A huge undertaking in its day, this 30 chapter serial is arguably the best known film to emerge from the American "Flying A" company of Santa Barbara, California. The company had offered Mary Pickford a staggering $4000 a week to star as the serial's imperiled heroine. "America's Sweetheart" sweetly declined but suggested her sister, Lottie Pickford, instead. Still hoping to exploit the Pickford name, American hired Lottie despite her well-known trouble with alcohol and an increasingly obvious pregnancy. Former cameraman Jacques Jaccard co-wrote the screenplay (with Roy L. McCardell, a Chicago newspaperman who had won a cash prize of $10,000 for coming up with the best story) and directed 10 episodes before he found himself stuck. Enter William Desmond Taylor, the company's latest acquisition, who finished the serial on time and under budget. The Diamond from the Sky had everything: babies switched at birth, mysterious gypsies, a poisonous femme fatale (Charlotte Burton), cliffhangers galore, all packaged in a story about a priceless gem that fell from the sky in a meteor. The producers pronounced it "The Serial Wonderful," and most audiences agreed. As a token of their esteem and gratitude, the board of directors at American presented Taylor with a two-carat diamond ring, a piece of jewelry the director still wore when he was found shot to death in his Los Angeles bungalow, February 1, 1922. A brief four episode sequel -- entitled, rather soberly, The Sequel to The Diamond from the Sky -- was released without much fanfare in 1916. By then everyone concerned had tired of the darn thing.
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