Asta Nielsen as ‘Traitress’

Die Verräterin
R: Urban Gad. B: Erich Zeiske (as D.J. Rector). K: Guido Seeber. D: Asta Nielsen, Max Obal, Robert Valberg, Emil Albes. P: Projektions-AG Union (PAGU). D 1911
Span. subtitles

“Yvonne (Asta Nielsen ), daughter of a rich and French noble family, falls in love with a young Prussian Lieutenant (Robert Valberg ); this proves to be a tormented and complicated relationship due to the sense of duty of the Prussian Lieutenant and the whimsical imprudence of the young bourgeois. (…) She is a frivolous bourgeois fräulein with an overbearing personality who can’t understand why the young Prussian lieutenant puts duty before passion. Ultimately, she will even flirt with the partisans (the historical background is the 1870-71 German-French war ) and ends up betraying her lover with terrible and tragic results.”
IMDb

“Die Prolog-Einstellungen wurden zu Vehikeln der Starpräsentation. (…)  Das einfachste Modell zeigt sich bereits in der ersten Starfilm-Serie von 1911/12 um Asta Nielsen. So eröffnet zum Beispiel der fünfte Film dieser Serie, das im Januar 1912 uraufgeführte Drama Die Verräterin (Deutschland, Urban Gad), mit einer sepia viragierten Einstellung: Asta Nielsen verneigt sich vor einem dunklen neutralen Hintergrund in einem eleganten und exotisch anmutenden, chinoisen Kostüm mit Blick zur Kamera. Mit der nächsten Einstellung beginnt der erste Akt. Das Kostüm sollte weder in der Handlungswelt wiederkehren, noch verweist es in irgendeiner Form auf die Art der folgenden Narration (ist für sie also nicht emblematisch) – – ebensowenig die Geste, die im Theater und Schaugewerbe konventionelle Verbeugung vor dem Publikum. Die Pose, das Kostüm und die gesamte Bildinszenierung schaffen einen Starfetisch, der die Schauspielerin klar als Schauspielerin außerhalb der Rolle inszeniert. Diese Form wird bald durch weniger diskontinuierliche Lösungen ergänzt, hat aber durchaus daneben weiter Bestand.”
Jörg Schweinitz: Die rauchende Wanda. Visuelle Prologe im frühen Spielfilm. In: Montage/AV 12 (2003) 2, S. 88-102

Asta Nielsen on this site:

>>> AfgrundenBalletdanserindenDie Filmprimadonna, Zapatas BandeDas Mädchen ohne Vaterland

The Obsessions of Walter Booth

Diabolo Nightmare
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1907

“Walter Booth is one of the undersung masters of early film. Someone should really champion him and undertake the research into him that his work merits. France has Georges Méliès, Spain has Segundo de Chomón, France has Emile Cohl, each much acclaimed masters of the early fantasy film. Fewer of Booth’s films survive than their’s, but he is no less worthy of investigation. Not enough is known about him, but he was born Walter Robert Booth in Worcester on 12 July 1869. His father, Robert Booth, was a china painter, and Walter was apprenticed as painter to the Royal Worcester Porcelain factory, where he is believed to have worked until 1890. He then pursued a career in entertainment, as a lightning cartoonist, ventriloquist and magician, joining the company of renowned magician David Devant, with which he toured the UK over 1898-1900. Devant’s shows featured films produced by Robert Paul, and Booth began directing short trick films for Paul, often on the theme of magic (with himself as the magician), titles such as Upside Down; or, the Human Flies (1899) (in which the actors dance around on the ceiling), Chinese Magic (1900), The Haunted Curiosity Shop (1901), The Waif and the Wizard (1901), The Magic Sword (1901) (a particularly inventive visual treat) and The Devil in the Studio (1901), which showed off his cartooning skills.”
Luke McKernan
A MOVIE MAGICIAN

Upside Down, or, The Human Flies / The Waif and the Wizard / The Magic Sword / The Haunted Curiosity Shop / Artistic Creation / An Over Incubated Baby / The Extraordinary Waiter
R: Walter R. Booth. P: Robert W. Paul. UK 1901/02

“Booth seems to have left the stage by 1901 and to have become a full-time filmmaker with Robert Paul, before joining Charles Urban in 1906. It is with Urban, and the greater opportunities that slightly longer films and more generous budgets offered, that Booth the filmmaker came into his own. He established his own studio at his home at Neville Lodge, Woodlands, Isleworth, and with camera operator Harold Bastick made a succession of ingenious films which employed trickery and made trickery their theme. He borrowed ideas from others: The Hand of the Artist (1906), the first British animated cartoon film, was a clear imitation of J. Stuart Blackton’s Humorous Phases of Funny Faces of the same year. (…) A Diabolo Nightmare (1907) sees an office clerk become obsessed with the game to such a degree that it takes over his dreams, which take him and his diabolo to the bottom of the sea. Other, lost films, tantalise us with mislaid delights: The Vacuum Cleaner Nightmare (1906), The Prehistoric Man (1908), The Star Globe-trotter (1908), The Invisible Dog (1909).”
Luke McKernan
A MOVIE MAGICIAN

Walter R. Booth on this website:
>>> Undressing extraordinary
>>> The Aerial Submarine
>>> The Automatic Motorist
>>> Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost
>>> The Hand of the Artist
>>> The Airship Destroyer

Britain’s First Full-Length SF Feature

A Message from Mars
R: Wallett Waller. B: Richard Ganthoney (play and scenario). D: Charles Hawtrey, E. Holman Clark, Crissie Bell, Frank Hector, Hubert Willis, Kate Tyndale. P: United Kingdom Photoplays. UK 1913

“Richard Ganthony (1856-1924) UK playwright and author of the sf play ‘A Message from Mars: A Fantastic Comedy in Three Acts’ (performed 1899), which was first published in novelized form as ‘A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony’ (1912) by Lester Lurgan, and in something like its original form as ‘A Message from Mars: A Fantastic Comedy in Three Acts’ (1923), which was a revision of the original script. It was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921), the first version being presented in synopsis form as Mr Charles Hawtrey in a Cinematograph Version of A Message from Mars (1912), as adapted by J Wallett Waller. The story is a kind of reenactment of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843), the Scrooge character, in this case a mildly dissipated young gentleman, being subjected to visits from a superior being from Mars, who demonstrates to him various marvels as they walk through London. In the end, he awakens transformed from this vision. [JC]”
sf-encyclopedia

“Britain’s first full-length science fiction feature, largely unseen for over a century, has been restored by the BFI National Archive and is now accompanied by a new score by composer Matthew Herbert, commissioned by the BFI and the BBC. (…) This fascinating film was based on a highly popular stage play which saw many revivals over 30 years in Britain. It features the first on-screen imaginings of Martians by a British film-maker, as futuristically clad members of the Martian court. Thought transference, instant space travel, mind control and the use of a far-seeing crystal ball all feature in this ground-breaking film.”
BFI PLAYER

Britain’s First Epic Film: Jane Shore

 

483-Jane Shore

Jane Shore (also known as The Strife Eternal in the USA)
R: Bert Haldane / F. Martin Thornton. B: Nicholas Rowe (play) / Rowland Talbot. K: Fred Bovill / Leslie Eveleigh. Art direction: P. Mumford / F. Ambrose. Costumes: W. Davies.  D: Blanche Forsythe, Roy Travers, Robert Purdie, Thomas H. MacDonald, Dora de Winton, Maud Yates, Nelson Phillips, Rolfe Leslie, Tom Coventry, Rachel de Solla, Frank Melrose, Fred Pitt. P: Bulldog production (Will Barker). UK 1915
Print currently not available

“His (i.e. Will Barker’s) most famous film, directed by Martin Thornton and released in 1915, was Jane Shore, starring his chief leading lady, Blanche Forsythe. It was the most spectacular British production to that date, employing thousands of extras in some of the set-piece scenes, and, because it dealt with a period of English history in which internal conflict prevaled (the Wars of the Roses), it was seen in some quarters as the British answer to D.W. Griffiths’s contemporary masterpiece set in the American Civil War, The Birth of a Nation. ”
George Perry in ‘Forever Ealing’ (1981)
the studio tour

“Historical incidents associated with our own and other countries have been admirably depicted by the cinematograph. What is regarded as one of the finest of these historical productions is Jane Shore,  which, in addition to its other merits , has the recommendation that it is entirely a product of British enterprise and industry in film-making. Painstaking care has characterised the production of the film, as the many fine scenes with which it abounds clearly show . An indication of the lavish scale on which the film, which comes from the Barker Motion Photography (Limited), is produced, is to be had in the fact that it cost over £10,000, no fewer than 5748 artistes took part in it, and in one scene 3500 people participated. The period with which the story of Jane Shore deals is that of the Wars of the Roses and the stirring episodes of that eventful time. The romantic story of Jane Shore and Edward II., the historic events in which famous personages participate, the gorgeous scenes, the pageantry of the streets, and other features too numerous to mention, combine to make an excellent film. The acting throughout is natural, the costumes are appropriate to the period o of the story, and care has been paid to every detail. The battle scenes are fine examples of what can be accomplished by the cinematographer’s art.”
The Scotsman – Tuesday 11 May 1915

About Bert Haldane:
“He began working for the Hepworth Manufacturing Company in 1910, describing himself as a ‘cinematograph production manager’ and specialising in social dramas and crime films. He joined Will Barker’s company in July 1912, producing more crime films, including The Test (1913) in which a policeman spitefully exposes an ex-convict at his new work place, as well as the more sensational The Lure of London (1914), and The Rogues of London (1915), His social films included As a Man Sows: or, an Angel of the Slums (1914), in which a slum landlord is reformed, as well as films on alcoholism, poverty, unemployment and illegitimacy. Perhaps his most famous films were two literary adaptations, East Lynne (1913) and Jane Shore (1915). East Lynne, a melodrama based on the sensational novel by Mrs Henry Wood and subsequent repertory potboiler, was Britain’s first six-reel film. It was lauded as one of the best British films ever produced and garnered much critical and popular acclaim. Later, film historians were to refer to its polished film techniques. Jane Shore, an historical epic with a huge cast, high production standards and several thousand extras, was even more successful. Variety magazine conceded that, ‘There is still hope for the English picture producer. He is showing signs of improvement…(an) excellent picture – judged by British standards’.”
Simon Baker
Screenonline

>>> Haldane’s The German Spy Peril on this site

Dorothy Davenport

A Brave Little Woman
R: Tom Ricketts. D: Dorothy Davenport, Harold Lockwood. P: Nestor Film Company / David Horsley. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles
The YouTube title is not correct.

“Daniel Lyttell is very ill, but Doctor Bozel assures Clara that the crisis is over and that her husband will eventually get well. In the dead of the night, a burglar enters the Lyttell home. His silent footsteps reach the ear of the sick man. Clara, too, hears mysterious noises. She pacifies Daniel and tells him to rest and sleep. Softly she steals out of the room to investigate and soon discovers the burglar. Quickly rushes to the telephone, but finds that the wires have been cut. For a moment she hesitates and fears, fears for her husband. Goes to his bedside and rejoices to find him asleep. Hastily dons a wrap and envelops her head in a black veil, leaves the room and busies herself rummaging in the drawers of a desk. The burglar comes upon her but is unable to intimidate the brave little woman.”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“When she moved to Southern California as an actress with the Nestor Film Company in late 1911, Dorothy Davenport became one of the first members of the early film colony soon to be known as Hollywood. One early biography appearing in Moving Picture Stories reported that the actress had remained with the eastern branch of that company until late 1912. However, a photograph in the Los Angeles Public Library shows the personnel of the Nestor Company in Pasadena, California, on December 23, 1911, with Dorothy Davenport a prominent member of the stock company. While at Nestor, which soon became a unit of Universal Pictures, she met actor Wallace Reid, whom she married in October of 1913. Both were popular players at Universal during the mid-teens, but Reid’s career accelerated after 1915 when he signed a long-term contract with the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company and starred in a number of Cecil B. DeMille films, the year before the company merger that produced Famous-Players Lasky.  (…) Wallace Reid’s international stardom was the context for Davenport Reid’s emergence as a motion picture author in the mid-1920s. When the nation’s newspapers reported that Wallace Reid was a drug addict and severely ill in a sanitarium, Davenport Reid became the chief interpreter of her husband’s illness. When Reid died on January 18, 1923, she quickly returned to the screen to make Human Wreckage (1923), a film about the tragic consequences of the illegal trade in narcotics.”
Mark Lynn Anderson
Women Film Pioneers Project

478-Davenport

Dorothy Davenport

>>> Nestor, the first Hollywood Studio on this site

Dramatic Phone Communication

The Telephone
R: Unknown. D: Leo Delaney, Rose Tapley, Dolores Costello. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1910
Release Date: 29 October 1910
Print: Library of Congress under the title “The Fire Story” which does not exist!

Vitagraph had suggested “to play selections from the popular stage musical ‘The Telephone Girl’ to accompany the telephone exchange scene in Vitagraph’s October 1910 film The Telephone.” This has been critized by Clyde Martin, house pianist at Dodge’s Theatre in Keokuk (Iowa):
“During the telephone exchange scene the telephone girl is connecting the frantic wife with her husband at the club, and the men at the club are calling the fire department, from the expression of the telephone girl’s face you can imagine she hears the cracking of the flames on the other end of the wire, that have cut off all means of escape for that frantic mother and child. And in such a scene the Vitagraph company would like to hear the catchy selections from ‘The Telephone Girl’.”
Rick Altman: Silent Film Sound. Columbia University Press 2007, p. 222

Broncho Billy, the First Cowboy

Broncho Billy’s Last Hold-Up
R: Gilbert M. Anderson. D: Gilbert M. Anderson, Vedah Bertram, Arthur Mackley, Harry Todd. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: Jean Desmet Collection at EYE
Dutch titles

“A girl helps Broncho Billy to hide when the sheriff comes looking for him. When a while later he finds her and her mother unconscious, he holds up a stagecoach to bring them to a doctor. The sheriff, still on Billy’s track, shoots him in front of the doctor’s practice.” (YouTube)

Broncho Billy’s Narrow Escape
R: Gilbert M. Anderson. D: Gilbert M. Anderson, Brinsley Shaw, Vedah Bertram, Arthur Mackley. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: Jean Desmet Collection at EYE
Dutch titles

“While looking for work, Broncho Billy meets a girl and falls in love with her. Broncho is then accused of horse theft by a jealous lover of the girl. At the moment that he is to be hanged, Broncho’s beloved girl comes to his rescue.” (YouTube)

Broncho Billy’s Sentence
R: Gilbert M. Anderson. B: Gilbert M. Anderson. D: Gilbert M. Anderson, Virginia True Boardman, Ernest Van Pelt. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1915

“In 1907, Gilbert Anderson and George Spoor founded Essanay Studios (‘S and A’ for Spoor and Anderson), one of the predominant early movie studios headquartered in Chicago. Gilbert Anderson acted in and directed over 400 short films for the studio. Although he played a wide variety of characters in these, he gained enormous popularity in a series of 148 silent western shorts, becoming the first cowboy star of the movies, ‘Bronco Billy’.” Originally spelled ‘Broncho Billy’. Spoor stayed in Chicago running the company like a factory, while Anderson traveled the western United States to California by train with a film crew shooting movies. Many of these were shot in small towns with trains running through them. These were: San Rafael, Fairfax, Niles and Santa Barbara. Essanay Film Company rented four houses near the Eastside Ballpark in San Rafael.  (…) The film lot was on the Ball Park.  (…) It took up the whole block. The portable stage was sitting outside of right field on the ball park. No one told the San Rafael Colts baseball team. Their star player, Roland Totheroth, remembered, “One day we went to practice and Lo and Behold! There was a bunch of Cowboys and Indians and Horses all over the field.” Roland Totheroth joined Essanay the next year (1912) in Niles, CA and became a camera operator.  In 1916 he went to Hollywood and became cameraman for Charlie Chaplin. (…)
In 1912 they moved from Happy Valley (San Rafael) to Niles, California, a small town in Alameda County near Fremont, CA., where the nearby Western Pacific railroad route was a perfect location for the filming of Westerns. Eventually they moved to Los Angeles as it was becoming the film capital of the world. Many Bronco Billy westerns were shot in Niles, California, along with The Tramp featuring Charlie Chaplin. In Niles they made a picture a week.”
Constanza Perry: Broncho Billy and The Essanay Film Company in Happy Valley
Montecito Area

>>> Broncho Billy and the GreaserBroncho Billy and the School Mistress

TRAUM UND EXZESS, p. 345 f.