Civil War III

In the Border States
R: David W. Griffith. B: Stanner E.V. Taylor. K: Billy Bitzer. D: Charles West, Henry Walthall, Gladys Egan. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910

“Filmed in the year that America commemorated the 50th anniversary of the start of its Civil War, D. W. Griffith’s In the Border States seeks to humanise the war by focusing on the family of a Union soldier whose youngest daughter inadvertently saves her father’s life by offering the hand of kindness to a Confederate soldier. It’s a play on the old Aesop’s Fable about the Lion and the Mouse that we all learnt in school and it’s pulled off with no little skill considering the year in which it was made. But then, it was directed by a man who had established himself as the world’s foremost director after only a couple of years in the chair. Griffith illustrates his growing confidence behind the camera with effective early compositions that direct the audience’s eye towards the slight figure of Gladys Egan, a prolific young actress whose film career would be over by the age of 14, as the young daughter. She is the focal point of the story, and Egan delivers a nicely nuanced performance, never once succumbing to the temptation to convey emotions with exaggerated gestures.”
Richard Cross
Movie reviews

The Confederate Ironclad
R: Kenean Buel. D: Guy Coombs, Anna Q. Nilsson, Hal Clements, Miriam Cooper. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912

“Released in 1912 amidst numerous 50th anniversary commemorations of the U.S. Civil War, The Confederate Ironclad is similar to Pearl Harbor and other ‘blockbuster’ type historical films in that it emphasizes explosions and romance over accuracy and insight. Carefully designed to appease both Northern and Southern audiences, the film tells the story of two brave women, one a Southern sweetheart (Miriam Cooper) and the other a Northern spy (Anna Q. Nilsson), who struggle to outwit each other against the backdrop of runaway trains and powerful warships. One of many Civil War-themed films shot by Kalem at their Jacksonville, FL, facilities, it’s easy to spot such location artifacts as Spanish moss hanging from trees along the battlefront. An interesting point to look for is the animation-assisted explosion that occurs during the train fight sequence. Even by 1912 standards it’s not very good, detracting from the film’s otherwise adequate sense of spectacle. The Confederate Ironclad is notable as one of the first films to have a musical accompaniment score composed specifically for use by local silent movie house pianists. (Local movie houses received copies of the sheet music along with the film.)”
Richard Gilliam, Rovi
NYT movies

Their One Love
R: John Harvey. B: Gertrude Thanhouser. K: Carl Louis Gregory. D: Madeline and Marion Fairbanks, Robert Wilson, Charles Emerson. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1915

Leon J. Rubenstein, director of publicity at Thanhouser, put over a good one on the ‘city fellers’ at the Metropolitan newspapers, who, about a dozen strong, came to New Rochelle this week to see the new Edwin Thanhouser releases – Their One Love – a single reel story, comparable only, according to their judgment, to The Birth of a Nation. As the scribes viewed the wonderful action directed by Jack Harvey and the marvelous photography of Carl Louis Gregory taken at night, they wondered how such effects could have been secured, and Ruby told them that Carl Gregory and Al Moses perfected the ‘Nacht o’ Graph,’ a camera that would record night scenes, and all fell for it except ‘Wid’ of the Mail. But the whole production – story, direction, acting, and photography is the most wonderful ever produced at any studio for the regular program. This is only the beginning of the wonderful program that Edwin Thanhouser is to give to a waiting world.”
The New Rochelle Pioneer, April 17, 1915

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