The Drummer of the 8th
R: Thomas H. Ince. D: Cyril Gardner, Mildred Harris, Frank Borzage. P: Thomas H. Ince. USA 1913
“Go to any history of Hollywood, and you’ll find the name of Thomas Harper Ince. Thomas Ince (1880-1924) turned moviemaking into a business enterprise, revolutionizing the industry by developing the role of the producer. In addition to building the first major Hollywood studio, he was responsible for more than eight hundred films over his fourteen year movie career. Realism became the keynote of Ince’s films, whether he tackled social issues, re-created the old west or Civil War battles, or cast the first Hollywood films with Asian actors in lead roles. In later years, melodrama became Ince’s focus as he explored the social changes in America, especially the roles of women. Ince had begun his life on the stage, like his parents before him, and had undertaken every task possible in the theater before a day in 1910 when he found himself thirty years old, married, a father-and nearly broke.
Although movies were considered a step down from the stage, the pay was good. However, after acting in several films, Tom Ince realized he didn’t have the looks for a screen player, and decided to shift to directing. When he shot a series of films with Mary Pickford in 1911, on location in Cuba and set against the Spanish background, they were immensely popular. Ince remembered that lesson when he arrived in California, and expanded an area that had been used in the Santa Monica mountains for the production of westerns, hiring a traveling Wild West show at $2000 a week. With real cowboys and Indians performing against the landscapes, the authenticity impressed audiences. All of these were short films, typically not more than 15 minutes in length, with one or two turned out weekly. The area become known as ‘Inceville’ and by the end of 1913, had a staff of 700. Ince began working in many other genres, especially Civil War dramas and studies of the changing role of women in American society. (…)”
R: Thomas H. Ince. B: William H. Clifford. D: J. Barney Sherry, Mildred Harris, Frank Borzage. P: Broncho Film Company. USA 1913
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