Sunshine Film Company

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Established in early 1917, the Sunshine Film Company (sometimes credited as the Sunshine Film Corporation) was based in Chicago, though the company spent most of its time leasing studios and properties from other production companies. General Manager Scoville had previously owned and managed a number of movie theaters in the southwest, and brought that knowledge with him as the general manager of Sunshine.

With offices initially located at the 1524 Dearborn Bank Building, Sunshine leased the Bioscope studios for a year. Although the company announced its intent to release 10 super productions a year, it initially focused on releasing single-reel comedies. It dubbed its offerings “slapstick with a bang,” and kicked off the spring of 1917 with the release of A Forceful Romance and Some Baby. The American Standard Motion Picture Corporation distributed the releases, beginning a relationship with Sunshine.

Although Sunshine’s initial focus was on comedies, featuring the likes of Floyd Williams and Rose Burkhardt, by May the company had ventured into the realm of feature films. S.O.S. starred former Essanay leading man Richard Travers. It was co-directed by Travers and William Buckley (a former D.W. Griffith AD), and featured a scenario penned by the president of the American Standard Motion Picture Corporation. Although the film featured advertisements from premiere Chicago artists, and had controversy surrounding it, it apparently didn’t experience the success the studio had banked on. To help recover, the studio released a 2-reeler documenting the American Speedway Derby in Chicago that had taken place on June 16, 1917.

In July of 1917, the company was restructured. Former president Joseph Strauss was ousted, Edward D. Shank was named president, Scoville was named VP and GM, and S.S. Strauss was named secretary and treasurer. In order to get the studio back on track, the powers that be struck a deal with M.F. Tobias of the New York-based Superlative Pictures Corporation to release 10 7-reel features. Even the production branch of the studio was restructured, with the announcement that Buckley would be overseeing four filming companies. The first of the Superlative features was announced as The Future Generation which would be based in the city’s slums. Unfortunately, no cast was announced for the project, and it appears that it was never released.

In the span of a year, the studio had moved from the Dearborn Bank Building to 105 W. Monroe to 6242 Broadway, but by the end of the year, the studio had, for all intents and purposes, disappeared. By the following year, the principal players all appear to have gotten involved in other projects and studios, leaving Sunshine behind. Although the “Sunshine” name is tied to other studios and productions (e.g. Sunshine Film Inc.) the Chicago-based Sunshine Film Company was out of business by 1918.

Read blog posts about the Sunshine Film Company here.