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The Last Edition

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The Last Edition
Last Edition Lobby Card

Directed byEmory Johnson
Written byEmilie Johnson
Story and Screenplay
Produced byEmory Johnson Productions
StarringRalph Lewis
CinematographyGilbert Warrenton
Distributed byFBO
Release date
  • November 8, 1925 (1925-November-08)
Running time
7 reels
CountryUnited States
English intertitles

The Last Edition is a 1925 American silent drama directed by Emory Johnson based on the story by Emilie Johnson. The photoplay is set in San Francisco, California and stars Ralph Lewis as a pressman at the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. The movie was released on November 8, 1925 by Film Booking Offices of America.[1][2]

The motion picture was filmed in and around the "Old Chronicle Building" located at 690 Market Street in downtown San Francisco. However, "In 1924, the Chronicle commissioned a new headquarters at 901 Mission Street on the corner of 5th Street."[3] The Chronicle completed the move in 1925, shortly after the film crews were finished shooting.


The story starts by introducing us to Tom McDonald, played by Ralph Lewis. Tom is a pressman and the assistant foreman in the San Francisco Chronicle pressroom. Tom finds out he was passed over for the job of press foreman. The job was given to a younger man. Though disappointed, he takes solace knowing his son Ray McDonald, played by Ray Hallor, has a good job in the district attorney's office. Tom also has a daughter – Polly, played by Frances Teague.

Clarence Walker, played by Rex Lease is a reporter for the Chronicle. He works in the same building as Tom. We find out; Clarence secretly admires Polly McDonald. Currently, Clarence is also working on a hot story about a gang of bootleggers. The bootleggers feel Clarence is getting too close to their operations. They devise a plan to throw Clarence off their track. They create a news diversion by setting up another hot story for Clarence to follow. They frame prominent attorney Ray McDonald on a bribery charge.

Clarence jumps on the new lead, investigates the accusations, and quickly files his bribery story with the Chronicle's front desk. Clarence's account is deemed a headliner for the newspaper. When the editor checks, they find out there is just enough time for Clarence's bribery story to make the Chronicle's last edition. Just as the story is about to hit the presses, Tom McDonald finds out the evening's headline is about his son Ray. After reading the article, Tom knows in his heart, Ray could not be guilty of any bribery charge. Tom becomes enraged and attempts to destroy the press.

Tom's attempted destruction fails. During this time, the entire Chronicle plant burns to the ground. Tom is blamed for the fire. He is immediately thrown in jail, coincidentally in the same cell as his son.

Clarence believes Tom when he says his son is innocent. Clarence teams up with Polly to investigate the circumstances surrounding the bribery charge. After working together, they uncover evidence exonerating both father and son. A new plant is constructed; Tom is promoted to foreman; Clarence marries Polly.


Actor Role
Ralph Lewis Tom McDonald
Lila Leslie Mary McDonald
Ray Hallor Ray McDonald
Frances Teague Polly McDonald
Rex Lease Clarence Walker
Lou Payne George Hamilton
David Kirby Red Moran
Wade Boteler Mike Fitzgerald
Cuyler Supplee Gerald Fuller
Lee Willard Aaron Hoffman
Will Frank Sam Blotz
Ada Mae Vaughn Stenographer
Billy Bakewell “Ink” Donovan


At one time, it was believed no copies of this film had survived. In 2011, a Bay Area film preservationist – Rob Byrne discovered a surviving copy of the film in the archives of the EYE Film Institute. EYE is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. A collaboration was arranged between the EYE Film Institute and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

The highly flammable nitrate film was restored to create two new 35mm exhibition prints. One copy was made available to EYE Film Institute and the other to the US Library of Congress. Research on the movie also led to the discovery of an original trailer for the film located in the archives of the Library of Congress.

The restoration team encountered another problem. The original intertitles for the American film were in English. The intertitles for the discovered copy were in Dutch. Two volunteers were able to translate the Dutch intertitles back to English.[4][5]

Preservation status

A report created by film historian and archivist David Pierce for the Library of Congress claims:

  • 75% of original silent-era films have perished.
  • 14% of the 10,919 silent films released by major studios exist in their original 35mm or other formats.
  • 11% survive in full-length foreign versions or on film formats of lesser image quality.[6][7] Many silent-era films did not survive for reasons as explained on this Wikipedia page.

Emory Johnson directed 13 films - 11 were silent, and 2 were Talkies. The Last Edition was the seventh film in Emory Johnson's eight-picture contract with FBO. The film's original length is listed at 7 reels. According to the Library of Congress website, this film has the status of - Archive: Eye Film Institute Netherlands (Amsterdam) [Nla].[8]

A completely restored copy of this film exists. On January 19, 2021 a complete copy of the restored film in HD was uploaded to Vimeo. A link to the film is provided here - The Last Edition Restored


See also


  1. ^ "The Last Edition".
  2. ^ "The Last Edition".
  3. ^ Wikipedia San Francisco Chronicle History
  4. ^ Restoring the Trailer. Retrieved April 5, 2014
  5. ^ Rescuing The Last Edition: The quest to restore the “lost” 1925 drama., retrieved April 5, 2014
  6. ^ Pierce, David. "The Survival of American Silent Films: 1912-1929" (PDF). Library Of Congress. Council on Library and Information Resources and the Library of Congress. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  7. ^ Slide, Anthony (2000). Nitrate Won't Wait: History of Film Preservation in the United States. McFarland. p. 5. ISBN 978-0786408368. Retrieved March 25, 2013. It is often claimed that 75 percent of all American silent films are gone and 50 percent of all films made prior to 1950 are lost, but such figures, as archivists admit in private, were thought up on the spur of the moment, without statistical information to back them up.
  8. ^ The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: The Last Edition
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