The Film Mystery HTML version
6. The First Clue
Manton's car was a high-powered, expensive limousine, fitted inside with every luxury of
which the mind of even a prima donna could conceive, painted a vivid yellow that must
have made it an object of attention even on its familiar routes. It was quite characteristic
of its owner, for Manton, as we learned, missed no chance to advertise himself.
In the back with us was Werner, while the rest of the company were left to return to the
city in the two studio cars which had brought them out in the morning. The director,
however, seemed buried with his reflections. He took no part in the conversation; paid no
attention to us upon the entire trip.
Manton's mind seemed to dwell rather upon the problems brought up by the death of
Stella than upon the tragedy itself. The Star's photoplay editor once had remarked to me
that the promoter was 90 per cent "bull," and 10 per cent efficiency. I found that it was an
unfair estimation. With all his self-advertisement and almost obnoxious personality,
Manton was a more than capable executive in a business where efficiency and method are
"This has been a hoodoo picture from the start," he exclaimed, suddenly. "We have been
jinxed with a vengeance. Some one has held the Indian sign on us for sure."
Kennedy, I noticed, listened, studying the man cautiously from the corners of his eyes,
but making no effort to draw him out.
"First there were changes to be made in the script, and for those Millard took his own
sweet time. Then we were handed a lot of negative which had been fogged in the
perforator, a thing that doesn't happen once in a thousand years. But it caught us just as
we sent the company down to Delaware Water Gap. A whole ten days' work went into
the developer at once. Neither of the camera men caught the fog in their tests because it
came in the middle of the rolls. Everything had to be done over again.
"And accidents! We carefully registered the principal accomplice of the 'Black Terror,' a
little hunchback with a face to send chills down your back. After we had him in about
half the scenes of a sequence of action he was taken sick and died of influenza. First we
waited a few days; then we had to take all that stuff over again.
"Our payroll on this picture is staggering. Stella's three thousand a week is cheap for her,
the old contract, but it's a lot of money to throw away. Two weeks when she was under
the weather cost us six thousand dollars salary and there was half a week we couldn't do
any work without her. Gordon and Shirley and Marilyn Loring draw down seventeen
hundred a week between them. The director's salary is only two hundred short of that. All
told 'The Black Terror' is costing us a hundred thousand dollars over our original