Seven Keys to Baldpate

Seven Keys to Baldpate
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In Seven Keys to Baldpate, a silent film based on a stage farce, a struggling novelist undertakes to write a novel during 24 hours in the Baldpate Inn. He thinks he has the only key but a succession of strangers arrives.

Australian impresario JC Williamson had already produced several war-themed films when he turned to filming plays such as this ‘mystery farce’, his final film. The war films, with outdoor scenes and dramatic action, were apparently more successful than these filmed theatre productions with their quivering canvas sets. Ironically, being less popular may have protected them from being destroyed through repeated projection.

Seven Keys to Baldpate was directed by Monte Luke and filmed at the J C Williamson Biograph Studio in Melbourne. ‘Elaborate preparations have been made to give the story an effective setting’, claimed Melbourne’s Winner on 24 November 1915. The original theatrical cast included popular Americans Fred Niblo and Josephine Cohan, resident in Australia for three years. Josephine Cohan’s brother, playwright/actor George M. Cohan, had written the script, a family connection that undoubtedly helped to clear the rights for Williamson’s motion picture.

The inclusion of the ‘soldiers’ sweetheart’, the stage and musical comedy star Dorothy Brunton as the female lead in the film, implies a certain success for the film but it was not the case. Seven Keys to Baldpate appears to have had a suburban and regional NSW release only, beginning in early May 1916, and Brunton is the only named star in the advertising.