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A Daughter of the Gods

A Daughter of the Gods was a 1916 American silent fantasy drama film written and directed by Herbert Brenon. The film was controversial because of the sequences of what was regarded as superfluous nudity by the character Anitia, played by Australian swimming star Annette Kellermann. The scene is regarded as the first complete nude scene by a major star, which occurred during a waterfall sequence, though most of Kellerman's body is covered by her long hair. It was filmed by Fox Film Corporation in Kingston, Jamaica, where huge sets were constructed, and directed by Herbert Brenon.

Though stills and publicity photos have survived, the film is now considered lost.

Background

Brenon served as writer of this original scenario/screenplay for the film. However, he more than likely saw and was influenced by David Belasco and John Luther Long's 1902 Broadway play The Darling of the Gods starring Blanche Bates, Robert T. Haines, and young George Arliss, which has a similar theme of reward for rescuing a child and a large ensemble cast. The play differs in that it is set in feudal Japan while the movie is backdropped in an undersea kingdom, not unlike Atlantis.

Brenon makes aspects of the play cinematic (underwater sequences, Kellerman's nudity, etc.) in an obvious effort to avoid plagiarism of Belasco's play and hence a lawsuit.

Plot



A sultan agrees to help an evil witch destroy a mysterious beauty if the witch will bring his young son back to life.

Cast

  • Annette Kellerman as Anitia (daughter of the gods)
  • William E. Shay as Prince Omar (as William Shay)
  • Hal De Forrest as the Sultan
  • Marcelle Hontabat as Celine
  • Violet Horner as Zarrah
  • Jane Lee as Little Prince Omar
  • Stuart Holmes as Moorish merchant
  • Katherine Lee as Nydia
  • Ricca Allen as Witch of Badness
  • Millie Liston as Zarrah's mother (as Milly Liston)
  • Henrietta Gilbert as Fairy of Goodness
  • Walter James as Chief Eunuch
  • Walter McCollough as chief of the Sultan's Guard
  • Mark Price as the slave dealer
  • Louise Rial as his wife
  • Edward Boring as Arab Sheik
  • Barbara Castleton

    Production notes

    The film is credited as the first US production to cost $1 million to produce. Studio head William Fox was so incensed with the cost of production he removed Herbert Brenon's name from the film. However, Brenon sued to have his name restored to the film's credits, and won.

    Great cost was afforded to make a sanitary of mosquito-proofing over a section of Kingston, Jamaica. Sets consumed 2500 oilbbl of plaster, 500 oilbbl of cement, 2000000 board feet of lumber, and ten tons of paper. Director Herbert Brenon employed 20,000 people during the eight months of production and used 220000 ft of film to shoot the picture.

    An original score was composed for the film by Robert Hood Bowers, which was played by an orchestra during each screening. It was considered the most memorable movie score up to that time.