Broncho Billy: Exploring a Genre

Broncho Billy’s Fatal Joke
R: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. D: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, Carl Stockdale, Marguerite Clayton. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1914

Broncho Billy and the Rustler’s Child
R: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. D: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, Brinsley Shaw, Eugenia Clinchard, Evelyn Selbie. P: P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

The Tomboy on Bar Z
R: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. D: Virginia True Boardman, Jay Hanna, Brinsley Shaw, Fred Church. P: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“In a 1909 issue of Moving Picture World, G.M. Anderson gave readers a glimpse into the world of filming westerns for Essanay. Since the company had yet to set up a branch in Niles, California, Anderson and a group of players would travel west to Colorado, California, Montana and even Mexico to film. Although the company made nature-based scenic pictures, like Wonder of Nature, Anderson also used these excursions westward to give a realistic, documentary-like feel to even his earliest Westerns. ‘We have some good stories to put on out there, stories written by authors whose Western stories are standard and of the best. Capable talent has been employed to interpret the stories and a score or more of real live cowboys are going to assist.’ He began to explore the genre further, experimenting with different scenarios and characters. The character of Broncho Billy wouldn’t become a theater mainstay until 1911, but once Anderson began to focus on the character of Billy, audiences took notice in a big way. The tradepapers and fan magazines dubbed him ‘The idol of small boys and girls, and big men and women;’ it was this universal appeal that made him the first Western star and one of the first and most popular photoplayers. He had to learn how to handle a horse, and although he was not a true cowboy, Anderson’s rugged good looks and tough but kind on-screen persona perfectly fit into the genre and the audience’s image of what a true cowboy would be. With Broncho Billy’s entrance, the ‘ridiculous stage cowboys’ were gone and the ‘typical puncher of the plains’ had taken their place. Even after Anderson sold his stock in Essanay in 1916, he remained very much tied to the Western genre. He made a handful of Westerns following his Essanay departure, but they failed to be as popular as his previous efforts. Newer cowboy stars had begun to rise in popularity – including William S. Hart, Tom Mix, John Ford and Harry Carey — and they began to take the form Anderson pioneered and expand it in ways he that couldn’t.”
Janelle Vreeland
Classic Movie Hub

>>>  Broncho Billy, the First Cowboy

>>>  The Greaser Character

>>>  Broncho Billy – The American Shot

Chaplin’s ‘Caught in the Rain’

Caught in the Rain
R: Charles Chaplin. B: Charles Chaplin. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Alice Davenport, Alice Howell. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

Caught in the Rain is an important work in Chaplin’s career as it is his first film in which scenario and direction were exclusively his own. Chaplin remembered in his autobiography: When I started directing my first picture, I was not as confident as I thought I would be; in fact, I had a slight attack of panic. But after Sennett saw the first day’s work I was reassured…Caught in the Rain…was not a world-beater, but it was funny and quite a success. The film draws upon past successes; Caught in the Rain is not an ambitious effort. The comedy begins in a park (a throwback to Twenty Minutes of Love) quickly moves to a bar (the excuse for Chaplin’s sure-fire drunkard), and finishes with a hotel lobby and room mixup (in the manner of Mabel’s Strange Predicament). Chaplin ends the film with the Keystone Cops for good measure. Chaplin revisited similar situations in A Night Out (1915).
Charlie Chaplin

Twenty Minutes of Love
R: Joseph Maddern, Charles Chaplin. B: Charles Chaplin. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Minta Durfee, Edgar Kennedy, Chester Conklin. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1915


Luigi Maggi’s Figaro

Le nozze di Figaro
R: Luigi Maggi. B: Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais (play). D: Gigetta Morano, Eleuterio Rodolfi, Ernesto Vaser, Umberto Scalpellini, Ada Mantero. P: Società Anonima Ambrosio. It 1913
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Desmetcolor)

“‘The Marriage of Figaro’, comedy in five acts by Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais, performed in 1784 as ‘La Folle Journée; ou, le mariage de Figaro’ (‘The Madness of a Day, or the Marriage of Figaro’). It is the sequel to his comic play The Barber of Seville and is the work upon which Mozart based the opera ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (1786). ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ was written between 1775 and 1778. The play reverses the character of Count Almaviva from the romantic hero of ‘The Barber of Seville’ to an unscrupulous villain and is generally critical of aristocratic corruption, which it contrasts with lower-class virtue. In the previous play, Figaro, who is the Count’s loyal factotum, helped his master win the hand of Rosine (known as Rosina in the opera), now the Countess Almaviva. Figaro is betrothed to Suzanne, the Countess’s maid. Because Count Almaviva wants Suzanne as his mistress, he attempts to prevent the couple’s marriage. Suspicious of his master, Figaro sends the Count an anonymous letter informing him that the Countess has a lover. Various intrigues ensue, during which Suzanne and the Countess change places to deceive both the Count and Figaro. Eventually, Figaro learns that Suzanne has always been faithful to him. The Count admits his dishonourable intentions and gives his permission for Figaro and Suzanne to marry.”
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

“Although Beaumarchais did not invent the type character of the scheming valet (who has appeared in comedy as far back as Roman times), his Figaro, hero of both plays, became the highest expression of the type. The valet’s resourcefulness and cunning were portrayed by Beaumarchais with a definite class-conscious sympathy. ‘Le Barbier de Séville’ became the basis of a popular opera by the Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. The second play, which inspired W.A. Mozart’s opera ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (1786), is openly critical of aristocratic privilege and somewhat anticipates the social upheavals of the Revolution of 1789. Beaumarchais’s life rivals his work as a drama of controversy, adventure, and intrigue. The son of a watchmaker, he invented an escapement mechanism, and the question of its patent led to the first of many legal actions. For his defense in these suits he wrote a series of brilliant polemics (Mémoires), which made his reputation, though he was only partly successful at law. After 1773, because of his legal involvements, Beaumarchais left France on secret royal missions to England and Germany for both Louis XV and Louis XVI. Despite growing popularity as a dramatist, Beaumarchais was addicted to financial speculation. He bought arms for the American revolutionaries and brought out the first complete edition of the works of Voltaire. Of his dramatic works, only his two classic comedies were to have lasting success. Because of his wealth, he was imprisoned during the French Revolution (in 1792), but, through the intervention of a former mistress, he was released.”
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

505-Beaumarchais  Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais

>>> Luigi Maggi on this site: The Last Days of PompeiiLuigi Maggi,  Maciste, Blockbusters from Italy


Filming the Process of Whaling

Whaling Afloat and Ashore
R: Robert W. Paul. P: Paul’s Animatograph Works. UK 1908

“Although R.W. Paul remained in the film business until 1910, Whaling Afloat and Ashore is thought to be the last of his films to survive, and exists only in an incomplete copy. (…) It is immediately notable for its length and variety. Two years earlier, Paul’s cameraman had made a very static and repetitive film of the Aberdeen University quarter-centenary celebrations, but here there seems to be a genuine effort to instruct the audience in the process of whaling, in much the same way that the near-contemporary A Visit to Peek Frean and Co’s Biscuit Works (Cricks and Martin, 1906), showed every detail of the biscuit-making process. Although the term ‘documentary’ had yet to be coined, this film is a clear ancestor of pioneering works like John Grierson’s Drifters (1929) and Robert Flaherty’s Man of Aran (1934), albeit made over two decades earlier.”
Michael Brooke

“In 1896, the Norwegian Government had restricted whaling during certain parts of the year as a result of lobbying from the fishing industry that considered whaling harmful to their operations. This provided an opportunity for Ireland’s Local Government Board to encourage the Norwegian whalers to establish stations on Ireland’s west coast and the Congested Districts Board sold Rusheen to the whaling company for £100. The Norwegians lived and socialised mainly on the nearby ships, coming ashore occasionally to visit the pubs on Inishkea North and South Islands. Once the station was operational, another strange sight greeted the islanders when a film crew arrived and proceeded to capture the whaling activity for posterity in a film entitled Whaling Afloat and Ashore. (…) The film may have had a promotional basis as commercial whaling was a lucrative business at the time and there was also an emerging genre of showing the intricate detail of industrial production processes.”
Patricia Byrne
The Irish Story

More about Robert W. Paul on this site:

>>> 1898: A Story to ContinueThe First SightDangerous Cars II, Blackfriars Bridge

Emile Chautard

La dame de Monsoreau
R: Emile Chautard. B: Alexandre Dumas père (novel). D: Marie-Louise Derval, Henri Bosc, Paul Guidé, Victor Perny, Léonce Cargue, Jean Dulac. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1913
Engl. subtitles

Emile Chautard was born in Avignon, France in 1864 (one source states Paris in 1881). He studied for the stage and became a leading man at the Odeon Theatre in Paris, later going on to become the leading man and general manager of the Gymnase Theatre, Ryane Theatre, and Theatre Royal du Parc (Brussels, Belgium). He played the role of Napoleon 1,500 times in Madame Sans Gêne.
He began his screen career in Paris with Pathé in 1907, and directed L’Aiglon and other films, after which he went to Eclair. He was director-general of the Association Cinématographique des Auteurs Dramatiques. Jules Brulatour, one of the most active entrepreneurs in the nascent American film industry, brought Chautard to America. In 1915 he joined the Peerless-World studio in West Fort Lee, New Jersey. The Boss was his first World production. Over a period of time he directed such films as The Annals of Perpetua, The Rack, Love’s Crucible, Little Dutch Girl, The Little Church Around the Corner, Human Driftwood, Sudden Riches, The Heart of a Hero, A Hungry Heart, Forget-Me-Nots, All Man, Friday the Thirteenth, and The Man Who Forgot.

“Chautard and Maurice Tourneur were companions during their student days in the Latin Quarter, Paris. Tourneur was studying art, while Chautard was endeavoring to learn the intricacies of stage technique. Several years later they met at the Theatre Francaise, where Tourneur and Chautard were engaged in making a production. They separated and were again drawn together in the early days of film making in the various studios around Paris. Chautard took up film production, and when the Eclair Company began operation in Paris, he was one of the mainstays of that organization.”
The Moving Picture World, May 27, 1916

>>> Maurice Tourneur on this site

501-chautard  Emile Chautard

The Final Years of Imperial China

Modern China (Extract)
P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1910
Print: BFI (Original length 8 min.)

“These extraordinary views of life and landscape in Beijing were filmed during the last years of China’s Qing dynasty, before the 1911 Xinhai Revolution overthrew imperial rule. The focus is on everyday life, and the views of hawkers, labourers, traders, and artisans reveal the city’s vibrant street culture. (…)
The film is the surviving part of an epic – but unrealised – travelogue shot on over 7,000ft of film over 12 months. But most of that original footage never even left China – through bad luck, incompetence, or both (the producer, Charles Urban, subsequently sacked the photographer) more than 90% was lost or proved to be unusable. The footage had a long life in film catalogues and was in distribution at least until 1919, along the way acquiring the alternative title ‘In Quaint Pekin’.”
BFI Player

The Final Years of Qing Dynasty
Unspecified documentary footage. UK (?) about 1910

>>> Nankin Road, Shanghai (1901) on this site