Gender Democracy

The Farmer’s Daughters
B: Lloyd F. Lonergan. D: Muriel Ostriche, Jean Darnell, Billy Noel, Nolan Gane, Justice Barnes. P: Thanhouser. USA 1913

“The Farmer’s Daughters was released September 1913 by the Thanhouser Company and was the 85th of an eventual 1030 films to be made by that company. The film stars Muriel Ostriche as May, the farmer’s younger daughter. Muriel got her start at age 15 at Biograph, then worked at American Eclair and Reliance before settling in at Thanhouser and was the advertising face of Moxie, America’s largest selling soft drink in the early 1900s. Jean Darnell plays Grace, the older sister. Justus D. Barnes plays farmer Henry Friel while the hired hands looking for wives are Billy Noel and Nolan Gane. According to, mother Friel is most likely Carey L Hastings who worked at the studio from day one to fin. The script was written by Lloyd Lonergran who was married to Gertrude Thanhouser’s sister. The studio kept it in the family better than any studio of the day.”

“The daughters of the farmer do some very good character work fooling young college graduates who are bent on matrimony. Incidental glimpses of American farm life considerably enhance the value of the film. The one-reel light comedy was a specialty of Thanhouser, as were well-selected locations and a clever scenario. The theme of gender democracy is not unusual in Lloyd F. Lonergan’s stories. Here, the two daughters are set up against their will as sexual lures, but they turn the tables and get the best of the men. Look for an innovative pan and tilt of the camera during the scene starting at 7:45.”
Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.

“First, the company was much more prone to use panning to expand depicted space or to reframe than any other manufacturer at this time save Lubin. Most of the films that I examined had numerous pans and tilts sprinkled throughout. One also notes a somewhat more adventurous approach to camera placement in Thanhouser films than is typical, with a greater openness to angling of the camera for particular compositions. A third, related approach to space that marks the company’s output is the use of different camera set-ups to film the same space. Collectively, these stylistic tendencies mark Thanhouser as a company that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the principle of dynamisation of space. If Griffith came to depend on a version of axial cutting for closer scaled shots, typically maintaining a marked degree of frontality, Thanhouser adopted quite a different approach.”
Charlie Keil: Narration and Authorship in the Transitional Text: Griffith, Thanhouser, and Typicality

>>> More Thanhouser one-reelers:  Exploring Character Psychology

The Farmer's Daughters

Piero Marelli

Attraverso la Sicilia
R / K: Piero Marelli. P: Tiziano Film, Torino. It 1910
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

“A ferry boat unloads a train on the coasts of Sicily; the steam engine starts moving, the railway winds through stark landscapes and picturesque coastlines. In the meantime we are shown the gathering of seafood, the coming and going of people at the port and the ruins of ancient Greek settlements: Selinunte, Girgenti. The dominant colours in the film are the blue of the sea, the yellow of the sun and a beautiful red toning to render the majesty of the ruins standing out against the sky.”
European Film Gateway

Da Sorrento ad Amalfi
R / K: Piero Marelli. P: Tiziano Film, Torino. It 1910
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

Film starts at 1 min. 13 sec.  Recommendation: Switch off the sound!

“The film opens with a cableway trip. We travel along the Sorrentine Peninsula. The images of some panoramic views of the coast follow the daily images of the tourists walking on the streets or women working on the beach. The dominant color of the film is a delicate green toning, often combined to a shiny yellow toning employed for the sunny exteriors.”
European Film Gateway

>>> Marelli’s Vita d’Olanda and Nella conca d’oro on this site


Careful Duellists

Il duello dei paurosi
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Itala Film. It 1908
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

“Itala’s short comedies were of three kinds. The first one was the trick comedy, which was usually very short (less than 200 feet). The comic effect was tied to a bald subversion of commonsense and the conventions of everyday life. A frequent strategy, common to the French genre of dislocations mystérieuses, was the dismembering and recomposition of the human body, as in Un uomo a pezzi (Man in Piece[s], 1908) or Chi ha visto la mia testa? (Who Has Seen My Head?, 1909).(…)
The second type was the farcical comic scene. The prototype was Lumière’s L’arroseur arrosé, but its length was expanded (up to 400 feet by 1908) and so its narrative articulation. Typical were the reproductions of variety theater sketches, as in Il cugino mangiatore di tartufi (He Is a Cousin Who Eats the Truffle, 1908) or Il signor Testardo (Mr. Stubborn, 1909). Mostly, the subgenre comprised reversals of social and biological order. Animals assumed anthropomorphic features in films like Il cavallo salvatore (Horse to the Rescue, 1908) and Il cane spazza camino (Sweep Dog, 1910). Women displayed a tendency to violence heretofore unknown as in Una signora furiosa (An Enraged Woman, 1908). Rituals of honor were usually dissolved into grotesque parodies like Il duello dei paurosi (Timid Duellers, 1908) while social roles were suspended in films like Lo sciopero dei lattanti (Baby Strike, 1908). The most vulgar parodies often alternated with social farces ormicro-pochade, adapted from the tradition of French vaudeville comedies of married life, such as Discussione ad oltranza (You Shall Pay for It, 1909) and Il capodanno della gelosa (Jealous Wife’s New Year’s Day, 1910).”
Silvio Alovisio: The “Pastrone System”: Itala Film from the Origins to World War I. Università degli studi di Torino 2013, p. 10-11

Il duello di Robinet
R: Marcel Perez. B: Arrigo Frusta. K: Giovanni Vitrotti. D: Marcel Fabre (= Marcel Perez), Ercole Vaser. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1910
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

>>> Marcel Perez as Robinet:  A Real Clown of the Silent Era,

>>> Slapstick Italiano: Marcel Perez

A Promotion Film for Canada

The Song that Reached His Heart
R: J. Searle Dawley. K: Henry Cronjager. D: Edwin August. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA / Canada 1910
Sponsored/presented by: Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR)
Print: Library of Congress Collection / National Archives of Canada

“A dramatic short made by the Edison Company during its tour of the Canadian west during the summer of 1910, shooting promotional films for the CPR. It was begun on June 7 and completed on July 18, with some additions made at Edison’s Bronx studio later. . . . The film was released on October 11, 1910.”
Colin Browne

Royal BC Museum / BC Archives

“By 1910 the Canadian Pacific Railway was sponsoring short melodramas with romantic plot lines, all calculated to encourage workers to migrate to Canada. Surviving examples include An Unselfish Love and The Song that Reached His Heart, each featuring a male working-class hero whose hard work on the resource frontier produced economic rewards and the reunion with a lost love.”
David Frank: In Search of the Canadian Labour Film. In: Malek Khouri, Darrell Varga: Working on Screen. University of Toronto Press 2006, p. 26

“The undertaking was an ambitious one. The Edison team of director J. Searle Dawley, cameraman Henry Cronjager, actors, actresses and technicians was to travel the entire length of the CPR line in a special train, filming at such locations as a lumber camp in British Columbia, an Alberta coal mine, irrigated farmland at Strathmore, a ranch at Red Deer, a silver mine at Field, and the Mont Lefroy Glacier above Lake Louise. In ‘Man to Man’ Magazine, writer Norman S. Rankin described the filmmakers’ objectives as though quoting from a CPR press release: ‘. . . to show the struggling farmer through the medium of the moving picture the premium that Western Canada offers for home-making and independence to the man of energy, ambition and small capital; to picture the range cattle, fat and happy, roaming the foothills of the mighty Rockies; to tell the piscatorial enthusiast of cool retreats beside rushing streams where the salmon and trout lurk beneath the rock’s overhanging shade; to whisper to the sportsman . . . .’ In two months during the summer of 1910 the Edison Company completed thirteen one-reel films of roughly ten minutes each, the standard length for films at that time. (…)
The other ten were dramas, and unfortunately only two are known to have survived. One of them, The Song that Reached His Heart, is a tale of a lumberjack in British Columbia described as ‘a man of brawn and muscle made rough and rude by his life and surroundings.’ But not to worry: the CPR brings civilizing influences and the love of a woman from the East to rescue him from base temptation.”
Hugh Aylmer Dempsey (ed.)
Library and Archives Canada

>>> more Dawley films on this website: Rescued from an Eagle’s NestFrankenstein

Two Lighthouse Keeper Stories

The Lighthouse by the Sea
R: Edwin S. Porter. B: Bannister Merwin. D: Charles Sutton, Mabel Trunnelle, Laura Sawyer, Richard Neill, Richard Grodon, Herbert Prior. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1911
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“The two daughters of an old lighthouse keeper fall in love with two young fishermen. The girls seek secluded spots to tell their lovers “sweet nothings,” before they sail away on a long fishing voyage. One day a report comes to the old man that a ship has been dashed upon the shoals. The vessel happens to be the very one on which the young fishermen sailed. The little family searching amidst the rocks and angry waters for a survivor, suddenly see far out in the ocean a man seated upon a spar. He is recognized as one of the girl’s lovers. The other is also seen struggling further out. The girls look to their brother to rescue their lovers. But he is only able to save one. Which one shall it be? It is better to see the film than to describe it, so we will leave the reader with these words.”
Moving Picture World synopsis

Le gardien de phare
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse. Fr 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“This film meant a very great deal in 1911 because it is the real-life story of the lighthouse of Kerdonis, what is called a ‘maison-phare’, an ordinary house with a lighthouse mechanism on the roof, on Belle-Île-en-Mer in Morbihan in Brittany. When the lighthouseman died on 18 April 1911, his wife and two children kept the light going by hand all night (the mechanism having developed a fault). She was awarded a médaille d’honneur on the 16 June 1911. The Breton singer/songwriter composed a song on the subject ‘Les Petits gardiens du feu’. Gaumont filmed the medal-ceremony for Actualités (25 August edition) while this film appeared in October. The Kerdonis lighthouse is still there.”

>>> D.W. Griffith’s view upon the ocean: Enoch Arden (1911) and The Unchanging Sea, (1910)

Florence Radinoff and Norma Talmadge

A Lady and Her Maid
R: Bert Angeles. B: Beta Breuil. D: Norma Talmadge, Florence Radinoff, James Morrison, Lillian Walker, Kate Price, Flora Finch. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles
Engl. subtitles

“This is No. 4 in the Belinda Series and, in the first half, it shows only the same qualities that are found in the former pictures; but even this part made laughter. In the middle, it changes and begins to show a real idea. It seemed a pity to us that this should have been treated in just this way, it was worthy of better handling and a comedy was spoiled to make a farce. We find the same players as in the former pictures. Mrs. Breuil is the authoress and Bert Angeles the director.”
Moving Picture World, June 7, 1913

“Norma Talmadge (1894-1957) was one of the handful of true superstars of the silent screen. She was a major box office draw for more than a decade. A specialist in melodrama, her films are seldom revived today, and the often haughty look of her still pictures give little hint of her animated face and sparkling personality.  Norma Talmadge was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, probably in 1893 (though she said 1895 and finally 1897). She grew up with her younger sisters Constance and Natalie and her witty and strong-willed mother Peg — her alcoholic father having more or less abandoned the family. From Erasmus High School she got a job posing for song slides. In 1910, Peg managed to bluff her way into Vitagraph Studio in Flatbush, and Norma was soon graduating from bit parts to featured roles in countless short films through 1915. In that year, she won a major role in Vitagraph’s prestigious feature film The Battle Cry of Peace (1915). Peg figured that Norma was worth more than Vitagraph was willing to pay, so they signed with a new company whose demise left the family stranded in California after only one picture. Deciding it was smarter to aim high, they went to Triangle Corporation, where D.W. Griffith was supervising productions. Norma and Constance were both signed; Norma starred in seven features for Triangle in 1916. By the end of the year, she had met and married Joseph M. Schenck, a self-made millionaire trying to find an entrée into the picture business. He founded the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation, and their first picture, Panthea (1917) was a smash hit, establishing Norma as a first rank star. (…)”
Greta de Groat
Silent Era

554-Norma Talmadge                                     592-Radinoff

Norma Talmadge                                                                   Florence Radinoff

Close Reading

An Interesting Story
R: James Williamson. P: Williamson Kinematograph Company. UK 1905

“The mechanization of the body is also commented on in the seemingly very self-aware film An Interesting Story. At the end, a man is run over by a steam roller, flattened, and brought back to 3D life by bicycle pumps. The body responds to mechanical tools as if it were inorganic or non-living material itself. What surprised me is how it seemed that people could actually be afraid of human-machine interchangeability. The anecdote in Doane‘s ‘Technology’s Body’” about the woman who was reluctant to have her picture taken for fear it would be painful is very much in line with the pattern of early cinema. The relationship between real life and cinema, and the relationship between people and machines, seem to be brought together in this time period.”
Aron Katz
Early Cinema to 1915

Lecture absorbante
R and actors: Unknown. P: Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse. Fr 1911

TRAUM UND EXZESS, S. 179 f. (ref. to An Interesting Story)

Éclipse: 150 Films per Year

Une partie de tandem
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse. Fr 1909
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

Polyte esclave de la consigne
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse. Fr 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

Une pension de famille modèle
Dir. and actors unknown. P: Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse. Fr 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“The Société Générale des Cinématographes Éclipse, a public limited company with a capital of 600.000 francs, was founded by George Henri Rogers and Paul Joseph Roux in August 1906. Éclipse, which took over the Charles Urban Trading Company‘s Paris franchise in November that same year, owned a shop in the passage d’Opéra and a small studio in Courbevoie. In July 1908 a new increase in capital (1.500.000 francs) made it possible for the company to launch Charles Urban and Albert Smith’s kinemacolor films and to purchase a majority of shares in the Radios company, which had been created in 1907. By 1913, Éclipse was the fourth largest French film manufacturer, releasing 150 films per year, among the Arizona Bill series, directed by Gaston Roudès and starring Joë Hamman. Ten years later, after suffering financially during World War I, the company was purchased by Omnium EEG.”
Laurent Mannoni, in: Richard Abel (ed.): Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. Taylor & Francis 2005, p. 199

>>> Arthème Dupin

Something Magical is Going on

Le cheveu délateur
R: Émile Cohl. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1911

“When we think of animated cartoons, we think of images that move. Cohl had begun making movies in the era of Georges Mélies and Segundo de Chomón, whose movies were frequently magical acts on screen: transformations. Although Cohl did make his figures move, he is best remembered for his transformation animations, like Fantasmagorie. While both sorts of animations continued – who can forget Felix the Cat changing his tail into any number of objects? – by the late 1930s, motion had won the day and transformation became a less important case in the grammar of animation, most often used to indicate that something magical was going on. Here, though, it’s at the heart of this movie, and it’s a typical Cohl delight.”

>>> Émile Cohl, Master of Animation

L’épée du spirite
R: Segundo de Chomón. B: Segundo de Chomón. P: Chomón y Fuster / Pathé Frères. Sp / Fr 1910

“‘The Spirit Sword’ (L’épée du spirite, 1910) by pioneer filmmaker Segundo de Chomon is a fantasy swashbuckler that opens with the arrival at an inn of a musketeer who possesses a magic sword. (…) Two kitchen workers, Nicholas & Tonto, carry on with exaggerated comedy responses when the musketeer turns out also to be a sorcerer. The table is soon cleared & the magician-musketeer waves what is obviously a magic sword over the table to produce a fancy linen tablecloth. Candelabrum & a basketed floral arrangement float into place. But table & settings vanish & everyone scuttles about in a dither & seem to be crabbing at the magician-guest for getting their hopes up or for the imperfection of the manifestation.”
Paghat the Ratgirl

>>> Segundo de Chomón

Photographie d’une étoile
Dir. and stars unknown. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1906
Print: Filmarchiv Austria