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DATE: 1921

LENGTH: 30 min

CATEGORY: Educational & Instructional, Silent, Black & White

PRODUCER/PUBLISHER: American Society for the Control of Cancer and Eastern Film Corporation



In 1921, the American Society for the Control of Cancer released The Reward of Courage. The film, a silent melodrama, was designed to persuade viewers to visit a physician for regular checkups and at the first sign of the disease. Its early-detection-and-treatment message was embedded in a story that featured a nefarious “quack”, a credulous and vulnerable woman, a young couple thwarted in love, and a hard-headed businessman who comes to believe that clinics in the factory could improve workers health and productivity, reduce company costs, and detect cancers. The first of many cancer education films, until recently The Reward of Courage was considered lost.…Read the Essay

Supplementary Materials

A New Score

Along with its restoration, the National Library of Medicine commissioned a musical sound track for the film—following the traditional silent-film practice of screening films with live musical accompaniment. The restored film had a premiere at the National Academy of Sciences on November 10, 2011, with the composer Maurice Saylor leading a musical group playing the score he composed. The Snark Ensemble also recorded the score for the sound track. Watch the film with the 2011 soundtrack.

Prior to recording the sound track for The Reward of Courage, Maurice Saylor and the Snark Ensemble had composed and recorded soundtracks for DVD collections of early silent movie stars including Harry Langdon and Charley Chase. The Harry Langdon Collection: Lost and Found (Alexandria, VA: Allday Entertainment, 2007). Becoming Charley Chase (Alexandria, VA: Allday Entertainment, 2009). See also, Maurice Saylor, The Hunting of the Snark. An Agony in Eight Fits (Hong Kong: Naxos, 2011).

Digitized Films on Cancer at the National Library of Medicine

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