With offices based in Chicago, and production located in Los Angeles, The LaSalle Film Company had the best of both worlds. Incorporated in February of 1917 for $25,000, LaSalle’s staff included general manager B.F. Lewis, president Floyd L. Bateman, vice president George W. Leighton, treasurer Frank J. Seng and secretary Phil A. Grau. The company was formed with the intention of producing single reel comedies that would then be released through independent exchanges on the state right basis.
Lewis told the trades, “It is our intention to place on the market a brand of comedy that will conform with the prevailing public taste, the style that does not depend upon slapstick vulgarity. The officers of the company are all substantial business men, whose success in their various lines has been achieved only by strict honesty, integrity and good business methods. They are actively interested in this new enterprise, and their resources and business knowledge are assurance that no effort will be spared in making Lafco comedies among the best on the market.”
Four months prior to incorporating, the LaSalle crew began production in California. With executive offices located at the Harris Trust Building in Chicago, and with studio space leased from the Christie Company, the company started producing comedies. The LaSalle cast and crew consisted of famous and soon-to-be famous names, including director Marion de la Parelle assistant director and scenario writer King Vidor and comedienne ZaSu Pitts.
In April of 1917, Mutual agreed to distribute the films, and the initial release schedule was announced. The initial series of releases would consist of three 2-reel comedies released on a biweekly basis, followed by a second series of 52 1-reel comedies released on a weekly basis. A popular comedian and comedienne would star in each installment, and the initial releases starred the likes of Jean Otto, Carol Halloway, Camille Astor and ZaSu Pitts. By June, the company had erected its own studio in Culver City under the supervision of de La Parelle, and finally had its own space to work in.
Although the releases received favorable reviews from critics, and released a fair amount of coverage in the trades, by September Lafco Comedies and LaSalle had seemingly disappeared. It was also around this time that Charlie Chaplin left Mutual (LaSalle’s distributor), and this loss of revenue may have played into the loss of LaSalle. LaSalle’s cast and crew moved on, and by the following year most were employed elsewhere. ZaSu Pitts signed on with Universal and King Vidor was soon working for Boy City Film.
The Prodigal Uncle (May 1917)
Chubby Inherits A Harem (May 1917)
The Flight That Failed (June 1917)
Tillie of the Nine Lives (June 1917)
His Cannibal Wife (June 1917)
Discords in A Flat (July 1917)
The Girl in the Frame (July 1917)
When Lula Danced the Hula (July 1917)
Man Proposes (August 1917)
A Match in Quarantine
Pigs and Pearls
The Kissing Butterfly
Selected Cast and Crew
Marion de la Parelle: Director
King Vidor: Assistant Director/Scenario Writer
Robert L. Peck: Cinematographer
ZaSu Pitts: Comedienne
John Allard: Juvenile
Mattie Connolly: Ingenue
Eddie Bland: Comedian
Roy Jones: Technical Director
Jean Otto: Leads
Carol Halloway: Comedienne
Camille Astor: Comedienne