Execution of Czolgosz, with panorama of Auburn Prison
K: Edwin S. Porter. P: Thomas A. Edison. USA 1901
Print: Library of Congress

From a contemporary Edison film company catalog:
“A detailed reproduction of the execution of the assassin of President McKinley faithfully carried out from the description of an eye witness. The picture is in three scenes. First: Panoramic view of Auburn Prison taken the morning of the electrocution. The picture then dissolves into the corridor of murderer’s row. The keepers are seen taking Czolgosz from his cell to the death chamber, and shows State Electrician, Wardens and Doctors making final test of the chair. Czolgosz is then brought in by the guard and is quickly strapped into the chair. The current is turned on at a signal from the Warden, and the assassin heaves heavily as though the straps would break. He drops prone after the current is turned off. The doctors examine the body and report to the Warden that he is dead, and he in turn officially announces the death to the witness. Class B 200 ft. $24.00″
Library of Congress

“Born in 1873 in Detroit, Michigan, Leon Frank Czolgosz was the assassin of President William McKinley. He grew up poor as one of seven children born to immigrant parents. Czolgosz moved around a lot with his family between different Midwestern cities. He started working at the age of 10. A short time later, he lost his mother when she died in childbirth.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Czolgosz worked in the wire mills. He was known as a good employee and even received a merit-based pay raise. But Czolgosz eventually lost that job as the wire mill owners sought to cut workers’ wages. During the 1880s and 1890s, tensions ran high between workers and business owners over fair pay and working conditions. Czolgosz witnessed several violent strikes at large factories where he and his brothers worked. He also observed the disparity between the rich and the poor, which deeply angered him, and thus turned to socialist and anarchist teachings.”

>>> The Mob outside the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition: The Mob Outside

America at Work

From the collection “America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915”, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Girls Winding Armatures
K: G.W. “Billy” Bitzer. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1904
Print: Library of Congress

Coil Winding Section E, Westinghouse Works
K: G.W. “Billy” Bitzer. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1904
Print: Library of Congress

Assembling and Testing Turbines, Westinghouse Works
K: G.W. “Billy” Bitzer. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1904
Print: Library of Congress

Testing Large Turbines, Westinghouse Co. Works
K: G.W. “Billy” Bitzer. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1904
Print: Library of Congress

>>> About Bitzer on this site: G.W. “Billy” BitzerBilly Bitzer, the Inventor


Italy’s Colonial Wars – 2

Dolorosi episodi della guerra Italo-Turca
R & K: Luca Comerio. P: Comerio Films, Milano. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino

Episode of the series produced by Comerio dedicated to the Italo-Turk war. It features the departure of Lt. Paolo Solaroli‘s body from Africa to Italy.

Sommergibili nel Mediterraneo (Submarines)
R & K: Luca Comerio. P: Comerio Films, Milano. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino

“Documentary dedicated to the submarines assigned to the Italian Military Navy, shot by Luca Comerio in 1912, while the war in Libya was underway. The drills shown take place near the port of Taranto. In 2012 the National Cinema Museum preserved a small nucleus of war documentaries filmed by Comerio, restoring the colouring present in the nitrate prints of the time. Submarines is the film in which colour restoration most exalts the great talent of this documentary director as a cinematographer: Comerio alternates delicate blue toning with a suggestive coupling of tinting and toning to suggest the light play in a sunset over the sea.”
European Film Gate (EFG) 1914

>>> Italy’s Colonial Wars – 1

Italy’s Colonial Wars – 1

La nostra artiglieria in guerra
R & K: Luca Comerio. P: Comerio Films, Milano. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino

Documentary dedicated to the artillery assigned to the Italian troops in Africa, shot by Luca Comerio in 1912, while the war in Libya was underway.

>>> Italy’s Colonial Wars – 2

Theo Frenkel

Genie tegen geweld (Frgm.)
R: Theo Frenkel. D: Adelqui Migliar, Mary Beekman, Aaf Bouber. P: Amsterdam Film Cie. NL 1916
Print: EYE Collection
German intertitles

“Detective Pim Bruce tries to solve a case of diamond theft and murder.
Van Duylen, representative of a diamond syndicate, brings to Amsterdam the “Koh-I-Noor II”, the largest diamond ever found. In one of the city’s oldest diamond-cutting establishments it is cleft and the nine small stones are polished. Escorted by detectives, Van Duylen takes the stones home and puts them in his burglar-proof safe. He tells his wife that its doors are electrically charged and that anyone opening them in the wrong way will immediately be electrocuted.
Two suspicious persons, Jack the Acrobat and the lion-tamer Feenstra, prowl around Van Duylen’s villa, inspecting the doors and windows. They go to their crony, the notorious burglar Nelis Veerman, to discuss their plan to steal the diamonds.”

Het Wrak in de Noordzee
R: Theo Frenkel Sen. (i.e. Theo Bouwmeester). D: Thibault Bigot Jun., Aaf Bouber-ten Hoope, Piet Fuchs, Wilhelmina Kley, Kees Lageman. P: Amsterdam Film Cie. NL 1915
Print: EYE Collection
French titles

Het wrak in de Noordzee (The North Sea Wreck) was the first film made by director Theo Frenkel‘s own company Amsterdam Film Cie. Before Frenkel returned to the Netherlands in 1914, he had worked in France for Pathé Frères, in Great Britain for the producers Hepworth and Urban, and in the German capital for the film pioneer Oskar Messter and Eiko-Film. Back in the Netherlands, he made the film Fatum for the Rembrandt Film Co. Run by cinema operator and director Johan Gildemeijer; after this he established his own film company. The North Sea Wreck is a fisherman’s drama about the romance between the daughter of a Scheveningen captain and a young fisherman.”

Alice in Spain

R: Alice Guy. K: Anatole Thiberville. P: Gaumont. Fr 1906

1906 unternimmt Alice Guy, die erste Regisseurin und Produzentin der Filmgeschichte, bis 1907 Produktionsleiterin bei Gaumont, mit ihrem Kameramann eine Reise nach Spanien und hält ihre Eindrücke in dokumentarischen “Ansichten” von Städten, Landschaften und Bauwerken fest. Die Tanzszenen am Ende waren im Original mit Musik für Gaumonts Tonfilmverfahren Chronophon unterlegt.

Alice Guy-Filme auf dieser Website:

>>> La fée aux choux, L’émeute sur la barricade, Making an American Citizen, Algie the Miner



Capellani 1906

L’Âge du coeur
R: Albert Capellani. B: André Heuzé. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

Drame passionnel
R: Albert Capellani. B: André Heuzé. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

La femme du lutteur
R: Albert Capellani. B: André Heuzé. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

La loi du pardon
R: Albert Capellani. B: André Heuzé. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

Pauvre mère
R: Albert Capellani. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906

“In contrast to Pathé’s previous films (…) Pauvre mère uses the spectacle of a POV (i.e. point of view)-shot sequence (observed by a female rather than by a male) as the pretext or narrative premise for an unrelenting series of moments of frustrated desire. (…) In privileging the relationship between mother and daughter and the emotional appeal of their shared desire, for instance, both La loi du pardon and Pauvre mère seem to address a specifically female spectator. This suggests that, by 1906, women – as well as children – were beginning to constitute an increasingly important segment of those who regularly attended cinema programs in France. (…) Yet, as a textual system, both films address the spectator somewhat ambiguously at the end. Is the concluding tableau of  Pauvre mère, for instance, to be read, within a conservative Catholic tradition, as a legitimate religious ‘reward’ for the mother’s suffering or, rather, as an implicit appeal for social measures to redress the near-poverty conditions of the single workling-class woman? In  La loi du pardon, is the wife or mother to be read as a kind of sanctified Mary Magdalene, a figure of innocence represented from her daughter’s point of view, or a woman who has literally taken a vow of chastity? And what about the husband-father’s attitude, for only he and not the judge can fulfill the real ‘law of pardon’ – has the family actually been restored? The answer might have depended on where and in what context one saw the film.”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town. French Cinema 1896-1914. Berkeley-Los Angeles-London 1998, p. 135 f.

Capellani‘s speciality as a director is the broad scope of his narratives, connecting different locations and characters, which invests even short films with grandeur and space, to such an extent that the film lengths, given in either metres or minutes, often seem unbelievable. What? Can  L’Épouvante really only be 11 minutes long? And Pauvre mère and Mortelle Idylle only 6 minutes each?”
Mariann Lewinsky, David Bordwell’s Observations on Film Art

Germinal, 1913

R: Albert Capellani. B: Albert Capellani, based on the novel by Émile Zola. K: Louis Forestier, Pierre Trimbach. D: Mévisto, Jean Jacquinet, Henry Krauss, Sylvie, Paul Escoffier. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1913
Engl. subtitles

About Zola’s novel:
“The title, Germinal, is drawn from the springtime seventh month of the French Revolutionary Calendar and is meant to evoke imagery of germination, new growth and fertility. Accordingly,  Zola ends the novel on a note of hope and one that has provided inspiration to socialist and reformist causes of all kinds throughout the years since its first publication: ‘Beneath the blazing of the sun, in that morning of new growth, the countryside rang with song, as its belly swelled with a black and avenging army of men, germinating slowly in its furrows, growing upwards in readiness for harvests to come, until one day soon their ripening would burst open the earth itself.’ By the time of his death, the novel had come to be recognized as his undisputed masterpiece. At his funeral crowds of workers gathered, cheering the cortège with shouts of Germinal! Germinal!’. Since then the book has come to symbolize working class causes and to this day retains a special place in French mining-town folklore.”

Kristin Thompson:
“Nothing in Griffith‘s pre-war career comes close to Les Misérables or Germinal.”
David Bordwell’s Observations on Film Art

“The Société Cinématographique des Artistes et des Gens de Lettres (Artists’ and Writers’ Film Company), usually known as SCAGL, was a subsidiary — really, a production unit and a release label — established in 1908 by Pathé Frères, the main French film producing and distributing company (indeed the world’s largest film company), in anticipation of competition from the newly founded Film d’Art in the production of artistically respectable films. Albert Capellani, who had started his career as a theatrical actor and then progressed to stage manager at the Alhambra Music-Hall in Paris before becoming a director for Pathé in 1905, was appointed artistic director of SCAGL on its foundation, and as an individual director became its specialist in literary subjects, notably a series of Victor Hugo adaptations, including Notre Dame de Paris in 1911, Les Misérables in 1912, and Quatre-vingt-treize, which was shot in 1914, but only released, in a version completed by André Antoine, in 1921. Germinal was shot in the winter and spring of 1913, with exteriors in Auchel, near Béthune, Pas-de-Calais, and released in November of the same year.”
Ben Brewster: Germinal and Film Acting
UW filmies wiki

“The furious depiction of the war between labour and capital invites comparison to Griffith’s Intolerance: here, too, finally, armed forces crush the rebels. In Germinal, seeing the carnage, the commander bursts into tears. In contrast to Griffith the camera is static*, there are no close-ups, and there is no montage. The intertitles give away the action in advance. On the other hand, the composition is impeccable, the movement of the masses dynamically conveyed, and Germinal has documentary fascination as a portrait of a primitive phase of the industrial society. Interestingly, the actors are relatively subdued, and the sadness at the death of both of the leading ladies is moving.”
Antti Alanen

*That’s not correct.  For pans and other camera movements see: 11 min. 30 sec. / 11 min. 45 sec. / 13 min. 34 sec. / 16 min. 05 sec. / 27 min 50 sec. and more. (KK)

“Illustrative is the attitude of the ‘Hamburger Echo’ with regard to a screening of Albert Capellani’s Germinal (1913) in Breslau (Wroclaw), in October 1913, especially organized by the local Workers’ Education Committee. While hailing the film as a successful attempt ‘to put the cinematograph in the service of the labour movement’, the newspaper also wrote that it demonstrated ‘an extraordinary lack of taste’, for the film version of Zola’s novel was ‘a brutality against literature and a crime against the people’ (…) For literature in film form is vulgar, even when it is derived from the works of Zola, Schiller, or Goethe.'”
Bert Hogenkamp, in: Richard Abel (ed.): Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Taylor & Francis 2005, p. 366


The Vagabonds
B: On the base of the poem “The Vagabonds” by J.T. Trowbridge. D: Morris Foster, Grace DeCarlton, Arthur Bauer, Carey L. Hastings. P: Thanhouser Film Co. USA 1915
Print: Library of Congress

The Vagabonds source is a different kind of classic — a poem by an influential and prolific writer of inspirational and cautionary stories for children, particularly boys. The Vagabonds is a series of flashbacks where a penniless, friendless tramp relates the story of his downfall due to drink. The author J.T. Trowbridge (1827-1916) had also been a well-known pre-Civil War abolitionist. His poem ‘The Vagabonds’ was first published in 1863.
This relatively fine print shows the rapid improvements in camera lenses in the mid-1910s, and independent studios like Thanhouser finally had access to the best cameras and equipment with the breaking of the Patents Trust in 1915.
The variety of camera setups and fluidity of editing is quite modern compared to just a year or two earlier.”

Siegmund Lubin

A Mexican Courtship
R: Wilbert Melville. D: Romaine Fielding, Edna Payne, Burton King. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: EYE / Desmet collection
Dutch titles

“This is one of the very best melodramatic pictures that the Lubin Company has put out in many a week, one of the best that has been released by any company. It is a bull fight, love story, with an excellent and very exciting picture of the fight and the death of a vicious bull. The story, although in outline it is what might be called a classic convention in Spanish literature, is absolutely fresh, so far as we know, in pictures and is eminently worth while. It is, in fact, a picture among good pictures for the exhibitor, one to excite enthusiasm. During the bull fight in which the lowly hero killed the bull and won the girl, the camera seems to have stood in the very arena. At one instant the thoroughly mad bull was coming right toward us, and that particular view was cut very short. Perhaps the camera man got away quick. Perhaps it was the bull who got the camera. He certainly looked as though he were just on the point of his horn of getting something. It is a rattling good picture. Wc are glad that we saw it and we believe others will be glad to see it. The audience that saw it with us seemed to be. The photographs are good.”
The Moving Picture World, March 16, 1912

Juan and Juanita
R: Wilbert Melville. D: Edwin Carewe, Edna Payne, Earl Metcalfe. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: EYE / Desmet collection
Dutch titles

“Jan leaves for Rawlins, Arizona, where he wants to find a job so he can marry his fiancee Jeanette, because Jeanette’s mother says a man must have quite substantial savings before he can marry her daughter. Jan takes a job with the railways. When a former employee raids the money train on which Jan is working, he manages to escape with the aid of a trolley, as a result of which the attack can be thwarted. For his courageous act Jan gets two thousand guilders as a reward.”

Wilbert Melville made just a few films at Betzwood in December 1912 before Lubin sent him to California to found the Lubin West branch studio in Los Angeles. Melville had only months before made films in Texas and Arizona near the Mexican border and “Mexican” films were his specialty. Unfortunately, he had a tendency to feed into the routine stereotypes of the day and his Mexican characters are often unsavory and even cartoon like. This is probably why Lubin assigned Earl Metcalfe to work with him. Metcalfe specialized in playing unsavory characters and his acting was often “over the top.” Here Mexican bandits hold up a train and Juan saves the day by catching the crooks. Juanita is his reward.”
Betzwood Film Archive

The Price of Jealousy
R: Wilbert Melville. D: Howard Mitchell, Sadie Calhoun, Edna Payne, Earl Metcalf. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1913
Print: Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique
French titles

352-Siegmund Lubin around 1909

Siegmund Lubin, around 1909

Siegmund Lubin, with his Lubin Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, was one of Edison‘s earliest rivals in the motion picture business and remained a vigorous force in filmmaking, equipment manufacture and exhibition until the beginning of the First World War. Siegmund Lubszynski emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1876 and travelled the entire country as a salesman of jewelry, metal polish, spectacles and other goods. Settling in Philadelphia in 1882, he opened an optical manufacturing and retail business at 21 South 8th Street in 1885, particularly exploiting two patents for a novel form of eyeglasses. In late 1896 he developed the Cineograph projector with help from C. Francis Jenkins, and it was offered for sale in January 1897 at a price of $150. In February Lubin became an agent for Edison films, in March he founded the Cineograph Exhibition Service for vaudeville theatres, and on 15 May 1897 he began making films with Unveiling of the Washington Monument. He produced many short comedies and actualities, including local scenes of preparation for the Spanish-American War and battle re-creations, but the staple of his early filmmaking was re-created boxing films, using either ‘counterparts’ for the original fighters, or the boxers themselves re-staging the fight. Like other companies at the time, Lubin re-made any appealing title from other companies, producing among others versions of The Great Train Robbery, Personal, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and duped for his own sale many films of Edison, Méliès, Pathé, and others, advertising that his stock included any film made anywhere in the world.”
Deac Rossell
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema