The Myth of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
R: J. Farrell MacDonald. B: L. Frank Baum. D: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Raymond Russell.  P: The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1914

“Ojo and Unc Nunkie are out of food, so they decide to journey to the Emerald City where they will never starve. Along the way, they meet Mewel, a waif and stray (mule) who leads them to Dr. Pipt, who has been stirring the powder of life for nine years. Ojo adds plenty of brains to Margolotte’s Patchwork servant before she is brought to life with the powder. When Scraps does come to life, she accidentally knocks the liquid of petrifaction upon Unc Nunkie, Margolotte, and Danx (daughter Jesseva’s boyfriend). So all go on separate journeys to find the ingredients to the antidote. (Of course Jesseva has Danx shrunken to take with her, which causes trouble with Jinjur.) Of course, no one ever told Ojo that some of the ingredients were illegal to obtain…”
Scott Hutchins

“The Oz Film Manufacturing Company was an independent film studio from 1914-1915. It was founded by L. Frank Baum (president), Louis F. Gottschalk (vice president), Harry Marston Haldeman (secretary), and Clarence R. Rundel (treasurer) as an offshoot of Haldeman’s social group, The Uplifters, that met at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Its goal was to produce quality family-oriented entertainment in a time when children were primarily seeing violent Westerns. It was a critical but not a commercial success; even under a name change to Dramatic Feature Films, it was quickly forced to fold. The studio made only five features and five short films, of which four features (in part) and no shorts survive.
The company is best known for three of its films that survive, albeit with missing footage, today: The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Magic Cloak of Oz, and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz.
The studio was located on Santa Monica Boulevard between Gower Street and Lodi Street. The facility would later be used by Famous Players-Lasky and National Film Corporation of America. It was considered state-of-the-art at the time. It was used almost exclusively for interior shots. Exterior shots were done outdoors rather than simulated in the studio.”

His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz
R: Farrell MacDonald. B: L. Frank Baum. D: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Pierre Couderc, Fred Woodward, Raymond Russell, Mildred Harris. P: The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1914

“Unlike its brethren, His Majesty, The Scarecrow Of Oz was not adapted for the screen by Frank Baum from one of his novels, but was filmed instead from an original screenplay. Baum used the production of this film to try out ideas he was still mentally shaping for his next Oz novel, hoping that the film’s success would act as a promotional boost for The Scarecrow Of Oz, which would not be published until the following year. In this, as in so much else, Baum was destined for disappointment. (…)
His Majesty, The Scarecrow Of Oz received a cinema release in October of 1914; but while it was well-received by the critics, it was not so by the paying public. The film was released again early in 1915, under the title The New Wizard Of Oz, and it did a little better; but it never came near to recovering its costs. This was a crippling blow for The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, but Baum and his companions battled on for a time. In December of 1914 they released another feature-film, The Last Egyptian, based upon an adult novel that Baum originally published anonymously (a film which apparently featured Fred Woodward in a non-suit role!): only three of the film’s five reels still survive, and they are now held by MOMA. The company also made Violet’s Dreams, a series of short films for children featuring Violet MacMillan, at least one of which she also directed.”
and you call yourself a scientist!?

A Puritan Romance

Daddy’s Double
B: Lloyd F. Lonergan. K: Blair Smith. D: Frank H. Crane, Fred Santley, Isabelle Daintry. P: Thanhouser Co. USA 1910
Print: British Film Institute (BFI)

“The rule at many other comedy-producing studios was that gags drove the film and story line was incidental. With the talent of Lloyd Lonergan, it was the other way around at Thanhouser from the very beginning. Daddy’s Double was the fourth release by the new studio.
Some minor camera tilting in the ladder scene, minor panning as necessary, and minor cross-cutting hint at the stylistic revolutions to come in the next few years.”

Dante’s Inferno

R: Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe de Liguoro. On the base of “La Divina Commedia” by Dante Alighieri. K: Emilio Roncarolo. D: Salvatore Papa, Arturo Pirovano, Giuseppe de Liguoro. P: Milano Film. It 1911
Engl. titles

“The Italian epic came of age with Giuseppe de Liguoro‘s imaginative silent version of the Inferno, loosely adapted from Dante and inspired by the illustrations of Gustav Doré. L’Inferno was first screened in Naples in the Teatro Mercadante 10 March 1911. The film took over three years to make involving more than 150 people and was the first full length Italian feature film ever made. It’s success was not confined to Italy it was an international hit taking more than $2 million in the United States alone.”

356-Doré Inferno  Gustave Doré: Dante’s Inferno

“Utilizing 35mm materials from the Library of Congress and from the British Film Institute, edition producer Tim Pearce has compiled the most-complete surviving version of this early Italian epic film, taken largely from an American release print and presented in a windowboxed format to allow the maximum amount of the original print image to be seen on all televisions.
After a 3.5 minute introductory credits section, we view the main source print for this edition, which is of very-good quality but is compromised by some print damage common to circulated materials of this age — occasional sections of long vertical print-wear marks in the film stock, some print shrinkage which manifests in some image movement within the frame, and some picture jitters which indicates some sprocket wear and is most visible as some downward blurring in the intertitles. But the print is light on actual emulsion damage in the form of long white vertical scratches, blotches, emulsion chipping, speckling and dust, and the grayscale range is relatively broad with very-good highlight and shadow image detail. The secondary print is in better condition than the main print, but it is also notibly contrastier, with plugged-up shadows and bright highlights that lose image detail. The midshot frame geometry matching of edit points between the two source prints is very well done.
Missing from this edition is an intertitle that explains the significance of the circle of backward-walking sinners — with their heads completely turned 180 degrees around — and the complete shot of the scene itself (which here lasts for only three seconds).
Pearce scores a major artistic coup in the presentation of an original music score composed by Edgar Froese and son Jerome Froese of the famous German electronic music group Tangerine Dream. Although we respect and enjoy Tangerine Dream’s music, we felt that the English-language vocals narrating the film’s action are an unnecessary distraction and add little to the viewing experience. The vocals are somehow less disruptive when they are performed in Italian. Thankfully, such vocal intrusions are few and Tangerine Dream’s atmospheric and well-textured synthesizer instrumentals may be enjoyed for the majority of the picture.”
Silent Era

>>> L’Odissea, by Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe de Liguoro, and Adolfo Padovan, on this website

Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell

The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole
R: Raymond Longford. K: Arthur Higgins. D: Lottie Lyell, Raymond Longford, Augustus Neville. P: Spencer’s Pictures. AUS 1911
Print: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)

“The story opens with a May festival, during which Margaret Carrington is crowned Queen of the May. The rival lovers, a lieutenant in the army and a smuggler chief, meet Margaret, and she is compelled to choose between them. She chooses Morgan, the smuggler chief, and in a battle between the soldiers and the smugglers she persuades the lieutenant to let Morgan go free. The lieutenant resigns his commission and leaves for Australia. The soldiers are close on the track of the smugglers. A traitor in the smuggler band sends a false message to Margaret and signs the note “Morgan.” In this note Margaret is told to come to a certain rendezvous. She steals a horse for this purpose, and is captured. Little seven-year-old Marjorie, in a thrilling horseback ride across country, carries a note to Morgan. Morgan goes to Margaret’s assistance, rescues her, and she goes with Morgan to join the smugglers. Among the picturesque scenes along the coasts, arrangements are made for the marriage of Morgan and Margaret. Before the priest can pronounce the final words the soldiers enter the smugglers’ cave, and there is a pitched battle between the smugglers and the soldiers. Morgan is killed, Margaret is captured and sentenced to death. Sentence is afterward commuted to the convict colony in Australia. Six months later we see Margaret in Australia as matron of the children’s hospital. Here she meets the former applicant for her hand, the lieutenant, who is now an officer in the government service. Through his influence Margaret is pardoned, and finally becomes the lieutenant’s bride.”

“Although only a few of his films are extant, Raymond Longford is recognized as the leading director of the early Australian cinema. For most of his career, he worked in partnership with actress Lottie Lyell. So closely were their lives and careers intertwined that any serious attempt to evaluate their separate contributions must first take into account their work as a creative team. Their common dedication to cinematic naturalism had a profound effect on filmmaking in Australia. (…)
Film production was booming in Australia in 1911 when Longford acted in three films for Spencer’s Pictures in Sydney. He soon graduated to director with The Fatal Wedding (1911). Adapted by Longford from a popular stage melodrama in which he had toured with Lyell the year before, it was filmed in a local artist’s studio with the roof removed to allow light from the sun. Lyell recreated her stage role, and Arthur Higgins served as cinematographer (and would continue to do so for the majority of Longford’s productions).
Longford’s next film was one of the most popular Australian films of the period, The Romantic Story of Margaret Catchpole (1911). Dramatizing the true story of an Englishwoman who was transported to Australia for horse stealing in 1801, the film gave Lyell in the title role an excellent opportunity to demonstrate her athleticism, especially the riding skills for which she would become famous. Longford followed up this success with a number of other films displaying Lyell’s ability as an equestrienne. Often, she portrayed that distinctively Australian heroine, the girl of the bush who was a man’s equal in courage and resourcefulness.”
William M. Drew
Gilda Tabarez

Paris Exhibition 1900

Scene from Elevator Ascending Eiffel Tower
R: James H. White. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1900

“American producers were the ones who (…) made Paris another cinematographic star, emulating New York, on the occasion of a singular event, the Universal Exposition of 1900, the first one that could be filmed. The idea that underlines this type of event is that of demonstrating curiosities from all over the world that under the circumstances of the time would not be able to transcend their immediate environment to reach a real and present public. Cinema contributed to the same effect, exposing the world‘s novelties even more. Since it was held in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, that great icon of French modernity, inevitably played the same role that New York skyscrapers did and in this style James White produced five ‘Paris Exposition Films’ for Edison: Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Palace, Palace of Electricity, Champs de Mars, Panorama of Eiffel Tower and Scene from Elevator Ascending Eiffel Tower.”
Darío Villanueva: Images of the City. Poetry and Film, from Whitman to Lorca (English translation of Chapter I of Imágenes de la ciudad), p. 10
Essay and Science

Panorama of the Paris Exposition, from the Seine
P: Edison Co. USA 1900
Print: Library of Congress, Wasington D.C.

From Edison films catalog:
“This panoramic scene is taken from a Seine steamboat and gives a rapid view of the banks of the river. The launch steams under six bridges and past the Street of Nations. The United States Building is a prominent white domed structure, gay with national flags. The picture ends at the famous three million dollar bridge, the Pont Alexander III.”
Library of Congress

355-Pariser Weltausstellung 1900

Paris Exhibition 1900


The Stenographer’s Friend

The Stenographer’s Friend, or, What was Accomplished by an Edison Business Phonograph
P: Edison Co. USA 1910
Print: Library of Congess, Washington D.C.

“The Edison business phonograph became a dictating system. Three machines were used: the executive dictating machine, the secretarial machine for transcribing, and a shaving machine used to recycle used cylinders. This system can be seen in the Edison advertising film, The Stenographer’s Friend, filmed in 1910. The Ediphone was an enhanced version of this machine that was introduced in 1916 and increasingly grew in sales after World War I and into the 1920’s.
The 2-minute wax cylinder could not compete well beside the competitors’ disc records, which could offer up to four minutes of play time. In response, the Amberol Record was offered in November 1908, which had finer grooves than the two-minute cylinders, and thus, could last as long as 4 minutes. The two-minute cylinders became known as the Edison Two-Minute Records, and then afterwards were known as the Edison Standard Records. In 1909, a series of Grand Opera Amberols (a continuation of the two-minute Grand Opera Cylinders introduced in 1906) was introduced to attract the affluent patrons, but these did not prove successful. The Amberola I phonograph was introduced in 1909, a floor-model luxury machine with high-quality performance. This was supposed to compete with the Victrola and Grafonola.
In 1910, the company was reorganized into Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Frank L. Dyer was originally president, then Edison served as president from December 1912 until August 1926, when his son, Charles, became president, and Edison became chairman of the board.”
Antique HQ



R: Johann Schwarzer. P: Saturn-Film, Wien. Austria 1906
Print: Filmarchiv Austria

627-zaubereien des mandarins

Die Zaubereien des Mandarins
R: Johann Schwarzer. P: Saturn-Film, Wien. Austria 1909
Print: Filmarchiv Austria

To view the film click at the image

“Nackte Frauen, ob beim Baden, beim Tanzen, beim Schwimmen, auf dem Sklavenmarkt, im Künstleratelier, beim Stelldichein oder als zum Leben erweckte Skulpturen – sie sind die Hauptdarstellerinnen der sogenannten Herrenabendfilme. Angeregt von französischen Vorbildern kommt der Fotograf Johann Schwarzer auf die Idee, auch in seinem Wiener Dachatelier nackte Haut auf Zelluloid zu bannen. 1906 nimmt er die Produktion unter dem Label Saturn-Film auf und landet – offenbar auf Anhieb – einen großen Erfolg. Dies mag darauf zurückzuführen sein, dass seine Produkte etwas freizügiger mit der Nacktheit umgehen als die französische Konkurrenz. Dabei sind die Filme keineswegs pornografisch, wie manche Zeitgenossen behauptetet haben, weshalb die Zensur auch schwer mit Verboten einschreiten konnte. Schwarzers Filme sind zwischen zwei und sieben Minuten lang und basieren auf einer einfachen Rahmenhandlung. Je nach Länge werden nur eine oder ein paar wenige Einstellung benötigt. Im Grunde genommen sind diese erotischen Clips die ersten österreichischen Filme mit einer Spielhandlung. Das Ende der Saturn könnte spektakulärer nicht sein: In ihrem Versuch, den amerikanischen Markt zu erreichen, provozieren sie eine Beschwerde der amerikanischen Botschaft im Wiener Außenamt. Diese Beschwerde von höchster Ebene gibt der Behörde, die schon zuvor mehrmals erfolglos gegen Schwarzers Filmproduktion vorzugehen versuchte, 1911 den nötigen Spielraum, um eine weitere Produktion von Herrenabendfilmen zu untersagen.”
Armin Loacker


Le coucher de la mariée
R: Albert Kirchner (Léar). D: Louise Willy. P: Eugène Pirou. Fr 1896

“Le coucher de la mariée or ‘Bedtime for the Bride’ or ‘The Bridegroom’s Dilemma’ is a French erotic short film considered to be one of the first erotic films made. The film was first screened in Paris in November 1896, within a year of the first public screening of a projected motion picture. The film was produced by Eugène Pirou and directed by Albert Kirchner under the pseudonym “Léar”. (…) The film was shot in a theater set, and featured actress Louise Willy who performs the striptease. It is the direct adaptation of a theater show with the same name and the same cast. The show was very popular at the time, at Olympia Theater (Paris). It was a pantomime, quite risqué, but still not explicit as the actress was not fully nude.”

Eine der frühesten Nacktszenen des Kinos:

Après Le Bal
R: Georges Méliès. P: Star Film. Fr 1897

Ce que l’on voit de mon sixième
R: Ferdinand Zecca. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1901

>>> Between Naked and Nude

Film d’Arte Italiana

Re Lear
R: Gerolamo Lo Savio. On the base of the tragedy “King Lear” by William Shakespeare. D: Ermete Novelli, Francesca Bertini, Olga Giannini Novelli. P: Film d’Arte Italiana. It 1910
Engl. titles

“What’s really noteworthy about this little film, though, is the color. For large stretches of the movie, the characters’ costumes and a few other details were given color, using the old method of frame-by-frame hand tinting. Some of the resulting scenes look very nice, and it is especially effective with Lear’s costumes as his fortunes change.
The first film of King Lear was a five-minute German version made around 1905, which has not survived. The oldest extant version is a ten-minute studio-based version from 1909 by Vitagraph, which made (in Luke McKernan‘s words) the ‘ill-advised’ decision to attempt to cram in as much of the plot as possible. Two silent versions, both titled “Re Lear”, were made in Italy in 1910. Of these, the version by director Gerolamo Lo Savio was filmed on location, and it dropped the Edgar sub-plot and used frequent intertitling to make the plot easier to follow than its Vitagraph predecessor. A contemporary setting was used for Louis Feuillade‘s 1911 French adaptation Le Roi Lear Au Village, and in 1914 in America, Ernest Warde expanded the story to an hour, including spectacles such as a final battle scene.”
YouTube-The Great Classics

>>> King LearShakespeare on Screen

Il mercante di Venezia
R: Gerolamo Lo Savio. On the base of the drama “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare. D: Ermete Novelli, Francesca Bertini, Olga Giannini Novelli. P: Film d’Arte Italiana. It 1911
Engl. titles

Animated Journal

Pathe’s Animated Gazette 1st Edition 227
P: British Pathé. UK/Fr 1913

“Its roots lie in 1896 Paris, France, when Société Pathé Frères was founded by Charles Pathé and his brothers, who pioneered the development of the moving image. Charles Pathé adopted the national emblem of France, the cockerel, as the trademark for his company. After the company, now called Compagnie Générale des Éstablissements Pathé Frère Phonographes & Cinématographes, invented the cinema newsreel with Pathé-Journal. French Pathé began its newsreel in 1908 and opened a newsreel office in Wardour Street, London in 1910.
The newsreels were shown in the cinema and were silent until 1928. At first they ran for about four minutes, and were issued biweekly. Even though during the early days the camera shots were taken from a stationary position, the Pathé newsreels captured events such as Franz Reichelt’s fatal parachute jump from the Eiffel Tower, and suffragette Emily Davison’s fatal injury by a racehorse at the 1913 Epsom Derby.”

Paris Fashions
P: British Pathé. UK/Fr 1909

A Deadly Scoop

644-Franz Reichelt

Death Jump – Franz Reichelt jumps off the Eiffel Tower
P: British Pathé. UK/Fr 1912

Please, click the picture above and view the film on YouTube

“In February 1912, the inventor Franz Reichelt had gained permission to test his self designed parachute from the Eiffel Tower. The press and Pathé cameras were all invited to witness his jump. The first time Reichelt went up the tower, he actually turned back after getting scared. However, after some persuasion from his manager, he climbed the tower again. The film shows Reichelt teetering on the edge and after hesitating for awhile, he jumps off but plummets straight down to his death.”
British Pathé

“Franz Reichelt (16 October 1878 – 4 February 1912), also known as Frantz Reichelt or François Reichelt, was an Austrian-born French tailor, inventor and parachuting pioneer, now sometimes referred to as the ‘Flying Tailor’, who is remembered for jumping to his death from the Eiffel Tower while testing a wearable parachute of his own design. Reichelt had become fixated on developing a suit for aviators that would convert into a parachute and allow them to survive a fall should they be forced to leave their aircraft in mid-air. Initial experiments conducted with dummies dropped from the fifth floor of his apartment building had been successful, but he was unable to replicate those early successes with any of his subsequent designs. Believing that a suitably high test platform would prove his invention’s efficacy, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He finally received permission in 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on 4 February he made it clear that he intended to jump personally rather than conduct an experiment with dummies. Despite attempts to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he plummeted 57 metres (187 ft) to his death. The next day, newspapers were full of illustrated stories about the death of the “reckless inventor”, and the jump was shown in newsreels.”

Another version of this film: