Capellani’s “Robespierre”

La fin de Robespierre
R: Albert Capellani. B: Paul Gaulot. K: Pierre Trimbach. D: Jacques Grétillat, Georges Saillard, Charles de Rochefort, Marie Ventura, Georges Dorival, Cesare Gravina, Thelès. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles
Fragment: The end of the film is probably lost.

About Jean-Lambert Tallien (1767-1820)
Tallien [played by Jacques Grétillat] was one of the most active popular leaders in the storming of the Tuileries Palace on 10 August; on that day he was appointed secretary to the insurrectional Commune of Paris. He committed himself to his new mission, and habitually appeared at the bar of the Assembly on behalf of the Commune. He was a direct participant in the September Massacres of 1792, and, with the help of Georges Danton, would eventually be elected a member of the National Convention. He announced the September Massacres in terms of apology and praise, and he sent off the famous circular of 3 September to the French provinces, recommending them to take similar action.  (…) Tallien was of the most notorious envoys sent over to establish the Terror in the provinces, and soon established a revolutionary grip on Bordeaux. (…)

However, after the initial days of his mission in Bordeaux, Tallien began to shift away from his bloody Terrorist tendencies. This tendency may be due to his romantic involvement with Thérésa Cabarrús [Maria Ventura], the stunning daughter of Francisco Cabarrús and former wife of the émigré Marquis de Fontenay. Tallien not only spared her life but fell in love with her. As she was extremely wealthy and desired by many, it is possible that she became involved with Jean Tallien in order to save her neck from the guillotine at Bordeaux and influence Tallien to show lenience towards her aristocratic associates. Tallien suggested, ‘It is better to marry than to be beheaded.’ After Tallien became involved with Cabarrús, there was a notable decline in the number of executions in Bordeaux. (…)

Maximilien Robespierre‘s [Georges Saillard] own political ideas implied his readiness to strike at many of his colleagues in the committees, and Tallien was one of the men condemned. Robespierre’s rivals were determined to strike first. When Tallien was recalled, Thérésa Cabarrús was recaptured and imprisoned. She was set to face trial and likely would have been executed. She sent a letter to Tallien on 26 July, which included a dagger and a note accusing him of weakness for not attempting to free her. Thérésa stated, ‘I die in despair at having belonged to a coward like you.’ The movement was successful: Robespierre and his friends were guillotined, and Tallien, as the leading Thermidorian, was elected to the Committee of Public Safety.”

>>> Charles Kent’s The Days of Terror

Florence Turner & Maurice Costello

The Show Girl
R: Van Dyke Brooke. D: Maurice Costello, Helen Gardner, Florence Turner, Van Dyke Brooke, Kenneth Casey, Lillian Walker, P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1911
Print: EYE
Engl. intertitles

“Because of her stage experience, Florence, in 1910, made a tour of the theatres that were showing Vitagraph films around New York City, introducing the music called ‘The Vitagraph Girl.’  (…) The people trying to get in to see the ‘Movie Star’ almost created a riot.  The power of the performers had come. The star system had not been established when Florence Turner was introduced to the film audiences as the ‘Vitagraph Girl.’ (…) At the age of 22, she worked consistently with the matinee idol, Maurice Costello in what were considered Vitagraph’s prestigious films.  Florence Turner and Maurice Costello were described as ‘two famous picture players, whose faces are familiar to everyone who is in the habit of seeing the films.’  Florence was starring in the classics. There was also a 1910 pairing with a new idol of the movies on his road to stardom — a young man by the name of Wallace Reid.”
THE PREHISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD – Looking for Mabel Normand

When Persistency and Obstinacy Meet
R: Van Dyke Brooke. D: Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Edith Halleran, James Morrison. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch intertitles

“It seems like harking back to good old days to find Miss Florence Turner and Mr. Maurice Costello playing a good romance together. The peculiarities of this situation, though, do not give much chance to either to portray any of those subtler shades of character which they have given us in the past. Those finer things, especially in Miss Turner’s work, are marvelously pleasing. We are always expecting them, and every picture by the players without them, even in a case like this, where the offering has substantial merit, is somewhat disappointing. Mr. Costello plays the persistency; he is a lover suing for the hand and affection of obstinacy, played by Miss Turner. Not all of it is strongly convincing, the Iover’s dressing as a woman, for instance, nor is all of it fresh. The lover’s paying the expressman to let him deliver the package in the cap and jumper so as to speak to the girl who is in a pet and won’t let him apologize, is not fresh, but it is acted in a natural, straightforward way, has a happy ending, has well trimmed sets and is clearly photographed.”
The Moving Picture World, October 19, 1912

Aunty’s Romance
R: George D. Baker. B: Maurice Costello (scenario), Hanson Durham (play). D: Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Mary Maurice, Harry T. Morey, William Shea, Edward Thomas, Dorothy Kelly. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch intertitles

>>> Maurice Costello

>>> Florence Turner and Larry Trimble

Facial Expression

Old Man Drinking a Glass of Beer
R: George Albert Smith. D: Tom Green. P: George Albert Smith Films. UK 1897

Tom Green born in 1852. a popular stage comic and stage manager from the late 1870’s, became a well-known pioneering film actor and director of many early short comedies for the George Albert Smith Film Company from 1897. He also directed many short dramas and trick films for other film studios from 1902 until 1906.”

George Albert Smith was a British filmmaker, among the earliest class of experimenters in the nascent art form in England. Later dubbed part of the loosely defined ‘Brighton School‘ (which included James Williamson, Esmé Collings, Alfred Darling, William Friese-Green, and Charles Urban), Smith only briefly actively made films. (…) Smith was a pseudo-scientist inventor, an entertainer that was kind of a blend between the Lumière brothers and Georges Méliès. In fact, Smith was a pen pal of sorts with Méliès. But Smith also pioneered cinematic language in a way Méliès never did. Smith’s hallmarks were more elaborate continuity editing, close ups, and a non-hand-tinted color film process. He actively made shorts from 1897 to 1903, and again for a couple years from 1906 to 1908 for his Kinemacolor experiments, but he left behind an important legacy. Smith may just be the earliest important British filmmaker besides Robert W. Paul, who influenced the movie business a bit more than the technical or artistic aspects of the medium.”
Tristan Ettleman
The Ranks of the Auteurs: George Albert Smith

“British filmmakers were continuing to experiment. George Albert Smith continued to explore the use of close-ups as a means of clarifying detail and inceasing audience involvement in the action. Films featuring close-ups of faces had been common in Smith’s work: Comic Faces – an Old Man Drinking a Glass of Beer (1898); Grandma Threading Her Needle (1900) (…). These short films used close-ups to parody character types and were intended to be little more than entertaining vignettes. Grandma’s Reading Glass and As Seen through a Telescope had been successful at integrating close-ups with wider shots, but in both instances the use of the close-up had been ‘justifyed’ by using an optical enlarging device to explain the inclusion of the closer detail.”
Don Fairservice: Film Editing: History, Theory and Practice: Looking at the Invisible. Manchester University Press 2001, p. 32

Tom Green – one of the earliest film actors:
>>> The X-Ray Fiend
>>> The Dull Razor
>>> The Death of Poor Joe

Chomón: A King’s Wedding

Boda de Alfonso XIII (The Marriage of Princess Ena and Alphonse XIII, King of Spain)
R: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères, distr. by Warwick Trading. Sp / Fr 1906
Print: Filmoteca Espanola

“On May 17, 1902, at the age of 16, Alfonso was crowned king of Spain. These were troubled times for his country. In 1898 Spain had suffered a humiliating defeat in the Spanish-American War and had lost Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines to the United States. The Catalan and Basque peoples in Spain were demanding autonomy, and in the cities socialist and anarchist labor groups were becoming increasingly violent. Political life was very unstable, and between 1902 and 1906 the young Alfonso had to deal with 14 ministerial crises and 8 different prime ministers.
In May 1921 Alfonso delivered a speech denouncing the parliamentary system in Spain, and in July a Spanish force of 10,000 men was annihilated by rebellious tribes in Spanish Morocco. The army and the monarchy came under increasing criticism. The situation became so critical that in September 1923 Gen. Miguel Primo de Rivera took over the government and set up a military dictatorship. Alfonso supported the dictator, and during a visit to Italy he introduced Primo as ‘my Mussolini.'”

“On May 31, 1906 Alfonso and Victoria [Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, King Edward’s Scottish-born niece. KK] were married in Madrid at the Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo, Victoria having converted to Catholicism two months before. It was a grand affair but the enemies of the monarchy were determined to ruin it. A Catalan anarchist tried to assassinate the royal couple with a bomb. Thankfully, they survived but sadly several bystanders were killed or wounded in the attack. It was an ugly scar on what was otherwise a happy occasion. At the start of their married life, King Alfonso and Queen Victoria Eugenia seemed the ideal, happy, devoted couple. However, things began to change after the birth of their first child, Prince Alfonso of the Asturias. He was born with hemophilia, proving that Victoria had been a carrier after all. Two subsequent daughters and a son were born without the disease but, sadly, their last child and third son was afflicted as well. Despite knowing the facts from the beginning, human nature is what it is and King Alfonso tended to blame his wife for the disease that kept his sons in constant danger and from that time on he became increasingly distant from his wife. After 1914 he then had a succession of mistresses by whom he had six illegitimate children.”

Alfonso XIII en Valencia
R: Unknown. P: Films cuesta. Sp 1905

Alfonso XIII’s first visit to Valencia took place on April 10, 1905. Documentary footage.

>>> Imperial Cinema on this website

List of Spanish films before 1930