The Story of Mr. Hobbs
Cast & Crew
In Marsh Cove Landing, a shore town in Virginia, clam digger Crad Hobbs's livelihood is threatened by storms which have incessantly wiped out the shellfish beds. After his daughter Timmy, who has been taught the family business, ardently welcomes her fiancé, Bob Gilly, home from the war, they approach Crad, fearful of a sullen reception. The older man surprises them with his enthusiasm, which stems from his secret desire that Bob will marry Timmy and take over Crad's business. To that end, Crad orchestrates a picnic on Hobbs Island, a piece of family land which has been all but destroyed by storms. There, he shows them the ruins of millionaire banker E. K. Lester's summer home, and passionately recounts the events that have caused him to swear to kill Lester: Years earlier, when the island was threatened by an oncoming storm, Crad begged Lester for a loan to build a breakwater. Lester refused to listen to his pleas, however, and the island was nearly demolished. Later, while Crad pretends to sleep, Bob reveals to Timmy that he yearns to be a reporter rather than a clam digger, and to that end has taken a job on the local Peninsula News . He then responds to Timmy's protests by scorning clamming and wonders aloud whether the pressures of the lifestyle have driven Crad crazy, causing Crad to leave in a rage. Meanwhile, in New York, government official Harmon convinces Lester to lend $50 million to Latin American president Carreras, whose republic is being threatened by Communist rebels. They arrange a secret meeting beween Lester and Carreras on Winston Island, which lies next to Hobbs Island and is owned by Lester's old friend, Winnie Winston. That weekend, as Timmy and Bob rush to the train to elope, Peninsula News editor Sam Northrup insists that Bob stay to report on the story of Lester's visit. When Lester arrives with his wife Glenda and his bodyguard, Spike, however, he refuses to speak to Bob and is soon sequestered at Winston's. There, Winston asks another clam digger, Jed, to hire a captain to bring his guest to his island, and Jed gives the job to Crad to distract him from Timmy's disappearance. Timmy drags Bob to Winston's to acquire information from the cook, Sis Abby, and then runs inside to talk to Lester herself. Winston's wife Marian immediately ushers her out, and instead Bob and Timmy camp out near the dock, hoping to stow away on the boat that Lester is taking to the island. They fall asleep, however, and wake to discover Crad's boat already in the distance. Realizing that Lester will be in danger if Crad discovers his identity, they entreat Glenda, Winnie and Marian to accompany them in Bob's boat to follow Crad. Meanwhile, Crad hears Lester's name being mentioned, and cleverly dumps Spike on a nearby island so he can kidnap Lester. He then brings the banker to Hobbs Island and locks him in the summer house, explaining that within hours, the tide will wash into the house and drown him. Lester, still calm, prevails on Crad to take the money to Carreras himself, as an act of patriotism, and Crad agrees. [No further plot information is available.]
Omar D. Crothers Jr.
John M. Mccool
Anthony A. Termini
Working titles of this film were Tides; A Tale of the Tidewater; and The Clam-Digger's Daughter. The Story of Mr. Hobbs was the first film of Eastern Shore Studios, and was produced in Cape Charles, Virginia in 1947. Heading the studio was Peter Varney, a producer and director who had made many small American and British films and worked under several pseudonyms, including Baron Amerigo Serrano, Arthur Varney, Peter Locke, Grover Lee and the name credited as director on this film, Lorenzo Alagia. Other credits are also assumed to be aliases, such as the producer, John McCool, and "recompiler," Anthony A. Termini. Contemporary sources suggest that Varney's wife, actress Nell Shipman, was the producer on the picture, and probably used the McCool pseudonym. Although the film is thought to be eight or nine reels long, only seven remain available for viewing, and no information was found about the film's ending.
Filming took place in and around Cape Charles, Virginia, using local villages and waterways as backdrops. The film marked the debut of Frances Helm, who played "Timmy Hobbs." It is not known if The Story of Mr. Hobbs ever received a national release. The film was discovered in 1996 at the British Film Institute and screened in Cape Charles on April 27, 1996.