Allan Dwan, 1913

The Spirit of the Flag
R: Allan Dwan. B: Wallace Reid. D: Wallace Reid, Pauline Bush, Jessalyn Van Trump, Arthur Rosson. P: Bison Motion Pictures. USA 1913
Print: Prelinger Archives, San Francisco

In her book ‘MeXicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands’ (University of California Press 2003, p. 195), Rosa Linda Fregoso argues for a Mexican scenery in this film claiming that “the Mexican advances toward the white male are frustrated”. But there is no doubt: the political and cultural scenery of this film is the Philippines, and its historical background the Spanish-American War (1898). So, ‘kekseksa’ on IMDb is right who writes: “Considering the grim realities of the brutal US colonisation of the Philippines, to which the events in this film are supposed to be a prelude,this is a very unpleasant piece of patriotic flummery. The US treachery that robbed the Philippines of its independence after the defeat and dignified withdrawal of the Spanish is of course not mentioned. Manila would become its centre for operations in the Pacific and the China Seas. Nothing could better illustrate the fact that the US had joined the club of the imperialist powers than the ease with which it here adopts their hypocritical and patronising rhetoric. The caricature of the Spanish was typical of US propaganda that filled the US yellow press at the time and prepared the way for the later demonisation of the Kaiser once the US condescended to join the war against him.” (KK)

“Allan Dwan, original name Joseph Aloysius Dwan, (born April 3, 1885, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  —  died December 28, 1981, Woodland Hills, California, U.S.), American director with more than 400 known feature films and short productions to his credit. Along with the more-celebrated Cecil B. DeMille, Dwan was one of the few directors who made the transition from the days of the one-reelers in the 1910s through the glory days of the studio system in the 1930s and ’40s and into its decline in the 1950s. (…) In 1909 he took a job in Chicago with the Cooper Hewitt Electric Company as a lighting engineer, a profession that soon brought him into contact with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. He began moonlighting for Essanay as a writer and was soon hired as a story editor. Moving to the American Film Manufacturing Company in 1911, he was given an opportunity to direct when, according to some accounts, the director of a California production went on a drinking binge, leaving the company stranded. (…)
In 1911–13 Dwan turned out as many as 250 one-reelers for American Film — westerns, comedies, even documentaries, all written, edited, and produced by him. Few of these still exist. In 1913 he signed with the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, but within a year he moved to the Famous Players Company in New York, and a year after that he was working with D.W. Griffith at the Triangle Film Corporation. Dwan is credited with introducing the dolly shot — he used a moving automobile to film actor William H. Crane’s stroll in David Harum (1915) — and with inventing the equipment used for the crane shots in Griffith’s Intolerance (1916). Nearly as significant as those innovations were the 11 films Dwan then made with Douglas Fairbanks, beginning with The Habit of Happiness (1916) and culminating with the epic swashbuckler Robin Hood (1922).”

534-Allan Dwan

>>> Spanish-American War 1898