The Eyes of the Totem

Dec 18, 2016

(W. S. Van Dyke, US, 1927)

Seattle premiere!
Followed by panel discussion with the composer 


This screening will include a panel discussion with the composer of the modern musical score and local film preservationists that have been involved in its return to Pacific Northwest audiences!
In 1927, H.C. Weaver Productions of Tacoma, WA released the film The Eyes of the Totem. It was one of three films the company produced between 1924-1928. All three had been thought lost permanently for decades until Eyes of the Totem was re-discovered in 2014. Tacoma Historic Preservation Coordinator Lauren Hoogkamer was researching film history for a possible preservation film series when she came across an amazing find: Eyes of the Totem was in the archives of a museum in New York City.
The film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke and stars Wanda Hawley & Tom Santschi. Many historic sites in and around Tacoma make an appearance in the film; some buildings which stand no more are seen again, while a number of remaining buildings (the Winthrop, Annie Wright School, and Thornewood Castle, to name a few) make a fine showing.  And of course, Tacoma's very tall totem pole (now in Fireman's Park, then in front of the now lost Tacoma Hotel) plays a leading role.
Soon after H.C. Weaver Productions released Eyes of the Totem, "talkies" killed silent film as an investment and the only film studio in the Pacific Northwest closed permanently. Not long after that, the company's three films were thought to be lost forever; "pulp" films such as these were created for quick market consumption and considered too costly to preserve.
The other two films by H.C. Weaver Productions: Hearts and Fists (1926) and The Heart of the Yukon (1927) are still lost. Hopefully, with the attention garnered from the re-release of The Eyes of the Totem, they may be recovered as well.

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