A Story of the Rand

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Screening Details

Length: 2,000 ft (± 22 min.) (Black and White) / Copyright Date: unknown / Release Date: March 1916 (?) / Language: Silent (English intertitles) / Genre: Drama / Alternative Title: none.


Catherine Calvert and her baby are ill-treated by her husband Henry and the situation becomes so desperate that she shoots him in self-defence. She succeeds in escaping to South Africa to start a new life, not knowing that the killing was witnessed by Jack Burton. Some 15 years later Catherine and her now grown-up daughter, Rose, are resident in Johannesburg. Jack Burton is the assistant manager of a gold mine and forces Mrs. Calvert to become his accomplice in his scheme to steal some of the gold. Both he and Philip Newton, an underground manager at the mine, are attracted to Rose, but inevitably she falls in love with Philip. When Jack forces his unwelcome attentions on her, Philip knocks him out. With Jack vowing revenge, the last scene is set at the mine itself, with a fight taking place above the cyanide tanks and one of the men toppling to his death…


This was the first fiction film made by the newly established African Film Productions. Shot in January-February 1916 at a time when the new studios at Killarney were not yet operational, most of it was filmed on actual locations, including the house of Denis Santry in Parktown West, the Rand Hunt Club, the Crown and Geduld mines, etc. The director was the American Lorimer Johnston, who had arrived in November of the previous year, and the scenario was by his wife, Caroline Frances Cooke. Both cameramen, Joseph Albrecht and Henry Howse, had previously come out from England to join African Film Productions. Most of the actors came from the stage.


Caroline Frances Cooke (Catherine Calvert), Julius Royston (Jack Burton), H.B. Waring (Philip Newton), Gwen Macdonald (Rose Calvert), Grafton Williams (Henry Calvert), Dorothy Peters (Indian servant), Pearl Barkham (Rose as a baby), A.O. Glisson (unknown role).


Production Company: African Film Productions / Director, Lorimer Johnston / Scenario: Caroline Frances Cooke / Photographers: Henry Howse & Joseph Albrecht.


Sunday Times, 16 January 1916

Parsons, Neil - Black and white bioscope: making movies in Africa 1899 to 1925 (2018)


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