Scarlet Pages

Scarlet Pages is a 1930 all-talking pre-code American crime drama film with songs starring Elsie Ferguson and directed by Ray Enright. It was produced and distributed by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.. The film stars Elsie Ferguson, John Halliday, Grant Withers and Marian Nixon. Scarlet Pages is based on a 1929 Broadway play of the same name that Ferguson also starred in. The film simultaneously marked the first time Ferguson appeared in a sound film and the last film she ever made.[2][3][4][5]

Scarlet Pages
lobby poster[1]
Directed byRay Enright
Written byMaude Fulton (dialogue)
Screenplay byWalter Anthony
Based onScarlet Pages
by Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymer
StarringElsie Ferguson
John Halliday
Grant Withers
Marian Nixon
Music byErno Rapee
Louis Silvers
CinematographyWilliam Rees
Edited byGeorge Marks
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • September 28, 1930 (1930-09-28) (United States)
Running time
66 minutes
CountryUnited States


In the prologue to the film (taking place in 1911) we learn that, being unable to care for her baby, Mary Bancroft (Elsie Ferguson), had to give her up for adoption. Years later (in 1930), we find Bancroft as a successful female lawyer in New York. She refuses to marry District Attorney John Remington (John Halliday), because she doesn't want to tell him about her unfortunate past.

Bancroft and Remington go to a nightclub one night where Nora Mason (Marian Nixon) works as a singer and dancer. Nora Mason is actually Bancroft's biological daughter but neither of them knows it. Although Nora is tired of the work she is doing and wants to settle down and marry Robert Lawrence (Grant Withers), her adoptive "father" Dr. Henry Mason (played by Wilbur Mack) has other plans for her. Dr. Mason wants to sell Nora to Gregory Jackson (William B. Davidson), who promises to star Nora in a show that will bring in lots of money, as long as she gives herself to Jackson.

When Nora hears of this sordid deal from the lips of Dr. Mason, she kills him with a gun her adoptive "mother"(Charlotte Walker) has recently bought. Lawrence, with a friend who is an acquaintance of Bancroft's, goes to the office of Bancroft to ask her to defend Nora. At first reluctant, Bancroft finally decides to take the case. Nora at first refuses to tell the reasons for killing her adoptive father Dr. Mason until it comes out in court that she has been adopted. Nora then informs the jury the entire details of what had occurred prior to the murder; it is obliquely stated that she had been molested by Dr. Mason. When Bancroft finds out her client is actually her own daughter she passes out in court. Nora is acquitted and eventually forgives her real mother for abandoning her as a child.




The film survives intact and has been preserved from Associated Artists Productions (AAP/UA). It has been released on DVD by the Warner Archive Collection. A copy is held by the Library of Congress.[6]


  1. Marian Nixon dominates the poster when it was assumed Elsie Ferguson would continue as a Warner/First National star and make more talkies. This however proved to be Ferguson's final film.
  2. White Munden, Kenneth (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1921-1930. University of California Press. p. 686. ISBN 0-520-20969-9.
  3. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993:Scarlet Pages
  4. Liebman, Roy (1998). From Silents To Sound: A Biographical Encyclopedia Of Performers Who Made the Transition To Talking Pictures. McFarland. p. 109. ISBN 0-786-40382-9.
  5. Scarlet Pages on Broadway, Morosco Theatre Sept. - Nov 1929;
  6. Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.159 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
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