"The Amazing Quest of Mr Ernest Bliss" was made in 1920,
a five part serial film produced by Hepworth Picture Plays, directed and
starring Henry Edwards with his wife
Chrissie White. This London-set serial was a
hit with public and press alike.
It is based on the book "The Curious Quest" [aka The
Amazing Quest of Mr. Ernest Bliss] (1919) by
Oppenheim. A story outline and information is
here but to give you a taste of this modern fairy tale read on....
Mr. Ernest Bliss (spot the symbolism in the name?), is a
rich, spoilt, insipid young millionaire – sickly not from physical disease (except
perhaps those complaints that result from an unhealthy lifestyle of excess), but
from boredom and the dullness of a life lived without purpose or true intent.
He visits a famous doctor, who insults him and refuses to
shake his hand, while offering him a piece of advice that is destined to change
his life. He challenges Bliss to give up his luxurious lifestyle, and earn his
own living for a year, without touching a penny from his inheritance. An enraged
Bliss takes up the challenge, makes a bet and stands to lose £25,000, if he
fails in his task! [Note that this sum in 1920 was considerable!]
What follows is an interesting year in the life of Mr.
Bliss, who begins his quest with nothing more than £5 in his pocket and a
stubborn resolve to win his bet! In that one life-changing year – he meets
people from all walks of life, lives and learns the true meaning of poverty,
discovers the value & importance of honest hard work & toil, understands the
meaning of true friendship, and finally finds the happiness that comes from
selflessness and true love!
As of August 2010, the film is missing from the
BFI National Archive,
and is listed as one of the
Most Wanted" lost films. As you can see from the stills below it
captures some wonderful views of life in England at the time. A contemporary
review from "The Bioscope"
notes mentions the good use of the London locations and "remarkable example of
The IMDB entry is
here. More information is available from
although it may not be entirely accurate.
The same novel was filmed in Hollywood as The
Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (aka Romance and Riches, 1936, with an
up-and-coming Cary Grant in the lead role). Once again Hepworth got
The 10 images on this page come from the 85 stills
of this film in the
Townly Cooke Collection.