Fallen Leaves

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Screening Details

Length: 4 reels (Black and White) / Copyright Date: unknown / Release Dates: 20 February 1920 (Cape Town), 27 February 1920 (Johannesburg) / Language: Silent (English intertitles) / Genre: Drama / Alternative Title: none.


Meda Henderson, who is married to Lt. Jack Henderson R.N., is seduced by Tom Spencer, a friend of her husband's. However, following her divorce Spencer abandons her. She becomes ill and after she recovers returns home to find her husband and daughter gone. She takes to drink and eventually becomes an alcoholic. She takes up domestic service, is dismissed for drunkenness and finally lands in jail for stealing. Through the intervention of Father Rudolph she becomes a housekeeper with the Hatfield family, where she sees her own story repeat itself when Mrs. Hatfield takes up with Wilfred Stockton. She discover that Nellie Hatfield is, in fact, her and Jack's daughter and is able to prevent her from making the same mistake. In the end she and Jack are reconciled. (Adapted from summaries in the Sunday Times and Stage & Cinema)


A melodrama starring Madge Fabian, an English actress who had first come to South Africa in 1914 and, after a tour of Australia, had returned to Johannesburg to settle. Her role was very similar to those she had taken on the stage and for which she was highly regarded. The screenplay was adapted from a story by J.W. Staas, the real name of Corry Zarif, who for many years was associated with Fillis's Circus. It is likely that he would have known Adele Fillis, who made her film debut in the role of Nellie. The director, Dick Cruikshanks, also played Meda's father. At the time Stage & Cinema announced: "This film is a new departure from most of those already produced by the company, in that the entire cast, right down to the smallest character, is composed of white people – the colour element being entirely eliminated.”


Madge Fabian (Meda Henderson), W.F. Woodman (Lt. Jack Henderson), Yvon Saxby (Tom Spencer), Edward Vincent (Father Rudolph), Adele Fillis (Nellie Hartfield), Holger Petersen (Frank Hartfield), Thomas Pauncefort (Wilfred Stockton), Dick Cruikshanks (Meda's Father).


Production Company: African Film Productions / Director: Dick Cruikshanks / Original Story: C.J.W. Staas.


Stage and Cinema, 11 January 1919

Stage and Cinema, 25 January 1919

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm


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