Annie Bos

Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie (Fine Fellows during the Mobilisation)
R: Jan van Dommelen (BFI: Maurits H. Binger). D: Annie Bos, Louis van Dommelen, Nelly De Heer, Sien De la Mar-Kloppers, Roosje Ménagé-Challa, Jan van Dommelen. P: Maurits Binger/Filmfabriek Hollandia. NL 1914
Print: EYE

“Part 1. Because of the mobilization, a baron, a school teacher and a farmer are called up to do military service. They are billeted in the same house, where the ladies mistake the farmer for the baron. While the farmer is paid all kinds of attentions and lavishly dined and wined, the baron is relegated to the kitchen where he has to be satisfied with the scraps.

Copy held by EYE Film Instituut Nederland (probably part 3): Adèle goes to the beach at Zandvoort with the girls of her boarding-school class. She and her best friend frolic in the sea with two soldiers. When they get dressed after their swim, the girls put on the soldiers’ uniforms and the soldiers put on the girls’ dresses. The girls march off to the barracks and the soldiers go to the boarding-school. Of course, their playful deception is soon discovered. At the boarding-school, where a curtain is hung up to separate them, the girls and the soldiers change back into their own clothing.”
europeana collections

“Toffe jongens onder de mobilisatie was produced by Filmfabriek Hollandia, the most significant Dutch film production company of the 1910s.  Hollandia was founded in Haarlem in 1914 as a successor to a production company established two years prior, and went on to produce a large number of documentary and fiction films until declaring bankruptcy in 1923.  Although it doesn’t seem to have had a great deal of export success, Hollandia films were a healthy domestic draw during the teens, especially the films of its main star, Annie Bos.”
Silents, Please!

D: Annie Bos. P: Maurits Binger/Filmfabriek Hollandia. NL 1914
Print: EYE Film Amsterdam

About Annie Bos:
“She was popular through the teens in Holland, graduating from slight social comedies to melodramatic diva roles in imitation of the Italian actresses Lyda Borelli and Francesca Bertini. She started out in comedies about two naive Dutch girls, Mijntje and Trijntje. In Twee Zeeuwsche Meisjes in Zaanvoort (1913) we see a somewhat plump Annie as one of the duo who go to the seaside and… well, that’s about it, they go to the seaside, and they improvise some comedy, and passers-by in the background stare on in amusement. Boerenidylle (c.1914) is similarly unencumbered by narrative. Annie is courted by her farmhand boyfriend, nothing dramatic happens at all, and the scenery is beautiful.”
The Bioscope

>>> De wraak van het visschersmeisje on this site


William S. Hart

The Ruse
R: William H. Clifford, William S. Hart. B: J.G. Hawks, Thomas H. Ince. K: Robert Doran. D: William S. Hart, Clara Williams, John Davidson, Fanny Midgley. P: Broncho Film Company, New York Motion Picture. USA 1915

Hell’s Hinges
R: Charles Swickard, William S. Hart. B: C. Gardner Sullivan. K: Joseph H. August. D: William S. Hart, Clara Williams, Jack Standing, Alfred Hollingsworth. P: Kay-Bee Pictures. USA 1916

“This is an unusual Western which uses the freedom which existed before the Hays Code to cast as a villain a faithless Reverend who gets drunk in the local saloon, spends the night with one of the saloon girls and takes part in the arson of his own church. Opposite him we find the Reverend’s saintly sister, adequately called Faith, and the big gun Blaze who was determined to get rid of the parson but falls in love with Faith and because of that start believing in God, protects the justs and destroys the villains. Apart from the parsons who is torn between good and evil, the characters are quite unidimensional and racist stereotypes are present, in this case concerning Mexicans. The sudden transformation of Blaze from bad to good is a bit too sudden to be credible. The cinematography is quite innovative for the time with the use notably of a very wide shot with extended panning to follow a stage coach travelling in the hills. Editing is dynamic with efficient use of cross-cutting. Most of the action is filmed outdoor with the reconstitution of a Wild West settlement which is entirely burned down at the end. Sepia, blue and red tainting are used to convey the atmosphere of different scenes. Humour is also present e.g. when we are shown how the parsons imagines the West. The moralizing ending where the bad are punished is a bit less satisfactory.”
A Cinema History

Hart was brought up in the Dakotas, where he lived until he was 16. He made his first appearance on the stage in 1889 and soon made a name for himself, especially for his performances in Shakespearean plays. In 1905 his role in the play ‘The Squaw Man’ made him a western hero. After acting in the stage productions of ‘The Virginian’ (1907)* and ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’ (1912/14), he went to Hollywood, where his portrayals of stern, taciturn Westerners became enormously successful.”
Encyclopaedia Britannica

* see the 1914 De Mille films The Squaw Man and  The Virginian on this site

“Hart entered the movies in the early teens at the behest of his friend Thomas H. Ince, starting at 75 dollars a week; that quickly grew to 10,000 dollars a week as he proved not only a commanding and immensely popular screen presence but also as a director, screenwriter, and producer. Hart’s insistence on showing the real West, and his honest, taciturn portrayals was something new and refreshing, whether he was playing heroes or villains (and, most often, villains who became heroes). His early films included O’Malley of the Mounted and — in anticipation of Clint Eastwood‘s ’60s persona — The Man From Nowhere; these pictures, at his insistence, showed an unglorified, dusty vision of the West, showing how ordinary cowboys, ranchers, shopkeepers, and settlers lived and worked. He was one of the most popular leading men in movies during the mid-teens and became one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in pictures, establishing himself as an independent producer working through Famous Players-Lasky (the predecessor to Paramount), earning over four-million-dollar profits on an investment of the same size in some 27 films made there. Such was his fame on the screen, that most of Hart’s fans were unaware of his background as a top Broadway actor with stage experience in New York and London. To them he was honest, taciturn Bill Hart, a two-gun threat and a realistic presence onscreen — of those movies he made in the teens, the best of them (which he co-directed) was Hell’s Hinges, a kind of Sodom and Gomorrah tale transposed to the West. By the early ’20s, however, a change in public taste coupled with some personal conflicts — including accusations (later proved false) of a son born out of wedlock, and the resulting breakup of his marriage — marked a turn in Hart’s fortunes.”
Bruce Eder
Silent Hollywood

361-william s. hart


>>> W.S. Hart’s First Feature Film

>>> The William S. Hart Formula

George Albert Smith

The Dull Razor
R: George Albert Smith. K: George Albert Smith. D: Tom Green. P: George Albert Smith Films. UK 1900

“A Man embarking on his morning shave finds his razor is blunt, giving rise to some splendid facial contortions in this early ‘facial’. Comedian Tom Green, who worked with Brighton-based filmmaker GA Smith on many of his early films, has a face tailor-made for this kind of gurning performance. ‘Facials’ were the first to exploit the pleasures and comic potential of the close-up. Smith and Green re-made this one and no wonder – you can clearly see Smith turning the crank of the camera in the mirror.”
BFI Player

Mary Jane’s Mishap
R: George Albert Smith. D: Laura Bayley. P: George Albert Smith Films. UK 1903
Print: BFI

Mary Jane’s Mishap; or, Don’t Fool with the Paraffin, a ‘trick’ film directed by the ‘Brighton School’ pioneer G.A. Smith and released in 1903, is an example of Smith’s interest in cinematic effects – including, here, the use of superimposition to suggest ghosts.
The film stars Smith’s wife, Laura Bayley, the star of many of his films and the most prolific British actress of the time. The film is notable for its then sophisticated mix of wide establishing shots and medium close-ups, which serve to pull the spectator into the action. It also contains two ‘wipes’ to denote a change of scene.”
Mark Duguid
Screen online

>>> As Seen Through the Telescope, Grandma’s Reading Glass, The Kiss in the Tunnel and The Miller and the Sweep on this site: European Cinematography 1895 – 1905

About George Albert Smith:
Screen online

TRAUM UND EXZESS, p. 139 passim

Phantom Ride, London 1910

A Trip on the Metropolitan Railway
No Credits. UK 1910
Print: BFI

“Being a tour of both the London Underground and London itself, this fascinating film turns its viewers into passengers and transports them from the city’s centre to its outskirts via the Metropolitan line.
Much of the journey has not changed in almost a century, with the very same route being travelled today. Pulling into these stations is a remarkably familiar sight, especially since many of the platforms are still in use with only superficial alterations.
What has changed is London’s landscape, with many of the open fields that surround the railway having long since been urbanised. (…)
Attitudes to rail safety were clearly more relaxed in 1910, with spectators watching the train go by from the banks of the railway and a rail worker standing beside the tracks as the train pulls in. The film contains a glimpse of a pristine contemporary underground train, which looks positively luxurious compared to the trains of today.”
Christian Hayes
Screen online

Suffragettes Satire

A Suffragette in Spite of Himself
R: Ashley Miller. B: Bannister Merwin. D: Marc McDermott, Miriam Nesbitt, Ethel Browning. P: Edison Company. USA 1912
Filming Locations: London, England

“Edison’s 1912 comedy, A Suffragette in Spite of Himself, could possibly be interpreted as a pro-suffrage film, but it maintains a noncommittal comedic tone throughout. Filmed in London, the scene of some of the most notorious Votes for Women protests, the story follows a strongly anti-suffrage man who, as the result of a practical joke, finds himself treated as a militant suffragette. The main figures of fun here are not the suffragettes, but those who passionately hate them. But historian Shelley Stamp points out that the film ‘suggests that being a feminist in public is quite a different thing from being a man in public.'”
Lucy Laird
SF Silent Film Festival Blog

Milling the Militants: A Comical Absurdity
R: Percy Stow. P: Clarendon. UK 1913
Print: BFI National Archive

“A comedy commenting on the tactics of suffragettes and the action that some men would like to take against them. Mr Brown is left to look after the family while his wife takes part in a suffragette demonstration and militant action. He dreams that, as prime minister, he introduces legislation to suppress the suffragette movement and punishes them accordingly. In spite of it being a comedy the suffragette march looks particularly authentic with banners and onlookers. The tactics of the suffragettes such as smashing windows and arson are shown. From 1905 the suffragettes had become increasingly militant and the film reflects this militancy.
Initial viewing suggests that this is an anti-suffrage film. However, it can be viewed another way. Some of the punishments are decidedly medieval and exaggerated. The obvious discomfort of the women during their punishments could elicit sympathy from an audience. Furthermore, the ducking stool is associated with witchcraft and medieval punishment (as are the village stocks) and it could be argued that neither punishment had a place in a modern society. In spite of all his dreams of punishment, Mr Brown suffers when his wife returns as she awakens him with a bucket of cold water.”
Simon Baker
Screen online

A Lively Affair
R: Unknown. D: Mabel Van Buren, Lucie K. Villa. P: Unknown. USA 1912

This short film recently restored and included in the compilation “Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934” has not been fully identified. Experts suggest that may be a Warner or Selig production.

An Early Documentary Film

A Day in the Life of a Wigan Coal Miner
P: Kineto. Sponsored by London & North Western Railway. UK 1911
Print: BFI
BFI title: A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner, 1910

Charles Urban‘s Kineto company initially specialised in ‘what we venture to assert are the more permanent uses of the Kinematograph, namely its application to purposes of instruction, and the widening of general knowledge’.
Kineto’s ‘interest’ films came as close as any of their era to what was later coined ‘documentary’ – a specific genre, distinct from other forms of non-fiction. Indeed, A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner has entered textbooks as a milestone in documentary’s evolution.
Filmmakers had already begun to document industrial processes in detail, but few had so vividly shown how these are entwined with human lives lived. Intertitles play their part in this, anticipating the various tones adopted by the ‘voice of God’ narrations of later sound documentaries: mostly explanatory (‘Locking the Lamps’); sometimes playful (‘Belles of the (Black) Diamond Field’); sometimes symbolic (‘Light After Darkness’).”
Patrick Russell
Screen online

360- coal mining

Coal mine in the Wigan area in 1910

Hightech Warfare

The World’s First Caterpillar Track
UK 1908
A demonstration by the R. Hornsby engineering company of Grantham of a revolutionary all-terrain vehicle. No credits. German titles.
Print: BFI

“Mud has defeated many a conquering army. In the days of horse-drawn transport or ponderous and hugely heavy steam powered engines, R. Hornsby and Sons nippy little petrol-driven caterpillar track must have seemed like the technological development of the century. In this promotional film, delivered by the company to a commercial and military audience in a spirit of optimism (…), the little vehicle is put through its paces, making light of its load over clay, mud, soft sand, marshy land and streams. It leaves its rival, a horse-drawn load, stuck in a bog and ends the display turning gleefully on the spot in a celebration of manoeuvrability.”
Bryony Dixon
Screen online

Armoured Car Terror

Motor Pirates
R: Arthur Melbourne Cooper. P: Alpha Trading Company. UK 1906
Print: BFI

“An unusual spoof of the crime dramas that were a prevalent genre about this time. In this film by Arthur Melbourne Cooper an armoured car terrorises a rural neighbourhood, capturing animals and people and killing anyone standing in its way. The armoured car attacks a group of men and a young girl runs to fetch a policeman. He and his colleagues sets up a pursuit by motor car and the chase ensues. After several episodes where the police are frustrated in their efforts to catch the villains they chase the armoured car into a river where it sinks with all hands before exploding. The gang of police are strangely reminiscent of the Keystone Kops, although that happy band would not be formed for some years, and are caricatured as stupid and chaotic.”
Bryony Dixon
Screen online

>>> Arthur Melbourne Cooper


Die Odyssee im Film

R: Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe de Liguoro, Adolfo Padovan. K: Romolo Galli. D: Giuseppe de Liguoro, Eugenia Tettoni Fior, Ubaldo Maria Del Colle. P: Milano Films. It 1911
Deutsche Titel

“Die Zahl der filmischen Adaptionen der Odyssee oder von Teilen des Epos ist unüberschaubar groß. Schon in der frühen Stummfilmzeit kommt es zu ersten Filmen (L‘’Odissea, Italien 1911, Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe de Liguoro), und selbst Fritz Lang verfolgte ein (allerdings nie fertiggestelltes) Projekt ‘Die Odyssee’ (Godards Le Mépris, Frankreich 1963, spielt am Set des Lang-Projektes). Die erste definitive Film-Odyssee ist Ulisse (Italien 1954, Mario Camerini). Neuere Verfilmungen werden meist für das Fernsehen realisiert (wie der Vierteiler L‘’Odissea, Italien 1968, Franco Rossi). Eine der letzten Adaptionen ist der TV-Mehrteiler L‘’Odissea (Italien 1997, Andrey Konchalovskiy).
Vor allem ist das Homersche Epos Grundlage für Anleihen, Variationen, Übertragungen, Ironisierungen usw. gewesen. Manchmal wird in den Titeln der explizite Bezug zur Vorlage hergestellt – etwa in 2001: A Space Odyssey (USA 1968, Stanley Kubrick), der mit zahlreichen Anspielungen auf das Original arbeitet (…), oder in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (USA 2000, Ethan und Joel Coen), der wiederum Elemente der Odyssee verarbeitet (die Sirenen, Polyphem, Teiresias u.ä.).”
Katja Bruns
Lexikon der Filmbegriffe

Le retour d’Ulysse
R: André Calmettes, Charles Le Bargy. B: Jules Lemaître. K: Émile Pierre. Ba: Marcel Cambon, Jusseaume. D: Paul Mounet, Madame Bartet, Albert Lambert, Delaunay. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909
Engl. subtitles

Film d’Art production; distributed by Compagnie Genérale des Établissements Pathé Frères Phonographes & Cinématographes. From a work by Jules Lemaître. Music score by Georges Hüe. The film was released in the USA as ‘The Return of Ulysses’ in one reel by Pathé Frères [American] March 1909.
Silent Era

>>> Calmettes’ L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise

The World’s First Feature-length Comedy

Tillie’s Punctured Romance
R: Mack Sennett, Charles Bennett. D: Charles Chaplin, Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914
Print: UCLA Film and Television Archive, BFI National Film and Television Archive

“The comedy in Tillie comes in several forms. The bulk of the humor, as in most Keystone films, comes from simple, unscripted physical gags. Chases, dancing, thrown objects, trips and falls (deliberate or otherwise) are all standard fare. Other gags are far more sophisticated. In one of the most well-developed scenes in the film, the Stranger and the Other Girl are sitting in a movie theater, watching a film that is touching on their situation a little too close to home. In the film, a man and woman have stolen some money from a poor, naive girl, and are found out by the police. As they watch the film, we see them getting more and more uncomfortable, obviously feeling guilty when confronted with their crimes (or at least afraid of getting caught). As the movie ends, the man sitting next to them (Charley Chase) shifts so his coat opens slightly, revealing a police badge just like the detective in the movie they were watching, and the pair dash out of the theater in terror. This parallel is slowly and elegantly revealed, showing a forethought and steady hand not frequently found in Keystone films.”
Allex Crumbley
Spellbound Cinema

“Eine Prestigeproduktion, der Birth of a Nation der Heiterkeit. Und: Chaplins erster Auftritt in einem Sechsakter, der wahrscheinlich welt­weit ersten abendfüllenden Komödie. Tillie’s Punctured Romance war Mack Sennetts Versuch, mit Keystone eine neue Mittelstands-Respektabilität zu erlangen. Das zeigt schon die Wahl der Hauptdarstellerin: Superstar Marie Dressler spielte (wie schon hunderte, tausende Male am Broadway zuvor) Tillie, die fidele Unschuld vom Lande. Charlie und Mabel Normand sollten La Dressler eigentlich nur zuarbeiten, stehlen ihr aber doch immer wieder die Schau, und zwar stets dann, wenn der Film seine Bühnenbasis vergisst, im Keystone-Tempo loslegt und Chaplin seine ganze Pantomimen-Theater-plus-Kino-Erfahrung zum Tragen bringen kann. Ein faszinierender Eiertanz zwischen den Medien, der aus seiner hybriden ­Natur eine ganz eigene Verve gewinnt.” (R.H.)

Mabel’s Blunder
R: Mabel Normand. B: Mabel Normand. D: Mabel Normand, Harry McCoy, Charley Chase, Charles Bennett, Wallace MacDonald, Edward F. Cline, Al St. John. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

Only 25 movies were selected to be added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2009. This film was elected to honor Mabel Normand for her enduring contribution to American culture.

“Besides trading on the comedy staples of mistaken identities and misunderstood intentions, Mabel’s Blunder also features a double-dose of another standard of farce: gender-impersonation, with Mabel disguising herself as a man, and the uniden-tified young actor playing Normand’s brother donning drag to impersonate his sibling. Normand had been impersonating males for comic result ever since her Biograph days. An early Keystone, Mabel’s Stratagem (1912), had also featured Normand as an office worker who is fired when her boss’s wife feels her husband is being too affection-ate to his stenographer, and insists that he hire a man for the job instead. Mabel later dons male drag and gets the job — only to find herself now becoming an object of flirtation from the wife.”
Brent E. Walker
Library of Congress

Mabel’s Stratagem
R: Mack Sennett. D: Mabel Normand, Fred Mace, Alice Davenport, Arthur Tavares. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1912