Though he was obliged to share directorial credit with Wilfred Lucas, Tod Browning graduated to "prestige" pictures with his 1917 release Jim Bludso. The film was based on a popular ballad, written by former U.S. Secretary of State John Hay. The original ballad ended tragically, as steamboat captain Jim Bludso sacrificed his life for the sake of his passengers. In the film version, however, Bludso (played by Wilfred Lucas) not only saved his ship, but also survived to win the love of the beautiful Gabrielle (Olga Grey). The film was shot on location along the Sacramento River, a familiar movie substitute for the mighty Mississippi. According to Tod Browning's biographers David J. Skal and Elias Savada, Wilfred Lucas' "co-director" credit may have purely been a contractual matter; recently uncovered evidence indicates that Browning was the sole director.
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