A Vitagraph Commercial

A Vitagraph Romance
R: James Young. B: James Young (scenario). D: Clara Kimball Young, Flora Finch, J. Stuart Blackton, Edward Kimball, James Morrison, Albert E. Smith, William T. Rock, Florence Turner, Ruth Owen, Edith Storey. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“It tells a good story convincingly and uses the Vitagraph plant as a background and in a very interesting way. The romance has its beginning at a seaside resort of which we have seen some pretty glimpses. It is here that a young author (James Morrison) meets and falls in love with the daughter of a senator (Clara Kimball Young). The senator (Edward Kimball) refuses his consent and sends the girl to boarding school where we find Flora Finch as the principal. There’s a moonlight elopement from the school troubled waters for the young people and then they get a job with The ViItagraph Company where at length the forgiving senator finds them. The Vitagraph scenes are very good. In the office, Messrs. W.T. Rock, A.E. Smith and J. Stewart Blackton are in consultation. Mr. S.M. Spedon enters for a moment just before the senator is introduced. The visitor is conducted through the yard so to the studio where one of Miss Florence Turner’s pictures is being made. This he interrupts to greet his daughter right in the middle of a scene. Mr. James Young is both author and producer and has made an excellent offering.”
Moving Picture World, September 28, 1912

“Since the earliest days of the motion picture, fans have always been inquisitive about what went behind the scenes.  In response of a flood of questions from readers, fan magazines ran hundreds of articles that attempted to unravel the mysteries of movie making – how screenplays were written, movies filmed, actors trained. Many early films, too, catered to the curiosities of eager fans. A series of movies, A Vitagraph Romance (1912) and Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), and two Charlie Chaplin films, A Film Johnnie (1914) and His New Job (1915) dramatized the joys and pitfalls of filmmaking for all the world to see.”
S. Barbas: Movie Crazy: Stars, Fans, and the Cult of Celebrity. Springer 2016, p. 116/117

>>> James Young films Jerry’s Mother-In-LawThe Picture Idol

Flora Finch and John Bunny

Stenographer Troubles
R: Frederick A. Thomson. B: Van Dyke Brooke. D: John Bunny, Flora Finch, Florence Turner, Lillian Walker, Clara Kimball Young, Norma Talmadge. P: Vitagraph. USA 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“One of the funniest Bunny pictures that has come out. The very best Vitagraph players have good roles, and it made a houseful roar with laughter. Flora Finch, as the stenographer who is acceptable to the boss, John Bunny, because he thinks there will be no danger of her flirting instead of working, draws a most astonishingly farcical character. When Florence Turner, Bunny’s rather fiery wife, got in a rage on account of her the house bellowed. It most surely is a picture not to be missed. It is full of good character and full of laughter from beginning to end. Such a picture will repay special advertising.”
Moving Picture World, February 22, 1913

>>> John Bunny and Flora Finch on this site

>>> The Stenographer’s Friend

A touching, yet forceful play

Monsieur
R: Unknown. D: Marc McDermott, Miriam Nesbitt, Robert Conness, Nancy Avril. P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1911
Print: EYE (Desmet Collection)
Dutch titles

Based on a story by mystery writer Thomas Hanshew, the creator of master criminal Hamilton Cleck. (Ken Wlaschin)

Summary

A touching, yet forceful, play. It has one scene which is notably dramatic. To find the father of the girl he hopes to win, a waiter in a fashionable café is the situation which confronts a resourceful young American. Equal to the occasion he has the waiter join the party as a guest and makes it a betrothal supper. The scene showing the discovery of the father will linger long in the memory. It shows clearly how wealthy folk may come to hard times and as clearly that bad luck doesn’t always last forever. Many things in America require quick action; in this play the young man’s resourcefulness is a feature which counts for much. The drama is perfectly staged and the photography is clear. The picture is above the average release in its dramatic force and its mechanical work.”
The Moving Picture World, April 22, 1911

ÉCLAIR Scientia

“La série Scientia éditée par Eclair s’inscrit dans une filiation scientifique, pédagogique et spectaculaire. Son intérêt pour les insectes peut très certainement être rattaché au succès qui accompagna la publication en 1907 des Souvenirs d’un entomologiste, la référence à Jean-Henri Fabre se trouvant exprimée de façon tout à fait explicite dans un intertitre, tandis que certains scénarios documentaires mettent en images les descriptions du scientifique. (…) Ce sont d’abord les salles de cinéma, où se rassemblait un très large public, qui furent envahies par le bestiaire de Scientia, les films étant inscrits dans les programmes hebdomadaires distribués par Eclair. Mais il est certain que les dirigeants de la société de production étaient convaincus de la mission éducative du cinéma et du potentiel économique que ce secteur recouvrait. La lecture de ‘Film-Revue’ permet de pénétrer dans une connaissance plus approfondie du quotidien de la société de production. (…)
Dans la concurrence que se livrent les grandes sociétés de production françaises dans les années 1910, la réalisation et la distribution de films scientifiques est un élément important de ce combat commercial, chaque société essayant de renchérir sur ses adversaires. Les sujets sont repris d’une société à l’autre, chacune adoptant une approche qui lui est propre. Éclair choisit résolument le mode de la vulgarisation afin de mettre à la disposition du public des bandes compréhensibles par tous. C’est souvent par le biais de l’humour que la série Scientia mit en scène les sujets qu’elle portait à l’écran. La société Éclair accompagna dans sa publication ‘Film-Revue’ les réalisations de la série.”
Ciné Mémoire Epinay

Le scorpion
P: Éclair Scientia. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Le dytique
P: Éclair Scientia. Fr 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

(Microscopic) shots of dytiscidae , a family of water beetles, which can swim, fly, walk and live in the water.
EYE

Les salamandres
P: Éclair Scientia. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Scientific film about different types of salamanders with an accurate report of their developments and natural environment.
EYE

Moeurs des araignées des champs
P: Éclair Scientia. Fr 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Nature film about the life of spiders. Recordings of various spider species, including the Meta menardi, the Tetragnatha, the Eresus, the Chirauchantie, the Argiope, and the Theridion.
EYE

>>> Nature / Science within the section EARLY DOCUMENTARY FILMS II

Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (2)

Zigomar contre Nick Carter
R: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset. B: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, Léon Sazie (novel). K: Lucien N. Andrio. D: Alexandre Arquillière, Charles Krauss, André Liabel, Josette Andriot, Olga Demidoff, Paul Guidé. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1912
Print: EYE

“Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (1862 – 1913) was an early film pioneer in France, active between the years 1905 and 1913. He worked on many genres of film and was particularly associated with the development of detective or crime serials, such as the Nick Carter and Zigomar series. (…) In 1905 he was hired by the Gaumont Film Company to work with Alice Guy on film productions such as La Esméralda (1905), based on Victor Hugo’s ‘Notre Dame de Paris’, and La Vie du Christ (1906), working firstly as a designer and then as assistant director. After a short period working for the Éclipse film company, Jasset was engaged in 1908 by the new Éclair production company to make film series beginning with Nick Carter, le roi des détectives; the detective hero Nick Carter was based on the series of popular American novels which were then being published in France by the German publisher Eichler. Jasset kept the name of the character but invented new adventures with a Parisian setting; the first six sections that Jasset directed were released at bi-weekly intervals in late 1908, and each one narrated a complete story. (…)
In 1911 he made Zigomar, taking his title character from the popular newspaper and magazine stories of Léon Sazie about a master-criminal; this feature-length film was so successful that a second title, Zigomar contre Nick Carter (1912), was made ready within six months, and a third instalment followed in 1913, Zigomar peau d’anguille. Jasset adapted other popular novels such as Gaston Leroux’s ‘Balaoo’ in 1913, and in the same year ‘Protéa’, a spy story in which for the first time the title character was a woman, played by a long-time favourite actress of Jasset, Josette Andriot; the Protéa series continued after Jasset’s death. In 1912 Jasset turned from fantasy and spectacle to realism in making the first of two Zola adaptations, as part of Éclair’s new series of social dramas. For Au pays des ténèbres, based on ‘Germinal’, he took his crew to Charleroi in Belgium to film in authentic locations, and although he updated the story to the present, he went to great lengths to recreate in the studio the detail of the actual mining galleries, exploiting the ability of film to be a recorder of contemporary reality. In the following year, Jasset filmed Zola’s ‘La Terre’ (1913).”
WikiVisually

Balaoo (Fragm.)
R: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset. B: Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, Gaston Leroux (novel). K: Lucien N. Andriot. D: Lucien Bataille, Camille Bardou, Henri Gouget, Madeleine Grandjean. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1913

“All film histories have sung the praises of Louis Feuillade, while only a faint and superficial memory of Victorin Jasset remains. But he was the first to bring to the screen, well before Feuillade’s Fantômas (1913) and Les Vampires (1914), the thrilling adventures of Zigomar and of Protéa. These films, suffused with generous amounts of self-irony, had a wonderful knack of telling audiences that everything they saw on the screen was pure fantasy, joyfully, playfully poking fun at the mystery adventures that Feuillade directed with such serious, heavy-handed and punctilious realism.” Vittorio Martinelli
XXXIX Mostra Internazionale

>>> Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (1)

>>> Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset (3)

A Firework of Colours

Grand Display of Brock’s Fireworks at the Crystal Palace
(Festa pirotecnica nel cielo di Londra)
R: George Albert Smith. P: Charles Urban Trading Company. UK 1904

“The Brock’s Fireworks Ltd celebrates its fortieth anniversary by organizing a truly explosive show. The technique of the colors painted directly on the film print turns out perfect to display a spectacular fireworks show.
The video is a copy from the film print held by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema: 35mm, positive, polyester, 82 m, colour (from a tinted and toned nitrate print).”
Museo Nazionale del Cinema di Torino

“Fireworks in general might be seen as a kind of abstract art, and here, the applied hues standing out against dark backgrounds give them an appealing unreal quality. The second half of the film shifts its focus to more representational light displays: a naval battle, a cockfight, firemen trying to extinguish a blaze, portraits of then-king Edward VII and his wife Alexandra.”
Erin
Cinematic Scribblings

“A truly beautiful example of early cinematic colour tinting, displayed at a fireworks display that was put on show at the now destroyed Crystal Palace. True this wasn’t the first display of colour in an early piece of film (There are countless examples in the year preceding this) but director George Albert Smith manages to capture all of the explosive wonder of seeing such dazzling fireworks with such a meticulous sense of detail, to the point where this almost feels like an abstract piece of modern art. It’s a truly breathtaking little gem, that’s far more than just a interesting little curio which some people have made it out to be.”
#georgealbertsmith Instagram Posts

>>> George A. Smith’s Colour Experiments on this website

579-Colours

An Early Feuillade Comedy

La fille du faux monnayeur
R: Louis Feuillade. P: Gaumont. Fr 1907
Print: EYE

Feuillade or Alice Guy? The Ciné-Tourist can help us to answer the question:

“This remarkable film, in English The Counterfeiter’s Daughter, was made in March 1907, just at the point where responsibility for Gaumont production passed from Alice Guy to Louis Feuillade. It has been attributed to both, but it does seem unlikely that Guy was making films only days before her marriage on March 6th 1907 (to Herbert Blaché Bolton – the couple left for the U.S. three days later). ​We can know that the film was shot that same week because in one scene there are on display outside a shop two Sunday supplements dated March 3rd 1907″:

574-The Counterfeiter's Daughter

>>> The Ciné-Tourist

Rollin S. Sturgeon (2)

A Wasted Sacrifice
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Robert Thornby, Charles Bennett, Roma Raymond, George Stanley. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“With all his faults, Jack Martin, an Arizona gambler, has one redeeming quality, a deep love for his motherless child. The baby is taken sick. Leaving her with Aunt Jane, the Mexican housekeeper, Jack goes for Dr. Winton, who is also the sheriff. The child dies. Crazed with grief, Jack gets drunk and shoots the town marshal. Leaping astride his horse, he escapes into the desert. Far out on a sandy plain, he comes across the dead body of a young Apache squaw, who has been bitten by a rattlesnake. By the side of the lifeless form he finds a child who has nursed from its mother’s breast and imbibed the poison. Jack thinks of his own child, and his heart goes out to the little one. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

At the End of the Trail
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: George Stanley, Robert Thornby, Edna Fisher. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“With a warrant for the arrest of Manuel Lopes, a notorious Mexican horse thief, the sheriff strikes his trail. He finds the desperado out in the desert, prostrated by thirst. He revives him with water from his own canteen, and placing the handcuffs on him, puts him under arrest. After regaining his strength, the Mexican treacherously pretends to be weak. The sheriff, little suspecting an attack, is struck down by his prisoner. He is left to face the death from which he has just rescued his assailant. The Mexican takes the key from the prostrate man’s pocket, and unlocking the handcuffs, places them upon the sheriff. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“Almost every production company produced westerns; they were cheap and popular. Vitagraph’s western unit had a small stock company and produced a lot of short films that would later become the sort of movie that fans would call B westerns; the villains were often Mexicans and the plots were simple and suitable for the short length of these movies.”
IMDb

Filmography Rollin S. Sturgeon

>>> Rollin S. Sturgeon (1)

>>> more Sturgeon films on this website: How States Are Made, The Craven, A Bit of Blue Ribbon, The Greater Love, The Courage of the Commonplace

Rollin S. Sturgeon (1)

Destiny is Changeless
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Lillian Christy, Tom Fortune, Robert Thornby. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1911/12
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“While there are issues, like the fact that all Indians wear Comanche War head dresses, like many of the movies of this era, the chief point is the camera work. It’s very handsome work, abetted by color in every frame. This seems to have been accomplished by toning, in which the silver nitrate of the film was chemically replaced by related compounds, yielding strong blues and lavenders, adding a strong side key light. (…)  the camera techniques make this an interesting note in the evolution of film.”
IMDb

“If anything in this film is ironic, it might be the elaborate symmetry between the two halves of the plot. The bad guy becomes worse and worse, until he turns around and becomes more and more self-sacri- ficing and heroic. But I am more interested in the ironic potential of the filming itself. By making the movements so emphatically frontal, the viewer is told that this concerns her/him, but also, that this is a trick of representation. The film’s narrative is no longer told ‘in the third person,’ evolving on the screen out there, but comes rather aggressively at the viewer. With the close-up of the guilt-ridden convertee as the central moment, the moralizing nature of such recognizable plots is perhaps driven home a bit too emphatically to be credible. Yet, (…), there is no inherent reason to consider this film parodic.”
Nanna Verhoeff: The West in Early Cinema. After the Beginning. Amsterdam University Press 2006, p. 274

The Redemption of Red Rube
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Robert Thornby, George Stanley, Anne Schaefer, Eagle Eye. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Rollin Summers Sturgeon (1877 – 1961) was an American film director of silent films,  active from 1910 to 1924. He directed 101 films during this period.
Revolvy

>>> Rollin S. Sturgeon (2)

>>> WESTERN

Gavroche

Gavroche peintre célèbre
R: Romeo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Gavroche veut faire un riche mariage
R: Romeo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1912
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“Gavroche is a fictional character in the 1862 novel ‘Les Misérables’ by Victor Hugo. He is a boy who lives on the streets of Paris. His name has become a synonym for an urchin or street child. (…) During the student uprising of June 5–6, 1832, Gavroche joins the revolutionaries at the barricade. (…) He goes through an opening in the barricade and collects the cartridges from the dead bodies of the National Guard. In the process of collecting the cartridges and singing a song, he is shot and killed.* The character of Gavroche may have been inspired by a figure in Eugène Delacroix’s painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’, which depicts the successful 1830 July Revolution, two years before the events described in the novel. The painting depicts revolutionaries advancing from a barricade over the bodies of government troops. A young boy waving pistols leads the way, beside the figure of Liberty herself carrying the tricolore. The boy carries a cartridge box over his shoulder. (…) The words of the song sung by Gavroche before his death are a parody of conservative views about the French Revolution: blaming all alleged modern social and moral ills on the influence of Voltaire and Rousseau. Gavroche sings “Joie est mon caractère / C’est la faute à Voltaire / Misère est mon trousseau / C’est la faute à Rousseau.” (I have a cheerful character / It’s Voltaire’s fault / Misery is my bridal gown / It’s Rousseau’s fault).”
Wikipedia

Gavroche vend des parapluies
R: Romeo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

Gavroche et Casimir s’entraînent
R: Romeo Bosetti. D: Paul Bertho, Lucien Bataille. P: Société Française des Films Éclair. Fr 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

* see Alice Guy’s film L’émeute sur la barricade

>>> more about the lion comedy in the early film industry: here on this site