A Daughter of the Gods

A Daughter of the Gods was a 1916 American silent fantasy drama film written and directed by Herbert Brenon. The film was controversial because of the sequences of what was regarded as superfluous nudity by the character Anitia, played by Australian swimming star Annette Kellermann. The scene is regarded as the first complete nude scene by a major star, which occurred during a waterfall sequence, though most of Kellerman's body is covered by her long hair.[2] It was filmed by Fox Film Corporation in Kingston, Jamaica, where huge sets were constructed, and directed by Herbert Brenon.

A Daughter of the Gods
Directed byHerbert Brenon
Produced byWilliam Fox
Written byHerbert Brenon
StarringAnnette Kellerman
William E. Shay
Hal De Forrest
Music byRobert Hood Bowers
CinematographyAndré Barlatier
A. Culp
J. Roy Hunt
William Marshall
C. Richards
Marcel Le Picard
Edward Warren
Edited byHettie Gray Baker
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 17, 1916 (1916-10-17)
Running time
180 mins.
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles
BudgetUS$1,000,000 (estimated)
Box officeUS$1,390,000[1]

Though stills and publicity photos have survived, the film is now considered lost.[3][4]


Brenon served as writer of this original scenario/screenplay for the film. However, he more than likely saw and was influenced by David Belasco and John Luther Long's 1902 Broadway play The Darling of the Gods starring Blanche Bates, Robert T. Haines, and young George Arliss, which has a similar theme of reward for rescuing a child and a large ensemble cast. The play differs in that it is set in feudal Japan while the movie is backdropped in an undersea kingdom, not unlike Atlantis.

Brenon makes aspects of the play cinematic (underwater sequences, Kellerman's nudity, etc.) in an obvious effort to avoid plagiarism of Belasco's play and hence a lawsuit.[5][6][7]


A sultan agrees to help an evil witch destroy a mysterious beauty if the witch will bring his young son back to life.


  • Annette Kellerman as Anitia (daughter of the gods)
  • William E. Shay as Prince Omar (as William Shay)
  • Hal De Forrest as the Sultan
  • Marcelle Hontabat as Celine
  • Violet Horner as Zarrah
  • Jane Lee as Little Prince Omar
  • Stuart Holmes as Moorish merchant
  • Katherine Lee as Nydia
  • Ricca Allen as Witch of Badness
  • Millie Liston as Zarrah's mother (as Milly Liston)
  • Henrietta Gilbert as Fairy of Goodness
  • Walter James as Chief Eunuch
  • Walter McCollough as chief of the Sultan's Guard
  • Mark Price as the slave dealer
  • Louise Rial as his wife
  • Edward Boring as Arab Sheik
  • Barbara Castleton

Production notes

The film is credited as the first US production to cost $1 million to produce. Studio head William Fox was so incensed with the cost of production he removed Herbert Brenon's name from the film. However, Brenon sued to have his name restored to the film's credits, and won.[8]

Great cost was afforded to make a sanitary of mosquito-proofing over a section of Kingston, Jamaica. Sets consumed 2,500 barrels (400 m3) of plaster, 500 barrels (79 m3) of cement, 2,000,000 board feet (5,000 m3) of lumber, and ten tons of paper. Director Herbert Brenon employed 20,000 people during the eight months of production and used 220,000 feet (67,000 m) of film to shoot the picture.[9]

An original score was composed for the film by Robert Hood Bowers, which was played by an orchestra during each screening. It was considered the most memorable movie score up to that time.[10]

See also


  1. Hall, Sheldon; Neale, Stephen (2010). Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History. Wayne State University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8143-3008-1.
  2. Robertson, James Crighton (1993). The Hidden Cinema: British Film Censorship in Action, 1913-1975. Routledge. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-415-09034-2.
  3. "A Daughter of the Gods". silentera.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  4. A Daughter of the Gods at TheGreatStars.com; Lost Films Wanted(Wayback Machine)
  5. Magill's Survey of Cinema; Silent Films Essays 1 A-Fla A Daughter of the Gods page 361, Salem Press c.1981 by Frank Magill
  6. The Darling of the Gods as produced on Broadway Dec.3, 1902 - May 1903, Belasco Theatre; IBDb.com
  7. Pictorial History of the American Theatre; 1860-1970 page 71 by Daniel Blum c. 1970 (reprint edition of 1953 original)
  8. Thompson, Frank T. (1996). Lost Films: Important Movies That Disappeared. Citadel, Carol Publ. Group. p. 60. ISBN 0-806-51604-6.
  9. Thompson, Frank (1996). Lost Films: Important Movies That Disappeared. U.S.A.: Citadel Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-8065-1604-6.
  10. Altman, Rick (2004). Silent Film Sound. Columbia University Press. p. 299. ISBN 0-231-11662-4.


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