Life of an American Policeman

Life of an American Policeman
R: Wallace McCutcheon / Edwin S. Porter. D: Jennie Bartlett, Bert Conneally. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1905

“This famous follow-up to Life of an American Fireman by Edwin S. Porter is a longer movie, but oddly less satisfying than its predecessor. Where that movie was an innovation in bringing sequential narrative to film, this one seems to lose its thread and becomes more a series of unconnected vignettes. (…) It is worth noting that none of the incidents portrayed show a police officer in the process of preventing a crime or attempting to catch a criminal. These policemen are helpers, rescuers, even protectors, but not enforcers. This may have to do with discomfort at depicting crime in American films at the time, something that would remain controversial right through the Hays Code, although of course movies like The Burglar on the Roof (1898) would happily break that convention for comedic purposes. Charles Musser, on the ‘Invention the Movies’ DVD argues also that Porter’s ‘progressive’ viewpoint comes through here: the city is a dangerous and uncaring place, but institutions like police can be a force for good in that context, by caring about the people they serve and working to help them improve their lot.”
Century Film Project

The Burglar on the Roof
R: J. Stuart Blackton. K: Albert E. Smith. D: J. Stuart Blackton. P: Edison Manufacturing Company, Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1898

This short was filmed on the roof of a building where Vitagraph had rented an office. The wife of the building’s janitor, not realizing a movie was being shot, spotted J. Stuart Blackton dressed as a burglar and began attacking him with a broom, thinking he was an actual burglar.

>>> Griffith and the New York Police Dept. on this website