Alice Guy 1906

La vérité sur l’homme-singe
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1906

Une histoire roulante
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1906
Print: Lobster Films

Le matelas épileptique
R: Romeo Bosetti / Alice Guy. D: Romeo Bosetti. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1906

“Comedy was the leading genre in early cinematographic fiction. Alice Guy‘s show many variations on this theme. Through the use of makeup (La vérité sur l’homme singe, 1906), decoration (Le frotteur, 1907), special effects (Chirurgie fin de siècle, 1900), chases (Les cambrioleurs, 1898; La course à la saucisse, 1907), these films prefigure the burlesque films of 1910 to 1920. Le billet de banque (1907) was an even more astonishing forerunner of the early Charlie Chaplin films.”
Musée d’Orsay

Lon Chaney as Hunchback

Alas and Alack
R: Joseph De Grasse. B: Ida May Park. D: Cleo Madison, Arthur Shirley, Mary Kearnen, Lon Chaney. P: Rex Motion Picture Company. USA 1915

“Alas and Alack”: used to express regret or sadness. An idiom combining a pair of terms with similar meaning. The first syllable in each word is like a sigh; las is from Old French meaning weariness; and lack is from Middle English meaning loss.
Your Dictionary

“Incomplete short has Cleo Madison telling her daughter a story about the noise in a seashell while her husband (Lon Chaney) is away fishing. The woman dreams of becoming rich one day and it seems her wishes are granted when a rich man pulls up on shore. The final six minutes of the film are missing so there’s no way of knowing if she leaves with the man or stays with her husband. The most important thing about this early Universal short is that Chaney plays two roles including a hunchback in a dream sequence.”
Michael Elliott

Alas and Alack is significant in that Chaney appeared here, in the third year of his film career, as a hunchback in a fantasy sequence—an obvious precursor to Hunchback (i.e. the 1923 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Chaney). The film itself is rather hokey insofar as we traditionally understand the film form, as the bulk of the action in the film takes place internally for the characters as they mope around. A dissatisfied fisherman’s wife laments her existence on a beach when she is spied by a wealthy gentleman. She goes home, having not so much as spoken a single word to the gentleman, and he goes back to his yacht regretting not being able to be with her. The aforementioned fantasy sequence is tossed in in the middle there to demonstrate her internal turmoil, then Chaney as the fisherman pulls his boat ashore, and that’s it.”
Jef Burnham

Joseph Louis De Grasse (1873 – 1940) was born into a French Canadian family. (…) Joe immigrated to the USA around 1880 as a young child. Joseph began his career as a journalist, but soon became enamored of the theater and took work as a stage actor. Joe De Grasse met and married actress, Ida May Park (1879-1954). By 1910, he and Ida were acting in motion pictures in Burbank, California. (…) In 1915, Joe became a founding member of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a forerunner to the Director’s Guild of America. During a career spanning from 1910 to 1935 he directed a total of 86 films, as well as writing and producing. Joseph DeGrasse died in Eagle Rock, California.”

>>> on this site: Lon Chaney

Capellani’s First Film

Le chemineau
R: Albert Capellani. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1905
Piano: Günter A. Buchwald
Print: EYE Film Institute Netherlands

An adaption of the second chapter of Victor Hugo‘s “Les Misérables”

“From 1905 to 1907, Capellani made about twenty films. At first, he concentrated on drama. (…) In Le chemineau, he already demonstrates a real visual sense. A man walks under the snow in a wintry landscape. Rather than moving parallel to the camera, he walks directly towards it until his face appears in full close-up. The close-up was still uncommon in French films and still would be by the time Capallani left Pathé in 1914.”
Christine Leteux: Albert Capellani: Pioneer of the Silent Screen. University Press of Kentucky 2015

Sarajevo 1915

(aka Sarajewo, die Hauptstadt von Bosnien)
No credits. Austria 1915
Print: EYE collection (Amsterdam)
German titles

The film is part of the EFG1914 project, focusing on films and non-film material related to World War I.
European Film Gateway

“Baščaršija is Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city. Baščaršija was built in the 15th century when Isa-Beg Isaković founded the town. The word Baščaršija derives from the Turkish language. (…) Baščaršija is located on the north bank of the river Miljacka, in the municipality of Stari Grad. On Baščaršija there are several important historic buildings, such as the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque and sahat-kula.(…) Along with Islamic places of worship erected at that time, Baščaršija is also location of Old Orthodox Church, built sometimes during 16th century and first mentioned in Ottoman sources from 1539, and also first Sephardi temple called Old Synagogue which is built between 1581 and 1587. Just next to the Old Synagogue (Bosnian: Stari Hram = Old Temple) some time later was built New Synagogue (Bosnian: Novi Hram = New Temple). However today entire Jewish community uses latest erected synagogue, Ashkenazim synagogue just across the Miljacka river, while both Old and New synagogue buildings are used as Jewish cultural centers.”

Rural and Urban America

The Miller’s Daughter
R: Wallace McCutcheon, Edwin S. Porter. B: Steele MacKaye (play). P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1905 (not complete)

“Hazel, the miller’s daughter, is courted by a country boy and a sophisticated city boy. Her father favors the country boy, but she elopes with the city boy. Before they can marry, his wife shows up and stops the ceremony. Hazel tries to return to her father, but he has disowned her. She jumps into the river, but is rescued by the country boy, who later marries her.”

“The rural America (…) contrasts sharply with the impersonal city of The Ex-Convict, The Kleptomaniac , and Life of an American Policeman. These urban dramas focus on the breakdown of community relations and their replacement by an unfeeling and often corrupt class structure. The Miller’s Daughter (September-October 1905) contrasts this sinful, decadent city to the simple, honest country in a fascinating reworking of Steele MacKaye‘s melodrama ‘Hazel Kirke’. MacKaye’s play was first performed at the Madison Square Theater on February 4, 1880, and ran for 486 performances. It pioneered theatrical realism by dispensing with mustachioed villains and subsequently became a standard number in the melodrama repertoire of traveling theatrical troupes.
This screen adaptation shares many parallels with Porter‘s adaptation of The Ex-Convict. The mechanism for family reconciliation — the child — is a Porteresque touch. Porter also reverts to melodramatic, good-versus-evil stereotypes, but increases the realism by making the characters ordinary people, filming on location and avoiding the pastoralism of MacKaye’s play. Many offstage occurrences are shown in the Porter film, including Hazel’s suicidal jump and her rescue. Class differences are banished from rural life (Rodney is just an average farmer) and located in the city. The portrayed conflict between small-town America and large-scale capitalism articulated the beliefs and fears of many native-born Americans. It reflected not only Porter’s early experiences but the major demographic shifts of the 1880s and 1890s that had pushed Americans, including Porter and Griffith, out of small towns and into the metropolitan centers.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p.306-307

559-Miller's daughter-2

>>> The Ex-Convict and The Kleptomaniac on this site: Porter and Griffith: The Early Social Drama

Charles Moisson

Pont suspendu
K: Charles Moisson. P: Auguste & Louis Lumière. Fr 1896
Budapest: Le Lánchid, inauguré en 1849 et remplaçant le pont flottant provisoire, fut le premier pont reliant Bude à Pest.
>>> Catalogue Lumière

Place du Dôme
K: Charles Moisson. P: Auguste & Louis Lumière. Fr 1896
Italie, Milan, place du Dôme.
>>> Catalogue Lumière

Entrée du Cinématographe
K: Charles Moisson. P: Auguste & Louis Lumière. Fr 1896
Vienne, Kärntnerstraße
Le local du Cinématographe Lumière, au n° 39 de la Kärntnerstraße.
>>> Catalogue Lumière

Arrivée d’un bateau à vapeur
K: Charles Moisson. P: Auguste & Louis Lumière. Fr 1896
France, Boulogne-sur-Mer, chenal du port
>>> Catalogue Lumière

Moisson was the Lumières‘ chief mechanic and worked with the brothers on the design of the prototype of the Cinématographe camera, and constructed the first working example. For the trials, the machine used bands of perforated photographic paper. He was operator of the Cinématographe at several of the early Lumière projections in 1895, including the demonstration to the Belgian Photographic Association on 10 November 1895, and the first show to a paying public at the Grand Café on 28 December 1895. The famous engraving of a Lumière Cinématogaphe projectionist is said to represent Moisson. He introduced the Lumière Cinématographe in Cologne, Germany, from 19 to 28 April 1896, where his ‘animated photographs’ received very complimentary comments in major local newspapers. Continuing to travel for the Lumières on 14 May 1896 Moisson was in Russia with Francis Doublier to photograph the coronation of Tsar Nikolas II and later in the year he travelled to Italy. In April 1897 at La Roche-sur-Yon in Western France he was the first to film a President of the French Republic on an official tour, Félix Faure. Moisson’s first model Cinématographe survives at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris.”
Stephen Herbert
Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema

>>> Promio, Lumière operator

>>> Gabriel Veyre, Lumière operator

Léonce Perret

First start the film, then click the Internet Archive icon at the right to select the title

(1) L’automne du coeur
R: Léonce Perret. D: Yvette Andréyor, Léonce Perret, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911

(2) L’express matrimonial
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Valentine Petit, Léonce Perret, Emile Keppens, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

“I don’t know when a scene of fiction was first filmed in a real carriage, rather than in a studio-built simulation, but there is a sense (…) with Feuillade, and with some contemporaries, that the thing represented has become something quite different. I would compare it to the moment when the New Wave squeezed its small camera into the space of a real car, and so could film both the inside of the car and, through the windows, the world outside. It isn’t so much that we see something different, but a different identification with the space of seeing becomes possible. In the corridor and compartment, which are both interior spaces, the light comes through windows from outside and falls where it will, uncontrolled. (…) In L’Express matrimonial (1912), Léonce Perret makes similiar use of the light available in railway carriages. Perret’s film is a comedy and (…) it is actually the change in available light, in a real carriage, that enables him to refresh an old film-comedy staple, the Kiss in the Tunnel.”
Roland François Lack
The Cine-Tourist

(3) Le chrysanthème rouge
R: Leónce Perret. D: Suzanne Grandais, Léonce Perret, Emile Keppens. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

(4) Le mystere des roches de Kador
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. Ba: Robert-Jules Garnier. D: Suzanne Grandais, Émile Keppens, Léonce Perret, Max Dhartigny, Jean Aymé, Marie Dorly, Louis Leubas. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

Le mystère des roches de Kador stands out not only for its decorative use of the titular location, early use of deep-focus photography and the relative sophistication of the storyline, but for the novel – for its time – depiction of film within film. The bungling Fernand fails in his attempt to kill either of the lovers, succeeding only in traumatising Suzanne so badly that she lapses into a somnambulistic trance. The police enlist the aid of Professor Williams (Émile Keppens), an unorthodox, pioneering scientist whose methods include the recreation of crimes on film and then playing the film back to the victim in order to jolt them out of their trauma-induced state. It’s an unusual example of self-reflexism from an art that was yet to learn some of its more sophisticated techniques. Unfortunately, the performances are strictly out of the ‘exaggerated gesture’ school of acting in which stricken people hold the back of their hands to either their mouth or their forehead, depending, presumably on their level of strickenness. But Perret demonstrates a pleasing awareness for an eye-catching image, and demonstrates an impressive mastery of his craft.”
Richard Cross
20/20 movie reviews

“Auf den ersten Blick: ein Kriminalfall. Ein Onkel bekommt testamentarisch eine Nichte mit großem, von ihm bis zu ihrer Volljährigkeit treuhänderisch zu verwaltenden Vermögen in Obhut; einem Vermögen, das an ihn fällt, stößt der Nichte etwas zu. Als er in eine finanzielle Bredouille gerät, verfällt er, wie zu erwarten war, auf die Idee, die Nichte um die Ecke zu bringen. (…)
Auf den zweiten Blick: ein Film über das Kommunikationsmedium Brief. Briefe und Schriftstücke sind allgegenwärtig. Einerseits in Intrigenfunktion (gefälschter Brief lockt Opfer zum Stelldichein) und Evidenzabsicht (der gefälschte Brief bricht dem Täter zuletzt das Genick). Andererseits in Rücksicht auf Darstellbarkeit von komplizierten Personenverhältnissen im Stummfilm – also: Brief als innerdiegetischer Schrifttafelersatz. Aber da ist ein Überschuss. Der Film, der immerzu Männer an Schreibtischen zeigt, ist durchwaltet nicht nur von einer Liebe zum Zeigen von Briefen, sondern auch von der Liebe zum Zeigen von Menschen beim Schreiben, beim Lesen, ja sogar schon beim Öffnen von Briefen. (…)
Die Anwendung des Kinematografen auf die Psychotherapie versucht Heilung durch Konfrontation mit Realitäts-Reenactment. Aufgestellt wird die Kamera am Ufer bei den Felsen von Kador. Nachgedreht werden die Schüsse auf den Geliebten, die Rettung der Schlafenden, das Treiben des Boots auf dem Wasser. (…) Wir beobachten also gespannt im Film, wie der Arzt gespannt die Frau beobachtet, die gespannt den Film beobachtet, den der Arzt für sie nach den Vorfällen, die wir früher im Film sahen, gedreht hat. Auch für uns als Filmzuschauer also eine Verdopplung, die uns vor allem eines vor Augen führt: Was es heißt, Filme zu sehen. Wir erkennen wieder, was wir (nicht) erlebt haben.”
Ekkehard Knörer

“Wenn das keine schöne Idee ist. Das Kino einmal nicht als das Medium des Teufels, das die Unschuldigen korrumpiert und sie zu Gewalt und Verbrechen anreizt, nicht als Werkzeug der Unmoral, vor dem man die Kinder, die Frauen und andere Leute generell schützen muss (damals wurden Kinogänger ganz allgemein als Kinder diffamiert, und heute ist das manchmal auch noch so), sondern als Mittel zur geistigen Gesundung und zur Schaffung einer Welt, in der die wirklichen Verbrecher zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden, nicht die Filmemacher, die das Verbrechen abbilden.”
Hans Schmid

>>> the review by the editor of this website: Le Mystère des roches de Kador

(5) Les dents de fer
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Marie Dorly, Valentine Petit. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

“Germaines Eltern wohnen in einem Herrenhaus und nicht in den Slums von Paris, das Kind ist am Ende wieder ganz gesund, der Doktor ist ein echter Held, der Akt der Selbstamputation bleibt taktvoll ausgespart, Perret enthält sich aller von der Geschichte angebotenen Schockeffekte und ersetzt sie durch eine sehr subtile Inszenierung. So eine Amputation allerdings geht sicher nicht ganz ohne Blutvergießen ab, das Blut oder der Gedanke daran hätte die ohnehin zu blutrünstigem Verhalten neigende Unterschicht zu Gewaltexzessen anreizen können oder was auch immer. Jedenfalls wurde dieser wirklich schöne Film verboten. Eine detaillierte Begründung ist nicht überliefert. Wahrscheinlich gab es nie eine. Damals musste so viel verboten werden, dass für Einzelheiten keine Zeit blieb.”
Hans Schmid

(6) Léonce aime les morilles
R: Leónce Perret. D: Léonce Perret, Suzanne Le Bret, Alice Tissot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(7) Léonce cinématographiste
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. D: Léonce Perret, Suzanne Le Bret, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont, Fr 1913

Mélies’s contemporary Emile Cohl, when signing his correspondence, described himself into the 1910s as a cinématographiste. And in 1913 Leonce Perret made for Gaumont a film entitled Leonce cinématographiste. During the period of kine-attractography, and in the early years of institutional cinema, the cinéaste was thus always lurking in the background. This appears normal, once we take a closer look at the relative complexity of ‘putting into film’. The exact nature of the task of putting into film went through a number of changes in the first years of the kinematograph’s appearance. The fact that the term metteur en scene appeared quite quickly, around the turn of the century, already speaks long about the process underway – even as the word ‘operator’ never fell into disuse. Because the first metteurs en scene, of course, didn’t replace the operator, who was essential. The two worked together. For the art of putting into film involves a great number of activities of a highly varied nature, unlike, say, writing or painting.”
André Gaudreault: Film and attraction: from kinematography to cinema. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield 2011

(8) Molière
R: Leónce Perret. B: Abel Gance. K: Georges Specht. Ba: Robert-Jules Garnier. D: Abel Gance, André Bacqué, Raoul d’ Auchy, Mlle de Pouzols Saint-Phar, Marie Brunel, Madeleine Sézanne. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont, Fr 1910

“While in Brussels, Gance wrote his first film scenarios, which he sold to Léonce Perret. Back in Paris in 1909, he acted in his first film, Perret’s Molière. At that stage he regarded the cinema as “infantile and stupid” and was only drawn into film jobs by his poverty, but he nevertheless continued to write scenarios, and often sold them to Gaumont. During this period he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, often fatal at that time, but after a period of retreat in Vittel he recovered. With some friends he established a production company, Le Film Français, and began directing his own films in 1911 with La Digue (ou Pour sauver la Hollande), a historical film which featured the first screen appearance of Pierre Renoir. Gance tried to maintain a connection with the theatre and he finished writing a monumental tragedy entitled Victoire de Samothrace, in which he hoped that Sarah Bernhardt would star. Its five-hour length, and Gance’s refusal to cut it, proved to be a stumbling block. With the outbreak of World War I, Gance was rejected by the army on medical grounds and in 1915 he started writing and directing for a new film company, Film d’Art. He soon caused controversy with La Folie du docteur Tube, a comic fantasy in which he and his cameraman Léonce-Henri Burel created some arresting visual effects with distorting mirrors. The producers were outraged and refused to show the film. Gance nevertheless continued working for Film d’Art until 1918, making over a dozen commercially successful films.”

(9) Oscar au bain
R: Léonce Perret. D: Léon Lorin, Angèle Lérida. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(10) Oscar et Kiki la midinette
R: Léonce Perret. D: Léon Lorin, Mlle Davrieres, Marie Dorly. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(11) Sur les rails
R: Léonce Perret. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913

(12) Le lys d’or
R: Léonce Perret. D: Alice Tissot, Maurice Vinot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1910
Print: Southern Church Film Corporation, USA
Engl. titles

“Versatile early French filmmaker Léonce Perret started out acting on the stage. In 1907, he worked for Gaumont and appeared in several German-made French films. From there, Perret worked in the films of Louis Feuillade. He made his directorial debut in 1908 and went on to make nearly 200 short films and features that include a series of Léonce comic shorts made between 1910 and 1912. In 1916, Perret went to work for Pathé in Hollywood. He remained a few years and then returned to France where his output became sporadic. In addition to directing, Perret also occasionally produced and wrote the screenplays for his films. Perret died in 1935 while making Keonigsmark. Later, Maurice Tourneur took the script and completed the film.”
Sandra Brennan, Rovi

“A brilliant anticipator, Léonce Perret turned his back on the analytical photography of his time, being particularly attentive to the spatial value of the image and of the direction. […] As of 1909, in film after film, Perret sought to thrust the human being into the sensorial ambiance of life, to capture the landscape less in its form than in its light and its relations with the ambient atmosphere.
[…] By putting the accent on the expressiveness and sensuality of light, on the colouration and plasticity of matter, and on the lyrical value of the landscape, he gives a psychic significance to the image and transposes his characters’ frame of mind on it, addressing not our intelligence but our senses. […] Léonce Perret shares the merit of these discoveries with Griffith who was long considered the only one to have enriched cinematographic poetry and syntax.”
Henri Langlois: Écrits de cinéma. Ed. Bernard Benoliel et Bernard Eisenschitz. Flammarion/Cinémathèque française, Paris 2014

“Perret was second only to Feuillade at Gaumont, and he performed as a fine comedian as well. His shorts are charming, and his longer works, like L’enfant de Paris (1913), remain remarkable for their complex staging and cutting. After a thriving career in France, Perret came to make films in America, including Twin Pawns (1919), a lively Wilkie Collins adaptation.”
David Bordwell’s Observations on film art

>>> Perret’s Le roman d’un mousse on this site

>>> Perret’s L’enfant de Paris on this site

A Famous Slop

R: David W. Griffith. B: Helen Hunt Jackson (novel). K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Henry B. Walthall, Francis J. Grandon. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910

“In 1910, Biograph released what they claimed was the most expensive movie ever made. Filmed in California, it was adapted from one of the biggest bestsellers in American literature. The film starred Mary Pickford, well on her way to becoming the biggest star of them all, and was directed by D.W. Griffith.
Ramona is the story of a young woman from an aristocratic Spanish household and the struggles that she endures when she marries her Native American lover. While Griffith chose to focus on the love story, the original Ramona was something considerably more serious.
The novel had been intended to spark social change. Jackson was inspired by Harriet Beacher Stowe’s abolitionist classic ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. Basically, she appealed to her readers and by introducing likable characters and relatable situations. Instead of dry statistics on the plight of the American Indian, a romance and tragedy blend to reach the hearts of the readers. The plan worked. ‘Ramona’ was a runaway bestseller.
In the end, many of the flaws of the 1910 Ramona are the flaws of its source novel. Even back in the day, Ramona was not without its detractors. Raymond Chandler famously described it as slop. Other critics felt that the novel romanticized a sunny past at the expense of realistically portraying middle and working class Californios.”
Fritzi Kramer

>>> Griffith 1910 on this site