From the Oct. 14, 1920 edition of the Gazette:

Back stage has always held a lure for even the most sophisticated theatre goer. And no matter whether he goes twice a day, or is limited by a winter residence on Martha’s Vineyard to three or four times a week, the movie fan, always excepting the Californian, in whom if familiarity has not bred contempt it has at least dispelled mystery, wants to know how it’s done.

Some satisfied their curiosity last week, when, coincident with the arrival of the most perfect weather, a company of moving picture actors came to the island to film “Annabelle Lee.”

One day they spent at Menemsha, Menemsha lying silent and happy and peaceful, her quiet water bluer even than a cloudless sky.

Fortunately there is not much need of “extras” in Anabelle Lee. That day in the fishing village, some of the sturdy fishermen whose trade brought the village into life, “suped” and did it extraordinarily well. Was there any need to exhort them to refrain from that failing of the new movie actor, gazing spell bound into the eye of the camera? There was not. In particular Captain Mayhew of The Limit, played his part with ease and precision.

When you see Annabelle Lee and when thousands of people who never came here, poor souls, are introduced to the Vineyard on the screen, there’ll be all the action you could ask. But you’d never guess it from the way they go about taking the picture. Many of the scenes are “stills,” which catch the scenery so faithfully that it’s an easy job to reproduce it in the studio. Just why or wherefore this is less expensive or more effective, the movie man may know, but the movie fan doesn’t.

So that they took pictures of Annabelle and her lover looking fondly at each other as they sat in the back of an ox cart, and of Annabelle walking down to the beach in search of her David, of that smiling youth coiling a rope in not too ship shape fashion on board The Limit, of his joyful meeting with Annabell after a fishing trip. The action came when the Menemsha fishing fleet paraded in front of the camera, and when David sailed home on The Limit.

And as for the story itself, you’d never guess it from watching the filming. For it’s all cut up in little scenes that are like a regular picture puzzle. It’s doubtful if even the camera man could put together again if they didn’t include in the film of every scene its own particular number, and whether it’s the first or second or third take.

To support the three actors who were all that were left of the company Friday, it took a camera man, and an assistant camera man, a director and an assistant director, a business manager, and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Mitchell Chapple themselves. Contrary to all preconceived notions of directors, this youthful and soft spoken member of the species, neither shouted nor raved nor swore. He insisted that some scenes should be repeated until he was satisfied, but when he was satisfied he never forgot to say so pleasantly. Occasionally he suggested “business” to one of the actors, or showed David just how glad he ought to be when he met Annabelle.

Of course one day’s acquaintance doesn’t vouch for the truth of the impression that this company is always good natured but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Some movie actors hate having people hang around watching them. Jack O’Brien says he can work better that way. He should have been satisfied then with his Vineyard reception, for while there were no great mobs in attendance, everyone who could took a look at things one day or another. And every one lent everything that the most exacting director could ever ask for.

There was the Ware estate, palatial enough for the home of the rich lover, and altogether lovely, “the best of its kind in the country” according to the enthusiastic Mr. Chapple, who had all his locations picked out on Nantucket till he came to the Vineyard and was conquered. There was Mr. Crocker’s fine old home by the very shore, as effective in its way as the Ware house in its, though it would be a very fortunate poor lover who could call it home. There were dazzling white hens form the best prize winning stock belonging to Maurice F. Delano, altogether too spotless and proud looking fowl for David’s widowed mother to possess, but such excellent actors that all beholders wondered whether Mr. Delano had been training them on the sly for dramatic careers. There was P. E. Moller’s favorite and beautiful saddle horse for Annabelle to bestride for a fleeting moment. There were eager school children, and fishing boats and fishing men willing to lend a helping hand or a bit of atmosphere as the case might be.

Perhaps this first open hearted and handed welcome of the movie actors to our soil can never be equaled again. But no one will ask a word of thanks if the film of Annabelle Lee only succeeds in showing the world in black and white one tenth of the colorful unequaled charms of Martha’s Vineyard.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox