Cathrine Curtis, born 1889 in Albany, New York, was one of the first female film producers. After a short acting career, Curtis set her sights on film production and, in 1919, founded the Cathrine Curtis Picture Corporation with her father, a wealthy businessman. Her company had offices in New York City and Los Angeles. She found initial success with production of the 1921 film The Sky Pilot, but was plagued by legal matters in her next significant project, that of bringing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World to the screen. The film was eventually produced in 1925, but not by Curtis. She abandoned the project after being sued over rights to the miniature dinosaur models that were to the highlights of the film. In 1926 Curtis filed for bankruptcy after another failed film put her almost $1 million in the red. Curtis later became a radio personality known for her twice-weekly show, Women and Money, in which she advocated women’s financial independence. However, Curtis also became known for her anticommunist, antisemitism, and isolationist views. She died in 1955.
Copy of the Synopsis for Screen Version of Sir Conan Doyle's "The Lost World". Original ca. 1915
In the 1920's "The Lost World" was unprecedented in Hollywood, it would use special effects that had never been used before. The version of "The Lost World" that William Selig intended to produce, only remains a synopsis. a scenario, a potential cast, and a few storyboards. This version was never fully produced because Selig's company was liquidated.
Program for "The Lost World" presented by First National Pictures Inc.
Watterson R. Rothacker was a co-producer of the released film of "The Lost World". Rothacker and Cathrine Curtis Corporation, on July 8th 1920, signed a contract that gave Curtis the screen rights to "Lost World". Through many communications, changing of contracts, and legal action, Curtis allowed the matter to drop. During the Summer of 1923 Curtis heard that First National Pictures Inc. was going to produce "The Lost World", after Rothacker had sold the rights to the company.
Various News Article Clippings regarding "The Lost World"
Since the film "The Lost World" was reaching new levels, having new special effects that people did not think that they would be possible, it was well discussed and published. It was a national phenomenon and brought into film the prehistoric dinosaurs that interested so many individuals. The film was said to have something for everyone and was done without parallel of precedent.
A legal document submitted by Cathrine Curtis, requesting $2,000 from Waterson R. Rothacker and John D. Williams.
On July 8th, 1920 the Cathrine Curtis Corporation entered into a contract with Waterson R. Rothacker which in turn sold the motion picture rights to A. Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" to the corporation. Over the next period of time, Cathrine did not believe that the contract was being upheld on part of Rothacker and after many attempts to communicate and mend the contract, legal action was taken. A thorough account of the legal activities in noted and personal letters and comments are included.
"The Lost World" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; First Draft of Scenario by Charles A. Logue
This adaptation of the original story includes the introduction of a mystery plot and love interest that were left through openings by Sir. A. Conan Doyle himself. The original story was packed full of adventure, but in doing so there was no love interest and the characters seemed to be slightly two dimensional with a single track emotion. The addition of a love story and the mystery plot was done so that the action and story would better translate to film and be well received by the audience.