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Thirty Days at Hard Labor (1912)

Not Rated | | Short, Comedy | 9 January 1912 (USA)
Jack must prove himself before Beatrice's father will allow him to continue seeing his daughter.


Oscar Apfel


O. Henry (story "Halberdier of the Little Rheinschloss")


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Cast overview:
Robert Brower ... Mr. Langdon - Beatrice's Father
Mary Fuller ... Beatrice Langdon
Harold M. Shaw ... Jack Deering
William Wadsworth ... Restaurant Proprietor


Beatrice Langdon's father objects to her marrying Jack Deering on the grounds that he is a son of a wealthy man. He makes it plain to Jack that if he is to marry his daughter he must sign an agreement, which stipulates that he must put in thirty days at hard labor. Jack, unknown to Beatrice, signs the agreement, and his first position is laying pipes with a gang of laborers. Inside of three days he is so worn out that he is obliged to relinquish his position. His next jobs were at rock excavation and shoveling coal, but his weak physique is not strong enough for hard work, so he resigns. In the meantime Beatrice, who has heard nothing from Jack for a couple of days, is heartbroken, but too proud to write him for an explanation, so she indulges in a little flirtation with Reggie Bullion. While passing the Munich Restaurant, Jack notices a sign, "Halberdier Wanted." He makes application for the job and is accepted. Upon the last night, Langdon, Reggie and Beatrice happen to visit the ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy


Not Rated






Release Date:

9 January 1912 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edison Company See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


A copy of this film survives at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. See more »


Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

22 February 2005 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

This Edison short from 1912 is based on an O. Henry short story: a son of the idle rich falls in love with the daughter of a self-made man and, in order to gain her father's permission to wed her, offers to work at unskilled labor for thirty days. This being an O. Henry story, you can expect a sharp snapper at the ending. In the meantime, until you get there, there are some some good comedy gags. You do need to get used to the Edison style of editing, which was very short of title cards but which is very well edited for understanding -- despite, to the modern eye, the occasional abrupt transition. Or perhaps not, given MTV techniques.

The interesting historical fact about this movie is that it was directed by Oscar Apfel. Mr. Apfel directed from about about 1911 through 1928, then just gave up and spent his last ten years as an actor. During his directing phase, however, he co-directed Cecil B. Demille's earliest films, basically teaching C.B. how to do the job. Why did Apfel give up directing? Was his technique out of date? Maybe. It was a common issue with several directors who vanished at that time. But here in 1912, he and his company are in fine form.

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