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When the Earth Trembled (1913)

A mother with two young children survives the San Francisco earthquake disaster.


Barry O'Neil


Edwin Barbour (scenario)




Cast overview:
Harry Myers ... Paul Girard Jr.
Ethel Clayton ... Dora Sims
Richard Morris ... Richard
Mrs. George W. Walters Mrs. George W. Walters ... Coffee Mary
Bartley McCullum Bartley McCullum ... Paul Girard Sr.
Mary Powers Mary Powers ... Dora's Little Girl
Layton Meisle Layton Meisle ... Dora's Little Boy
Peter Lang ... John Pearce


Girard and Sime, ship brokers, of Philadelphia, had been partners for years. Sims' daughter and young Girard had become engaged while abroad. Sims speculated outside, and, injuring the credit of the concern, Girard demanded a dissolution. The young folks, hearing of the split, married before returning, and Girard disowned his son and repudiated the wife. Young Girard and Sims established a new concern in San Francisco, entitled "The Samoan Colony Company," and Paul sailed for the Colony, leaving his wife and two children in San Francisco. Girard had tried hard by buying in stock to ruin the Samoan Colony Company until he received news that the ship that carried his son had been wrecked and all on board lost. Then came the memorable San Francisco earthquake. Sims with many of his aides were buried in the ruins of the office building. Dora with her two children narrowly escaped and after many hardships went east to Philadelphia. Reduced to starvation she surrendered her two children to ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Release Date:

12 June 1914 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

When the Earth Trembled or the Power of Love See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the earthquake scene, female lead Ethel Clayton was hit full in the face by a falling chandelier. Since there was no chance for a second take (the sets took four months to build), Ms. Clayton soldiered on. See more »

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User Reviews

Lubin thrillers
15 December 2016 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

A copy of this film (not a particularly good print and, by the looks of it, missing footage here and there) is preserved in the Desmet collection (available via the EYE website) and it is a useful reminder of how little we know about the output of the Lubin at this or indeed any period.

Siegmund Lubin had founded his company in 1897 and, despite continual harassment from Edison, somehow managed to keep afloat until 1917 and it was ultimately a major fire (June 1914) that put him out of business rather than Edison (himself in trouble by that time). For much of the time he had been something of a one-man-band, operating from his own backyard in Philadelphia and relying on pirated material or homemade copies of films made by the larger companies.

By 1910 however he had established his own Lubinville studios and was making really quite ambitious films. Also notable among the Lubin films in the Desmet Collection is The District Attorney's Conscience, a complex half-hour industrial thriller directed by Tefft Johnson.

Lubin also liked to make thrillers with strongly topical settings. As early as 1907, The Unwritten Law, is a case in point, a twelve-minute dramatization of the real-life shooting of Stanford White, architect and socialite, by Harry K. Thaw. In this film, a multiple disaster film (shipwreck and earthquake), the setting is partly the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and makes use of newsreel footage (Lubin had brought out The San Francisco Disaster in the same year).

There are, by my count, about twenty odd Lubin films available on the web (many of them in the Desmet collection) but it would be nice if we had still more, particularly the more complex narrative thrillers, a genre that remained rare in the US although it was beginning to become important in Europe (in France, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands).

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