Guazzoni: Dr. Faust and Cajus Julius Caesar

R: Enrico Guazzoni / Henri Andréani / David Barnett. B: Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and the opera ‘La damnation de Faust’ by Charles Gounod. D: Ugo Bazzini, Fernanda Negri Pouget, Alfredo Bracci, Giuseppe Gambardella. P: Pathé Frères (Série d’Art [SAPF])/ Cines, Roma. Fr/It 1910
French titles
A soundtrack of Animatophone (Gounod, Ch. Müller) was provided. Two reels, 605 m. Different versions (minor changes) for UK, France, Italy, US. Distributed in Italy by Cines.

“This is the old story which has been handed down to us from time immemorial, and which was woven into a drama by Goethe and set to music by Gounod. The story of Faust and his temptation by the devil is so well known as to render a repetition of the story unnecessary. The film follows closely the Goethe dramatization, and is magnificent in its scenery, action and coloring. Like Il Trovatore, the music has been arranged to suit the film, scene for scene, and, with the musical accompaniment, forms a spectacle unequaled in the world of motion pictures.”
The Moving Picture World, June 17, 1911

David Barnett directed 1910 another short film in UK: Il trovatore, several songs synchronised to gramophone records, produced by Animatophone.

Cajus Julius Caesar
R: Enrico Guazzoni. B: Raffaele Giovagnoli. D: Amleto Novelli, Bruto Castellani, Irene Mattalia. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1914
Print: Jean Desmet collection
Dutch titles

Film ends at 1h 51min 40sec.

“The high point in Guazzoni’’s epic representation of Caesar’‘s life (…),significantly, touches most explicitly on events dear to the hearts of nationalists and other warmongers in contemporary Italy. A long, spectacular sequence, shot with a distant, overhead camera, receives apparent authentication at the same time as it gains immense aesthetic appeal by the extraordinary degree to which it recasts in moving images the celebrated pictorial cycle ‘Triumphs of Caesar'(ca. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna, a cycle that once hung in the palace of the Gonzaga family to display, by association, their own power, prestige, and iron virility. Through a Forum crowded with eager spectators, there slowly snakes a magnificent parade of – to name only selected groups – lictors, standard bearers wearing animal-skin hoods, trumpeters, javelin-bearing infantry, prisoners and trophies from Gaul, more garlanded foot soldiers and togate senators, a float drawn by four horses that carries high the laurel-bearing triumphator on whom the crowd throws rose petals, Egyptian priests with feather fans, cavalry, and so on. The whole event is heralded by an intertitle which suggests that Caesar, like the Italian nationalists after him, is celebrating African victory and empire (…).”
Maria Wyke: Julius Caesar in Western Culture. Malden/Oxford/Carlton 2006, p. 176 f.


Andrea Mantegna: Triumphs of Caesar (scene 2),  ca. 1485

“In January 1914, Francesca Bertini was prominently featured on the first page of the American magazine ‘Motography’, and a few months later the ‘Moving Picture World’ celebrated Lyda Borelli as ‘the Bernhardt of the Photo Play’. Their male colleagues, such as top actors Emilio Ghione and Mario Bonnard appear equally in the international trade press, giving proof of the impact of the Italian star system. Italian cinema was a worldwide commercial success and by 1914 it also occupied an important place in the national artistic culture: Roberto Bracco, Matilde Serao, Nino Oxilia, Lucio d’Ambra, Nino Martoglio, leading figures of the cultural scene are all firmly engaged in cinematography; Gabriele D’Annunzio is fêted in the press for the mediatic event of the year, Cabiria, for which he assumed the well-paid but fictitious autorship. Apart from this colossal, or Guazzoni’s Caius Julius Caesar or Oxilia’s Sangue bleu or Negroni’s Histoire d’un Pierrot, the Italian film industry as a whole reached an unprecedented level of productivity and creativity in 1914, the main reason being an ongoing generational change. Gallone, Palermi, Genina, Zorzi and Campogalliani all made their first work in 1913-1914. A revolution that would make film history and was already in full swing in 1914.”
Giovanni Lasi
Cineteca di Bologna

“The association of the historical costume film with Italian nationalism is very suggestive. The political rhetoric of expansionism, which called for the aggressive establishment of new colonal empires, was represented as nothing less than the enactment of manifest destiny inaugurated by the ‘Italian’ experience of the Roman Empire. In early May 1915, on the eve of Italy’s entrance into the war, D’Annunzio delivered a series of speeches that extolled the virtues of military conquest. His call to action was expressed as a continuation of Imperial Roman tradition (…).
In this context, the rhetorical revocation of Rome was supported by its fictive reconstruction in the films. That is, at the same time that nationalist speeches referred to an ideal of the Roman past as a legimation of their political agenda, a large set of films circulated images of Roman antiquity to larger, popular audiences.”
Steven Ricci: Cinema and Fascism: Italian Film and Society, 1922–1943. University of California Press 2008, P. 45 f.


>>>Guazzoni’s Quo vadis? on this site: Blockbusters from Italy

A Typical ‘Cinema Woodcut’

Pikovaya dama (The Queen of Spades)
R: Pyotr Chardynin. B: Pyotr Chardynin, Alexander Pushkin. K: Louis Forestier. Ba: V. Fester. D: Pavel Biryukov, Aleksandra Goncharova, Antonina Pozharskaya. P: Khanzhonkov. RUS 1910

“Based on Pushkin‘s short story: When his friends play faro, German always enjoys watching, but he never gambles himself. One day, as he is watching their game, he learns that an elderly countess staying nearby is said to possess a secret for winning a fortune at the game. German is determined to learn this secret from her, and he initiates a romance with her grand-daughter Liza, in order to improve his chances.”
Snow Leopard

Chardynin’‘s 1910 film (A. Khanzhonkov and Co.) is a melodrama characteristic of a decadent and carefree Europe before the chaos of World War I and the Revolution. As a typical kinolubok or ‘cinema woodcut’, the film was shot according not to the story but to the opera. There were two reasons for this: first, as in other kinolubki, it was easier to set the number of required scenes by replicating the scene succession of the opera; and second, Tchaikovsky’‘s libretto adapted well to a twenty-minute kinolubok. (…) The film is shot in a badly constructed and painted set; the costumes are not true to the period and are primitively symbolic. Liza, Eletskii, and the Countess appear in the film in white, while Hermann wears black. As in similar films of the time, the characters are schematic, their emotions exaggerated, and their actions grotesque.”
Anatoly Vishevsky: “The Queen of Spades Revisited, and Revisited, and Revisited…”. In: Russian Studies in Literature, vol. 40, no. 2, Spring 2004, pp. 20-33.

>>>Domik v Kolomne by Pyotr Chardynin on this site: Pyotr Chardynin

Comedienne and Tragedienne

Twee zeeuwsche meisjes in Zandvoort
R: Louis H. Chrispijn. K: Feiko Boersma, H.W. Metman. D: Annie Bos, Christine van Meeteren, Theo Frenkel. P: Maurits Binger / Maatschappij voor Wetenschappelijke en Artistieke Cinematografie. NL 1913
Print: EYE collection

“In Twee Zeeuwsche Meisjes in Zaanvoort (1913) we see a somewhat plump Annie [Bos] 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. Full-on drama comes with the delirious De Wraak van het Visschersmeisje (The Revenge of the Fisherman’s Girl) (1914). Exploiting the availability of an exotic dancer (…), this impressively ludicruous mini-drama has two characters savaged by a quite sizeable python, which brightened up the audience no end.”
Luke McKernan: Pordenone diary–day four, October 14, 2007
The Bioscope

De wraak van het visschersmeisje (With the Viper’s Aid)
R: Jan van Dommelen. D: Annie Bos, Willem van der Veer, All’Aida. P: Filmfabriek Hollandia. NL 1914
Print: EYE collection

“Annie awaits the arrival of the boat bearing Hendrik. On his arrival she greets him warmly and takes him home to her mother. Anxious to see what he has brought back, Annie tries to open his portmanteau, but he stops her, saying that it contains a dangerous snake, which he intends to present to the zoo. They spend happy days together, until a fascinating gypsy girl visits the village and attracts Hendrik’s attention. He soon tires of Annie, and his love for Aida ripens. (…)”

>>> Boerenidylle on this site: Annie Bos

Social Drama, Romantic Comedy

Fortune’s Turn
R: Wilfrid North. B: James Oliver Curwood. D: Ned Finley, Rose Tapley, Helene Costello, Charles Eldridge. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“A picture of sentiment that just escapes sentimentality, but gets by and will, we think, please. The story, by James Oliver Curwood, shows a young man (Ned Finley) who is ‘a good sort of fellow,’ but in hard luck. He has to get food for his old father and is tempted to burglarize a house; is seen by the police and shot in his attempt to escape. He escapes for a time and, there being a burning house, he darts in to die, but finds a child caught on one of the upper floors. This tenement house fire is well suggested and the rescue gets over as a sensation. The picture as a whole is wisely kept down within reasonable spheres of emotion and can safely be commended as a good offering. It was produced by Wilfred North and clearly photographed.”
The Moving Picture World, September 27, 1913

A Lily in Bohemia
R: Wilfrid North. B: William Addison Lathrop (story). D: Lillian Walker, Templar Saxe, Evart Overton. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1915
Print: EYE
Engl. titles

“London-born Wilfrid North had a long and distinguished career on the stage as an actor, director and manager before joining Vitagraph Pictures in 1913 as a director. Vitagraph placed him at the helm of the films of its reigning comedy star, the portly John Bunny. North acquitted himself well in that position, and within a few years he was appointed Supervising Director at Vitagraph. In 1920 he signed with Select Pictures as a director, but didn’t stay there long and returned to Vitagraph as company Production Manager. In the 1920s he began appearing in Vitagraph’s films as an actor, and then for other studios. He directed his last film in 1922 but stayed in the business as an actor until 1935, and died in June of that year.”

About Lillian Walker: Immortal Ephemera

A Kalem Girl: Gene Gauntier

You Remember Ellen
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. K: George K. Hollister. D: George K. Hollister, Gene Gauntier, Jack J. Clark. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Based on the poem ‘You Remember Ellen’ by Thomas Moore.
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive

His Mother
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. K: George K. Hollister. D: Jack J. Clark, Gene Gauntier, J.P. McGowan. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Print: Irish Film Archive; National Film & Television Archive
Dutch titles

“Like The Lad from Old Ireland, the Old World and the New are reconciled, the distance between them eliminated. The Mayor from Ireland (Kalem 1912) and The Irish in America (Lubin 1915) tell similar tales of immigrant success in America. In each, New York functions as a site of male adventure and upward mobility. And in each an Irish sweetheart provides the necessary link to the homeland. Indeed, throughout the O’Kalem canon, Ireland for the most part is feminized – symbolized largely through heartbreaken sweethearts and grieving mothers. Underscoring this is the fact that fathers are somewhat rare – widows, by contrast, plentiful – and the authority of priests often ineffectual against the English Crown. America, identified with the male principles of individualism, upward mobility, and adventure, invariably proves the solution to Ireland’s problems.”
Rebecca Prime: Cinematic Homecomings: Exile and Return in Transnational Cinema. New York 2014, p. 24 f.

374-Gene Gauntier

“During the years 1907-–1912, Gene Gauntier, the first ‘Kalem Girl’, was the preeminent figure at the Kalem Film Manufacturing Company. She played key roles in the events that comprise established film history. She wrote the scenario for Ben Hur (1907), the work involved in the controversy that established the first copyright laws covering motion pictures, and wrote and acted in key films. In addition, she acted in the Nan, the Confederate Spy series: The Girl Spy (1909), The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg (1910), The Further Adventures of the Girl Spy (1910), cross-dressing forerunners of the serial action queens. She appeared in  The Lad from Old Ireland (1910), the first film shot on location outside of the United States, and in From the Manger to the Cross (1912), the first (American) feature-length treatment of the life of Christ. The Kalem Company was the first to make fiction motion pictures on location around the world, which has meant that 35mm film prints and other documents may have been deposited in archives outside the United States, the best example of which is the Irish Film Archives in Dublin, where one extant Gene Gauntier Feature Players title and five Kalem titles are archived.”
Gretchen Bisplinghoff
Women Film Pioneers

The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg
R: Sidney Olcott. B: Gene Gauntier. D: Gene Gauntier. P: Kalem Company. USA 1910
Print: EYEfilm
Dutch titles

Summary: Moving Picture World synopsis

“As Abel reminds us, not all action heroines in frontier and Civil War films disguised their gender. The difference that cross-dressing makes is that it provides a visual referent to the women’s assumption of a male role. It also provides the spectacle of a novel costume and connects the films to cross-dressing traditions on stage and in literature. On the one hand, the gender disguise could be considered conservative, as it implies that women must temporarily stop being women in order to achieve agency. It also preserves the maleness of the frontier and battlefield. On the other hand, male guise allows female bodies to participate in and contribute to masculinity, and it evokes stories of real-life passing women and female-bodied men.”
Laura Horak: Landscape, Vitality, and Desire: Cross-Dressed Frontier Girls in
Transitional-Era American Cinema. In: Cinema Journal 52, No. 4. University of Texas Press Summer 2013, pp. 74-98, here: p. 83

>>>  on this site:  From the Manger to the Cross,  Ben Hur, Old Ireland

Sherlock Holmes on Screen

Le trésor des Musgraves
R: Georges Tréville. B: Arthur Conan Doyle. D: Georges Tréville, Mr. Moyse. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1912
Engl. titles

“The first Holmes film was made in 1903, and was called Sherlock Holmes Baffled. It was made in America by the Mutoscope and Biograph company. It seems that the film bore no recognisable plot, and an unknown in the part of Holmes. The next Holmes film, made in America in 1905, was called The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this time it had something of a story line, with Holmes played by Maurice Costello. Three years later, in 1908, two Holmes films appeared and the first series. One was from America, Sherlock Holmes and the Great Murder Mystery. This film was inspired by Poe‘s story ‘Murder in the Rue Morgue’. The other film was made in Italy, The Rival of Sherlock Holmes. In Denmark, the first true Holmes series was made by the Nordisk Film Company, which starred Viggo Larsen as Holmes. The film company made five films from 1908-1911, none of which were based on the Canon.
In 1912, a series of two reelers was made by an Anglo-French company, Éclair, with the cooperation of Conan Doyle himself. For the first time a Holmes film was made in Britain. A Frenchman, George Tréville, played Holmes and also directed the films. They were for the first time based on the Canon, and it has been said that the films were closely related to the original stories. There were eight films produced from 1912-1913. In the book ‘Holmes of the Movies’ by David Davies, the film The Copper Beeches has the distinction of being the earliest known extant Holmes film, although now it is too battered and delicate to risk projection. The French continued to film Holmes stories in 1914-15, with A Study in Scarlet and the first version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
In 1913, in America, the first version of the The Sign of Four appeared. In 1914 the Samuelson Film Company produced their version of A Study in Scarlet, with James Bragington. Looking at a photo of Bragington, he was very gaunt and suitable as Holmes. Bragington was the first English actor to play the role. The same company made the The Valley of Fear in 1916 with a different actor playing Holmes, H. A. Saintsbury.”
Damian Magee (1997)
Holmes on Screen

689-Bragington as Sherlock Holmes  James Bragington

The Copper Beeches
R: Adrien Caillard. B: Arthur Conan Doyle. D: Georges Tréville. P: Société Francaise des Filmes et Cinématographes Éclair and Franco-British Film Company coproduction. Fr / UK 1912

“Doyle’s answer to the challenge posed by the Nordisk films was to sell the film rights to some of the Holmes stories to a film company on a one-off basis, not long after the Copyright Act came into force. For reasons that are unclear, he did a deal with the French company Éclair (though a producers of the Nick Carter series the company may have asserted particular expertise in detective dramas). After an initial foray with Les aventures de Sherlock Holmes (1911), the first official Sherlock Holmes film (Holmes was played by Henri Gouget), Éclair filmed eight two-reelers in Bexhill-on-Sea in Britain in 1912 through a subsidiary, Franco-British Film. With titles such as Le ruban moucheté aka The Speckled Band and Flamme d’argent aka The Silver Blaze these were the first film adaptations of Holmes stories, though indications from reviews are that the results bore scant relation to Doyle’s plots. The films’ producer Georges Tréville is understood to have played Holmes himself. Two episodes of the eight survive (The Copper Beeches and The Musgrave Ritual).

Doyle had more luck with producers adapting his other novels (at least accuracy-wise), with the British company London Film Productions producing prestigious feature film versions of ‘The House of Temperley’ (1913) and ‘The Firm of Girdlestone’ (1915). Films borrowing the Sherlock Holmes character continued, with Viggo Larsen, star of the Danish series, moving to Germany for five titles in the Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes series (1910-11), while the American company Thanhouser made Sherlock Holmes Solves ‘The Sign of Four’ (1913) without any certain acknowledgment of Doyle’s ownership. But it was in Germany where copyright infringement was most flagrant, with Jules Greenbaum (producer of the Arsène Lupin series) making a massively popular six-part series (strictly speaking he wasn’’t involved in part four) very loosely based on ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, which ran 1914-1920, with Alwin Neuss and others playing Holmes.”
The Bioscope

>>> Der Hund von Baskerville on this site