NYC: Newspapers and Skyscrapers

Delivering Newspapers
K: G.W. “Billy” Bitzer, Arthur Marvin. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1903

Skyscrapers of New York
K: Fred Dobson. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1906
Print: Library of Congress (Paper Print Collection)

Skyscrapers was filmed at a construction site for the tallest office building in New York City. A worker, ‘Dago Pete’, robs the contractor but pins the blame on the foreman. In a fight on the unfinished skyscraper, the foreman throws the contractor off the platform, but the loser luckily grabs hold of a girder and stops his fall. At the foreman’s trial, however, Dago Pete is exposed by the foreman’s daughter and the two levels of management – contractor and foreman – are reconciled. The plot ist inconsistent and sometimes illogical, but the titles preserve a minimal coherence. The film itself reveals an anti-immigrant (particularly anti-Italian) prejudice, with ethnic background providing the sole motivation for reprehensible actions and the immigrant himself fostering misunderstandings between native-born whites. (…) On the one hand, the focus is on someone with whom many male nickelodeon spectators could comfortably identify, someonea notch or two above them in social or economic standing. On the other hand, the (…) film was insensitive to the heavily immigrant composition of the new audiences. Italian moviegoers, living only a few blocks from the Biograph studio, were likely to be offended.”
Charles Musser: The Emergence of Cinema. Vol. 1. The American Screen to 1907. Berkeley-Los Angeles-London 1994, p. 454