The “Lux”, France 1906-1913

“La Société des Phonographes et Cinématographes ‘Lux’, société anonyme au capital de 1.100.000 francs, est fondée le 4 octobre 1906 par Henri Joly. Son siège social est situé 50, boulevard Hausseman, puis 32, rue Louis-le-Grand à partir de 1907. Elle a pour objet ‘la fabrication, la vente et la location de cinématographes, phonographes et accessoires, ainsi que de tous instruments de précision concernant la photographie animée et la reproduction des sons… L’achat et l’exploitation de brevets… La fabrication et le commerce de toutes matières ou produits ayant trait à la production des instruments sus indiqués… Toutes entreprises des spectacles…’
En quelques années, Lux devient une des plus importantes société de production de films en France, ayant à son catalogue plus de 800 titres. Elle possède son théâtre de prise de vues et une usine située à Gentilly, capable de produire 10.000 mètres de film par jour. La direction technique du laboratoire est confiée à Léopold Lobel, ingénieur chimiste, ayant débuté sa carrière chez Pathé. Pour la société Lux, Lobel dépose un brevet pour “un appareil de prise de vue cinématographique” en novembre 1912. Cette caméra, ainsi que le projecteur commercialisé par Lux, s’inspirent fortement des appareils produits par Pathé. La société Lux est dissoute le 13 octobre 1913 et aussitôt mise en liquidation.”

Dir. and actors unknown. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“The otherwise peaceful cowboy Bill gets into a duel with a prospector and hits him deadly. The border police arrest him and Bill is sentenced to death. As a last favor, he asks permission to say goodbye to his old mother. His friend Harry offers himself as a hostage to guarantee Bill’s return. Harry will be shot in Bill’s place if Bill does not return within three days. But on his way back Bill falls from his horse and has to walk. As a result, time passes and Bills absence endangers Harry’s life. Eventually Bill is back just in time. The commander of the police is amazed by such a true friendship and gives Bill amnesty.”

La Chambre 31
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1911
Print: EYE
German titles

Le chien insaisissable
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles and inserts

Further reading:
Éric Loné: La production Lux (1906-1913)

>>> the Patouillard films produced by Lux with Roméo Bosetti on this site

Allan Dwan, 1912

A Life for a Kiss
R: Allan Dwan. D: J. Warren Kerrigan, Pauline Bush, Jack Richardson, Pete Morrison. P: American Film Manufacturing Company / Flying A. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch intertitles

The landscape, the horses, the rivals, the persecution furor, the show-down, the death: the quintessence of a genre – in thirteen minutes

“Jim Richeson was a haunted man, but he smiled carelessly as he handled the sign offering a reward for his capture, dead or alive. He smiled again as he wheeled his horse and galloped off down the road, waving a satirical adieu to the posse. A pretty mountain girl with pail in hand, stood at the pump when Jim rode up. He took the pail from her, drank deeply, and then, as an afterthought, seized her and kissed her heartily. Then he leisurely mounted his horse and galloped off. Furious at the insult, the girl rushed for a gun, only to meet her lover, just as he rounded the bunkhouse. That person at once flew into a passion and gave hot chase to the vanishing bandit, vowing to have his life. Meanwhile, the girl, at the head of a posse, followed less swiftly. A royal battle took place in the mountains. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

The Distant Relative
R: Allan Dwan. D: J. Warren Kerrigan, Pauline Bush, Jack Richardson, Jessalyn Van Trump, Louise Lester. P: American Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch intertitles

Summary: Moving Picture World synopsis

Flying A
“In the early days of film, fledgling movie-makers fled the East in favor of the West Coast, in search of better weather, western locations for popular cowboy sagas, and to escape marshals seeking to enforce Edison’s patent on cameras and projectors, according to Stephen Lawton’s authoritative history of the Flying A Studio.
Chicago’s American Film Company arrived here in 1912 to find everything it was looking for, including a wide variety of locations and sunshine at a time when shooting outdoors was still iffy from a technical point of view. We had the Western flavor, mansions, mountains, sea, and downtown locations. In July 1912, Flying A, so named for its winged ‘A’ logo, arrived and went to work grinding out popular Broncho Billy Western shorts. (…)
This was before Hollywood’s scandals of the 1920s, and Santa Barbara welcomed the movie crews and actors, who became local celebrities. According to Lawton, not only were locals finding work with the studio, but Flying A was also pumping important dollars into the small town, population around 15,000. By 1919, its weekly payroll was $19,000. (…)
Flying A had everything except vision. In an industry changing with blinding speed, trying to satisfy a national audience showing greater sophistication following World War I, studio executives stood pat on what they were turning out. There was a belief in the industry that audiences wouldn’t sit still for films longer than a few minutes, certainly not for feature films. Flying A was doomed by its philosophy, along with growing distribution problems of getting its films into theaters. But during its heyday, Flying A was a great success, attracting top directors, cameramen, and actors. Not surprisingly, other studios gave thought to setting up shop here, and an outfit financed by local moneybags started up.”
Barney Brantingham: The Short, Happy Life of Flying A
Santa Barbara Independent

“At that time there occurred a managerial shakeup and the Western troupe moved to San Juan Capistrano, California, where a young technician named Allan Dwan replaced [head director Frank] Beal. (…) Despite the primitive conditions and threat of violence, American Flying A’s La Mesa troupe turned out well over one hundred one-reel films. Most of these were cowboy pictures, although the troupe produced a significant number of documentaries dealing with Southern California.
Movie making in the early 1900s required little in the way of planning or preparation. The Flying A company allowed three days for the shooting of two one-reel pictures. Technicians spent another two days developing the films and then shipped them to Chicago for printing and nationwide distribution. This leisurely schedule left the cast and crew free every weekend for sightseeing. Director Allan Dwan described a typical day’s activities:
‘I’d pile everyone into two buckboards, a ranch wagon for our equipment, the cowboys on their horses — the actors too if they were riding in the picture — and off we went out into the country to make a picture. On the way out, I’d try to contrive something to do. I had a heavy named Jack Richardson, so we’d send J. Warren Kerrigan, the leading man, up there to struggle with Richardson and throw him off the cliff. Now, having made the last scene of the picture, I had to go backwards and try to figure out why all this happened.'”
Blaine P. Lamb: Silent Film Making in San Diego
San Diego History Center

>>> Allan Dwan, 1913Allan Dwan, 1915

Capellani’s Sleeping Beauty

La belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty)
R: Albert Capellani / Lucien Nonguet. B: Charles Perrault (tale). D: Julienne Mathieu. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908

“In 1907, Capellani directed La Légende de Polichinelle, the story of a robot who falls in love with a doll. The film, which starred film icon Max Linder, was an enormous success. And as a result, Charles Pathé moved Capellani over to the newly created Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres (SCAGL), which Pathé had created to make films d’art. As a director for this series, Capellani brought to the screen a number of French classics, ranging from fairy tales to histories. These included Le Chat botté (1908); La Belle au bois dormant (1908), codirected with Lucien Nonguet; L’Assommoir (1909), codirected with Michel Carré; Germinal (1912), an adaptation of the novel by Émile Zola; and a sweeping, four-part adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s Les Misérables (1912), which is still regarded as a masterpiece of cinema. Capellani’s films elevated the cinema from a popular distraction toward an art form, and his longer-than-average films are seen to have established the trend toward feature-length films.
Capellani is also credited with bringing a number of talented actors and directors to the filmmaking industry. He cast the great stage performer Mistinguett in Les Misérables, her first film, and established her as a silent-film star. He also brought theater actors such as Paul Capellani (his brother) and Berthe Bovy to film. The directors he helped to train include Georges Monca and Michel Carré.”


The Latest Metropolitan Fashion

Il re della moda
R: Unknown. D: Giuseppe Gambardella, Lorenzo Soderini. P: Società Italiana Cines. It 1914
Copy from the film print held by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema and restored by the EYE Filmmuseum (Desmetcolor)
Dutch intertitles

“Husband and wife have just won the lottery. To collect the money, they are invited to join the mayor in the city. Arrived in the city they discover the latest metropolitan fashions related to interpersonal relationships…”

>>> Giuseppe Gambardella: the Cines productions La tragedia di Kri Kri and Faust on this website

551 re della moda

Lorenzo Soderini, Giuseppe Gambardella

Griffith, Pickford, Sennett

An Arcadian Maid
R: David W. Griffith. B: Stanner E.V. Taylor. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Mack Sennett, George Nichols, Kate Bruce, William J. Butler, Frank Evans, Henry Lehrman. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910

“Hired at Biograph by D. W. Griffith shortly after her seventeenth birthday, Mary Pickford had played during her first few months primarily ingénues and comic roles; lead dramatic roles came gradually, and accelerated with the departure of Lawrence (July 1909) and Marion Leonard (April 1910), the two primary female leads at Biograph at the time Pickford was hired.  Those parts requiring more extremes of characterization came as she developed her craft through what seems to have been an instinctive or, better yet, an intuitive understanding of what was required for effective motion picture acting.  Her performances in The Broken Locket (released August, 1909) and Ramona (May 1910) gave but a glimpse of her precocious capabilities.  In An Arcadian Maid, she would play as a dramatic lead what would have been considered previously a “character” role on stage, or in early film. (…) Filmed in rural Westfield, New Jersey, and at the New York studio on East Fourteenth Street during three days in late June, 1910, An Arcadian Maid was released to exhibitors on August 1, 1910 at a finished length of 984 feet.  With a run time of between 12 and 14 minutes depending, of course, upon projection speed, An Arcadian Maid successfully conveys as much narrative information as a modern one-hour television production.  It does so without dialog intertitles (which were rare in 1910), and with only a spare seven intertitles in total, from opening to closing shot. (…) In just the first two shots of the film, Griffith has established the weary and empty life of the girl, Priscilla: a characterization already emerges that allows us to understand her actions in the next sequence of shots. Such economy in filmmaking was essential to effective storytelling within the unforgiving limits of the single reel format, and by mid 1910, Griffith was its master.”
11 East 14th Street

>>> Mary Pickford,   America’s Sweetheart

Chomón: Everything is Faked

Les Kiriki, acrobates japonais
R: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1907/08

“In Spanish director Segundo de Chomón’s Les Kiriki, acrobates japonais (“The Kiriki, Japanese Acrobats”), French performers made up to appear Japanese, nod their heads and wriggle into balanced contortions. But the orientalist costumes weren’t the only trick in this 1907 film. In fact, just about everything in Les Kiriki is faked. In addition to the actors’ costumes, if the acrobatic feats seem impossible (like the little boy holding four grown men balanced on a beam over his shoulder), it’s because they are. These stunts were the result of early special effects experimentation. Chomón had the actors lie against a black background, making it appear as though they were standing up when they were actually horizontal on the ground. As they ‘climb’ and stack themselves atop one another, they are really crawling across the floor while the camera shoots them from above.”
Molly McBride Jacobson
Atlas Obscura

>>> the documentary Japanese Acrobats

Les papillons japonais
R: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908
Print: Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek

“Consider that many of Chomón’s films resemble natural history films popularizing the scientific study of plants, animals, and insects. The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly and then a serpentine dancer in Les Papillons Japonais (1908) is clearly operating with this in mind. And the frequent references to plants, from the botanical forms reflected in the serpentine dancer’s billowing fabric to prop flowers transforming into female dancers, as in Les fleurs animées (1906), call to mind the popular image of flowers blooming in early time-lapse films, from Oskar Messter’s Blumen-Arrangment (1898) to Percy Smith’s From Bud to Blossom (1910). The resemblances stem from an important overlap between early trick and popular science films. At least in Europe and the United States, at the turn of the century, the use of time-lapse photography to reveal the movements of plants, for example, was promoted and received as a wondrous special effect that brought nature to life, frame by frame, as in a stop-motion animated film. Although they circulated primarily in the didactic form of popular science, such spectacular metamorphoses overlapped with the trick film genre because they highlighted how the motion picture camera could make nature unnatural: flowers blooming appeared to dance with a magical life of their own. What’s more, the whole enterprise seems to crystalize in the live-action realm what Esther Leslie claims about cartoon animation: ‘In animated nature, technology and magic are one.’”
Colin Williamson: Meditations on Metamorphosis: Natural History and Animation in Chomón’s Trick Films. Sept. 2018
animationstudies 2.0

>>> Segundo de Chomón

Roméo Bosetti and Paul Bertho – 2

Patouillard crieur de journaux
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)

“Lux (…) bought into the comic series craze with Patouillard or Bill, as Bertho’s character was known in both England and the United States. Bertho had been a comic opera singer and music hall comedian before singing briefly with Pathé, apparently to substitute for Deed in a brief continuation of the Boireau series and then appear in several films as Calino, prior to Gaumont’s appropriation of the character. In 1910, Lux hired Bertho to create a weekly comic series, which quickly became a favorite of cinema audiences worldwide.”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town. French Cinema 1896 – 1914. Updated and Expanded Edition. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1998, p. 232

Patouillard fait du Sandow
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)

>>> Sandow, the famous “strong man” of the epoch, filmed 1895 by Edison’s assistant Dickson.

Patouillard a mangé du homard
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)

La bouteille de Patouillard
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux. Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)

Well-known and unknown European comedians of the period before WW I

Pacifico Aquilanti – Italian comedian who played Coco (1909-?) for the Cines company, as a response to the success of André Deed’s Cretinetti at Itala.

Lucien Bataille – Gaumont comedian, whose Zigoto character (1911-1912) spoofed the popular detective films of the period; then became Casimir for Eclair (1913-1914).

Paul Bertho – French comedian who created two comic personas for Lux: Patouillard (known as Bill in Britain and the USA), and Gavroche (1912-1914).

Roméo Bosetti – early example of a named comedy series performer, he played the character Roméo for Gaumont (1907-1908), for whom he went on to be a prolific comedy director, before being lured away by Pathé.

Ernest Bourbon – French comedian, adept at combining elegance with acrobatics, who starred in the popular Onésime series (1912-1914) for Gaumont, occasionally being partnered with Calino.

Sarah Duhamel – a former child performer of wide girth who enjoyed much success as Rosalie (1911-1912) for Pathé, in which she was often partnered with Little Moritz. She subsequently played as Pétronille for Eclair (1913-1914).

Marcel Fabre – Spanish clown who worked in France for Eclair and Pathé before moving to Italy with the Ambrosio company and creating the Robinet character (1911-1914), in which he was regularly partnered by Nilde Baracchi as Robinette. His character was known as Tweedledum in Britain and the USA.

Tommy Footit – son of a famous nineteenth-century clown, George Footit (English, but found fame in France), who starred as Tommy for Eclair in 1911.

Raymond Frau – French comedian who established the comic character Kri Kri for the Italian company Cines (known as Bloomer in Britain). In 1916 he returned to France and created the Dandy character for Eclair.

Lea Giunchi – Italian comedienne who played comic foil to Tontolini (played by her brother-in-law, Ferdinando Guillaume) and Kri Kri, but also starred in the Lea series (1911-1914) for Cines. Her son, Eraldo Guillaume, was a child comedian for Cines, Cinessino.

Ferdinando Guillaume – Italian comedian from a circus family who appeared as Tontolini (Jenkins in Britain and USA) for Cines 1909-1911, then as Polidor for Pasquali. Directed many of his films. In later life appeared in a number of Fellini films.

Clément Migé – French comedian who starred in an early Gaumont comic series, as Calino (1909-1913), a series which demonstrated notable comic invention and delight in chaos. For a short period a rival Calino series was produced by Pathé.

Moritz Schwartz – diminutive German comedian who played Little Moritz for Pathé (1911-1912), a highly popular series in its time. He was partnered romantically with Sarah Duhamel’s Rosalie for a number of films.

Alma Taylor and Chrissie White – English stars of the Hepworth company’s series of Tilly films (1910-1915), playing gleefully anarchic teenagers (Unity More played Tilly in the first film in the series), as well as many other shorts (dramatic and comic) before both went on to continued success as adults in British feature films.

Ernesto Vaser – Italian performer promoted as the Ambrosio company’s answer to Cretinetti, under the name Fricot (1909-1912?).

(This list has been published by The Bioscope, Sept. 2007)

>>> Roméo Bosetti and Paul Bertho – 1

Roméo Bosetti and Paul Bertho – 1

Patouillard ordonnance par amour
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Lux (= Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux). Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Jean Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

Patouillard a une femme jalouse
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Lux (= Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux). Fr 1912
Print: EYE (Jean Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

Patouillard a une femme qui veux suivre la mode
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Lux (= Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux). Fr 1912
Print: EYE (Jean Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

Roméo Bosetti (1879 – 1948) was an Italian-born French director, actor and screenwriter. An entertainer from the age of ten, first in the circus (Barnum), then in theaters and dance halls of Paris. 1906 he worked at Pathé, then at Gaumont, as director under Alice Guy, later under Louis Feuillade. At first specialized in chase films, he developed his talent for the burlesque genre in a number of films. As actor he featured the eponymous character Roméo, as director the figure (played by Clément Migé) – both inspired by the popular character Boireau, created by André Deed for Pathé. 1907 he became the director of two classic comedies of the early European cinema: Le Tic (1907) and Une dame vraiment bien (1908, with Louis Feuillade). 1910 he went back to Pathé who gave him the directorship of a special comic division in Nice, the Pathé Comica. Here he developed more comical characters such as Rosalie (played by Sarah Duhamel) and Bigorneau (René Lantini), both starting 1912. Bosetti made more than one hundred films between 1912 and 1916 alone.
(Based on: Dayna Oscherwitz, MaryEllen Higgins: The A to Z of French Cinema. Scarecrow Press 2009, p. 61-62)

“By 1910 – 1911, every major French company had at least one regular comic series: Lux with Bertho in Patouillard, Éclipse with Servaes in Arthème, Éclaire with Gréhan in Gontran and Tommy Footit in Tommy, and Pathé with Charles Prince in Rigadin as well as Maurice Schwartz in Little Moritz. Morover, Linder‘s series for Pathé was recognized around the world as the best of the lot.”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town. French Cinema 1896 – 1914. Updated and Expanded Edition. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1998, p. 216

Patouillard paie ses dettes
R: Roméo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Lux (= Societé Anonyme des Phonographes et Cinématographes Lux). Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Jean Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

>>> Roméo Bosetti and Paul Bertho – 2

Ince: Carefully Pre-planning his films

The Lieutenant’s Last Fight
R: Thomas H. Ince. D: Francis Ford, Ethel Grandin, J. Barney Sherry, Ann Little, William Clifford, Art Acord. P: Bison Motion Pictures / New York Motion Picture. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles, Engl. subtitles

“By 1912, the practice of analyzing space often incorporates multiple shots, depicting everything from complex action (the attack on a stagecoach in The Lieutenant’s Last Fight, Bison 1912) to straightforward activities (a woman walking from an exterior staircase to a nearby gate, executed over four shots, in Man’s Calling (1912 [>>> below]). The representation of a gun battle staged around a cabin, central to In the Service of the State (Lubin 1912) indicates the trend developing by the end of the period: editing alternates between long views of the cabin and closer-scaled shots, drawing the viewer back and forth between relevant sectors opf the space.”
Charlie Keil: Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907–1913. Univ. of Wisconsin Press 2001, p. 115

Thomas Harper Ince
“In 1910 he entered films as an actor at Biograph studios in New York, then joined Carl Laemmle‘s Independent Motion Pictures Company as a director, keeping one step ahed of the Motion Pictures Patent Company who wanted to put the renegade Laemmle out of business. While he tackled all sorts of subjects, Ince was most strongly drawn to westerns. He wanted to achieve the sort of spectacular effects accomplished with minimal facilities that his former employer D.W. Griffith had done, but the I.M.P. company was plagued with bad management and disorganization. Almost instinctively, Ince hit upon the formula of carefully pre-planning his films on paper (something Griffith never did), then meticulously breaking down the shooting schedule so that several scenes could be shot simultaneously by assistant directors. This was the dawning of the assembly-line system that all studios would eventually adopt; to better facilitate his theories of filmmaking, Ince purchased 20,000 acreas of seacoast land, upon which he built a studio named Inceville. While he directed most of his early productions, Ince eventually had to give up this responsibility to such proteges as Francis Ford, Jack Conway and Frank Borzage. Signing stage star William S. Hart in 1914, Ince managed to find a man who could both act and direct — on the same relatively meager salary. The Ince product of the mid teens was impressive, though when seen as a whole one finds a tiresome reliance upon tragic endings — which were hailed as “realism” at the time but which now seem contrived. Ince became a partner with D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett in the new Triangle Company in 1915. Following the lead of Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), Ince turned out a slightly ludicrous but undeniably spectacular anti-war film, Civilization, in 1916; it should have been his chef d’oeuvre, but a shift in America’s war policies caused Civilization to end up in the red. (…) Ince was at the height of his powers in 1924, when he suddenly and mysteriously fell ill aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst; Ince was rushed to the hospital, then to his home in California’s Benedict Canyon, where he died without ever regaining consciousness.”
Hal Erickson

Man’s Calling (Frgm.)
R: Allan Dwan.  D: J. Warren Kerrigan, Jessalyn Van Trump, George Periolat. P: American Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912

>>> Thomas H. Ince

>>> Allan Dwan, 1912  Allan Dwan, 1913Allan Dwan, 1915