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Eyes of the Totem

Eyes of the Totem
Film-Noir, Local | 1927
NR. 1hr 26min CAST: Wanda Hawley, Tom Santschi, Anne Cornwall DIRECTOR: W.S. Van Dyke

In 1927 H.C. Weaver Productions of Tacoma, WA released the film Eyes of the Totem. It was one of three films they produced between 1924-1928. All three had been thought lost permanently for decades until in 2014 Eyes of the Totem was re-discovered.

Tacoma Historic Preservation Coordinator Lauren Hoogkamer was researching film history for a possible preservation film series when she came across an amazing find: Eyes of the Totem was in the archives of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Eyes of the Totem was directed by W.S. Van Dyke and stars Wanda Hawley & Tom Santschi. The cast and production of the film is professional and impressive.

Many historic sites in and around Tacoma make an appearance in the film; some buildings which stand no more are again seen while a number of remaining buildings (i.e. the Winthrop, Annie Wright School, Thornewood Castle, to name a few) make a fine showing .  And of course, Tacoma's very tall totem pole (now in Fireman's Park, then in front of the now lost Tacoma Hotel) plays a lead role.

Soon after H.C. Weaver Productions released Eyes of the Totem "talkies" killed silent film as an investment and the only film studio in the Pacific Northwest closed permanently. Not long after the company's three films were thought to be lost forever; "pulp" films such as these were created for quick market consumption and considered too costly to preserve.

The other two films by H.C. Weaver Productions: Hearts and Fists (1926) and The Heart of the Yukon (1927) are still lost. Hopefully, with the attention garnered via the re-release of Eyes of the Totem they too will be recovered.


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