The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1918 film)

The Passing of the Third Floor Back is a 1918 British/American silent allegorical film based on the 1908 play The Passing of the Third Floor Back by Jerome K. Jerome and directed by Herbert Brenon. The star of the film is Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, a legendary Shakespearean actor, who starred in the 1909 Broadway presentation of the play and its 1913 revival. Forbes-Robertson had been knighted by King George V in 1913 and had retired from acting in theatre that same year. In his retirement Forbes-Robertson had only dabbled in film acting making a 1913 film version of Hamlet, the most famous role he had played on the stage. Filmed in 1916, it was released in 1918.[1][2][3]

The Passing of the Third Floor Back
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Directed byHerbert Brenon
Produced byHerbert Brenon
First National Pictures
Written byJerome K. Jerome (play and scenario (?))
StarringJohnston Forbes-Robertson
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Distributed byAssociated First National
Release date
May 1918
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)


As described in a film magazine,[4] in the boarding house of Mrs. Sharpe there is nothing but discord among her boarders. The "old maid" believes that only false hair and powder will make her beautiful. The major and his wife are continuously quarreling. Their daughter Vivian is being forced into a marriage for money. The young artist accepts an assignment of not the choicest line of work to secure funds to marry Vivian. Harry Larkcom is trying to force his attentions on a weak slavey. However, the arrival of The Stranger and his talk with each make them realize the selfishness and narrowness of their existence, and before long the boarding house is a happy and contented place. With his work done, The Stranger moves on.



In the United States, similar to many other American films of the time, The Passing of the Third Floor Back was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, the Chicago Board of Censors cut, in Reel 2, the intertitle "What do you think I'm giving the earings for?", Reel 4, two intertitles "She brought disgrace upon herself" and "I'll be waiting for you tonight. The door will be open", and, Reel 5, the man drinking the poison.[5]


  1. The Passing of the Third Floor Back, original Broadway production at the Maxine Elliott Theatre, October 4, 1909 to April 1910, 216 performances;
  2. The Passing of the Third Floor Back, Broadway revival at the Shubert Theatre, September 29, 1913 to December 29, 1913;
  3. Blum, Daniel, Pictorial History of the Silent Screen, c. 1953 (p. 136, 'Forbes-Robertson in scene from the film')
  4. "Reviews: Passing of the Third Floor Back". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 6 (21): 27. May 18, 1918.
  5. "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. 6 (20): 31. May 11, 1918.
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