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