Wladyslaw Starewicz

Mest kinematograficheskogo operatora
(The Cameraman’s Revenge)
R and B: Wladyslaw Starewicz. P: Khanzhonkov. RUS 1912

“Although his name nowadays means very little except to animation buffs (and even they have to be pretty well informed), Wladyslaw Starewicz (1882-1965) ranks alongside Walt Disney, as one of the great animation pioneers, and his career started nearly a decade before Disney’s. He became an animator by accident – fascinated by insects, he bought a camera and attempted to film them, but they kept dying under the hot lights. Stop-motion animation provided an instant (if slow) solution, and Starewicz discovered that he had a natural talent for it. He subsequently made dozens of short films, mostly featuring his trademark stop-motion puppets, but also live action films (some blending live action and animation), moving to France after the Russian Revolution to continue his career. His longest and most ambitious film was the feature-length Tale of the Fox, which took ten years to plan and eighteen months to shoot. Starewicz’ films were virtually one-man shows (writer/director/cameraman/designer/animator), though other important contributions (in front of and behind the camera) were made by his daughters.”
Michael Brooke

More about this film:

>>> Christmas with Starewicz

>>> Starewicz: Mystical and Macabre

About the Poor

The Cross Roads
R: Frederick A. Thomson. D: Charles Eldridge, Mary Maurice, Zena Keefe, George Cooper, Hal Wilson, Florence Ashbrooke, Frank J. Currier. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

“At the close of an industrious life, Abel Hale, an old Quaker farmer, and his good wife, Phoebe, find themselves under obligation to a crafty lawyer, who holds a matured note against them. He threatens to drive them from their home if they do not give him their daughter, Charity, in marriage. Kirke Dundee, a hard-working farmer boy, who is in love with Charity, is considered an obstacle to Salmon’s desire for Charity. The lawyer is the executor of the estate which belongs to Kirke’s uncle, and when the uncle dies, he wills the property to Kirke. Salmon duplicated the will, making Toby, a simpleminded plow boy, the heir. Toby’s mother is an irresponsible and cunning old hag, who enters into the scheme with the lawyer to rob Kirke of his inheritance. In an interview with her, Salmon takes the original will from his pocket, explains it to her and thoughtlessly leaves it on the table, at which the simple-minded Toby is apparently sleeping. He is not as foolish as he looks. (…)”
IMDb Summary

From the Submerged
R: Theodore Wharton. B: Theodore Wharton. D: E.H. Calvert, Ruth Stonehouse, William Walters. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912

From the Submerged (1912) is a short film about the poor. It is moving, and striking for its social commentary.
Leading man E.H. Calvert is notable for both his virile appearance and his sensitive acting. Many years later, he would appear as District Attorney Markham in the Philo Vance films, based on the novels by S.S. Van Dine. Calvert doubled as a director in the silent era, making films of several very good short stories by Mary Roberts Rinehart, including ‘Affinities’ and a series based on some of her Tish tales: ‘The Cave on Thundercloud’, ‘Mind Over Motor’, ‘Tish’s Spy’.
There is what looks like a reproduction of Jean-François Millet‘s painting ‘The Angelus’ (1857), above the father’s bed. This very famous painting is a profound expression of the sacredness of work among the poor. It expresses both the liberal concern for the life and economic struggles of the poor, and devout Christianity, that were common in the Progressive Era when From the Submerged was made.
Other links to religion are found in From the Submerged. The heroine points to Heaven, while inspiring the hero and saving his life. And a minister appears in the finale. The film link religion and a concern for the problems of the poor.”
Michael E. Grost

461-Millet Angelus 

Jean-François Millet: L’Angélus, c. 1857-1859

Theodore Wharton (1875-1931) was an American film director, producer and writer. He directed 48 films in the 1910s and 1920s, including the 1915 The New Adventures of J. Rufus Wallingford, which featured Oliver Hardy. (…)
In 1890 Wharton started in both the business side of the theater as well as acting in Dallas, Texas. He worked for a number of stock companies, including that of Augustin Daly until 1899, and then became a stage manager. In 1907 he visited Edison Studios and worked there until 1909. Over the next 3 years he wrote and directed many screenplays for various studios including Essanay Studios.
During 1912 the US government commissioned him to produce The Late Indian Wars, the first sevel-reel motion picture in America. It was filmed on location in the great plains, with a script by General Charles King and a large cast including other generals and ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody. The Whartons Studio opened in Ithaca, New York in 1914. Stars he directed included Francis X. Bushman, Henry B. Walthall and Beverly Bayne. In the 1920s Wharton moved to Santa Cruz, California, as promoted by mayor Fred Swanton.”


Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (1)

L’homme au sac
R: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1908

About Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (1862-1913):
“Although relatively unknown, Jasset is one of the finest French filmmakers from the 1907-1914 period, along with Louis Feuillade and Léonce Perret. (…) His reputation was made in 1900, when he directed ‘Vercingétorix’, an epic-scaled pantomime, for the opening of the Hippodrome. There he met manager Georges Hatot, with whom he would later co-direct a number of films, but it is now impossible to know who did what in their production. (…) He definitely worked for Gaumont in 1906, and has since been erroneously credited as the author of several Alice Guy films, including her masterpiece, La vie du Christ. (…) In 1907 Jasset was hired by Éclair, where he got the idea for a series of films centered around one main character, the detective Nick Carter (1908), based on an American dime novel. (…) Jasset became artistic director for the Éclair studios in Epinay, where he made ‘films d’art’ such as Hérodiade (1910), based on the Gustave Flaubert novel. In 1911, he went back to making a crime series, but this time with the novelty of a multiple-reel film depicting Léon Sazie‘s evil genius Zigomar (1911). The film was a huge international success (…).”
Richard Abel: Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Abingdon 2005, p. 347

Dans la cave
R: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1912

>>> Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (2)
>>> Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (3)
>>> Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (4)

Holland 1899

De Onwillige Trekhond
R: Emile Lauste (?) W.K.L. Dickson (?). P: Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope Maatschappij. NL 1899
Print: EYE/Film Instituut Nederland

K: Emile Lauste. P: De Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope Company. NL 1899
Print: EYE/Film Instituut Nederland

“EYE Film Institute Netherlands holds a large number of films produced by the American Mutoscope Company (1895-1909) on 68mm film stock. In 1899 the company changed its name to American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In December 1898 the Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope-maatschappij (NB&MM) was established as a subsidiary of the American company. Next to exhibiting the American films in the variété-theaters such as Circus O. Carré in Amsterdam, the NB&MM also produced a small number of films related to Dutch actualities. The NB&MM was declared bankrupt on June 27, 1902. From 1995 on, in collaboration with the BFI, EYE (then Nederlands Filmmuseum) undertook the restoration work to restore and reproduce these films, duplicating the original 68mm film stock onto 35mm safety film.”

Kinderfeest op eiland Marken
K: Emile Lauste. P: De Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope Company. NL 1899
Print: EYE/Film Instituut Nederland

Watersnood in buurt
K: Emile Lauste. P: De Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope Company. NL 1899
Print: EYE/Film Instituut Nederland

Aankomst der vredesconferentie te Haarlem, 4 juni 1899
K: Emile Lauste. P: De Nederlandsche Biograaf en Mutoscope Company. NL 1899
Print: EYE/Film Instituut Nederland

Reportage about the visit that the delegates to the First Peace Conference at The Hague made to the floral parade in Haarlem. The First Peace Conference at The Hague took place from May 18 to July 29, 1899. Its initiator was the Russian Tsar Nicholas II.

>>> Holland 1900

Early Ethnography

Banks of the Nile
R: Charles Urban. P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1911

“The most significant figure in the early British film industry was an American of German parentage who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1867. First establishing himself as a travelling book salesman, Charles Urban moved to Detroit in 1889 and ran a stationery shop before becoming a phonograph salesman. By 1895 he was managing a Kinetoscope and phonograph parlour in Detroit. In 1896 he obtained the agency rights for the Edison Vitascope projector for Michigan, before developing his own projector, the Bioscope. In 1897 he was made manager of the English branch of the American firm of Maguire and Baucus, agents for Edison films in Europe. Establishing the business in London’s Warwick Court, in 1898 he reformed the film business as the Warwick Trading Company and began to produce his own films, as well as marketing the Bioscope.
Urban’s most notable professional association, however, was with G.A. Smith. Urban first handled Smith’s films and employed him as a film processor, then in 1902 directed Smith to work on an improvement to the experimental, unworkable Lee and Turner film colour process. Kinemacolor, a two-colour additive system employing red and green filters, patented by Smith in 1906 and launched publicly in 1908, was the first successful natural motion picture colour system and added considerable lustre to Urban’s name. In 1903 Urban broke away from Warwick to form the Charles Urban Trading Company (trademark Urbanora, slogan ‘We Put the World Before You’), reinforcing his reputation as a supplier of quality documentary film, but also diversifying to form the Natural Color Kinematograph Company (exploiting Kinemacolor), the Kineto company, and the French firm Éclipse.”
Adapted from Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema (BFI, 1996) eds. Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan
Charles Urban

K: Stéphane Passet. P: Les Archives de la Planète/Albert Kahn. Fr 1913

Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was a French banker and philanthropist, known for initiating The Archives of the Planet, a vast photographical project. (…)
In 1909, Kahn travelled with his chauffeur and photographer, Alfred Dutertre to Japan on business and returned with many photographs of the journey. This prompted him to begin a project collecting a photographic record of the entire Earth. He appointed Jean Brunhes as the project director, and sent photographers to every continent to record images of the planet using the first practical medium for colour photography, autochrome plates, and early cinematography. Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as ‘The Archives of the Planet’.
Kahn’s photographers began documenting France in 1914, just days before the outbreak of World War I, and by liaising with the military managed to record both the devastation of war, and the struggle to continue everyday life and agricultural work.”

Stéphane Passet a trente cinq ans en 1911 et tient un magasin dédié au royaume de la déesse Photographie. Il est installé à Clermont-Ferrand. C’est un type jovial, qui pète la santé, rempli de naturelle gaité. il n’a pas pas peur du terrain, aime la chasse et la vie en plein air. Un jour de hasard, Albert Kahn, autre passionné et homme à la générosité fabuleuse, rencontre Passet sur place en Auvergne. Entre les deux le courant passe tout de suite ; il décide de lui proposer de faire partie des courageux coureurs des bois argentiques de son équipe de photographes pèlerins-pérégrins des ‘Archives de la Planète’. Passet, saisi tout entier par son instinct, prend sur lui de tout plaquer et relève avec beaucoup d’âme le défi lancé par son nouvel ami Kahn. c’est ainsi qu’il part en direction de la capitale mongole (nouvellement indépendante depuis 1911, mais presqu’encore inconnue des occidentaux, elle subira des dommages irrémédiables lors de la terrible destruction stalinienne de 1937).”
chevalsauvage (YouTube)

>>> Colonial Sujets / Foreign Countries

A Chase Comedy from Australia

The Bashful Mr Brown (incomplete)
R and P: Leonard Corrick. AUS 1907
Print: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA)

“Over 100 years before the modern ‘mashup’, the Australian-based Corrick Family Entertainers were showing repackaged and complete versions of the latest special effects, comedy and actuality (non-fiction) films in black-and-white and dazzling colour. Screened with live musical accompaniment provided by the family, ‘Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures’ formed part of a variety act which toured Australasia, South-East Asia and Europe from 1897 to 1914.”

“Soon after they acquired their first motion picture camera, the Corrick Family Entertainers filmed The Bashful Mr Brown, a chase-comedy starring various members of the troupe.
Probably the first dramatic narrative film produced in Western Australia. The film follows the adventures of Mr Brown, an awkward young bachelor who causes mayhem when he attempts to help his hostess dispense afternoon tea. After many accidents, Mr Brown escapes with the afternoon teacloth attached to his coat-tails and with a group of small boys in hot pursuit.
Mr Brown is believed to have been played by a comedian who was performing with Harry Rickards variety show in Perth. In typical self-promoting fashion, a poster advertising the family act is seen pasted on a street hoarding during the chase sequence.”
Silent Beauties

Also screened by the Corrick Family Entertainers:

The Hand of the Artist
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1906

“Photographic images are composed and brought to life on a whim, and then just as quickly transformed or reduced to immobility by the hand of the artist. (…) This silent English short was screened as part of the vaudeville-style performances of the Corrick family entertainers who toured Australia and the world between 1901 and 1914.”
Australian Screen

“This is one of several films in the Corrick Collection that make use of the stop-motion technique, including titles such as How Jones Lost His Roll (Edison, 1905), Comedy Cartoons (Urban, 1907) and The Arrested Tricar (FAN, c1907). The Corrick family entertainers toured Australia and the world in the early 1900s with a live variety show incorporating silent films, including The Hand of the Artist. This film runs for 191 feet 8 inches and was originally projected at 16 frames-per-second. There are no intertitles. The Hand of the Artist also features in ‘My Bicycle Loves You’, a show by physical theatre troupe Legs on the Wall for the 2011 Sydney and Perth Festivals.”
Leslie Lewis
Australian Screen

>>>  Walter Booth’s Proto-SF Fables on this site
>>> also on this site: The First Australian Cartoonist, Early Cinema in Australia

From Keystone to Essanay: Chaplin 1914/15

Mabel’s Strange Predicament
R: Mabel Normand. B: Henry Lehrman. K: Hans F. Koenekamp, Frank D. Williams. D: Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, Chester Conklin. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

Mabel at the Wheel
R: Mabel Normand, Mack Sennett. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Harry McCoy. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

The New Janitor
R: Charles Chaplin. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Peggy Page, John T. Dillon, Al St. John. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

In the Park
R: Charles Chaplin. K: Harry Ensign. D: Charles Chaplin, Leona Anderson, Billy Armstrong, Edna Purviance. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915

The Tramp
R: Charles Chaplin. K: Harry Ensign, Rollie Totheroh. D: Charles Chaplin, Billy Armstrong, Lloyd Bacon, Edna Purviance. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915

“After the expiration of his one-year contract with the Keystone Film Company, Chaplin was lured to Essanay for the unprecedented salary of $1,250 per week, with a bonus of $10,000 for merely signing with the company. The fourteen films he made for the company were distinctly marked and designated upon release as the ‘Essanay-Chaplin Brand’. The company’s headquarters were in Chicago, Illinois, and the company had a second studio in Niles, California. The name Essanay was formed from the surname initials, S and A, of its two founders: George K. Spoor, who provided the financing and managed the company, and G.M. Anderson, better known as “Broncho Billy” Anderson, cinema’s first cowboy star.

Essanay began in 1907 and a year later became a member of the powerful Motion Picture Patents Company. Chaplin’s one year with the company was its zenith. The studio foundered after Chaplin left to join the Mutual Film Corporation and finally ceased operations in 1918. Essanay would most likely be largely forgotten were it not for Chaplin’s early association.

While no single Chaplin film for Essanay displays the aggregate transformation to the more complex, subtle filmmaking that characterizes his later work, these comedies contain a collection of wonderful, revelatory moments, foreshadowing the pathos (The Tramp), comedic transposition (A Night Out), fantasy (A Night Out), gag humor (The Champion), and irony (Police), of the mature Chaplin films to come.

The most celebrated of the Essanay comedies, The Tramp, is regarded as the first classic Chaplin film. It is noteworthy because of Chaplin’s use of pathos in situations designed to evoke pity or compassion toward the characters, particularly the Tramp. An innovation in comedic filmmaking, The Tramp dares to have a sad ending.”
By Jeffrey Vance, adapted from his book Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (New York, 2003)
Charlie Chaplin

A Seagoing Love Adventure

The Coffin Ship
D: William Garwood. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1911
Print: Nederlands Filmmuseum
Engl. and German titles 

“Because of 1911 production convention, a sprawling adventure is truncated to one-reel length. Good location work, a strength of Thanhouser pictures, creates a visually strong seagoing story of a stowaway and a shipwreck. Long Island Sound locations were near the studio.
A review of The Coffin Ship in ‘The Moving Picture World’ criticized at length errors of accuracy in the depiction of the merchant ship and its sailors, and technicalities of sailing and of the shipwreck, despite the good story and its dramatic effectiveness. Such criticism disproves the myth that critics and audiences accepted anything on the screen at face value.”

The Morning Telegraph, June 25, 1911:
“This is one of the best films of the week, both as regards its story and for the manner in which it is presented. (…)The sea scenes and the many scenes taken on a lumber schooner are particularly fine. One scene is especially so, this being the one with the boat in a sinking condition, her hull far down in the water, which is several inches deep on her decks. One might question the likelihood of such natty uniforms being used aboard an ordinary lumber schooner. It may be picturesque, but is it true to actualities? Secure this film. Patrons will enjoy it.”

A Coherent Narrative

An Elusive Diamond
R: Lloyd Lonergan. B: Lloyd Lonergan. D: David Thompson, Carey L. Hastings, Mignon Anderson. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1914

The Bioscope, March 26, 1914:
“Here is a modest single-reel drama which is fully as good, and which contains fully as much incident and excitement, as many a much-boomed ‘feature’ three times the length. Of its kind, indeed, An Elusive Diamond, is quite a perfect little film. Every inch of it contains essential action; it is crammed with ‘thrills’; and yet it is all entirely natural, without any of the undue abbreviations often to be found in so comparatively short a picture. Admirably constructed, it is also admirably acted by some of the Thanhouser Company’s cleverest players, including that charming and accomplished young actress, Miss Mignon Anderson, who achieves a most sensational escape from a high window by swinging to earth on a slender bough of a tree, and Mr. Dave Thompson, who gives a wonderfully finished study of the villain of the piece, an impassive, shifty-eyed butler. The climax of the story is magnificently worked up, and one is held enthralled from beginning to end. It would be impossible to desire a better play of its type. An Elusive Diamond should be seen by everyone.”

“Screenwriter Lonergan‘s amazing versatility served equally well in several genres—here a one-reel adventure with crooks, ruses, kidnapping, escape, and a twist, all wrapped in a coherent narrative. There is successful pictorial telling of the setup and attempted theft, and a little cross-cutting as the police come to the rescue (rescue of the rock, as the resourceful heroine obviously needs no rescuing). Thanhouser’s popular Mignon Anderson’s climactic stunt work shows that the stock players were remarkably versatile.”
Silent Beauties

>>> Films by Lonergan on this website: The Center of the Web, Daddy’s DoubleThe Decoy