An Irish Robin Hood

Brennan of the Moor
R: Edward Warren. D: Barney Gilmore, Marian Swayne, Joseph Levering. P: Solax Film Company. USA 1913
Dutch titles

“The most popular Irish highwayman since the second half of the 19th century was William Brennan who is immortalized in the ballad ‘Brennan On The Moor’. Not much is known about him except a lot of legends but this song has survived until today.”
Some Notes On The History Of “Brennan On The Moor”:
Just Another Tune

“According to Solax’s advertising, Barney Gilmore was a well-known Irish stage actor. (…) The film has some interesting touches like an entrance to a counterfeiter’s den hidden behind a painting. The visual style, especially the slow rhythm of the performances, the ‘early noir’ quality of the depictions of the criminals show that the serials of Feuillade might have been an inspiration. One of the criminals is played by Lee Beggs, and an old woman in the group is played by Mrs. Hurley. The film has some excellent lighting setups and high production value and was marketed with an elaborate color poster.”
Alison McMahan
Alice Guy Blaché

>>> Edward Warren’s Algie the Miner: Gay Cinema 1912 ?

Extraordinary: Saturnino, Italy 1913

Le avventure straordinarissime di Saturnino Farandola
R: Marcel Perez (i.e. Marcel Fabre) / Luigi Maggi. B: Albert Robida (novel) / Guido Volante. K: Ottavio De Matteis. Ba: Decoroso Bonifanti / Enrico Lupi. D: Marcel Perez, Nilde Baracchi, Alfredo Bertone. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1913
Ital. titles
Print: La Cineteca Italiana

Released in four episodes: 1. L’isola delle scimmie 2. Alla ricerca dell’Elefante bianco 3. La regina dei Makalolos 4. Farandola contro Fileas-Fogg

“The story originates with a novel by Albert Robida written in 1879 as a pastiche of the works of Jules Verne. Part parody, part tribute, it’s full title was ‘The Extraordinary Voyages of Saturnino Farandola, in the Five or Six Parts of the World and in All Countries Known and Unknown to Mr Jules Verne’. Illustrated throughout by the author, it featured many of the characters from Verne’s novels, and was popular enough to be translated into French and Spanish. According to some sources, this film adaptation was, like the novel, originally released in serial form, consisting of eighteen two- and three-reel episodes. Sadly, we only have four left, which were restored by Lobster-Film in 1997 and screened in the feature-length form discussed here.

The star of Saturnino, Marcel Fabre, was a Spanish comic actor and ex-circus clown (real name Marcel Perez) well known in Italy for his character ‘Robinet‘, whom he portrayed in around forty films for Arturo Ambrosio’s studio from 1910 onwards. Marcel makes an engagingly good-natured hero amidst the mayhem, hard to dislike despite Saturnino’s occasional lapses into animal slaughter, violence and racism; present-day viewers will have to make their own excuses for the toe-curling parade of ethnic stereotypes seen throughout Saturnino.

Fabre’s (uncredited) co-director, Luigi Maggi, made his mark with The Last Days of Pompeii in 1908, also for Ambrosio. (…) There’s a hint of the influence of Méliès in some of the more fantastical scenes here, but with a major difference: depth. Even with his later films, Méliès was still moving his players from right to left, as on a theatre stage. In Saturnino, though there are very few close-ups, many individual shots make effective use of perspective, with the actors emerging from or disappearing into the far distance. And even when this device is not used for dramatic effect, there is usually some kind of business happening in the background to add visual interest to expository scenes.”
The Devil’s Manor

>>> more films by Marcel Perez: Slapstick Italiano on this site

A Tiny Villain-Mustache

586-ambassador's daughter

The Ambassador’s Daughter
R: Charles Brabin. B: Bannister Merwin. D: Miriam Nesbitt, George Lessey, Robert Brower, Mary Fuller. P: Edison Company. USA 1913

Print temporarily not available

“Charles J. Brabin was a British-born director, screenwriter, and producer whose film career spanned 1908 to the mid-1930s. He came to New York in the early 1900s. Brabin joined the Edison Company around 1908, acting first and then directing. Brabin directed Theda Bara in Kathleen Mavourneen (1919) and La Belle Russe (1919), and the two were married in 1921. Driven (1923), Stella Maris (1925), and The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) were among the films directed and occasionally scripted by Brabin.”
Online Archive of California

>>> more Brabin films on this website: The Usurer’s Grip, An Unsullied Shield, Hope — A Red Cross Seal Story

Feuillade 1909

La Possession de l’enfant
R: Louis Feuillade. D: Renée Carl, Christiane Mandelys, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1909
Engl. titles

“As David Bordwell has described, Feuillade used sophisticated approaches to staging characters and directing audience attention within the single-tableau format. These strategies responded in part to Gaumont’s later demand for rapid filmmaking, often on reused sets, but Feuillade first developed this multilayered staging techniques on the studio’s deep stage and its more architecturally sophisticated set pieces, as seen in films as La Possession de l’enfant (1909) and later in the Scėnes de la vie telle qu’elle est-Series.”
Brian Jacobson: Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space. New York 2015, p. 165

“Although this is largely similar to Progressive Era morality dramas being made in the United States, there are some interesting differences. First of all, the very act of basing a film on the premise of divorce is unusual for American pictures anytime before Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), or at least The Parent Trap (1961). It’s also interesting that the it is the father who is awarded custody, making the conflict of the film the natural love between a mother and child, and the harm done by divorce to this institution.”
Century Film Project

>>> Feuillade’s Erreur tragique

Germany Prepares for WW I

Die Lokomobil-Fabrik R. Wolf Magdeburg-Buckau
Original distributor: Bild- und Filmamt (BuFA) (Berlin). D: Olaf Fønss. D 1912
Shoot: July 16, 1912 Magdeburg-Buckau
Print: Bundesarchiv / Filmarchiv
11 min.19 sec. – 11 min.25 sec.: Olaf Fønss as “Feuergott”

>>> Olaf Fønss: Atlantis: A Danish Shipwreck Melodrama, Science Fiction from Denmark

581-hänschen 2
Hänschens Soldaten
P: Messter-Film. D 1913
Print: Landesfilmsammlung Baden-Württemberg (from the Filmbestand Margarethe Steiff Archiv)

>>> click here to view the film on filmportal.de

Animation movie showing puppets of the plush toy company Margarethe Steiff, Germany. A boy wearing a sailor suit plays with soldier puppets and falls asleep. In his dream, the puppets come to life.

530-Lieb VaterlandLieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein
P: Deutsche Bioscop GmbH (Berlin). D 1914
Print: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

>>> click on the picture to view the film on filmportal.de

Actors Behind the Screen

College Chums
R: Edwin S. Porter. K: Edwin S. Porter. D: Miss Acton, Miss Antoinette, Edward Boulden, Katherine Griffith. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1907

“During the second half of 1908, Moving Picture World carried a number of news items on Actologue, which was a particularly active firm specializing in putting actors behind the screen. Actologue was owned by National Film Company, an exchange based in Detroit.
‘The National Film Co.’s latest venture, the Actologue, is meeting with great success. One company opened at Cleveland June 29th, presenting Monte Cristo and College Chums.’ (Trade Notes, Moving Picture World 4, July 1908, 9)”
Hearing the Movies

“The last two-thirds of the film is located in the young man’s living room: this lengthy, single ‘shot’ was actually photographed in several takes, with the actors exiting and reentering so that Porter could photograph the scene in sections. Actors behind the screen often brought this section of the film to life with quick repartee. This filmed-theater approach, for which the camera is a passive recorder, differs sharply from the animated trick scene that maximizes filmic manipulation and artifice. Here Porter supplied the words, using the technique of animated titles he introduced in 1905. As in the past, Porter juxtaposed various mimetic procedures for a syncretic, rather than internally consistent, mode of representation.
(…)
College Chums (November 1907) offered bawdy humor that had been ‘worked to death in burlesque’. Nonetheless, the Edison film’s play with homosexuality, transvestism, and infidelity was not so trite in the nickelodeons, which reached a wider audience in terms of age (children), gender (unescorted women), socioeconomic background (lower classes), ethnicity (recent immigrants), and geography (rural areas).”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p, 409 / p. 428

TRAUM UND EXZESS, p. 269

Machin in Africa

Chasse à la panthère
R: Alfred Machin. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909

Machin in Africa:
“In 1905 he started working as a cameraman for Ferdinand Zecca. who at the time was working for Pathé in Montreuil. He continued his Pathé career as a ‘chasseur d’images’. His adventurous spirit and an experienced guy, the German agronomist Adam David, eventually lead him to the heart of Africa. During two African expeditions (1908 and 1910) he became fascinated with the wildlife there, eventueally bringing some animals home (…), some of which would eventually appear or even star in his later fiction films. The anthropological reports, wildlife documentaries and hunt scenes that he brought from his expeditions were distributed by Pathé and became popular with audiences around the world.”
Ernest Mathijs: The Cinema of the Low Countries. London 2004, p. 15

La chasse à la girafe en Ouganda
R: Alfred Machin. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1910

What’s about the Mickey Mouse at the start of the film? JoeytheBrit tells us on IMDb:
“The film was rediscovered by a French guy, a fanatic about early films who died in 2006. He liked to brand his films with a little drawing painted directly onto the film, so right at the start of this film we’re treated to a quick glimpse of a skinny Mickey Mouse waving hello before running into a river…”
IMDb

“Adam David and Machin travelled through Egypt along the Nile to the Sudan. Along the Dinder River in Sudan they filmed and hunted for five months and did not return to Europe until 1908. During the expedition, Machin had problems with the film equipment, which was not geared for the humidity and heat of the tropic climate. (…)
The film cannot have been a total disaster, however, for Pathé sent David and Machin on yet another hunting trip that lasted from January to August 1909. This time Machin was the director, and he had a cinematographer with him, Julien Doux. On this trip they shot more film, and the result was much better than the first time around – mainly due to the fact that the film was stored in wooden boxes that were insulated with ashes. This way the film was protected against high temperatures and humidity. On the last expedition – the destination of which was East Africa, the Nile, Fachoda and Victoria Lake – they hunted and filmed elephants (among other animals). Among other film they made were Dans l’Ouganda: Chasse à la girafe and Chasse à la panthère (1909).”
Palle B. Petterson: Cameras into the Wild: A History of Early Wildlife and Expedition Filmmaking, 1895-1928. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London 2011, p. 94f.

>>> Alfred Machin-1 Alfred Machin-2

De Chomón’s Pickpock

Pickpock ne craint pas les entraves
R: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909

“It is curious why he (i.e. Segundo de Chomón) is not generally known as one of the early cinema masters, except among the cognoscenti in the field. Perhaps it is because there is a smaller body of work than that created by Georges Méliès (his works can perhaps be described as a cross between that of Méliès and another who combined trickery with animation, Emile Cohl); perhaps it is because he was a Spaniard working in France for the key part of his film career that has meant that neither side has championed him as much as they might have done. De Chomón carried on as a filmmaker, specialising in trick effects, working for Pathé, Itala and others, and contributing effect work to two of the most notable films of the silent era, Pastrone’s Cabiria (1914) and Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927).”
Luke McKernan
The Bioscope

>>> Cabiria
>>> Segundo de Chomón 

Feuillade, experimenting

Erreur tragique
R: Louis Feuillade. B: Louis Feuillade. D: René Navarre, Suzanne Grandais, Ernest Bourbon. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont, Fr 1913
Engl. intertitles

“There is an early ‘going to the movies’ episode, which develops some creative wrinkles on the use of film itself as a subject matter. The same year, the Thanhouser Company in the USA will release a nicely done mystery tale with a film industry background, The Evidence of the Film (Lawrence Marston, Edwin Thanhouser, 1913).
Feuillade will include an action sequence, about a horse and a carriage. This starts with the husband standing next to the horse – and looking oddly similar to the horse himself, in his tall boots. Humans and animals often ‘intergrade in appearance or behavior’ in Feuillade. Soon, there is a pair of Feuillade’s interesting camera movements, following a vehicle down a country road.
Erreur tragique includes one of Feuillade’s chateau facades, a building that comes complete with that Feuillade standard, giant gates with spiral metal work.
A bureau stands in one corner of the husband’s hotel room. It has an odd-looking, even surreal construction: one half is drawers, the other half a mirror. It is oddly like the double doors of rooms in other Feuillade. Like such ‘one door open, one closed’ constructions, the bureau is half one thing, half another.
The bureau also is at an angle in the corner, something that recurs in other Feuillade.
The husband at home is seen in a room, whose background walls are both at an angle from the plane of the screen. This seems atypical for Feuillade. Perhaps he is experimenting.”
Michael E. Grost

“In Erreur tragique, the film shown in the cinema resembles an actual film existing outside the realm of fiction. It seems to belong to the Onésime-series, a popular series that had been directed for Gaumont by Jean Durand since the summer of 1912. This series featured the actor Ernest Bourbon as the protagonist in films such as Onésime, l’amour vous appelle (Fr 1912), or Onésime, douanier (Fr 1913) and many others with similar titles. However, the film shown within Erreur tragique, ‘Onésime, vagabond’ does not actually belong to the series. It was faked by Feuillade, again using Bourbon as the main actor. For an audience familiar with the series, this was probably supposed to authenticate the fiction that the Count’s wife and her companion could really have accidentally blundered into the shooting of the film. Also important is that Bourbon’s acting style in ‘Onésime, vagabond’ is quite different from René Navarre’s (as the Count) in the main story of Erreur tragique. The Onésime film deploys the registers of the burlesque, intentionally exaggerating movements and gestures, and having the actors address the camera. Feuillade uses this as a contrast (‘cinema’ vs. ‘reality’) to the much more sober and almost anti-dramatic performance of Navarre, whom he had instructed to play in this manner, as the actor later confirmed.”
Guido Kirsten: Programmatic and Proto-Reflexive Realism: Feuillade’s La tare (1911) and Erreur tragique (1913)

Further reading:
Christian Quendler: Autopsy and Autography in the First Decades of Cinema

How to Fall in Love with a Stableman

Young Lord Stanley
B: Lloyd Lonergan. D: Justus D. Barnes. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1910
Print: Library of Congress

“Whether this film will have any influence in inducing girls to accept the attentions of their fathers’ grooms on the supposition that they may be wealthy lords in disguise remains to be seen. But this girl, at least, was wooed and virtually won by a lord, who, down on his luck, had sought temporary employment as a groom. It is a romantic picture, affording ample opportunity for the imagination to run riot in a number of different directions. The spirit of the girl is best shown when she refuses to see the young Lord Stanley. whom her father wishes her to wed. But when she discovers that the groom to whom she had previously given her heart was Lord Stanley his reception is quite different from what she had originally planned. Much of human nature is disclosed in this film, even though it is, in a way, a travesty upon the way wealthy girls often fall in love with stablemen or others employed about their fathers’ places.”
The Moving Picture World, November 5, 1910
Thanhouser

  Lloyd F. Lonergan