Chase Films

The Terrible Kids
R: Wallace McCutcheon, Edwin S. Porter. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1905/06

The Terrible  Kids (April 1906) was part of the widespread comic depiction of undersocialized youth. In the cinema, the popular bad boy genre would soon  come under heavy criticism for providing young viewers with undesirable role models. Porter’s comedy shows two boys disrupting a neighborhood’s routine with the help of their dog, played by Mannie. Every scene is a variation on a mischievous prank: Mannie ‘jumps onto the Chinaman’s back, seizes his queue and drags the poor chink to the ground’; when they encounter a billposter on a ladder, the dog ‘grabs the billposter by the leg of his trousers and he falls to the ground with the ladder on top of him while the kids enjoy the billposter’s predicament.’ (Film Index, 23 June 1906). Several women and an Italian apple vendor with a push cart are also victims. Eventually these annoyed adults turn pursuers and capture the two pranksters with the help of the police. As the boys are driven off in the police van, Mannie opens the van door, and the kids escape as the film ends. (…)
The relationship of The Terrible Kids  to similar films (and to the bad boy genre in other popular forms) was an essential part of the film’s meaning. Since the boys in these films were anonymous, intertextual and intratextual redundancy were essentially of the same kind. The audience’s frequent encounters with similar texts provided the reassurance of familiarity. Audiences were expected to identify and sympathize with the kids, suggesting a nostalgic desire for a simpler, less regimented past. According to the catalog description of The Terrible Kids, “The antics of the kids, the almost human intelligence of ‘Mannie’ and the narrow escapes from capture, are a source of constant amusement and are sure to arouse a strong sympathy for the kids and their dog.” The genre savors the rejection of authority even as it offers a momentary release from the increasingly regimented workplace. The bad boys escape at the end of both The Terrible Kids and The Little Train Robbery  — as if to appear in some other film.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p. 344/345

The Unfortunate Policeman
R: Robert W. Paul (?). P: Paul’s Animatograph Works. UK 1905

“This elaborate chase comedy is an example of the increasing use of real locations in R.W. Paul’s work, perhaps thanks to the influence of rival filmmakers like James Williamson, who turned his native Hove into the location for everything from dramatic epics (Attack on a China Mission, 1900) to quasi-documentaries (Fire!, 1901) to knockabout comedy (Our New Errand Boy, 1905).
(…) the film cuts to actual and recognisable London locations, near Muswell Hill where Paul’s studio was based, though the policeman might as well not have bothered, since every person he encounters ends up obstructing and usually beating him thanks to a series of misunderstandings. By the end, it’s the policeman himself who is being chased, and the apprentice gets clean away by leaping into a well-placed horse-drawn cab, pushing the sleeping driver off the other side.
But, as the film historian Ian Christie pointed out, the irreverent and disrespectful treatment of the policeman would soon become impossible in British films, thanks to the notorious list of proscriptions laid down by the British Board of Film Censors shortly after its creation in 1912.”
Michael Brooke
BFI Screenonline

Daring Daylight Burglary
R: Frank S. Mottershaw. P: Sheffield Photographic Co. UK 1903

“(…) A Daring Daylight Burglary (d. Frank Mottershaw, 1903) looks like a conventional chase thriller, but it was one of the first films to trace the course of a single piece of action across multiple locations, and went on to influence The Great Train Robbery (US, d. Edwin S.Porter, 1903), the film credited with inventing the action movie (Porter’s earlier The Life of an American Fireman (1901) had been similarly inspired by James Williamson’s Hove-based Fire! from the same year).”
BFI Screenonline

A Desparate Poaching Affray
P and R: William Haggar. UK 1903

The beginnings of the British cinema:

“The real roots of the cinema that was to come lay not in the variety theatres but in fairgrounds. Fairground shows had always featured ghost shows, marionettes and ‘living pictures’ (tableaux) and from the late 1890s they naturally accommodated film shows. The elaborately-decorated booths some came to be known as bioscopes, and the largest could accommodate a thousand visitors (many standing) at a time. According to legend, the first fairground operator to host a film show was Randall Williams, and many of those who followed after him became significant film exhibitors – some, like the Welshman William Haggar, whose bioscope show is illustrated, moved into film production as well. The fairground bioscopes demonstrated the popularity of an auditorium that regularly and exclusively showed film. They were popular in Britain throughout the Edwardian period but gradually died out as permanent cinemas took away their audience.”
Luke McKernan
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema

>>> Attack on a China Mission on this site: European Cinematography 1895 – 1905

>>> Fire!: Brighton School: James Williamson

>>> Our New Errand Boy: A Young Horror

>>> The Great Train Robbery, The Life of an American Fireman: Edwin S. Porter: Blockbuster for Edison

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