You probably have seen them, usually a white number or numbers and letters in the right bottom corner of a still from a movie.
Believe it or not there is some logic to these numbers.
After seeing a number of stills which have these (by the way, a lot of publicity photos which went to newspapers did not have the numbers), I have narrowed down the movie to one which just fits this description of When Men Desire which debuted March 9, 1919:
American Marie Lohr is visiting her German uncle in Strassburg when the United States enters World War I. Major von Rohn, her German suitor, endeavors to keep her apart from her boyfriend, American aviator Robert Stedman. An American bomb wounds von Rohn and kills a German spy whose identity Marie assumes in an attempt to escape across the border. Marie is stopped by lecherous German officers, but manages to get word to Robert who tries to rescue her but must hide when von Rohn returns. When von Rohn discovers someone is hiding in the closet, Marie stabs and kills him. Robert dons the German's uniform, and after a chase, flies with Marie safely over the border.
I believe this is a scene from the room which was just hit by that American bomb. Marie is possibly looking at a document which came from the dead German spy.
So, the plot and the picture could be in sync.
What led me to this, though, was a process of elimination by looking at the codes. The code on the picture looks like E-31-26. Anyway it is clear the first part starts with E-31 which is the part of the code which tells you the movie the still came from. The last digits indicate the number of the still in that movie. Often the digits are in sequence from the movie, although that is not for sure. Numeric sequences where each number is one more than the previous number can often be scenes that can show movement!
As you can see from this table, the codes that do match movies I know about fall right in line...and the missing movie falls right in place.
When A Woman Sins
|Sept. 28, 1918|| 27-1,27-46|
|Nov. 10, 1918||28-37|
|Jan. 12, 1919|| E-30-15, E-30-29 |
When Men Desire
|March 9, 1919|| ??? E-31-26 ???|
The Siren's Song
|May 4, 1919|| 29-26|
A Woman There Was
|June 1, 1919|| E-32-27, E-32-37|
|August 19, 1919|| B-4-23,52,28,35|
La Belle Russe
|Sept. 21, 1919|| B-3-56,18|