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 DeGrasse (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 DeGrasse 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.”

>>> Chaney 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.

>>> 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 on this site

>>> Gabriel Veyre, Lumière operator  on this site

Perret, Director and Actor


L’automne du coeur
R: Léonce Perret. D: Yvette Andréyor, Léonce Perret. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911
French, Russ. and Engl. titles
Film temporarily not available


Sur la voie (Sur les rails)
R: Léonce Perret. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913
French, Russ. and Engl. titles
Film temporarily not available

“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

“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

>>> more Perret films on this website: Léonce Perret, Early Comedies