Modern New York

Panorama from Times Building, New York
K: Wallace McCutcheon. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. USA 1905
Location: Broadway and 7th Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, New York, N.Y.
Print: Library of Congress

“The view is from the top of the then newly-erected Times Building, at a height of approximately twenty stories. The film opens with a vertical pan, going from the street below up to the sky. The photographer then makes a pan to the north over the tops of the buildings from Bryant Park, south of 42nd Street (behind the New York Public Library) up 6th Avenue to the Hippodrome Theatre at 43rd Street. A marquee on the theater reads “A Yankee Circus On Mars.” The camera continues to rotate toward 44th and 45th Streets between 6th and 7th Avenues, until coming to rest looking directly north up Times Square to 46th Street, where Broadway (left) and 7th Avenue (right) diverge again.”
Library of Congress

“Writers online don’t write often about non-fiction but it’s a major part of silent film production, there is so much of it, and this is a great example. There is something about the design of New York, the rigid shapes of the buildings, the layers of corners in the background and foreground, and the puncture-holes of windows that dot every building – that is endlessly fascinating, and it’s in this period that modern New York we know was born.”
Christian Hayes
Film: ab Initio


Buffalo Bill

The Life of Buffalo Bill
R: Paul Panzer. D: William F. Cody, William James Craft, Irving Cummings. P: Pawnee Bill Film Company. USA 1912
Print: Library of Congress (George Kleine Collection)

About Buffalo Bill:
The William F. Cody Archive: Documenting the life and times of an American icon

The William F. Cody Archive

About the director:
“Paul Panzer (3 November 1872 – 16 August 1958) was a German-American silent film actor. He appeared in 333 films between 1905 and 1952. Panzer was best known for playing Koerner/Raymond Owen in The Perils of Pauline. From 1934 through the 1950s he was under contract to Warner Brothers as an extra. He was born in Würzburg, Bavaria, and died in Hollywood, California.”

“Der in Würzburg geborene Paul Panzer (1872-1958) wanderte als junger Mann in die Vereinigten Staaten aus und blieb dort sein Leben lang. Er arbeitete zunächst als Bühnenbildner und Theatermaler, ehe er selbst Schauspieler wurde. Im Jahre 1905 gab er sein Filmdebüt, bis 1952 sollten über 380 Filme folgen. Seine vielleicht bedeutendste Rolle hatte er als heuchlerischer Schurke in der Stummfilmreihe The Perils of Pauline aus dem Jahre 1914. Nach diesem Film verkörperte er für den Rest seiner Karriere überwiegend Schurkenrollen. 1912 führte er Regie bei dem Film The Life of Buffalo Bill, mit dem echten Buffalo Bill in der Hauptrolle. Mit der Einführung des Tonfilmes Ende der 1920er-Jahre musste er sich wegen seines deutschen Akzentes meistens mit kleineren, nicht in den Credits erwähnten Nebenrollen begnügen. Er spielte in späteren Jahren kleine Rollen in Filmklassikern wie Frankenstein, Unter Piratenflagge, Casablanca und Eine auswärtige Affäre.
Er war mit der amerikanischen Schauspielerin Josephine Atkinson (1882-1954) verheiratet, sie hatten zwei Kinder. Paul Panzer verstarb im Alter von 85 Jahren in Los Angeles. Die Musikgruppe Ton Steine Scherben benutzte seinen Namen in ihren Liedern „’Paul-Panzer-Blues’“ und „’Guten Morgen’“ für einen fiktiven Fabrikarbeiter, der zwischen Arbeit und gesellschaftlicher Konvention eingezwängt in seinem eigenen Leben nur eine Nebenrolle spielt.”

Max l’immortel

Max ne se mariera pas
R: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Gabrielle Lange. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1910

Le roman de Max
R: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Lucy d’Orbel. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912

Le chapeau de Max
R: Max Linder. D: Max Linder. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1913

Les débuts de Max au cinéma
R: Louis J. Gasnier, Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Georges Monca, Lucien Nonguet, Charles Pathé. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1910


Italia: Il Risorgimento

La presa di Roma
R: Filoteo Alberini. K: Filoteo Alberini. D: Ubaldo Maria Del Colle, Carlo Rosaspina. P: Alberini & Santoni, Roma. It 1905 (Fragment)
Print: Cineteca Nazionale

La presa di Roma gilt als der erste historische Film Italiens. Der Film wurde 2005 unter Nutzung von Fragmenten aus vier verschiedenen Kopien der Cineteca Italiana (Milano), der Cinemateca Argentina (Buenos Aires), des Museum of Modern Art (New York) und des National Film and Television Archive (London) vom Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia der Cineteca Nazionale restauriert. Verlorene Szenen wurden dabei durch Standbildmaterial ersetzt. Die Originalmusik stammt von Giuseppe Chiello. (KK)

“The movie describes the last moments of Rome in the hands of the Pope, divided from the rest of Italy, as it was in 1870. In the opening scene, blindfolded General Carchidio is escorted from Ponte Milvio to General Kanzler of the Papal Army. Carchidio issues an ultimatum to surrender to Kanzler which is refused, and a breach in the city walls is stormed by troops (la breccia di Porta Pia).
The film recorded a crucial moment in the country’s recent history: the capture of Rome by the newly-formed Italian army and the election of the city as the country’s capital. It was produced with the co-operation of the country’s Ministry of War and its goal was to strenghten the feeling of ‘Italianity’ among the populations, putting in a bad light the role of the catholicism during the unification.”

“The history of cinematography in Italia starts, as in other European countries, in 1895 with the ‘Kinetografo’ of Fileteo Alberini. For about ten years the production is dominated by documentary and actuality films under a strong French influence. The production of fiction films is rather retarded – nearly until La presa di Roma. In 1907, we find nine cinema manufacturing companies, consolidating prevalent family-level organized production. In 1915 there are eighty firms producing films (centered in Turin, Rome, Milan and Naples) and 1.500 movie theaters.”
Irmbert Schenk: The Cinematic Support to National(istic) Mythology: The Italian Peplum (1910-1930). In: Natascha Gentz: Globalization, Cultural Identities, and Media Representations. Albany, N.Y. 2012, p. 153

Il piccolo Garibaldino
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1909
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

“The film depicts in a telling manner an incident in the days of Garibaldi, whose call for volunteers to aid him in his battles meets with a ready response. Anselmo, father of a twelve-year-old boy, also joins the Garibaldinian troops. The little Augusto, inflamed by the same desire, runs away from home and joins his father, who is enlisted in the ranks of the glorious Mille. When the signal for battle starts to sound, little Augusto throws himself among his comrades, but suddenly he is mortally wounded. The little hero invokes the name of Garibaldi, and drags himself to him, then kisses Garibaldi’s sword and died in the arms of his father.”
Theatre programme, Politeama Ariosto of Reggio Emilia, July 27, 1910

Anita Garibaldi
R: Mario Caserini. D: Maria Caserini-Gasparini. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1910

“Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro di Garibaldi, best known as Anita Garibaldi (August 30, 1821 – August 4, 1849) was the Brazilian wife and comrade-in-arms of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. Their partnership epitomized the spirit of the 19th century’s age of romanticism and revolutionary liberalism.”

Alice Guy in America – 1

Falling Leaves
R: Alice Guy. Set: Henri Ménessier. D: Mace Greenleaf, Blanche Cornwall, Marian Swayne. P: Solax Film Company. USA 1912
Print: Library of Congress

“In 1907 Alice Guy married Herbert Blaché who was soon appointed the production manager for Gaumont’s operations in the United States.
After working with her husband for Gaumont in the USA, the two struck out on their own in 1910, partnering with George A. Magie in the formation of The Solax Company, the largest pre-Hollywood studio in America. With production facilities for their new company in Flushing, New York, her husband served as production manager as well as cinematographer and Alice Guy-Blaché worked as the artistic director, directing many of its releases. Within two years they had become so successful that they were able to invest more than $100,000 into new and technologically advanced production facilities in Fort Lee, New Jersey, when many early film studios in America’s first motion picture industry were based there at the beginning of the 20th century.”

The Girl in the Armchair
R: Alice Guy. D: Blanche Cornwall, Darwin Karr, Lee Beggs, Mace Greenleave. P: Solax Film Company. USA 1912

“Visions and dreams continued to appear in occasional films throught the primitive period and early teens: in The Girl in the Armchair (1912, Solax) a young man dreams of his gambling debts, and superimposed cards whirl around his bed. But the compressed structure of the one- or two-reeler was perhaps an inhibiting factor in the use of subjective effects. They tend to appear either when the subjectivity is the basis for the whole film (The Somnambulist, Dream of a Rarebit Fiend) or when the narrative absolutely depends on showing the character’s inner state. (In The Girl in the Armchair, the hero must undergo a considerable change of character as a result of his gambling experiences.)”
David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, Kristin Thompson: The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. Routledge 2003, p. 15

>>> Alice Guy in America – 2,   Alice Guy in America – 3

Early Spanish Cinema 1

Amor que mata (Frgm.)
R: Fructuós Gelabert. B: Fructuós Gelabert. K: Fructuós Gelabert. D: Joaquín Carrasco, José Vives, Guerra, M. Mestres, María Miró, P. Ortín. P: Films Barcelona (Diorama). Sp 1908

“Jacobo is set to marry Miss Vélez, but a vengeful woman begins writing anonymous letters saying that they should not marry because Miss Vélez’s mother is a ‘sinner’. Upon reading the anonymous letter, Miss Vélez faints and falls gravely ill. News of Miss Vélez’s sickness appears in the newspaper. After finding out what she has caused, the woman who sent the anonymous letter decides to go (to) the Vélez house. Meanwhile, Jacobo is also worried about his fiancée’s health, so he goes to her house to see her. Upon hearing her mother confess the truth, Miss Vélez suffers one final attack and dies.”
Tatjana Pavlović e.a.: 100 Years of Spanish Cinema. John Wiley & Sons 2009, p. 10-11

“Popular melodramas and successful theatrical works were frequently adapted for the silent screen, Amor que mata being one of the most representative. This film also reflects cinema’s search for a more ‘sophisticated’ audience who may have been tired of the usual vaudeville acts and comic chases. Filmmakers therefore embraced the theatrical model in an attempt to attract the theater-going middle class to the cinema by increasing its aesthetic and intellectual appeal. As can be seen from Amor que mata with its papier-mâché and plaster sets, the film frame functioned as a proscenium arch, contributing a highly theatrical feel to the productions. The film also illustrates the discrepancies and tensions between the two dramatic forms; the actors perform with archaic facial grimaces inherited from the theater as they also develop new acting styles and conventions particular to the movie screen.”
100 Years of Spanish Cinema, p. 5

Los héroes del sitio de Zaragoza
R: Segundo de Chomón. Sp 1905

“Agustina Raimunda María Saragossa Domènech, or Agustina de Aragón (1786-1857) was a Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army. Known as ‘the Spanish Joan of Arc’, she has been the subject of much folklore, mythology, and artwork, including sketches by Francisco de Goya and the poetry of Lord Byron.”

“The first public screening of a Spanish-made film, Eduardo Jimeno‘s compilation of actuality footage, Salida de misa de doce del Pilar de Zaragoza (People Coming Out of the Noontime Mass at the Cathedral of the Virgin of Pilar in Zaragoza), took place in 1896, just months before the Lumière brothers’ presentation in Madrid of similar images of local color that included port scenes from Barcelona, urban vistas in Madrid, and, of course, bullfights. Early silent cinema tended to depict a quaint, almost exotic backwardness that would become a staple of the cinematic imagery of the country seen by Spanish and international audiences for decades.
Though Spanish silent cinema had almost no international impact, there did exist a fledging film culture during this period. Among its notable figures was Fructuós Gelabert (1874-–1955), whose Riña en un café (Café Brawl, 1897) is the first Spanish-made fiction film made in Spain. Along with Gelabert, Segundo de Chomón (1871-–1929) worked independently during the final years of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth to develop a number of special effects or trick films. His most inventive creation was El Hotel eléctrico ( The Electric Hotel, 1908), which depicts a fully automated hotel in which a man is automatically shaved and his wife’s hair is combed.
In the early 1900s Barcelona was established as the principal center for film production on the Iberian peninsula. This changed in 1915 when Benito Perojo (1894-–1974) and his brother established the first Madrid-based film production company. The multitalented Perojo worked as producer, director, scriptwriter, actor, and even camera operator on his films.
Perhaps the most significant feature of the silent period in Spanish cinema was its emphasis on local cultural tastes to shape the emerging international medium. The early preference for folkloric cinema and adaptations of Spanish works of fiction and theater is found, for instance, in Ricardo Baños‘s 1905 film version of the popular Zorrilla play ‘Don Juan Tenorio’. Several of the figures who were to shape the early sound film in Spain had already established themselves in the silent era. Most notable among these was Perojo, who would later direct and produce films, and Florián Rey (1894-–1962) and Juan de Orduña (1900-–1974), both of whom started their film careers as actors and went on to direct important films of the sound era.”
Film Reference

Don Juan Tenorio
R: Ricardo de Baños, Alberto Marro. B: Ricardo de Baños, Alberto Marro, José Zorrilla. K: Ricardo de Baños. Bauten: Joan Calderé. D: Cecilio Rodríguez de la Vega. P: Hispano Films. Sp 1908

Zorrilla’s play ‘Don Juan Tenorio’, Spanish and English

>>> Early Spanish Cinema 2, Early Spanish Cinema 3

>>> More films by Segundo de Chomón

America’s Sweetheart

Tess of the Storm Country
R: Edwin S. Porter. B: Grace Miller White (novel), B.P. Schulberg. K: Edwin S. Porter. D: Mary Pickford, Harold Lockwood, Olive Carey. P: Famous Players Film Company / Adolph Zukor. USA 1914

“Despite widespread accolades and a box-office bonanza (the film was so successful that Pickford would later remake it), Tess of the Storm Country shows a director who had not fully adopted contemporary American techniques of storytelling. The camera always remains at a distance and fails to make effective use of Pickford’s enchanting and expressive face.
Tess of the Storm Country demonstrates the extent to which Porter and the film industry had moved away from a homosocial way of working and thinking. It was based on a novel by a woman (Grace Miller White), starred a woman, and appealed in large part to female spectators. This is obviously not the entire story (the scenario was by B. P. Schulberg, the direction Porter’s), but production companies had developed a heterosocial mode of work that was strongly inflected by the influx of personnel from the theater. Within the industry women asserted a powerful presence in the years immediately prior to gaining the vote. Adolph Zukor found Mary Pickford and her mother astute both financially and in the subtleties of building the actress’s career. ‘America’s Sweetheart’, moreover, was active behind the camera as well as in front of it. As the president of Famous Players later recalled: ‘Mary had her hand in everything, writing scripts, arguing with directors, making suggestions to other players. But everyone knew she did it for the benefit of the picture, and her ideas were helpful.’ Pickford had assumed such a role in the past —at Independent Motion Picture Company she wrote and starred in The Dream (1911), directed by Thomas Ince.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p. 469

>>> Mary Pickford 1915: Cute!

Holland 1900

De Dam te Amsterdam omstreeks 1900
P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1900
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

“Shot of Dam Square on a weekday. In the background the Royal Palace is visible behind the then national monument, ‘De Eendracht’, better known by the common name ‘Naatje op de Dam’.”

De Maasbrug te Rotterdam omstreeks 1901
P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1901
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

De Amsterdamse Beurs omstreeks 1900
P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1900
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

“A view of Dam Square and the Damrak. To the right the ‘Beurs van Zocher’, the commodity exchange building of architect J.D. Zocher.
The building had only been completed in 1845, but was demolished in 1903 after a new commodity exchange, the ‘Beurs van Berlage’, was built next to the old one. In the place of Zocher’s building appeared a department store, De Bijenkorf. In the foreground is the tram stop for horsecars.”


Intocht van hertog Hendrik van Mecklenburg en H.M. de koningin aan het Staatsspoor te ‘s-Gravenhage
P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1900
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

Te water laten van de ‘Koningin Regentes’ aan de marinewerf
K: Leon Boedels. P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1900
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

“The battleship ‘Koningin Regentes’ was built on the Amsterdam Navy Yard. The ship was christened by Queen Mother Emma and launched on April 24, 1900.
Clearly visible only the hull of the boat is ready. The second part of the film – the Royal procession – is missing.
This film was restored in the project ‘Breng Amsterdam in beeld’ (Amsterdam in the picture)”

Aankomst van Paul Kruger te Amsterdam
P: Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath. NL 1900
Print: EYE collection, Amsterdam

“Report of the arrival of Paul Kruger* in Amsterdam, during his trip to Europe at the end of the Second Boer War.
After his arrival in the Netherlands in December 1900, Kruger initially stayed in The Hague. On December 20, he traveled by train to Amsterdam, where he was met by a large crowd at the Central Station.
F. A. Nöggerath filmed the arrival; the result was shown the same evening in his theater Varieté Flora.
Kruger would remain in the Netherlands for nearly two years. In 1902 he moved to Clarens, Switzerland, where he died on July 14, 1904.”

* Stephanus Johannes Paulus “Paul” Kruger (1825-1904) was a political and military leader who served as President of the South African Republic (or Transvaal) from 1883 to 1900.

Franz Anton Nöggerath sr., Theaterbesitzer in Amsterdam, zeigte ab 1896 Filme in seinem Theater Varieté Flora. Im September 1898 ließ er erstmals einen eigenen Film herstellen, aktuelle Aufnahmen von der Inthronisierung der Königin Wilhelmine. Seitdem produzierte die Filmfabriek F.A. Nöggerath Filme aller marktgängigen Genres. Auf dem Dach der Variété Flora wurde ein Filmatelier errichtet. Nach dem Brand des gesamten Komplexes im Jahre 1902 entstand ein Neubau. 1908 wurde die Leitung von Franz Anton Nöggerath jr. übernommen, der 1911 ein Filmstudio in Sloten errichten ließ und dort vierzehn Spielfilme herstellte. Damit hatte er nur einen geringen Erfolg, so dass er 1913 die Produktion fiktionaler Filme aufgab. Die Firma blieb als Vertriebgesellschaft (FAN Film) jedoch weiterhin aktiv, ebenso entstanden in der Folgezeit noch einige Aktualitäten.



The Center of the Web
R: John Harvey. B: Philip Lonergan. D: Claire Kroell, Frank Wood, Sam Niblack, George Niblack, Marguerite Loveridge, Nolan Gane. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1914

SYNOPSIS, Reel Life, November 28, 1914:
“Ida Dean, in league with the counterfeiter, George Morley, meets and falls in love with John Linton who is employed in the Secret Service. Morley threatens her, but she continues to receive Linton’s attentions. The action of the latter, however, in helping a young girl who is out of work, rouses Ida’s jealousy. Refusing to believe that Linton’s action was purely from philanthropic motives, she plots with Morley to involve the girl and her father in the counterfeit scheme and then betrays them to the authorities. Linton visits a suburban police station, and in taking a stroll through the country happens upon the counterfeiters’ den. There he discovers his protegée and learns that the woman he loves has been the means of bringing her there. Linton is captured by the gang, and when he fails to return to the police station the officers organize a search party. They reach the den just in time to see Ida Dean save Linton’s life from the assault of the infuriated Morley.”

REVIEW, The Cinema, March 4, 1915:
“Detective film dramas are at the present moment as plentiful as ever, but those which can claim some distinct original innovation are few and far between. Amongst the latter, however, there is a Thanhouser release which includes in its cast a pack of American police-dogs. The work of these animals in tracking down the law-breakers is intensely interesting, and decidedly increases the value of the film as a special draw. The producer, too, has given them plenty of scope, with the result that their operations are not cramped and can be thoroughly appreciated and admired. Apart from the dogs, the plot of The Centre of the Web is quite good, without any trace of exaggeration, and deals with the doings of a gang of counterfeiters. A clever touch is given to the heart interest side by having the heroine a confederate to the head of the gang, and the hero an ambitious and promising young detective. They, of course, are made to meet under favourable circumstances, and the lady becomes passionately fond of the secret service man. (…)”

The Vagaries of Fate
R: Edgar Jones. D: Edgar Jones, Louise Huff, Tom Walsh, George Gowan, George Hartzell, Jack Ridgeway. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1914
Print: Library of Congress

“The film contains a close up, a technique still relatively rare in Lubin films of this date. However, the close view of the bomb makes it clear that the timer–a large alarm clock–and the dynamite are not in any way connected and the “bomb” has no chance of detonation. Edgar Jones was the director of this film and his directorial efforts occasionally lacked attention to details like this.”
Betzwood Film Archive


A Country Girl

The Decoy
R: Carl Gregory. B: Philip Lonergan. D: Charles Horan, Marie Rainford, Virginia Waite, Muriel Ostriche. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1914

The Decoy (1914) marks the video debut of silent screen actress Muriel Ostriche. Miss Ostriche was one of the most popular female stars of the mid-to-late 1910’s, and usually placed in the Top Ten in popularity polls of the time. [In 1913, one popularity poll placed Ms. Ostriche second only to Alice Joyce in popularity.] From 1915-1920 she was known not only for her work in films, but as the ‘Moxie Girl’ whose face adorned the Moxie soft drink advertisements. She married in 1921 and retired from films. For many years, none of Miss Ostriche’s work was known to have survived. In the late 1980’s two Ostriche one-reelers were re-discovered in Australia. In The Decoy, Miss Ostriche plays a country girl who visits with her city relatives. The aunt and uncle use her to lure wealthy patrons to their card-sharping operation. Muriel ends up exposing the aunt and uncle, and marrying the undercover police investigator.”
Robert Klepper