A Kind of “Heist Picture”

Mexican Filibusterers
R: Kenean Buel. D: Carlyle Blackwell, Alice Joyce. P: Kalem Company. USA 1911
Filming Locations: Glendale, California, USA
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“Our story opens in the office of the Mexican junta in a Texas town, not many miles from the border, presided over by M. Oliverez, supposedly the agent for the Mexican-American Fruit Co. Pedro, a young Mexican attached to the Junta, is in love with Blance, the agent’s daughter. Arrangements have been made to run a quantity of fire arms and ammunition across the line to the Mexican insurgents. In loading a freight care with the contraband every patriot thereabouts takes off his coat and works with a will, all except Monte. Oliverez coming on the scene and finding everyone working but Monte, upbraids the lazy fellow and threatens to strike him. This arouses the revengeful spirit of Monte; he sneaks away and advises the American authorities that the Mexican filibusterers are attempting to rush fire arms across the border. Although compelled to act on the information furnished by him the Secret Service man are disgusted with the traitor and look upon him with contempt. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“It is a kind of early ‘heist’ picture, in which the audience is far more invested in the criminals and whether they will pull off the crime than in the pursuing forces of law. It owes a great deal, in fact, to The Great Train Robbery, both visually and in terms of narrative, which makes it seem a bit dated for 1911. It was one of the first films in which Kenean Buel directed Alice Joyce (which also include By the Aid of a Lariat and The Mexican Joan of Arc) for the Kamen Company, which would itself make further movies about the complicated border relations during the time of the Revolution. Despite the fact that much of the film centers around a thrilling chase, the editing is fairly straightforward, with little inter-cutting or use of multiple angles to communicate the story, and the forward-facing intertitles telegraph a great deal of the action before it happens.”
Century Film Project

“The heist film is a subgenre of the crime film. It focuses on the planning, execution, and aftermath of a theft. Versions with dominant or prominent comic elements are often called caper movies. They could be described as the analogues of caper stories in film history. A typical film includes many plot twists, with the focus on the characters’ attempts to formulate a plan, carry it out, and escape with the goods. Often a nemesis must be thwarted, who might be either a figure of authority or else a former partner who turned on the group or one of its members.”

The Colonel’s Escape
R: George Melford. D: Carlyle Blackwell, Alice Joyce, C. Rhys Pryce, Karl Formes. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Print: EYEfilm
Engl titles (translated from the Dutch version)

“Another Mexican war film from Kalem. C. Rhys Pryce (apparently playing himself) is a soldier who is on the side of the Mexican rebels. He rescues Carlyle Blackwell, apparently on the side of the Federals, and takes him to a house where Alice Joyce gives him some water. When the rebel man is chased and hides in Alice’s house, Blackwell recognizes him and lets him go (with an interesting shot of them watching the escape through a window). (…) Interesting that Kalem films sided with the rebels in the Mexican war and that this film stars a soldier of fortune appearing under his own name.”

>>> The Great Train Robbery 
>>> Kenean Buel’s: The Confederate Ironclad

Hepworth’s Emblematic Dog

Rescued by Rover
R: Lewin Fitzhamon. P: Cecil Hepworth. UK 1905

The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper
R: Lewin Fitzhamon. D: Blair, Barbara Hepworth, Cecil M. Hepworth. P: Hepworth. UK 1908

“A producer, director, writer and scenic photographer, Cecil Hepworth survived in the film business longer than any other British pioneer film-maker. His film-making career began in 1899 when he converted a small house in Walton-on-Thames into a studio. Twenty-five years later it would be the over-ambitious expansion of the studio that would drive him out of business. In the course of his career, Hepworth became one of the most respected, if not the most dynamic, figures in British cinema. (…)
In 1905 he presented the first British movie star, a collie with the stage name of Rover. Rescued by Rover (co-d. Lewin Fitzhamon, 1905) was an enormous popular success. The following year he presented a new star – a horse – in Black Beauty (1906), which was then teamed with Rover in Dumb Sagacity (1907). By 1910 Hepworth had recognised the growing cult of personality in the cinema, and was promoting two series featuring recurring comic characters, Mr Poorluck, played by Harry Buss, and Tilly the Tomboy, featuring Alma Taylor and Chrissie White.
Rescued by Rover is notable for its efficient style, using consistency of direction from one shot to the next to clarify the action, yet Hepworth showed little interest in the development of film language. Indeed, he was to speak out against the narrative system of classical Hollywood films in later years. His interest remained in scenic photography and he brought this pictorial style into his films.”
Simon Brown: Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors
Screen Online

“After the phenomenal success of Rescued by Rover (1905), Cecil Hepworth decided to make this sequel. His daughter Barbara Hepworth (not the sculptor) again played the baby (actually now a toddler), while the family dog, Blair, repeated his performance as Rover. Like the original, it is a simple story – a there and back again plot – but the sight of a dog fairly convincingly driving a car loses none of its entertainment value over a century later. The emblematic shot or ‘curtain call’ close-up of the main actors, Rover and the baby positions them as characters who will return. Barbara, one imagines, outgrew the role, but Blair would reappear as Rover as late as 1912.”
Bryony Dixon
Screen Online

Another emblematic dog, made in USA, Western style:

A Frontier Hero
R: Unknown. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1910
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“The action of this story takes place on the frontier of Kentucky in 1800. Inside a stockade several settlers have their log cabin homes. The family with which we are concerned consists of a frontiersman, his wife and four children, the oldest, Tom, a boy of fourteen, the youngest a baby girl, Ruth. The children have a constant playmate in a magnificent collie dog called Shep. One day the father goes hunting with the other men of the settlement. In their anxiety to be early at the hunting ground they forget to close the gate of the stockade. At about this point the adventure which is portrayed in the picture begins. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

Little Robin Hood

The little Widow
R: Anthony O’Sullivan. D: Alan Hale. P: Biograph Company. USA 1914
Print: EYE collection (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles
(Formerly presumed to be More than Friends, 1915)

Alan Hale Sr. (1892 – 1950) was an American movie actor and director, most widely remembered for his many supporting character roles, in particular as frequent sidekick of Errol Flynn, as well as movies supporting Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Douglas Fairbanks, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan, among dozens of others. (…)
His first film role was in the 1911 silent movie The Cowboy and the Lady. He played ‘Little John’ in the 1922 film Robin Hood, with Douglas Fairbanks and Wallace Beery, reprised the role 16 years later in The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, then played him yet again in Rogues of Sherwood Forest in 1950 with John Derek as Robin Hood’s son, a 28-year span of portrayals of the same character.”

>>> Anthony O’Sullivan as director: Inspired by Griffith

Alice Guy: Hand Colored Films, 1900

Pierrette’s Escapades (Le départ d’Arlequin et de Pierrette)
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1900
Print: Filmoteca de Catalunya / Gaumont

Au Bal de flore (At the Floral Ball)
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1900
Print: Filmoteca de Catalunya / Gaumont

“Guy not only directed films at Gaumont, making her the first female director, but she was also responsible for many innovations in the evolution of both story telling technique and film technology. Along with Edwin S. Porter, the Lumiere brothers, and others, Guy helped to create film ‘language’ and advanced the film narrative. The earliest films were just scenes of every day life. Trains entering a station, people eating lunch or going home from work, etc. Guy was among the first directors to see movies as a way to tell stories rather than just record life. She was behind the camera for the first (though some sources say it was the second) scripted fictional film (1896’s Cabbage Fairy (…), and was one of the first to make a film more than one-reel in length. Technically Guy experimented with tinted film, sound movies as early as 1905 (…). At the Floral Ball and Pierrette’s Escapades (both 1900) are hand colored films, where each frame of a movie was pained by hand. The dress of one lady would be colored red, the other green, frame by frame, and this gave the illusion of a color movie.”
John Sinnott
dvd talk