lost and must spend the night on the river waiting for dawn.  The four young people spend a harrowing night on the river, wondering if they will ever find the steamer.  The next day is full of adventure as the young people stumble across the missing girls and find a way back to civilization.
  #5 The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch
       Or Great Days Among the Cowboys
The Comet Film Company heads out West by railroad to work on a new project which shows life in the West and how it contrasts with life in the East.  Mr. Pertell must contend with spies from a rival film company who are trying to steal his ideas.  Russ gets a great film of the drilling of an oil well, but a spy also films the same scene with his own camera.  Mr. Pertell changes his plans in order to thwart the rival company's efforts.

As the company continues into the West, they dodge a tornado and survive a train derailment.  Finally, the acting troupe arrives at Rocky Ranch.  It takes some adjustment for the actors to get used to ranch life.  The cowboys are loud and rowdy but very friendly to the film company, especially the young ladies.  Russ and Mr. Pertell are taken aback when they spot a moving picture camera in the ranch house and learn that it belongs to a recently-hired cowhand.  It seems that the rival picture company has arrived at the ranch first.

The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch
Alice and Ruth quickly become experts at riding and many successful films are made.  During the course of filming, the actors and actresses are nearly trapped in a prairie fire and encounter other hazards.  Finally, the filming is concluded, and the spies for the rival film company are apprehended.
  #6 The Moving Picture Girls at Sea
       Or A Pictured Shipwreck That Became Real
The DeVeres head out to sea with the Comet Film company in order to film a new drama about a shipwreck.  Old Jack Jepson, a sailor hired for the film, confides how he was once unjustly accused of inciting a mutiny on a ship and was sentenced to prison by the British authorities.  Jack escaped and has lived on the run for many years.  During the voyage, Jack worries that the British may discover his whereabouts and arrest him.

Alice is intrigued by Jack's story, especially when she observes that Jack appears to know Captain Brisco and one of the other sailors, Hen Lacomb.  Later, Jack appears to fall overboard while Brisco and Lacomb are standing near him.  When Alice speaks to Jack about the incident, Jack reveals that Lacomb pushed him overboard.  Jack refuses to elaborate any further, leaving a mystery for Alice to uncover.

The Moving Picture Girls at Sea
The ship sails into a hurricane and is battered by the waves and strong winds.  It now appears that Mr. Pertell will not have to fake the ship sinking, and the passengers must hope for rescue before it is too late.  In the end, the passengers are rescued, a great film is made of the sinking ship, and Jack's accusers are brought to justice.
  #7 The Moving Picture Girls in War Plays
       Or The Sham Battles at Oak Farm
Mr. Pertell and the film company return to Oak Farm to film a war drama based on the Civil War.  Mr. Pertell plans to take advantage of the public's interest in war films due to the raging war in Europe.  A Girl in Blue and a Girl in Gray is to feature especially prominent roles for Ruth and Alice as relatives on opposite sides of the war between the states.

During filming the girls become acquainted with the many people who have been cast as extras in the film.  One girl in particular, Estelle Brown, becomes an immediate friend of the two sisters.  Estelle seems troubled and gives vague answers whenever she is asked questions about her past life.  After a time, Estelle reveals that she has no memory of her past before the last three to four years.  She feels certain that her name is Estelle Brown, but she has no memory of her relatives or where she lived.

The Moving Picture Girls in War Plays
During the filming of the climax of the moving picture, Estelle suffers a serious fall.  Alice and Ruth are distressed to learn that Estelle has now lost her memory of the past four years.  It soon becomes apparent that Estelle is remembering her distant past, and the girls are shocked to learn her true identity.  As the filming of the war drama concludes, Ruth and Alice witness Estelle's reunion with her family.
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