The First Hillbilly Movie

The Moonshiner
R: Wallace McCutcheon. K: G.W. Bitzer D: Wallace McCutcheon, Harold Vosburgh. P: American Mutoscope & Biograph. USA 1904
Filming Locations: Scarsdale, New York

“By the summer of 1904, the Edison Company had abdicated its position as America’s foremost motion picture producer to the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company. Biograph had recognized the importance of fiction headliners and had begun regular ‘feature’ production by mid 1904. With Wallace McCutcheon acting as producer, Biograph’s staff made Personal in June, The Moonshiner in July, The Widow and the Only Man in August, The Hero of Liao Yang in September, and The Lost Child and The Suburbanite in October. These headliners were all enthusiastically received by the vaudeville-going public. They were not offered for sale, however, but kept for exclusive use on the company’s exhibition circuit. Biograph was perhaps the first company, certainly the first company in America, to make regular ‘feature’ production the keystone of its business policy.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. University of California Press 1991, p. 276-277

“Indeed, the first film produced explicitly about mountain people, Biograph’s 1904 short The Moonshiner, proved to be such a success that the company was still advertising it four years later as its biggest money maker – ‘the most widely known and most popular film ever made’. The success of The Moonshiner led to such a steady increase in the number of mountaineer-themed films that film studios released seventy such films in 1914, averaging more than one new movie a week.”
Anthony Harkins: Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon. Oxford University Press 2005, p. 58

“Isolated opportunities for (…) the democracy of violence were fairly plentiful for individual women. For example, in the final scene of the earliest known hillbilly movie and pioneer in the field, The Moonshiner (Biograph 1904), the moonshiner’s wife seizes a gun and shoots the lawman in the back, a display of wicked but invigorating potentiality that made early urban nickelodeon patrons cheer and call for more.”
Jerry Wayne Williamson: Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains and what the Mountains Did to the Movies. UNC Press Books 1995, p. 232