Phantom Ride, Vancouver 1907

Vancouver 1907
R and P: William Harbeck. CAN / USA 1907
Print: Library and Archives Canada. Australia National Film & Sound Archive fonds

“On May 7, 1907 a Seattle film maker named William Harbeck came up to Vancouver to make a movie. (…)The BC Electric Railway Co. laid on a special streetcar, and Harbeck — his camera firmly bolted down — stood at the front. Then, hand-cranking the camera at a steady rate, he is off. The car rattles north along Granville Street from Georgia down to Hastings, turns east onto Hastings and heads toward Carrall.(…)The film carries us along Hastings, then Carrall, Cordova, Cambie, Robson (all houses, not a shop to be seen) and Davie. The streets are boiling with people, horse-drawn carts and bicycles. (We see precisely one automobile along the route . . . and it’s parked.) The Vancouver of 1907 was a thriving, energetic city. The population was climbing rapidly, jumping from the 27,000 in the 1901 census to the 100,000 of 1910. We see in these flickering images a city that is in the process of quadrupling its population in 10 years.
As for William Harbeck, he had one more interesting film assignment. While in Europe, he was hired by England’s White Star Line to record shipboard life during the maiden voyage of the company’s huge new liner. Those films however, were never to be seen. Harbeck was one of hundreds who lost their lives when the White Star Line’s Titanic sank on the night of April 14, 1912.”
The History of Metropolitan Vancouver

Irish Soil

The Colleen Bawn
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier from the play “The Colleen Bawn” by Dion Boucicault. K: George Hollister. D: Gene Gauntier, Jack J Cark, Sidney Olcott, J P McGowan, George H Fisher, Arthur Donaldson. P: Kalem Co. USA 1911
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive

“Filmed around Beaufort and the Lakes of Killarney, Co Kerry. (…) When re-issued just before St Patrick’s Day, 1914 publicity by Kalem for the film announced that enough ‘real Irish soil’, which had been brought from the Colleen Bawn Rock, Killarney, was available to fill a box four feet wide, two feet long, and one inch deep and would be supplied with the film. Exhibitors were encouraged to invite their patrons to ‘Come and tread on Irish Soil!’, and ‘the multitude that respond will literally stand on Irish soil as they purchase their tickets’. The advertisement added that ‘Copies of affidavits from Father Fitzgerald, the parish priest, and municipal officials of Killarney, vouching for the authenticity of the soil, will also be furnished free of charge’. (Kalem Kalender, 1 March 1914:2). Irish distributor, Bradbury Films, Belfast.

Loosely derived from Gerald Griffin’s novel ‘The Collegians’ (1829), The Colleen Bawn concerned the real events surrounding the elopement and murder of a sixteen-year-old Limerick girl, Ellie Hanley (the ‘Colleen Bawn’, or ‘Fair-Haired Girl’), in 1819. As a young reporter. Griffin covered the subsequent trial of the girl’s lover, John Scanlan, a squire, who was defended by Daniel O’Connell, and the trial of his servant, Stephen Sullivan, who impersonated being a priest to ‘marry’ them. Both were found guilty and executed in 1820.”
Trinity College Dublin

“Filmmaker Sidney Olcott, born John S. Alcott in Toronto, Canada, was one of the more prolific directors in Hollywood during the silent era, known for his highly energetic style. He began his career in 1904 as an actor with Mutoscope, but soon became a general manager at Biograph. He then became the first director at Kalem Studios in 1907. Olcott was the first Hollywood director to make his feature films on location, and frequently traveled to such places as Ireland and Palestine for added realism. Later he became known as an innovator in the direction of Westerns. Olcott joined Famous Players in 1915 where he directed many of Mary Pickford’s films.”
Sandra Brennan


>>> Ben Hur on this site

Old Ireland

The Lad from Old Ireland
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. K: George Hollister. D: Sidney Olcott, Gene Gauntier, Arthur Donaldson, J P McGowan, Robert Vignola, Thomas O’Connor, Jane Wolfe, Laurene Santley, Agnes Mapes. P: Kalem Co. USA 1910
Locations: Killarney and surrounding area, Co. Kerry.
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive.
German Titles

The Lad from Old Ireland is regarded by some as the first American-produced fiction film made outside the USA (Sight and Sound, Oct-Nov 1953:96), though this may have been confused with what is contemporaneously described as ‘the first production ever made on two Continents’ (Bioscope, 12 January 1911:47). It may have been the first integrated fiction film made in Ireland. The available print, with intertitles in German, ends with the penultimate scene, at the cottage.”
Trinity College Dublin

Rory O’More
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier, from the ballad and novel “Rory O’More” by Samuel Lover (1836, dramatised 1837). K: George Hollister. D: Jack J Clark, Gene Gauntier, Robert G Vignola, Arthur Donaldson, J P McGowan, Anna Dark. P: Kalem Co. USA 1911
Locations: Killarney and surrounding area, Co. Kerry.
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive.

The historical figure Sir Rory O’Moore was a leader of the 1641 Rising against English rule in Ireland, though the period of this film is probably 1798-1803.
Trinity College Dublin

For Ireland’s Sake

For Ireland’s Sake
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Sidney Olcott. D: Jack Clark, Gene Gauntier, Sidney Olcott. P: Gene Gauntier Feature Players. USA 1914
Print: George Eastman House

Filmed in County Kerry, Ireland. Though it is not made explicit in the film, it is set around the time of the 1798 Rising.
Trinity College Dublin

“Ireland occupies a marginal position in world cinema. Indeed, despite the expansion in the Irish film industry during the last twenty years, this is as true of the 2010s as it was of the 1910s. Unlike in most other European countries there has been no language barrier to insulate the country from the powerful English speaking cinemas of America and, to a lesser degree, Britain, the two countries that remain the most significant external cultural and political references points for Irish people. Even in the silent era, and especially before World War One, when European films were released in considerable numbers in Ireland, American cinema was the most pervasive, not only in the number of films released, but also in the treatment of Ireland and the Irish as themes. While American films throughout the history of cinema have adopted a largely sympathetic view of Ireland’s history of anti-colonial rebellions and Irish economic fortunes, British filmmakers, at least until the mid-1940s, generally steered clear of Irish history and politics, confining themselves for the most part to recycling stereotypes of the backward or comic Irish, and, in the silent period, to celebrations of events surrounding Britain’s role in Ireland, such as royal visits and the activities of the Lord Lieutenant.
The 1910s was the most productive decade for indigenous Irish film production until the 1970s. The films produced by the Film Company of Ireland between 1916 and 1920, together with earlier Irish-themed films made by the American companies Kalem and the Gene Gauntier Feature Players during 1910 and 1914, established for the first time a sense of a complex Irishness in fiction film production. While many of these films were comedies and literary adaptations, the decade’s most interesting film work is usually found in its reconstructions of Ireland’s past, of which Knocknagow was the first feature film.
The first film they made in 1911, an adaptation of Boucicault’‘s popular melodrama, The Colleen Bawn, was followed by Rory O’’More (USA 1911, dir. Sidney Olcott), a tale of the 1798–-1803 whose title came from a novel by Samuel Lover of 1836. In the film, a rebel, Rory, evades capture by English soldiers with the aid of his sweetheart, Kathleen, before being eventually captured. After being freed from the gallows by a priest, he is spirited away to America with his mother and sweetheart. The theme of 1798 was echoed a year later in IMP Films’ Shamus O’’Brien (USA 1912), and, again, in Olcott’s For Ireland’s Sake (1914). In the latter, a reworking of Rory O’’More, a priest not only helps the rebel, Marty, to escape, but, importantly, throws away the gun that Marty has taken from an English soldier, indicating that in America such guns will not be required. As they leave for America, the final title announces: “To the West/ To the West/ To The Land of the Free.”
Kevin Rockett
Screening the Past

Bold Emmet, Ireland’s Martyr
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Sidney Olcott. D: Jack Melville, Robert Rivers, Sidney Olcott, Valentine Grant, Laurene Santley, Pat O’Malley. P: Lubin Film Manufacturing Co. USA 1915

“Filmed in Ireland. Robert Emmett’s name is misspelled throughout the film. It was the second film released [the first was All for Old Ireland (USA 1915)] following Olcott’s final visit to Ireland. The period in which the film is set is somewhat confused. References to the United Irishmen suggest the events are part of the 1798 Rising, though Emmet (1778-1803), while one of the leaders of the United Irishmen at Trinity College, as a result of which he was forced to end his studies there, did not engage in any armed action during the 1798 Rising. He was the main leader of the Rebellion of 23 July 1803. One shot in the film includes a letter dated 31 July 1803, which was eight days after the Rebellion, and suggests that the events are set during the period from the Rebellion to Emmett’s capture on 25 August 1803.”
Trinity College Dublin

More: History Ireland

Anita Loos

The New York Hat
R: David W. Griffith. B: Anita Loos, Frances Marion. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore, Charles Hill Mailes, Kate Bruce, Mae Marsh. P: Biograph. USA 1912

“(…) Mary Pickford, one of the screen’s first and biggest stars, was one of Griffith’s earliest and greatest discoveries. The New York Hat marks her final Biograph picture, but Pickford’s friendship and partnership with Griffith would endure, leading to the formation, with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, of the production company United Artists.
Also appearing in The New York Hat is Lionel Barrymore, who had joined Biograph in 1911. Although they do not appear in named or prominent roles in this film, we are also given a glimpse at some future Biograph stars, namely Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh. Another individual worth mentioning is the film’s screenwriter, a then relatively unknown Anita Loos. If you don’t know Loos by name, you certainly know her by her work. Among other screenplays and works of fiction, Loos penned Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. (…) Loos’ talents would also be utilized by Griffith in 1916 to pen the titles for his epic follow-up to The Birth of the Nation, Intolerance. The New York Hat was one of Loos’ first screenplays and doesn’t bear much resemblance to her later works, but it certainly brought Loos her first big break and set the ball rolling for her as a screenwriter.”

362-Anita Loos   Anita Loos


About Anita Loos:

A Young Horror

Our New Errand Boy
R: James Williamson. D: Tom Williamson, James Williamson. P: Williamson Kinematograph Company. UK 1905
Print: BFI

Our New Errand Boy (1905) was directed by James Williamson, one of the ‘Brighton school’ of pioneers which also included G.A. Smith and Esmé Collings. Williamson had already distinguished himself as an innovator with his fake news item Attack on a China Mission (1901), which featured the first use of a cut for dramatic effect, and has been credited with the first edited chase sequence in Stop Thief! (1901) and, in Fire! (also 1901), the first film to use cutting to advance the narrative.
Our New Errand Boy is a relatively unambitious chase comedy, following a young horror whose wicked deeds include drenching the driver of a water cart, upsetting an old woman’s shopping and covering a curate with flour. Finally he manages to trap his furious pursuers in a hen run and escapes, laughing.
Errand Boy is one of a number of Williamson films featuring a mischievous child, played by the director’s son Tom, one of four Williamson children who frequently appeared in their father’s films. Williamson himself also appears as the grocer.”
Mark Duguid
Screen online

>>> Brighton School: James Williamson on this site

Florence Turner and Larry Trimble

Daisy Doodad’s Dial
R: Florence Turner. D: Florence Turner, Larry Trimble. P: Turner Film Company. UK 1914
Print: BFI

“This wonderfully daft comedy, released in 1914, was directed by and starred Florence Turner (1885-1946), one of the earliest stars of American cinema with the Vitagraph Company of America (she was the first ‘Vitagraph Girl’, working frequently with pioneer Edwin S. Porter), who came to Britain and made a number of shorts and features for her own Turner Film Company between 1913 and 1916.
Daisy Doodad’s Dial was Turner’s only directorial credit, and also starred her manager Larry Trimble (…). She returned to the US in 1925, where she continued to appear in films, including Buster Keaton‘s College (US, 1927), but without her earlier status. (…)
Daisy Doodad derives its humour from the heroine’s infinintely malleable face, while further entertainment value comes from her mild subversion of expected feminine behaviour.”
Mark Duguid
Screen online

The Stumbling Block
(Der Hund als Hemmschuh)
R: Larry Trimble. D: Leo Delaney, Florence Turner, Norma Talmadge, Jean the dog. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1911
Print: EYE collection (not complete)
German titles

“Florence is very fond of her dog. Billy is very fond of Florence, but for some reason of other, her dog will not take to him. The ultimatum which Florence gives Billy is, “If I am loved and to be won by you, you must be loved by my dog,” and so “Jean” proves to be a stumbling block in the way to Florence’s heart. He make up his mind to conquer the dog’s antipathy to him by kidnapping his sweetheart’s pet. When Florence discovers the loss of her faithful friend she is inconsolable and telephones Billy, asking him to help her find the lost one. The young fellow’s conscience troubles him, but he holds to his purpose. Billy, after taking “Jean” to his home, tries in every way he can to win the dog’s affection. It is not as easy as he anticipated and it is a long time before he can overcome the dog’s dislike for him, but at last he is rewarded, succeeding in making a very close friend and devoted companion of the heretofore indifferent “Jean.” Betty, a friend of Florence, walking past Billy’s home, recognizes “Jean,” sitting in the window and tells Florence. She can hardly believe her chum’s statement. Billy happens to see Betty pass and decides to return the dog to her mistress at once; he calls the butler and instructs him to take the dog to Florence’s home, tie it to the doorknob, ring the bell and get away before he is discovered. James carries out the programme as arranged and “Jean” is soon in the embrace of her fair young owner, whose joy is boundless. Billy, anxious to test the success of the scheme, calls on Florence. The moment he enters her home “Jean” with a bound of delight, jumps forward to greet him. The stumbling block is removed and the rest is easy; Florence makes good her promise to become his wife.”
Moving Picture World synopsis

Jean, also known as the Vitagraph Dog (1902 – 1916), was a female collie that starred in silent films. Owned and guided by director Laurence (sic!) Trimble, she was the first canine to have a leading role in motion pictures. Jean was with Vitagraph Studios from 1909, and in 1913 went with Trimble to England to work with Florence Turner in her own independent film company.”

>>> Florence Turner’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on this website

Good Types, Bad Extras

The World and the Woman
R: W. Eugene Moore, Frank Lloyd. B: Philip Lonergan. K: George Webber. D: Jeanne Eagels, Ethelmary Oakland, Boyd Marshall, Thomas A. Curran, Wayne Arey, Grace DeCarlton, Carey L. Hastings. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1916

A view from the Box Office:

“Support: Some good types; some bad extras. Exteriors: Some mountain stuff good. Interiors: Satisfactory. Detail: Generally good, but too much at times. Time: 58 minutes.
Although the action of this was slowed occasionally by construction which gave us unnecessary scenes, there were enough tense moments to make this worthwhile. The underlying thoughts presented in the story are very good, they being in fact, a combination of the themes of the two big successes, ‘Outcast’ and ‘The Miracle Man’. Much of the credit for this offering registering satisfactorily must be given to Miss Jeanne Eagels, who gave us a perfect suggestion of a Broadway streetwalker in the early part of the offering, following it with a very difficult characterization, in which she registered as a faith healer curing cripples by prayer, suggesting a tremendous mental power without losing appeal of her ‘clinging vine’ beauty.
The weakest link in this production was the scene in the church when Miss Eagels joined in the singing of a hymn, with the result that ‘her soul was regained.’ This came entirely too quickly, registering a jarring note. If there had been some lapse of time, or had she listened to a powerful sermon, this transformation would have been much more convincing. Since it was the pivotal point of her career, this scene should have been given more attention.
At the first of the offering we had a lot of cabaret stuff, with many entertainers being introduced, and, while I know that this registers as interesting in the small towns, I believe there is such a thing as allowing it to run away with the development to such an extent that it overshadows the story. Certainly the preponderance of cabaret action retards the advancement of the plot during the first reel. The direction may have felt this necessary in order to get a five-reel picture. The plot sent the streetwalker to the country as the licentious ‘willun’s’ [sic; villain’s] maid, with the result that she became converted, and, through the strength of her faith, she was able to become a faith healer. The man who had made her an outcast came as a guest of the ‘willun’s’ home and was also converted and ‘healed,’ as it were, by her transformation, so that on the finish he was the hero and married our one-time streetwalker.
The ‘extras’ used as villagers were rather good types, and the mountain atmosphere got over nicely, but we had a few extras among the society folk who didn’t belong. There were some good exterior shots in the latter part of the film, but we didn’t have enough scenic beauty to make this in any way distinctive on that account. Frequently we found too much foreground in the interior scenes, with rather poor composition and grouping. In one or two places some of the characters overplayed. This was quite noticeable on the part of the woman who took Miss Eagels into her home during the scene wherein she welcomed her. While some of the titles carried good points, most of them were decidedly stilted in construction and lacked smoothness. A few of the most important dramatic situations were put over in such a manner as to guarantee that they will be very effective with the average audience, and I believe that there are enough good points in this offering to more than counterbalance some of the old-school methods used by the director.
The Box Office Angle: I believe that I would openly announce in my advertising that this story contains some of the elements which made great successes of the productions Outcast and The Miracle Man. I would make it plain that the heroine is changed from a streetwalker to a faith healer through an accidental change of environment, and I believe that you can safely dwell upon the fact that this production registers the wonderful possibilities of effect upon human character by transferring a young girl from the city to the beauty and simplicity of the country.”
Wid’s Film and Film Folk, November 2, 1916

Italian Verism

Assunta Spina
R: Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena. B: Salvatore Di Giacomo, Francesca Bertini. K: Alberto G. Carta. D: Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena, Carlo Benetti. P: Caesar Film. It 1915
Print: Cineteca del Comune di Bologna
Ital. and French titles

Assunta spina is without a doubt one of the unforgettable films of Italian silent cinema. Adapted from a play of the same title by Salvatore Di Giacomo, Assunta spina represents the excellence of the happy partnership between film and the dramatic repertory of Italian verismo that developed in the mid 1910s. Assunta spina was shot in fall 1914 in Naples, and during its filming the city itself became its uncredited protagonist: the picture shows the city’s soul, scrutinizes its every aspect, realistically portraying the serenity and beauty of its most colorful areas, the chaotic frenzy of its neighborhoods and markets, as well as the run-down state of the working class suburbs. Similarly, the film reveals the spirit of Neapolitans, emphasizing their exuberance and passion but also their vengefulness and unrestrained reactions that often degenerate into violence. A stereotyped picture no doubt, but one that escapes cliche through the honesty of the camera, with the neutral lens capturing the crumbling facades of low-income housing, the poverty of unhealthy environments, the faces of unaware passersby, the clumsiness of improvising extras. The raw image of the city can be glimpsed in a close-up just behind Francesca Bertini and Gustavo Serena who, with equal authenticity, bring to life the dramatic story of Salvatore Di Giacomo’s laundress and the primordial conflict of human passion, forever poised between love and death. Bertini and Serena are not the film’s only main characters: the unlucky laundress’s shawl, in Bertini’s skilled hands, comes to life and acts as a kind of metronome marking the various stages of the tragedy as it unfolds.”
Giovanni Lasi

“Die Aufnahmetechnik dieses Filmes ist noch unbeholfen, die Bewegungen der Kamera beschränken sich auf einige Horizontal-Einstellungen, die Grossaufnahme – die binnen kurzem bis zur Besessenheit um sich greifen wird – erscheint hier nur flüchtig; der Film besteht grösstenteils aus Nahaufnahmen, d. h. er wurde in einer Distanz gedreht, die sowohl dem wechselnden Ausdruck der Gesichter wie auch dem Gebärdenspiel der Schauspieler gerecht wurde. Da die künstliche Beleuchtung noch fehlte, wurden die Aussenaufnahmen an der Sonne und die Innenaufnahmen unter dem Licht, das die Glaswände des Filmateliers zurückwarfen, gemacht. Die Schatten sind deshalb hart und die Effekte roh. Das gleiche Objektiv wurde für Fern- und Nahaufnahmen verwendet. Aber die Photographie ist sauber und klar (ein Verdienst des Kameramannes Alberto Carta), und einige Aussenaufnahmen würden auch einem guten modernen Film wohl anstehen.”
Texte der Hefte des studentischen Filmclubs der Uni Frankfurt/Main: Filmstudio

Read more about this film:
The Nitrate Diva

>>> La Signora delle camelie on this site: Francesca Bertini

Chaplin No. 4

Between Showers
R: Henry Lehrman. B: Reed Heustis. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Ford Sterling, Emma Clifton, Chester Conklin. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

Between Showers was inspired by a series of torrential rainstorms that soaked Los Angeles. (The large roadside puddle used in the comedy suggests the severity of these rains). As much a Chaplin comedy as a vehicle for Ford Sterling, the comic situation for this violent, improvised film involves a display of gallantry toward a young woman (Emma Clifton) and the ownership of an umbrella. The policeman (Chester Conklin), from whom the umbrella was originally stolen, reclaims his prized item at the film’s conclusion. This was the last Chaplin film directed by Henry Lehrman, with whom Chaplin had a contentious relationship. Already in evidence are several of the Tramp’s distinctive characteristics: the way he rounds a corner (making a sharp turn and skidding, holding one foot out and balancing on the other foot), his iconoclastic nose-thumbing, the shrug of the shoulders, and covering his mouth with his hand when he laughs.”
Jeffrey Vance, adapted from his book “Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema”. New York 2003
Charlie Chaplin