Lionel Barrymore

The Woman in Black
R: Lawrence Marston. B: Based on the play “The woman in black” by H. Grattan Donnelly. K: Tony G. Gaudio. D: Lionel Barrymore, Alan Hale, Mrs. Lawrence Marston, Marie Newton, Millicent Evans, Charles Hill Mailes, Hector V. Sarno, Jack Drumier, Frank Evans. P: Klaw & Erlanger, Biograph Company. USA 1914
Print: Library of Congress
Music (from original 78 rpm records of the late 1910s and the early 1920s) added by Robert Fells

The Woman in Black is based on a successful play produced by the powerful Klaw and Erlanger combine that dominated much of the American theater in the early 20th century. In the 1910s, the company began filming some of its most popular plays but ultimately the venture was not successful. In this film, Lionel Barrymore starred with Alan Hale (Sr.), both of whom would have long careers in movies extending through 1950.”

“Mary, a young gypsy girl, is seduced by the immoral Robert Crane and abandoned. She is exiled from the gypsies and, along with her mother Zenda, known as ‘The Woman in Black,’ she vows revenge. Meanwhile, Crane blackmails Stella Everett’s father into forcing her to marry him, even though she loves Frank Mansfield, Crane’s rival for a congressional seat. Frank wins, but Stella still faces the prospect of marriage to Crane until Zenda comes to her with a plan. On their wedding day, after the vows are recited, Crane lifts the veil from his wife’s face and discovers that his bride is actually Mary. Now Stella and Frank are free to marry, and Zenda has gained her revenge.”
AFI catalog

Lionel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore, original name Lionel Herbert Blythe, (born April 28, 1878, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. — died November 15, 1954, Van Nuys, California), American stage, film, and radio actor who forged a career as one of the most important character actors of the early 20th century. Perhaps the least flamboyant member of the Barrymore acting family, he was best known to modern audiences for his performance as Mr. Potter in the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Barrymore was the son of the stage actors Maurice and Georgiana Barrymore, founders of the celebrated family of actors. Although he appeared in a few plays in his teens, he did not intend to enter the family profession and instead studied painting in Paris for three years. He found that he was unable to earn a living as a painter, however, and he returned to the United States and to acting. (…)

In 1926 Barrymore left Broadway permanently for Hollywood and began a long line of outstanding screen characterizations. His early notable films included Sadie Thompson (1928) and The Mysterious Island (1929). His performance as an alcoholic defense attorney in A Free Soul (1931) won him an Academy Award as best actor. He appeared with his brother, John, in Grand Hotel (1932) and with both John and their sister, Ethel, in Rasputin and the Empress (1932). (…) In his later years Barrymore projected an image of an irascible (but usually lovable) curmudgeon, a role in which he exploited to the fullest his distinctive traits — a tall stooped posture (though, because of arthritis and other injuries, he usually performed in a wheelchair from 1938 on), shaggy eyebrows, and a hoarse, rasping voice. His portrayal of the avaricious Mr. Potter in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life belongs to this period.”
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

>>> Lionel Barrymore on this website: The Little Tease,  The House of Darkness,  The Burglar’s Dilemma, The New York Hat,  The Musketeers of Pig Alley, Friends,  The Miser’s HeartDeath’s Marathon,  The Battle at Elderbush Gulch,  The Switchtower

Lawrence Marston (1857–1939)
“Lawrence Marston was a well-known stage director, among whose accomplishments were ‘Ben Hur’, ‘The Prince of India’, and ‘Thais’ for his long-time employers, Klaw & Erlanger. Lawrence Marston was with Thanhouser in 1912 and 1913 and directed a number of films there, including Thanhouser’s first three-reel production released as a single unit, The Star of Bethlehem. (…) Marston departed from Thanhouser and went to American Biograph, where he was located by late autumn 1913.”
Thanhouser Biographies

>>> Marston films on this site: The Evidence of the Film,  His Uncle’s Wives,  When the Studio Burned

Griffith, perfectly improvising

A Feud in the Kentucky Hills
R: David W. Griffith. B: David W. Griffith. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mary Pickford, Charles Hill Mailes, Kate Bruce, Walter Miller, Henry B. Walthall, Robert Harron. P: Biograph Company. USA 1912

“In an almost off-handed sequence of shots, Griffith bridges the two halves of the film and sets in motion the series of events that precipitate the outbreak of the feud. The film’s rhythm shifts quickly and noticeably to a heightened level, reflecting the movements and emotions of the combatants, and Griffith’s deft combination of long, medium and close shots keeps the audience perfectly situated throughout the battle. This entire sequence, while it must have been carefully considered in advance of filming, was almost certainly improvised on site, the better to take advantage of the distinctive landscape near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania. In such a situation, reliance on a detailed shooting script would have been more of a hindrance than a help to Griffith, lending support to the notion that A Feud in the Kentucky Hills was not ‘written’ in any usual sense.”
Steven Higgins: A Feud in the Kentucky Hills. In: Paolo Cherchi Usai (ed.): The Griffith Project. Volume 6: Films Produced in 1912. Bloomsbury Publishing 2019, p. 143

>>> Griffith 1912 on this site

Chomón’s Reply to Méliès

Le Voyage sur Jupiter
R: Segundo de Chomón. K: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé. Fr 1909
Supervision and special make-up effects: Ferdinand Zecca for Pathé
Print: Archivo Nacional de la Imagen – Sodre (Montevideo)
Music: Giovanni Piccardi (2017)

“After begining his career in Spain (see e.g. El heredero de Casa Pruna [The Heir of the Pruna House]), Segundo de Chomón worked for Pathé in Paris between 1906 and 1909, where he directed a number of trick films competing with those of Méliès and using the stencil coloured film process known as Pathéchrome that he had invented. A Trip to Jupiter, which is clearly inspired by Le Voyage dans la lune [A Trip to the Moon] directed by Méliès in 1902, is a good example of the films made by de Chomón during that period. It also shows how the cinematographic language had progressed since1902. The esthetics of the two films are very similar in a kind of a fantasised Middle-Ages style, the stories also follow broadly the same line: travel to space via an unlikely means,  fight with unfriendly natives and return to earth. However there are substantial  differences, in A Trip to the Moon, a team of scientists use a cannonball to travel to the moon where they destroy the local king before falling back to earth where they are officially celebrated after landing in the sea.  A Trip to Jupiter does not involve an actual space trip: a king who has watched a kind of film, presented to him by his astronomer, showing fantasy representations of the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter, observes the same representations through a telescope and when he goes to sleep dreams that he is climbing a ladder bringing him to the same planets. When he reaches Jupiter, he is captured by soldiers who bring him to the king of the planet, Jupiter himself, who strikes bolts of lightning at him and finally throws him out of the planet. The film then shows the same sets in reverse order to bring back the king ot his bed where he wakes up in great agitation. The film is composed of 33 shots organised in three scenes.”
A Cinema History

614 Chomón

“Chomòn uses more traditional sets than the two-dimensional almost surrealistic façades and matte paintings that Méliès used during the making of his legendary space films, and they are all extremely beautifully designed, as are all the props and costumes. The movie is partly filmed on location at an actual old castle, which gives it a gritty and majestic feel. The hand colouring of the prints in this film is also exquisitely made by Pathé’s army of women working at the company’s colouring factory. There is also a bit of camera genius when de Chomón describes the ladder to Jupiter. The climbing is all made in two single shots, with the camera moving upwards with the king for long stretches. This was achieved by laying out the stars and planets as large cutouts on the floor, the gods and goddesses looking like they are standing or sitting, but actually lying on their backs, and the king crawling vertically on the floor with the ‘ladder’ suspended beneath him. The camera is actually suspended from the ceiling and filming straight down. The effect is completely obvious, but clever nonetheless this was one of the very earliest tracking shots, and without doubt the most impressive tracking shot up until the major films by D.W. Griffith.”
Janne Wass: A Trip to Jupiter
scifist 2.0

>>> Segundo de Chomón

A Family of Film Actors

Vendetta d’amico
R: Unknown. D: Oreste Grandi, Gigetta Morano, Ernesto Vaser, Angelo Vestri. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
German intertitles

Un successo diplomatico
R: Unknown. D: Gigetta Morano, Eleuterio Rodolfi, Camillo De Riso. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1913
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch intertitles

Eleuterio Rodolfi (1876-1935) trained as a theatre actor before starting in comical films, where he played a witty and sometimes unfortunate gentleman. From late 1913 on, he began film directing too, focusing on comedy. Camillo De Riso (1854-1924) had a theatre career behind him before starting in film, just like Morano and Rodolfi. A son of a stage actor, he started a family of film actors. Beginning in 1912 at Ambrosio, De Riso formed a successful trio with Morano and Rodolfi, contributing with his rotund face and generous look of bourgeois bonhomme. In late 1913 De Riso started at the Gloria company, where he created the gay epicure and shameless libertine character of Camillo.

One typical example of the Morano/Rodolfi comedies is Vendetta d’amico (Friendly Vengeance, Ambrosio 1911), in which two friends fight over the same woman. One wins and marries her, but then discovers that she is prodigal. He leaves a suicide note, and she marries the other friend, who soon discovers her wasteful conduct. Husband number one laughingly reappears. In Un successo diplomatico (A Diplomatic Success, Ambrosio 1913), Morano is an ambassador’s daughter who travels to Berlin as she suspects her husband of infidelity. Her father (Camillo De Riso), travels to find her, and discovers that she is courted by a diplomat (Rodolfi). He prevents her from making two mistakes (unjust infidelity and adultery) and deters the suitor by informing him that she is a dangerous terrorist.”
Ivo Blom: All the Same or Strategies of Difference. Early Italian Comedy in International Perspective

>>> Eleuterio Rodolfi

Vive La Commune!

La Commune
R: Armand Guerra. P: Le Cinéma du Peuple. Fr 1914
French intertitles, Engl. subtitles

Armand Guerra‘s 1914 film commemoration of the 1871 Paris Commune (this is the first part of two, the second part was not concluded because of the outbreak of WW1). The last two minutes of the film includes footage by Armand Guerra of a 1911 gathering of some surviving revolutionaries of the Paris Commune, including the anarchist Nathalie Lemel.

“Produced by an anarchist cooperative (probably the first in film history), directed by a Spanish anarchist, the film dramatizes key scenes from the 72 days and nights of the 1871 Paris Commune – still counted as the most extraordinary urban revolt in European history. Just before the film ends, there’s an unexpected leap from historical re-enactment to the actual. Suddenly, before our eyes, the last 20 or so living veterans of the Commune are standing in front of the Louvre in 1914. Due to the technological marvel of cinema, a full century later, we can see these stalwart revolutionaries move, smile, stare back at us quizzically. Before the camera’s lens, they seem bemused and yet proud. If it is true that in the cinema there is essentially no past – only the present moment of projection – then these aged men and women offer a direct, immediate and inspiring challenge to the present-day. Vive La Commune.”
Disruptive Film: Everyday Resistance to Power

“Nach der Kapitulation Frankreichs gegenüber den Preußen im Jahre 1870 und dem Niedergang des Second Empire (Zweites französisches Kaiserreich) wird Adolphe Thiers zum Oberhaupt der Exekutivgewalt der republikanischen Regierung ernannt. Die Pariser fühlen sich gedemütigt, der Volksaufstand steht unmittelbar bevor. Am 18. März 1871 bestellt Thiers General Lecomte zu sich, auf dass dieser die Kanonen von Montmartre einhole, die man erworben hatte, um die Hauptstadt zu verteidigen, und die von der Nationalgarde aufbewahrt wurden. Das Volk stellt sich den Truppen entgegen, dann verbrüdert es sich mit ihnen. Dies stellt den Beginn der Erhebung dar: Thiers flüchtet nach Versailles; die Generäle Lecomte und Thomas werden hingerichtet. Zehn Tage später wird die Pariser Kommune ausgerufen und mit ihr etabliert sich eine Art Selbstverwaltung, welche der Stadt vorsteht.”
FAUD: Pariser Kommune (1871) und Aufstand in Kronstadt (1921)

“‘Le Cinéma du Peuple’ war die wohl erste anarchistisch-sozialistische Filmkooperative der Filmgeschichte, die (nach einer Adresse des Anarchistenkongresses aus dem August des Jahres) am 28.10.1913 in Paris gegründet wurde. Ihr Ziel war es, mit Hilfe des Films die Intellektualität des Volkes anzusprechen, um so seine Emanzipation voranzutreiben. Die Gruppe produzierte u.a. den 13minütigen Film Les Misères de l’Aiguille (1914, Raphäel Clamour) mit der dem Surrealistenzirkel nahestehenden Schauspielerin, Filmregisseurin, Journalistin und Schriftstellerin Musidora, den 23minütigen Historienfilm La Commune (1914, Armand Guerra), der klar die Partei der Aufständischen während der Pariser Kommune 1871 ergriff, oder das kurze Arbeiterdrama Le vieux Docker (1914, Armand Guerra). Mit dem Kriegeintritt Frankreichs im August 1914 gab die Gruppe ihre Arbeit auf.”
Heinz-Hermann Meyer
Lexikon der Filmbegriffe

About Armand Guerra
Eric Jarry: Armand Guerra (1886-1939) Movie-maker and Pioneer of Militant Movie-making

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

>>> Alice Guy’s film L’émeute sur la barricade


Lost and Won

Brother Bill
R: Ralph Ince. B: Ralph Ince. D: Ned Finley, Edith Storey, Chester Hess, Kingsley Higgins, Frank Tyrell. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1913
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“An offering with a very interesting situation, full of the life of the back-woods. In its setting of wild scenes it gets over pretty powerfully. The two central roles are played by Edith Storey and Ned Finley (Bill). Bill’s brother has fallen in love with a girl in the mountain village and has made a tough character there jealous. Bill, to save his brother, comes to town and, in a dramatic scene, takes the girl from a village dance by force. It is now very dramatically shown, how the two fall in love with each other. In doing this the leading players acquit themselves most creditably and arc well supported by Chester Hess, in the role of Jim. The whole story is clear and the scenes, are well photographed for the most part. It makes a good offering.”
The Moving Picture World, April 5, 1913

“Because of the proximity of the actual West, in time and in place, it is important to acknowledge a contemporary dimension to Westerns that are set in modern times. Through contemporaneity, a film like Mexican Filibusters can be considered part of the Western family, just like The Colonel’s Escape (1912, Kalem). Also, the contemporary stories of A Cowboy Millionaire and Lost and Won are typical for the early Western, even compared to more historical stories of How States were Made (sic!) and Brother Bill. Some films show a temporary mix of modern and historical layers, playing with the moment of transition between the past and future (A Cowboy Millionaire or Lost and Found, sic!), and are still related to a film set in the days (when) States were Made or the days the witches were burnt at the stake (Rose O’Salem-Town). Different notions of Western-realism are at work because generic conventions are not set. Hence, there are no rules for the genre such as ‘a Western has to have horses in it,’ or ‘has to be set west of the Mississippi.'”
Nanna Verhoeff: The West in Early Cinema. After the Beginning. Amsterdam University Press 2006, p. 124

Lost and Won
R: Unknown. D: Hobart Bosworth. P: Selig Polyscope Company. USA 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles, Engl. subtitles

“In this film about love lost and found, a scene is inserted that consists of non- fiction footage of an oil well in operation.* Radical cuts are made between narrative fiction and nonfictional display. (…) In this film the inserted footage could be taken out without changing the flow of the narrative. But clearly, this would also spoil the film (…) as (real, sensational) spectacle. Clearly, judgments about good or bad editing, successful or failed narratives are impossible to make and are not relevant. There is a more adequate way to assess this film, and others of its kind, if we balance what we see (today) with the indications of projected reception within the films. Such films had several ambitions, which were all met, without one necessarily disrupting the other.”
Nanna Verhoeff: The West in Early Cinema. After the Beginning. Amsterdam University Press 2006, p. 302-303

* there is a far more impressive example for a similar spectacle in Sennett’s The Gusher, Keystone 1913

>>> another film by Ralph Ince, The Mills of the Gods