Inspired by a Factory Fire, NYC

The Crime of Carelessness
R: Harold M. Shaw. B: James Oppenheim. D: Bigelow Cooper, Mabel Trunnelle, Austin Conroy. P: Edison Company. USA 1912
Filmed with the cooperation of the Children’s Motion Picture League of Greater New York to highlight the subject of factory safety. (IMDb)

“Inspired by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling/jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three.”

“A particularly fascinating curio, independently made, is The Crime of Carelessness, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers in 1912. One year before The Crime of Carelessness was released, 146 garment workers were incinerated when the Triangle Waist Company’s Greenwich Village manufacturing plant caught fire. In the aftermath of the disaster, investigation revealed that the factory’s vehemently antiunion management had turned a blind eye to illegally locked doors and other unsafe conditions that substantially contributed to the fire’s appalling body count.
In lieu of far-reaching reforms, The Crime of Carelessness somewhat democratically — and completely inaccurately — seeks to put equal blame on labor, management, and government regulators by showing a fictional worker ignoring posted no smoking signs and a factory inspector ignoring safety violations. The aftermath of the tragic fire climaxes in a jaw-dropping symbolic confrontation in which the worker, the factory owner, and the inspector are frozen in a three-way, finger-pointing standoff that simultaneouslly evokes the accusatory tone of nineteenth-century, issue-oriented melodrama and the future films of John Woo.”
Bruce Bennett

A Difficult Soirée

Up Against It
R: Otis Turner. B: George Elmore. D: King Baggot, Vivian Prescott, William Robert Daly, William E. Shay. P: Universal IMP (Carl Laemmle). USA 1912
Print: EYE / Desmet collection
Dutch titles

“Amos Bentley was up against it in more senses than one. Times were so hard with him that he had to part with the furniture of his little apartment in order to pay his debts. However, things were inclined to take a better turn for him. He was invited to be a guest of some friends of his. And between him and the daughter of the family some sort of heart interest was supposed to exist. Disinclined to accept the invitation at first, he yielded to the persuasions of his friend, the brother of the girl, and made his way to the host’s house. Unfortunately his nether garment gave way in a somewhat conspicuous place and in his attempts to conceal the tear while the evening party was in progress, poor Amos suffered a great deal of torture. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

An Italian Heroine: Berta Nelson

Vittoria o morte!
R: Unknown. D: Berta Nelson. P: Itala. It 1913
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE
Dutch titles

“The Silent American production of the 1910s was filled with adventurous heroines, ready to escape swimming from unexpected explosions, throw themselves from planes or running trains, get out of fights, spies and criminals. Italian action movies are poor of brave female protagonists and remain especially a men preserve. This charged-up example of spy film is a remarkable exception. Berta Nelson, who plays the role of Blanche, is as good as the American colleagues both for the athletic look and the determined character. She is also ready to take advantage of her female charm to have the robbed documents back and her relationship with her boyfriend is characterized by sharing risk and strong emotions. The film Vittoria o morte! characterizes also for the spectacular scenes, created by Segundo De Chomón, a real wizard of the special effects; his representation on the screen of fires and earthquakes was so famous that the flames are almost a trade-mark of the big productions of the Itala film studio, where Segundo De Chomón was working. Here, the bad on duty, after tying and gagging the heroin, burns down the boat Orione. The public doesn’t know if admiring the ability of the mise en scene more or the one of Blanche, able to get herself out of troubles in another hopeless situation.”
European Film Gateway

>>> the American heroine Pearl White on this site: The Most Famous Suspense Serial In History

Luigi Maggi

Didone abbandonata
R: Luigi Maggi. B: Arrigo Frusta, based on Publius Vergilius Maro. K: Giovanni Vitrotti. D: Alberto A. Capozzi, Mirra Principi, Giuseppe Gray, Gigetta Morano, Norma (Norina) Rasero, Mario Voller Buzzi. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio, Torino (serie d’oro). It 1910
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema
Swedish titles

“After seven years of travelling, Aeneas and the other Trojans are surprised by a storm that wrecks their ship on the African coast. Here they are captured by the Amazons of the Queen of Carthage, Dido, who gives order to kill them. But soon Dido falls in love with Aeneas; and when the King of Numidia, Iarbas, comes to marry Dido, she rejects him. But in the meantime Anchises appears Aeneas in dreams, and commands him to leave to found Rome. So, while Iarbas’army surrounds Carthage, Aeneas embarks secretly for Rome. As Dido notices Aeneas’ship in the distance, she throws herself into the fire that is destroying her palace.”

Una partita a scacchi
R: Luigi Maggi. K: Giovanni Vitrotti. D: Antonio Grisanti, Febo Mari. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio, Torino. It 1912
French titles

“Una partita a scacchi is a small jewel of a suspense and psychological tension. Almost all the story takes place inside a train wagon, yet the rhythm and tension never go down. Also thanks to the two main roles: Antonio Grisanti, convincing and disturbing weirdie and Febo Mari, a ‘d’annunziano’ actor who gives us one of his most convincing performances here. The script, in its simplicity, is valued by a very modern use of the cross cutting. The scenes showing  the house of the insane people are subtly disturbing too. Mari, in this case the victim of a madman, will perform the role of a madman instead in the ending of Il fuoco (Itala, 1915), perhaps one of this most famous film together with Cenere (Ambrosio, 1916).
The preservation was carried out by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino, based on an tinted nitrate print with French intertitles. From the nitrate print  a positive color print was printed on safety film, using the Desmet method. The restoration was conducted at the Haghefilm laboratory in Amsterdam in 1995.”
Museo Nazionale del Cinema

Sogno di un tramonto d’autunno
R: Luigi Maggi. B: Gabriele D’Annunzio (play), Arrigo Frusta (screenplay). K: Giovanni Vitrotti. D: Antonietta Calderari, Mary Cléo Tarlarini, Mario Voller Buzzi, Gigetta Morano, Oreste Grandi, Paolo Azzurri, Lola Visconti Brignone, Filippo Costamagna, Ernesto Vaser, Ercole Vaser, Giuseppina Ronco. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio, Torino (serie d’Oro). It 1911
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema/EYE Filmmuseum (Desmetcolor)
German intertitles

“Gradeniga, the Doge’s widow, lives withdrawn in a palace on the river of the Brenta. In the sunset of an autumn evening she looks, in the grip of a mortal anguish, beyond the gate, waiting for the ship to pass, on which the rival Pantea takes her the love of the beautiful Orseolo away. Before the fall of night, Pentella, the waitress of the Dogaressa, conducts into the palace the sorceress Schiavona, an expert of spells. The celebration of a deadly ritual starts: a great glare on the river signalizes the fire on the ship and the dead of the two lovers.”
European Film Gateway

“This is in no sense a picture of a dream. In it, another of D’Annuncio’s tragic scenarios is set forth in beautiful pictures. The action is supposed to take place in Venice at the time of her glory. The story deals with thwarted passion and the terrible vengeance the neglected woman wreaked upon her supplanter in the affections of a count. (…) The photographs and lighting are perfect and give what might be termed a literary atmosphere to the scenes that is very pleasing. The scenes themselves are artfully constructed and add greatly to the picture. The quality of the acting of these well- known Ambrosio players needs no comment, but it is remarkably fine. Exhibitors will make no mistake in featuring this picture; but they should be careful to add a light comedy to go with it in the bill, as this picture is certainly very tragic. It is, however, among the strongest pictures, if not the strongest, of the week. It is certainly the most artistic.”
The Moving Picture World, January 20, 1912

La nave dei leoni (The Ship of Lions)
R: Luigi Maggi. K: Giovanni Vitrotti. D: Mario Bonnard, Gigetta Morano, Vitale De Stefano, Antonio Grisanti, Paolo Azzurri, Alfred Schneider. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio, Torino. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE
Dutch titles

“A brigantine is carrying some lions from Africa destined for a zoo in Europe. The lions are held under control by a tamer, Jeannette. During the journey, the shady business manager, Johnson, falls in love with Jeannette, but she does not correspond, and doesn’t like his attentions. In fact she loves Jack, the ship’s captain, who becomes her lover. Johnson, driven crazy with jealousy, wants to take revenge on Jack. Assaulted by the sailors, triggered by Johnson, Jack defends himself by firing his revolver, and he and Jeannette take refuge in the hold. Then he sets the ship on fire, and eventually they manage to reach a lifeboat.”
European Film Gateway

“In 1909 – 1910, Ambrosio cameraman Giovanni Vitrotti shot films there (i.e. in Russia) and contributed to the beginnings of Russian film production. In 1912 Ambrosio hired lion tamer Alfred Schneider and his lions for a series of sensational melodramas such as La nave dei leoni.”
Giorgio Bertellini in: Richard Abel: Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Routledge. London/New York 2005, p. 19

More films by Luigi Maggi on this site:
>>> Maciste, Italy’s Fairbanks,   Extraordinary: Saturnino, Italy 1913   Blockbusters from Italy

408-luigi_maggi  Luigi Maggi

Everyday Mischieves

Il cavallo del reggimento (The Horse of the Regiment)
R: Emilio Vardannes. P: Itala Film. It 1911
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema
Dutch titles

Per l’onore della marmitta (For the Honour of the Saucepan)
Dir. and Actors unknowm. P: Itala Film, Torino. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema / EYE collection
Dutch titles

“The Continental hotel and the Europe hotel are located next to each other and a fierce rivalry animates the two owners, and is extended to the whole staff. They never miss an opportunity to tease each other.
The video is a copy from the film print held by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema and previously restored by the EYE Filmmuseum (Desmetcolor).”
European Film Gateway

Asta Nielsen: A Kind of Trance State

R: August Blom. B: Alfred Kjerulf. K: Axel Graatkjær. D: Asta Nielsen, Svend Bille, Otto Lagoni, Valdemar Møller, Johannes Poulsen, Karen Poulsen, Valdemar Psilander. P: Nordisk Film Kompagni. Dk 1911
Engl. subtitles

“The Danish actress Asta Nielsen was probably the leading European film performer of the 1910s. Though her dark demeanour and unconventional beauty probably led to a lack of success in the USA, in European countries, especially Germany, she was revered, with films such as Afgrunden (The Abyss) (1910), Balletdanserinden (1911), Die Suffragette (1913) being among the most iconic and forward-looking of their age. She and husband/director Urban Gad moved to Germany in 1911 and it was in that country, after she had established the Art-Film company, that Nielsen (now parted from Gad) embarked a radical film interpretation of Hamlet. Possibly by this time Nielsen’s star was a little on the wane, but her taste for the bold and challenging was undimmed.”
Luke McKernan
The Bioscope

“A graduate of the Royal Danish Theatre who had spent most of her twenties in rep with various companies, Nielsen made her screen debut with Urban Gad’s Afgrunden in 1910. This film caused a sensation with Nielsen’s unabashed potrayal of a woman who follows her impulse to run off with a cowboy from a travelling circus. (…)
Nielsen’s next two films, ‘The Ballet Dancer’ (Balletdanserinden) and ‘The Black Dream’ (Det sorte Drøm) both from 1911, followed similar themes of love, sex and retribution: in the end someone has to pay for passion miss-spent.
‘The Ballet Dancer’ was directed by August Blom and features Asta as Camille, a dancer who wins a role in a play after the lead actress is taken ill. The play is shot from the side of the stage and Asta is right at home in showing the closing scene and taking the applause from the unseen audience. (…)
Nielsen escalates the emotional intensity as things reach a climax. She goes into what she described as a kind of trance state as, overcome by the drama, her character’s mind races into overdrive. This was her way of pulling the audience towards her and making us work out her thoughts in synchronised sympathy. ‘I realised that one had to detach oneself completely from one’s surroundings in order to be able to perform an important scene in a dramatic film….’ she said later. It’s more than a neat trick and it is still working a century later.”

>>> Det sorte Drøm: Urban Gad
>>> Afgrunden: A Star is Born

A Setting Like Alaska

Her Nephews from Labrador
R: Unknown. D: Billy Noel, Ed Brady, Victory Bateman. P: Thanhouser Film Corporation. USA 1913
Print: EYE collection

“Drawing our conclusions from the various feats these young nephews performed, we would say that they were boys of amazing constitutions. To watch their performances, even on the screen, is enough to chill the blood of the average spectator – and therein lies the spell, the fascination, or charm (whichever you see fit to term it) of the picture. The antics of these boys possess, in a certain sense, humor, enhanced by the character of the old aunt, who sits warm and snug at home believing her boys to be safe. The setting is meant for Alaska, snow is on the ground and ice on the ponds. The two boys, visiting from Labrador, complain of the heat, and manifest their discomfort by going about in their shirt sleeves with a fan. However, it is not until they remove their clothes and indulge in a swim out in the open, surrounded by ice and snow, that we gasp.”
The New York Dramatic Mirror, February 5, 1913