Ruth of the Range (lost adventure film serial; 1923)

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Ruth of the range lobby cards.jpg

Lobby cards, each with different scenes from the film.

Status: Lost

Ruth of the Range is a 1923 film serial known for being the last film work of both Gilson Willets, the production manager of Pathe Film Company, who suddenly passed during the production of the series,[1] and Ernest C. Warde.[2] The film starred Ruth Roland, who was also the star of an earlier series made by Pathe Film Company by the name of Ruth of the Rockies in 1920.[3]

Plot Synopsis

The film stars Ruth Roland as herself; the daughter of an inventor. Ruth's father develops a formula for a new substance by the name of Fuelite, which proves to be more energy efficient than coal. He hides the recipe away in a secret compartment in his home before being kidnapped by the henchmen of Black Harper, who wants the secret formula for himself.[4] In order to prevent Black Harper from obtaining the Fuelite recipe, Ruth must embark on an adventure to save her father, and manage and protect the Fuelite plant.[5]


On top of Willet's passing, production of the film faced many other challenges. The serial went through three different directors: Ernest C. Warde, W. S. Van Dyke, and Frank Leon Smith. Warde was fired for focusing too much on close-ups of Roland rather than the action that it came to be known for,[6] and the job of director was then taken by Van Dyke before he left to find other work, transferring the role of director to Smith. There were also issues involving Roland herself, as she was known to be argumentative during filming, especially with Van Dyke. On top of this, Roland decided to leave for vacation with two chapters left for filming, leaving her stuntman, Bob Rose, to film the rest of the serial wearing a wig.[7]


No footage has surfaced of this serial, and only stills remain. It has officially been considered lost.[8]