In “real life” Oneonta, you’d never have found an automobile plant manager facing a crisis of having his young daughter kidnapped by two disgruntled employees. However, it would make for a good movie plot, and that’s exactly what took place in Oneonta during June 1918.
The Reita Film Co. of New York, under the auspices of the Strand Theatre of Oneonta, was preparing to bring its crew to this city for a filmplay, “A Call to the Colors,” staged and supervised with all local residents. The Strand was once found at the corner of Dietz and Wall streets, in the building where Dr. Polgar’s dental offices are today.
As reported in The Oneonta Star of Monday, May 6, “The management of the Strand has been asked to secure the talent and this will be done by means of a popularity voting contest, which will determine the leading parts. All who do not win will be awarded other parts, so that all entering the contest will appear in the production.”
Voting blanks were provided with every admission to the Strand until May 31. The results were posted in the Strand’s regular newspaper advertisements in the opening days of June. Ten ladies, men and children were each chosen for the cast and were instructed to be at the Strand at 3 p.m. Monday, June 3, to meet with the director and learn about the production of the film.
The cast and crew went right to work that afternoon. As these were silent films, so while there weren’t any lines to memorize, acting skills were required.
“Marked by a rough and tumble free for all fist fight, in which two alleged kidnappers were overcome by one of the most prominent young men of this city,” the Star reported the next day, “a dastardly piece of underhand work was averted yesterday afternoon at the Morgan homestead at Emmons.” This is where the Emmons Farms community is today.