Silent Movie, “The Promise”

July 21, 1917 – Joe Nichols presented one of the first motion pictures filmed on the Mendocino Coast at his picture house inside Kellieowen Hall on the southwest corner of Ukiah and Lansing. “The Promise” featured a number of local coast residents including Mendocino Lumber Company woods boss, Ed Boyle. Scenes had been shot in several coast locations during December 1916.

The Maru and log raft at one of the Big River booms, 1916. This photograph was posed for the filming of The Promise. The Promise was filmed in Mendocino in 1916 and featured a number of coast residents and scenes, many taken on Big River. (Verda Wakerley Winney, Harry J. Wakerley Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

This silent movie was partially set in a lumber camp, and the film included footage from the Boom, Boyle’s Camp, and other locations along Big River. During a dramatic river scene, the leading man, Harold Lockwood, was thrown from a log jam into the water after a dynamite explosion was set off by the villain.

Nichols had gone to considerable trouble and expense to get the film so quickly, but his efforts paid off – the following week, the Mendocino Beacon reported several families had come into town to see the movie.

Mendocino and the Movies: Hollywood and TV Motion Pictures Filmed on the Mendocino Coast” by Bruce Levene. More than 50 films from 1904 to 2001 used local scenery and local actors. $20.