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Campus Days


On this date in 1935, last-minute preparations were underway for the premiere of a project that had been several months in the making – an actual movie, with local ties. Everyone who appeared in the film was either a local student or a faculty member from Dickinson Normal School. The film, called “Campus Days,” was written by student Charles Schmickrath, who also portrayed the hero of the movie, Clifford Charles, and by Arthur Hedge, a junior, who directed and produced the film.

“Dickinson has gone Hollywood and has actually produced a motion picture,” newspapers boasted.

The movie follows the adventures of student Clifford Charles during his time at Dickinson State Teachers College. He arrived on a freight train, made an enemy in fellow student Maxie Allen, fell in love with the heroine, Marion Hayward, saves her from falling to her death into the Heart River, scores the final and most important touchdown in a football game, and finally proposes to his girlfriend—in other words, he had a turbulent year.

Although the first “talkie” film came out in 1927, the technology was still new. So, this locally-produced film was, unsurprisingly, a silent, mostly black and white film. However, the end scene in “full natural color” with Eastman’s “new color process”—an early form of Kodachrome. It was relatively expensive, but had good results. With this new technology, colored dyes were added to black and white film during processing, but the early Kodachrome didn’t hold up well over time, and anyone viewing the film today would find that the “color” ending appears to be shot in shades of magenta.

However, in 1935, it didn’t matter; at the premiere of the movie, held in May Hall at the college on June 3rd, 1,100 people showed up. Members of the cast made personal appearances, and though the storyline may not pass muster today, there is no doubt that the ambitious students who put the film together and the attendees of the premiere witnessed a piece of cinema history.

The full movie “Campus Days” can be viewed online through the digital horizons website at www.digitalhorizonsonline.org.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

The Dickinson Press and Recorder-Post, May 30, 1935, Thursday, p5
The Belfield Review, Friday, May 24, 1935
http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/ndshs-dm&CISOPTR=2268&CISOBOX=1&REC=4 (the film can be viewed here)