Hi, I am told you are THE man for identifying vintage cars. I’m
writing something about this film,
"The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper" (1908),
and wondered if the model was known to you? Any thoughts much
appreciated... All the best Matthew Sweet
|Many thanks for your
enquiry. We have the same dog/child photo on our Help Page 33 dated 2010,
and our answer was as follows: Interesting postcard sent to us by our
member Chris Cuss (UK) from one of his friends which is showing a dog
driving a car. He wanted to know the name of the dog! -- Lassie sprang to
mind. Fortunately, shortly after he also supplied the answer that the car
is a 1907 Riley 9HP and that the photo is a still from a 1907 Cecil
Hepworth film 'Rover drives a car' where the dog rescues a child. The
dog's actual name was 'Blair' and was Hepworth's. It was first cine animal
to have named role.
While on the subject of Lassie, a Rough Coated Collie, it should be
remembered that the original Lassie was a British story. The later story
we all know is by Eric Knight was made into a MGM movie. Lassie was
actually a laddie called Pal, and his trademarked descendants continue to
play the part.
Subsequent investigation suggests there seem to have been two films ‘shorts’
featuring Rover the Rough Coated Collie which are frequently mixed up. One
is “Cecil Hepworth's “Rescued
by Rover”, a six minute film
issued in 1905. Wikipedia
confirms name of a film as “Rescued by Rover” and as released in “1905”.
It however features a child being stolen by a beggar woman and later
discovered by Rover who goes home and persuades Master to go to get the
baby. No motor vehicles involved in the plot. Interesting to note that the
film was enormously popular, having a number of original re-filming
because the master wore out, and helped to install Rover as nation’s
favourite name for a dog. The child is Hepworth’s daughter Barbara.”
Cecil Hepworth made a second ‘Rover’ film titled “The
Dog Outwits the Kidnapper” which was eight minutes long and was made in
1908. The story is very
similar. A kidnapper in a car steals the baby, Rover chases car for miles
and when the car stops, Rover drives the car back with baby still in it.
The child is Hepworth’s daughter Barbara and Mother is Hepworth’s
wife, and Hepworth is Father. Early films were made in Walton-on-Thames.
There is much confusion about the naming of the films and dates issued,
but ”Rescued by Rover“ was made in 1905 and “The Dog Outwits the
Kidnapper’ was issued in 1908. The film with the car is ‘The Dog
Outwits the Kidnapper’ issued in 1908.
The car is a Riley 9hp Light Two-Seater. Dating is a little difficult
because it does not have the original numberplate. Most probably the
dating would be cca 1907. It was fitted with a 1,000cc V-twin engine and
could be had with an optional hood. This vehicle was an update on the
earlier Riley Tricars and Quadricycles and was their first venture into
proper car manufacture. It was the first Riley to be manufactured
commercially, and it went on sale in early 1906. The car carries an AA
badge on the dashboard which was first issued in 1906 and was the early
type, pre-1911 type, when wings were added to the top. So cca 1907 for car
and AA badge would probably tie in with a 1908 film.
It is interesting to note that the screen car has the registration BH7
which is a Buckingham County Council reg of possibly early 1903. It is
also interesting to note from Nichola Young's excellent doorstopper
encyclopedia "Car Number Classics" that
this registration was issued to Charles Stapelton Pelham Clinton who lived
in Woodside House, Ammersham, Bucks, (now Woodrow High House in which
during the Civil War Cromwell housed his wife and daughters).
Clinton owned three cars, BH 5 which was a 1903 Prunel, BH6 which was a
1903 Beaufort, and BH7 which is confirmed as being registered in November
1903 and being registered as a 5.5HP Oldsmobile Runabout, - made by the
then largest automobile producer in the United States. It was certainly
not a 1905 Riley. Clinton died in 1911. It is documented that BH7 number
and vehicle came under new ownership in October 1904.
Quite how, and when, BH7 migrated from a 1903 Oldsmobile to a 1905 Riley,
we have not yet been able to define. Registration transfer was quite
common in the early days because to have an early registration suggested
you must be super-rich to have had a car when they were first available
and astronomically expensive.
Go to Recent
PICTURE GALLERY INDEX