Musician Stories

Fortunes of a Composer
R: Charles Kent. D: Charles Kent, Rose Tapley, Norma Talmadge, Edith Halleran, Wallace Reid. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“Samuel Herman, a composer, in seeking recognition for fame and fortune, goes to Paris and takes a position in a small music hall, playing there at night and writing music during the day. His compositions do not find a market and disappointed and disheartened, he sends them to his wife and daughters in America, to be disposed of by them if possible. He loses his memory through an attack of aphasia. His wife and daughters dispose of his compositions for $100,000. They send word to their father to the address which he had given them, but no one knows what has become of him and so the letter is returned unclaimed with a report that the professor is dead. Two years afterwards Herman’s memory returns when he hears his music played upon the street and he determines, after he has fully recovered, to return to America. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

The Musician’s Daughter
R: Jay Hunt. D: Grace Scott, William S. Rising, Roy Applegate, John G. Adolfi, Dorothy Gibson. P: Éclair American. USA 1911
Print: EYE
Dutch titles
Engl. subtitles

Dorothy Winifred Gibson, Titanic’ survivor
“Dorothy Winifred Gibson was born on May 7, 1889 to Pauline Boeson and John A. Brown in Hobroken, New Jersey. Her father died when she was three and her mother married John Leonard Gibson. Between 1906 and 1911 she was an actress and was even on the Broadway musical ‘Dairymaids’. (…) She had joined Cinematographes Éclair and was their number one star. Just a week before [the ‘Titanic’ sank], she had starred in a movie and was on a holiday in Paris, France. The company wired her telling her to come back because they had made a mistake with the film and accidentally damaged her part of the film. She booked passage and sailed on the ‘Titanic’ with her mother and had a cabin on E deck. She carried with her a few dozen pairs of gloves and a 300 dollar ear muff with jet black beads hanging down it. On the night of the sinking, she was playing a game of bridge with her new acquaintances, William Sloper and Fredrick Seward when the steward told them to stop because they were about to turn out the lights. She had just returned to her cabin when she felt a small bump. The bump was so small, that she ignored it and was just about to climb into her bed when her room steward came in, told her to dress warmly, and go up on deck. She put on a sweater and black slippers and went up with her mother. They were put into a lifeboat and then Dorothy dramatically convinced Seward and Sloper to come in as well. Her lifeboat had a small leak and it was swamped. They all had to sit there with their feet in the water and an allegedly French Baron hogging all the blankets. After they were rescued by the ‘Carpathia’, she slept for 26 hours straight. When she got to New York, she was told she was to be the star of the new movie, Saved from the Titanic. In the film, she wore the same clothing that she had when the ‘Titanic’ sank. Unfortunately, the film was lost in 1914 in a fire. She later divorced in 1916 and married Mr. Brulatour in 1915. They divorced in 1919 after Mr. Brulatour was accused of polygamy. She never remarried. She later moved to Paris where she remained. She was a Nazi sympathizer and was arrested in 1944. She escaped from jail and later died in her Paris hotel room of a heart attack on February 17, 1946 at the age of 56.”
Titanic Gazette

>>>  the ‘Titanic’ disaster on this site: Fiction and Newsreel

The Elegance of the Creature

An Otter Study
P: Kineto (Charles Urban). UK 1912
Print: BFI

“The secret haunts of the otter, including underwater scenes filmed in a tank concealed in a stream. Includes scenes of the preparation of the hide and the otter fishing for roach and pike, followed by the pursuit of the otter by men with hounds.”
Synopsis BFI Screenonline

“In this instance, a tank was concealed on the bed of the river and the cameraman was able to film from behind the glass. The reviewer from ‘The Bioscope’ was lavish in his praise and was moved to cite this film as an example of the revolutionary achievements of the cinematograph and as a ‘record-breaker’ in which we are able ‘to view life from an absolutely novel point of view’. (…) So, in a way, our ‘Bioscope’ reviewer is right to see this is a novel treatment of the subject, in which we delight at the elegance of the creature and begin to feel empathy for it.”
Bryony Dixon
BFI Screenonline

>>> about Charles Urban: Early Ethnography

>>> Nature / Science

In the Land of the Head Hunters

In the Land of the Head Hunters
R: Edward S. Curtis. B: Edward S. Curtis (story). K: Edmund August Schwinke. D: Stanley Hunt, Sarah Constance Smith Hunt, Mrs. George Walkus, Paddy ‘Malid, Balutsa, Kwagwanu, Francine Hunt, Bob Wilson. P: Seattle Film Co. USA 1914

“Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), American photographer and chronicler of Native American peoples whose work perpetuated an influential image of Indians as a ‘vanishing race.’ The monumental ‘The North American Indian’ (1907–30), published under his name, constitutes a major compendium of photographic and anthropological material about those indigenous peoples of the trans-Mississippi West who, as Curtis stated in his preface, ‘still retained to a considerable degree their primitive customs and traditions.’ (…) Curtis’s benefactor, the immensely powerful banker J. Pierpont Morgan, who had agreed to finance the fieldwork for the project, insisted that the lavish set of leather-bound volumes be sold on a subscription basis — and the subscription price had to be high. As a result, ‘The North American Indian’ entered the homes of only the very rich. (…)
The need to generate publicity in order to sell subscriptions led to the circulation of Curtis’s photographs and writings much more widely than ‘The North American Indian’ itself. Between 1906 and 1909, for example, Curtis produced for the popular Scribner’s Magazine a series of photographically illustrated essays devoted to what he called ‘Vanishing Indian Types,’ such as the traditionally nomadic Apaches of the Southwest, the sedentary Pueblo peoples of the same region, and the horse cultures of the northern Plains. (…)
Curtis engaged in a different genre of writing altogether when he produced the scripts for his Indian ‘musicale’ or ‘picture-opera’ in 1911–12. He was an admirer of Mary Austin, whose ‘Indianesque’ verse play ‘The Arrowmaker’ was produced on Broadway in 1911, but he was also indebted to other more explicitly ‘entertaining presentations of Indians, such as ‘Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show.’ The musicale was an elaborate lantern-slide show narrated by Curtis himself to the accompaniment of orchestral music composed by Henry F.B. Gilbert that, in turn, had been derived from Native American music recorded on wax cylinders in the field by the Curtis team.(…) Although the musicale was lauded as a spectacle — it even had a huge tepee onstage, lit from within, plus a full orchestra — and was performed to enthusiastic audiences the length of the east coast, including Carnegie Hall, it was not a financial success, and plans for a full second season were abandoned.
Curtis nevertheless built on the show business aspect of the musicale in his next major venture, In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), a full-length feature movie. Like Robert Flaherty’s more-famous Nanook of the North (1922), which it partly inspired, Curtis’s film, centred on the Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) people of British Columbia, transmitted documentary material — such as ceremonies, hunting customs, and even religious beliefs — via a linear fictitious narrative, a love story, set in a time before contact with whites. The film was spectacular, especially when projected with its original orchestral score, and garnered good reviews, but it also failed to make money.”
Mick Gidley
Encyclopaedia Britannica

Further reading:
In the Land of the Head Hunters

>>> Griffith and the Indians

>>> Colonial Sujets