Released April 22, 1913 (Tuesday), Length: 1 reel, Character: Educational-documentary
Cast: Harry Benham (Bela Tokaji, the immigrant) , Ethyle Cooke (his love interest and eventual wife), Leland Benham (their son), Justus D. Barnes (his Hungarian father). Note: Ethyle Cooke was Benham's wife in real life, and Leland was their son.
Director/Photographer: Carl Lewis Gregory, Locations: Ellis Island in New York Harbor; the Gary, Indiana works of the United States Steel Corporation; the National Tube Works in Lorain, Ohio
Print Source: David Shepard (Film Preservation Associates). Note: This print has been digitally modified to simulate the orange tone that was traditionally applied to Thanhouser's intertitles. Music: Composed and performed by Martin Marks, used with permission from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF). This film may be found on Volume 4 of the NFPF's "Treasures III" DVD set: Social Issues in American Film 1900-1914. filmpreservation.org/dvds-and-books/treasures-iii-social-issues-in-american-film.
Primarily an industrial safety film, it opens with the immigration of Bela to the USA and closes with his marriage to his English teacher. Sponsored by the United States Steel Corporation, it expresses both an anti-union sentiment and a pro-immigration stance. Portraying an idealized living situation and safe working environment, it was designed to attract more low wage immigrants that were highly desired by its sponsor .
ADVERTISEMENT, The Moving Picture World, April 26, 1913:
From the 'greenhorn,' fresh from the 'old country,' you stay with him while he seeks and lands an American job, an American wife and American happiness; also is shown the ingenious American safety devices that protected him while he was in the making.
SYNOPSIS, The Moving Picture World, April 26, 1913:
This story deals with a young Hungarian emigrant, whose brother in America writes to him, telling of the many wonders of the New World. The young man finally comes to America and secures employment as an unskilled laborer in the Gary works of the United States Steel Corporation. He works hard, attends night school, gradually learns the language and ways of the country, and becomes a skilled laborer and marries. His happiness as the prosperous head of a family is shown, and also the interest in which the great corporation takes in its employees and their willingness to advance those who are ambitious and competent. The many safety devices which have been installed at great expense to prevent laborers from being injured are shown, and the new laborer is seen as he is instructed in his duties.
REVIEW, The Moving Picture News, April 26, 1913:
An American in the Making is most excellent and instructive, showing the inner workings of the manufactories of the United States Steel Corporation, the safety devices for the protection of workmen, etc. The story treats of a young emigrant who gets a start in America, and being guided into the right channel, is molded into a fine American citizen, his first work being with the United States Steel Corporation.