The movie played in Springfield, Missouri at the Broadway Theater on May 16, 1918. Film star and preparedness speaker Burr McIntosh was in the audience. Although he had not planned to speak, McIntosh was so inspired by the film that he addressed the crowd at intermission. Relieved that such a film had been made, he declared "we have been too proud to use propaganda, even in our own country to offset the dangers of the enemy here in our midst---those right among us---wherein lies our greatest danger."
McIntosh's speech was typical of the anti-German rhetoric directed at the Kaiser during the war years. "To show the kaiser in his true colors, to lay bare his real nature and to show in pictures that every American can understand and realize, the machinations of the beast of Berlin, of his council, his army and his navy is the most valuable form of propaganda for America," McIntosh declared. The local newspaper reported, "Broadway never heard of such an ovation as greeted the conclusion of his patriotic speech by an audience that packed the theater and had paid $1 for the privilege of standing." After its showing at the Broadway, the film began a week long run at the Jefferson Theatre on May 19. Demand was so high that it played continuously from 1:30 to 10:30 P.M.
Wilhelm II ascended to the throne in 1888. He was a strong advocate of German nationalism and was widely blamed for starting the war. In reality, the Kaiser was often indecisive and made few contributions to the war effort, although he controlled one of his nation’s most controversial weapons: the U-boat or submarine. Still, he worried this new weapon would end American neutrality and he reluctantly embraced unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. Wilhelm II became increasingly unpopular at home after the war. He abdicated the throne on November 9, 1919 and fled to the Netherlands where he died in 1941 as Germany was embroiled in the Second World War.
|Rupert Julian as the Kaiser|
Like many stars of the silent era, Julian struggled with the advent of “talkies.” He quit acting but enjoyed only limited success as a director. He is best known for his work on “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1925. Julian died in Hollywood in 1943.
McIntosh appeared in 54 films and owned a movie studio. From 1903-1910 he published a photography magazine, the Burr McIntosh Monthly. He died in Hollywood in 1942.
Regrettably, “The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin” has not survived. It is one of the American Film Institute’s ten most wanted movies. Do you have this movie? If so, we would be happy to preserve this unique piece of American History.
Amy Witherbee, “WILHEM II,” EBSCO HOST: MasterFILE Premier
Springfield (Mo.) Republican, May 22, 1918, 6, May 17, 1918, 3.