The History of the film "Redemption"
The film you are about to view is known as a "short". That's theater-talk for a 10 minute film that is usually seen before or after the main feature film. Before watching this film however, some background information might be helpful.
Rowe "Doc" Carney was born on a farm in Phelps County Missouri in 1892. As a youth he found he had a natural talent for mechanics, and loved working on automobiles and farm equipment. He moved to the town of Rolla in 1918 and began a long career in business. The first indication we have of his interest in making movies appears in a letter dated November, 1938, from the C.A. Snow & Co. of Washington D.C. He is applying for copyright on a manuscript entitled "The Vanishing Engineer". Nothing appears to have come from that script and for the next eight years Doc stayed busy building and buying movie theaters in and around Rolla. In 1946 he purchased the town of Arlington, Missouri, and immediately announced plans to produce a film entitled "Arlington's Secret". For the next ten years correspondence would reveal a number of proposals for the making of "Arlington's Secret", as well as others. Hollywood directors Tom Hubbard and George Merrick and script-writer Garvin Berry had numerous propositions for Doc Carney.
The original intention for "Arlington's Secret" (fortunately the script has survived), was for it to be a full-length film at around 75 minutes. For some reason it appears that Doc decided on doing a "short" first, as sort of a practice run. The film would be called "Redemption". It was written by Hollywood's Tom Hubbard and revised by Doc Carney and Garvin Berry. While some of the wilderness scenes were shot at Arlington, most of the film would be shot outside of Rolla on a farm near where Doc grew up. The farm and farmhouse belonged to Zana "Dixie" Carney. One of the following photographs show Doc Carney and director George Merrick preparing the film equipment at the Spring Creek Baptist Church. Cast members, most of them related to Doc Carney, are listed below.
The Stranger, " Tiger Wilcox " Don Carney
The Blind Minister Gene Parker
The Fugitive, "John Benson" Bob Carney
The Sheriff, "Sheriff Hardin" Charles Carney
The First Deputy Walter Dyer
The Serving Woman Identity unknown
Producer Rowe "Doc" Carney
Director George Merrick
Writer Tom Hubbard
Cameraman Frank Price
Assistant Cameraman Rowe Carney Jr.
After filming was completed on "Redemption", the negatives were shipped to Hollywood for developing. The positive print was then edited into a working copy, and then, once again, the record goes quiet. How many copies were made? Was it ever shown in any theater? If it was seen by the public, did they enjoy it? All that is known by the writer of this article is that the only known copy was damaged in a theater fire some time later. What was left of that single reel was carefully converted to videotape by Rolla resident Steve Parker, and the results of his efforts can be viewed below.
Whatever happened to Doc Carney's interest in making movies? It is hard to say, but it was at this same time that Rowe Jr. began using that very same 35mm camera to film Rotoscope scenes. It could be that there just wasn't enough equipment to go around. The Movie "Redemption" is next. Please enjoy!