If you've read a lot of Grace Livingston Hill books, you might think that she was strongly opposed to motion pictures. Did you know that three of her books were adapted for the silver screen in the days of silent films? Five films were made between 1915 and 1925, but none of them are known to have survived.
1912 - The Mystery of Mary
1914 - The Best Man
1919 - The Best Man
1919 - The Enchanted Barn
1925 - Marriage in Transit (remake of The Best Man)
A STRANGE MEETING IN A STRANGE PLACE LEADS TO STARTLING AND INEXPLICABLE ADVENTURES
—The Seattle Star, 8/25/1915
It began in 1915 with The Mystery of Mary. You may be familiar with this title as a 1912 GLH book, but it originally appeared two years earlier in Lippincott's Magazine in 1910. Vitagraph Company contracted with J.B. Lippincott for the film rights and produced the three-reel film and it was released on July 31, 1915. It starred Betty Gray in the title role, along with Lionel Adams and an "all-star cast."
Once in a while it got top billing, but it was frequently the second feature, playing on the same bill as a Charlie Chaplin or Lionel Barrymore picture. Sometimes it was even preceded by a vaudeville show! The film played at theaters all over the U.S. and Canada in 1915 and was known to play in New Zealand in 1916.
On August 31, 1915, it was showing at The Grand in Wilmington, NC. While reviews for this film are scarce, the management of The Grand thought it was a good picture:
"When the Grand management advertises a feature attraction you can always rely on seeing something exceptionally good, and as we are always advertising a feature consequently you will always see a good show at the Grand.
"Vitagraph Company will present a Broadway Star Feature in three reels from the magazine story by G.L. Hill Lutz, entitled "The Mystery of Mary." produced by Captain Harry Lambert...If you saw a beautiful girl in an afternoon gown running wildly from the mouth of a railroad tunnel when a train was likely to come through at any minute, what would you do? Tryon, respecting the girl's wish that she keep secret the cause of her predicament, simply aids her to reach her destination. He meets the girl afterwards, the mystery is solved; her persecutors punished; then Tryon and Mary are happy forever afterwards."