The Birth of the Star Spangled Banner (1914)

It was just one hundred years ago that the national anthem of the United States came into existence. In this film we have attempted to present the dramatic events which led to its creation,... See full summary »


George Lessey (as George A. Lessey)


J.W. Blake




Cast overview, first billed only:
Augustus Phillips ... Francis Scott Key
Ben F. Wilson ... Captain Potter
Charles Sutton Charles Sutton ... President Madison
Mrs. William Bechtel Mrs. William Bechtel ... Dolly Madison
Carlton S. King ... Dr. Beanes (as Carlton King)
Gertrude McCoy ... Helen Beanes
Harry Linson Harry Linson ... General Ross
Richard Tucker ... Lieutenant Cusack
Joseph W. Girard ... Major Armistead
Warren Cook Warren Cook ... General Strickler
Joseph Manning Joseph Manning ... Admiral Cockleith (as Joe Manning)
Saul Harrison Saul Harrison ... Captain Skinner
William West ... The Physician
Richard Neill ... Aide to General Ross
Duncan McRae Duncan McRae ... Aide to General Ross


It was just one hundred years ago that the national anthem of the United States came into existence. In this film we have attempted to present the dramatic events which led to its creation, in a realistic and accurate manner. When the combined military and naval forces of the British were threatening Washington during the fall of 1814, President Madison, fearing for the safety of the Declaration of Independence, sent it, in the care of Captain Potter, his aide, to the commandant of Fort McHenry at Baltimore. On his way to Baltimore, Potter stopped at the house of Dr. Beanes. While they were at dinner, a British reconnoitering party, consisting of General Ross and his aides, invested the house. Potter and Helen Beanes took refuge behind a secret panel in the dining room. From this position, Potter heard General Ross say that Baltimore would be attacked by land and sea within two days. To save Dr. Beanes from torture when the Captain's hat was discovered. Potter jumped from his hiding ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama







Release Date:

28 August 1914 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Edison Company See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Oh, Say, Can You See This Movie?
6 February 2016 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

Francis Scott Key is charged with hiding the Declaration of Insependence when the British invade Washington in the War of 1812. He also gets to write the national anthem in this poor movie.

It's a common fault of movies made to celebrate historical events: the standard images must be shown and there must not be the smallest doubt as to what the audience is looking at in a sponsored film. That's the only reason I can think of as to why the Edison Studio, which a couple of years earlier had been producing the most nearly title-free movies in the business, with its own style of editing, was now producing a movie like this, in which there is little in the way of telling a story by acting or moving a camera. Title after title could have been removed from the screen, replaced by a more revealing angle, but no one seemed to have thought of it.

I had hoped to gain a glimpse of Harry Beaumont, who became a great director for MGM, but he is credited as one of three aides to the tyrannical English general; I have no idea which one he is. The rest of the movie is of little more note, full of things that might have been done to interest the viewer but were not.

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