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Film / Something New (1920)

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Something New is a 1920 film directed by, written by, and co-starring the film-making husband-and-wife team of Nell Shipman and Bert Van Tuyle.

Nell Shipman plays a writer very similar to Nell Shipman who goes off to Mexico looking for inspiration. One Sid Bickley, a partner in mining to Nell's late father, manages the Blue Lotus gold mine south of the border. Nell is smitten at first sight with Sid's new partner, Bill Baxter (Van Tuyle), but she goes off with Sid to see the mine.

Unfortunately for Nell and Sid, most everybody associated with the Blue Lotus mine has gone off to see the horse races in Tijuana. This is bad, because banditos led by the murderous Agrilla Gorgez swarm down on the mine to steal the gold. It's worse, because once Gorgez sees Nell, he starts getting other ideas.

Before she's kidnapped, Nell manages to scrawl out a note to Bill which she sends back tucked into the collar of Bill's dog. Bill gets the note, but since the banditos have stolen all the horses, Bill sets out with the only transportation he has—his trusty Maxwell automobile.



  • Bandito: The banditos led by Agrilla Gorgez. They're pretty dangerous.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The last shot of the movie has Nell back in the Framing Device, looking at the camera and laughing.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The banditos are just starting to torture Sid with a red-hot poker when Nell gives up and exits her hiding place.
  • Foreshadowing: Sid chuckles when he sees Bill's car, saying only a horse can get through the wild country on the way to the Blue Lotus mine. The latter portion of the film has Bill driving his Maxwell all the way to the bandit hideout and back.
  • Framing Device: Begins with Nell Shipman out under a tree with her typewriter (because that's where one writes screenplays), stumped for an idea. She sees a horse racing a car and she's inspired. Ends back with the Framing Device as Nell laughs and smiles at the camera.
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  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Nell, shooting with a pistol from a 1920 automobile that's bouncing and lurching over rough terrain, manages to drop two banditos from their saddles. The banditos, who are firing with rifles (and there are a lot more of them), only manage to wing Bill once in the arm.
  • Love at First Sight: It's actually described in a title card as "head over heels—at first sight", when Nell and Bill meet.
  • No Name Given: Nell's character is never named in the story.
  • Product Placement: The whole movie was an advertisement for Maxwell automobiles! Apparently Shipman was asked to do a one-reel (ten minute) short pimping Maxwell cars, but instead turned in an hour-long feature. As it happens, most of the second half of the movie does in fact feature the incredible performance of Bill's Maxwell auto, which makes it over jagged rocks, over steep hills, up and down deep ravines, and through thick sagebrush undergrowth.
    Bill: "I've got the best damn bronco in the world (the car), and I'm going after her!"
  • Title Drop: The final title cards proclaim "Be it motor" (a shot of the car) "or maid" (a shot of Nell) "there is always something new!"
  • Writer's Block: Starts with a Framing Device in which Nell can't think of a story. She sees a car racing a horse, she starts typing furiously, and the main story unfolds.
  • Write What You Know: In-Universe, as Nell in the framing device, a writer searching for a story idea, writes about a writer searching for a story idea.
  • You No Take Candle: A little dollop of racism with the native who sees Bill charging off to the Blue Lotus and says "White man heap dam' fool."