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