An Outlaw with a Sense of Responsibility

Broncho Billy’s Christmas Dinner
R: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. B: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson. D: Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, Edna Fisher, Arthur Mackley, Julia Mackley. P: The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. USA 1911
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“This film is a novelty in western productions. The idea of it is excellent and the method of working it out is to be commended. Broncho Billy is a bad man who has committed numberless crimes. In this instance, even though he had planned to rob a coach, he rescues the driver and a girl from death in a runaway and is invited with the rest of the crowd to a Christmas dinner at the girl’s home. The incident results in his redemption and a decision to reform. The long ride through the mountains with the coach is attractive and there is a thrill in every step of the runaway horses as they dash away and the outlaw after them. When he climbs to the box and takes the reins from the girl’s hands the audience is ready to cheer. The story and the action are alike excellent and this film will prove popular because of its unusual but altogether reasonable sensations.”
The Moving Picture World, January 6, 1912

“What distinguished Broncho Billy movies was that Billy was a repeating central character that appealed to audiences. Anderson focussed on personality rather than on the spectacle that characterized contemporary Westerns. Billy was typically an outlaw who underwent reformation, but one with a sense of responsibility towards women and children. With Bronch Billy, Anderson tried to create better entertainment for families and at the same time be a role model to teach moral lessons to children. He affirmed Victorian values and made the movie theater an attractive place for middle-class families. Anderson often drew to evangelical themes, especially redemption, and used Christian themes in his movies. Examples were Broncho Billy’s Christmas Dinner (1911), Broncho Billy’s Bible (1912), and Broncho Billy’s Sermon (1914). These themes helped to make him popular with middle-class women.”
Jeremy Agnew: The Creation of the Cowboy Hero: Fiction, Film and Fact. McFarland 2014, p. 101

>>> more Broncho Billy on this website: WESTERN

Selig’s Tropical Jungle Zoo

Alone in the Jungle
R: Colin Campbell. B: Otto Breitkreutz. D: Tom Santschi, Bessie Eyton, Frank Clark, Lillian Hayward, Wheeler Oakman, Eddie James. P: Selig Polyscope Company (William Nicholas Selig). USA 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“The Brown family, which consists of Hon. John Brown, his wife, two sons, Harold and Billy, and a young sister named Helen, has settled on an isolated plantation in the Jungles. Jack Arden, son of another English planter, who comes over frequently to hunt with the boys has fallen in love with Helen. But Papa Brown discourages the lovers, saying that Helen is too young to be married. Jack agrees to wait. Some time afterward the Browns receive a letter from Jack stating that he is coming for another week-end of shooting- with the Brown boys. On his way to the Brown’s home, Jack knocks down Concho, an overseer, for being cruel to one of the slaves. His action is approved of by the Browns. In honor of Jack the family starts on a lion hunt, and, after a long trip, they return by the river route. They espy a lioness drinking at the river’s edge. She is killed by Jack and taken aboard. That night Jack again asks Mr. Brown for Helen’s hand and is again told to wait. The next day when Jack is going away, Helen, unknown to anyone else, accompanies him a little way into the jungle. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

William N. Selig was an important film producer in the early days of the motion picture industry. A Chicago-born magician, he began his film career in 1895 after he saw a Dallas vaudeville hall demonstration of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope while he was running a travelling minstrel show. Returning to Chicago, he had a projector devised by dissembling and duplicating the Lumière Cinematographe. Working with a machinist, he patented the Selig Standard Camera and the Selig Polyscope, and incorporated his equipment business, a motion-picture studio and a film processing plant as the Selig Polyscope Company in 1896. Within a few years, Selig’s Chicago-based company became the largest filmmaking plant in the United States. At his studio on the city’s outskirts, he produced westerns, adventure films, and melodramas utilizing both indoor and outdoor filmmaking. Among the people he trained was G. M. (“Broncho Billy”) Anderson, who worked as an actor and director for Selig from 1905 to 1907 and then formed a rival company (Essanay) with Chicago businessman George Spoor.
Selig was among the first movie producers who considered Los Angeles as a versatile moviemaking location. After sending crews there for two years, he opened a permanent Los Angeles studio in 1909. The studio became particularly important for his business when, in 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt would not allow a Selig cameraman to accompany his big game expedition to Africa. So Selig bought an aging lion from a Los Angeles zoo and staged his own tropical jungle hunt with a lead character named ‘Teddy.’ When the newspaper wire services announced that Roosevelt had ‘bagged’ a lion, Selig released his fictional film entitled Hunting Big Game in Africa and scored a smash hit. The film was so successful that Selig bought an entire zoo for his Los Angeles studio and began making jungle adventure films.”
Lauren Rabinovitz
Film Reference

>>> Two Selig Thrillers

>>> Theodore Roosevelt in Africa

548-Alone in the Jungle


A Painterly Use of Light

Expressens mysterium (Alone with the Devil)
R: Hjalmar Davidsen. B: Carl Gandrup, Laurids Skands. K: Louis Larsen. D: Valdemar Psilander, Christel Holch, Svend Aggerholm, Carl Lauritzen. P: Nordisk Films Kompagni. Dk 1914
Ital. intertitles

“A four-part offering rather artistically produced and humanly acted, so that there are many fine scenes and pleasing pictures. The story, with much that is far-fetched in it, is not without dignity, inasmuch as it gives a good portrayal of friendship which is at once both convincing and worthy. But it has a gruesome background in the work of the hypnotist devil and his influence on the wife. The effect, as a whole, is not quite pleasant enough to be truly entertaining. The ‘devil’ is the business rival of the hero and has the latter’s wife under hypnotic control, forcing her to reveal her husband’s business secrets. The husband has a friend, a lawyer, who acts as guardian angel to him.”
The Moving Picture World, April 4, 1914

“Nordisk took its place alongside Pathé and Gaumont as a major producer and distributor. Granted, smaller Danish companies sometimes proved more innovative: Kosmorama with the Asta Nielsen sensation Afgrunden (1910), Fotorama with the 700-meter White Slave Trade (1910), Dansk Biografkompani with Benjamin Christensen’s extraordinary Mysterious X (1913) and Hævnens Nat (1915). But Nordisk had the resources to capitalize on these firms’ efforts and standardize them. Benefiting from a stable of skilful directors, Nordisk was able to create films that exemplify the range of aesthetic resources during this crucial decade.
Film historians have pointed out Nordisk’s accomplishments in cinematic storytelling, especially the modulated performances of Asta Nielsen, Valdemar Psilander, and their peers, along with the painterly use of light, as here in Alone with the Devil (Ekspressens Mysterium, 1914). We can also find early uses of close-ups, crosscutting, and scene dissection in Danish cinema. Here and elsewhere, these editing-based techniques, historians argued, replaced the purportedly heavy tableaux of ‘theatrical’ cinema.
By 1919, throughout the world, silent cinema seemed to have found its mature form, and Danish directors played a crucial part in the enterprise. The evidence is now overwhelming, however, that the editing-driven account of film technique is one-sided. The international ‘theatrical’ style of the 1910s was far more complex than many historians allowed. As an aesthetic system, it was based on the idea of the shot as a rich totality. Setting, lighting, camera position, and figure movement created an expressive image that ripened through time. The most ambitious 1910s tableaux exercised the viewer’s eye in ways we have still not fully appreciated, and Nordisk played an important role in this staging-based approach to filmic storytelling.”
David Bordwell: Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic

Hjalmar Davidson (1879 – 1958), producer (Afgrunden, 1910) and director

>>> August Blom and the Nordisk on this site

Charlie vs. Chester Conklin

Those Love Pangs
R: Charles Chaplin. D: Charles Chaplin, Chester Conklin, Cecile Arnold, Vivian Edwards, Peggy Page, Marvin Faylen, Fritz Schade. P: Keystone Film Company. USA – Rel. 10 October 1914

“In his memoirs, Mack Sennett recalled that production on the largely improvised short was shut down after only a few days and a few simple shots. (…) What remained to make up Those Love Pangs was a mishmash of elements familiar from a handful of then-recent Chaplin shorts, including the boarding house setting of The Star Boarder, the romantic goings on at the centre of Twenty Minutes of Love, and in the cinema-set climax, elements of A Film Johnnie. It’s clear that in the trade off in comic material between Those Love Pangs and Dough and Dynamite, it was the second film that came off best.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing notable about this largely improvised, off-the-cuff short. It’s not as innovative or as interesting as the one that followed, but it did show — albeit in small details — that Chaplin’s art, especially his performance, was continuing to grow and develop beyond the confines of the formula of Keystone slapstick (although he still manages to include the inevitable lake-in-the-park scene, where his forlorn romantic contemplates suicide).”
Brian J. Robb
Chaplin: Film by Film

Dough and Dynamite
R: Charles Chaplin. B: Mack Sennett, Charles Chaplin. K: Frank D. Williams. D: Charles Chaplin, Chester Conklin, Fritz Schade, Norma Nichols, Peggy Page, Cecile Arnold. P: Keystone Film Company. USA – Rel.  26 October 1914

“If Those Love Pangs was a lesser film in Chaplin’s filmography, there’s good reason; all the best material had been left out, marked instead for this film. That picture had aimed to set him and Chester Conklin up as screen rivals for the attentions of their landlady, without any real idea of how that was going to unfold. Chaplin developed the idea of them working at a bakery and that soon grew into such promising material that it was shifted out to be a separate picture, this one. Those Love Pangs was therefore developed once again, was shot quickly in only four days and ended up feeling much like an afterthought, albeit one that benefitted from Chaplin’s continued growth as a filmmaker; he endowed it with enough interesting detail that it doesn’t feel unworthy of attention. It’s immediately obvious that Dough and Dynamite completely overshadows it, though, as Jeffrey Vance ably highlights: ‘In the early silent-film era,’ he explains, ‘Dough and Dynamite was generally regarded as one of the greatest of all Hollywood comedies.'”
Hal C. F. Astell

Gentlemen of Nerve
R: Charles Chaplin. D: Charles Chaplin, Chester Conklin, Mack Swain, Mabel Normand, Phyllis Allen, Alice Davenport. P: Keystone Film Company. USA – Rel. 29 October 1914

“The first deliberate meaning of the title presumably refers to the real drivers racing their automobiles on the Ascot Park Speedway in Los Angeles on Sunday, 20th September, 1914. This is the same venue which served as the background for Mabel’s Busy Day, four months earlier, possibly the worst of Chaplin’s 1914 shorts. That was ostensibly a Mabel Normand picture with Chaplin trying to steal it from her, while this is a Charlie Chaplin picture with Normand trying to steal it from him, so it could easily be regarded as a riff on the earlier film or a thematic sequel. I found Mabel’s Busy Day not only the worst of Chaplin’s pictures for Keystone but the one in which he was most obnoxious and least sympathetic; he returns to that here somewhat but not to the same degree. Fortunately, Mabel, an annoying character in that film too for her constant ‘woe is me’ attitude and an unbelievable copout at the end, is an absolute joy here and surely the cause of some of the best moments in the picture.”
Hal C. F. Astell

A Christian-Jewish Melodrama

R: Louis H. Chrispijn. D: Louis H. Chrispijn, Enny de Leeuwe, Mien van Kerckhoven-Kling, Jan van Dommelen, Eugenie Krix, Annie Bos, Lau Ezerman, Theo Frenkel Jr.  P: Filmfabriek Hollandia. Ne 1914
Print: EYE
Without titles

“When Dora, the eldest daughter of a blind, widowed and orthodox Jew, falls in love with a doctor who is a Christian, she is disowned by her father and driven out of the house. As it was Dora whose work was the source of the family’s income, her father and her younger sister Lea are soon reduced to poverty. Unable to pay the rent, they are turned out of their house. They set out on foot, roaming through the countryside in search of a new home. A kindly farmer’s wife gives them shelter in a barn for a night. Thereafter they proceed to Amsterdam where they find a place to live in a cellar. One evening, when Lea and her father go into an expensive restaurant to beg, Lea is shocked when she sees her sister dining there together with her husband. Not wishing to be seen by Dora, Lea hastily leads her father away. Some days later, when Lea is busy knocking at doors and begging, her father’s guide-dog runs away. The old man totters into a canal and Lea, although she cannot swim, jumps into the water in an attempt to help her father. Fortunately, some passers-by see what has happened, dive into the canal and rescue father and daughter. As a result of her plunge into the cold water, Lea becomes seriously ill. A doctor is called in to attend to her. He turns out to be Dora’s husband. After the doctor manages to save Lea’s life, his grateful father-in-law accepts him and the family is finally reunited.”

Laurens Ezerman was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 1892. His debut was Nederland en Oranje/Netherlands and Orange (1913, Louis Chrispijn sr), a short silent film that portrayed in twenty scenes highlights from the Dutch history. He became one of the actors of the ‘troupe’ of the Filmfabriek-Hollandia, the most active producer of silent films in The Netherlands. The company’s main directors were Maurits Binger, Louis Chrispijn sr and Theo Frenkel sr. Chrispijn directed Lau Ezerman in such melodramas as Zijn viool/His Violin (1914), Gebroken levens/Broken Lives (1914, starring the grand Louis Bouwmeester) and Weergevonden/Lost and Found (1914). Most of these films are presumed missing, but Weergevonden was literally found again in 1976. In 1920 Hollandia united with a British company and Ezerman played in their historical adventure film De zwarte tulp/The Black Tulip (1921, Maurits Binger, Frank Richardson) and their crime film Bulldog Drummond (1922, Oscar Apfel), based on a popular novel and play by Sapper (Herman C. McNeile). (…)

In the 1930’s, directors like Detlev Sierck (Douglas Sirk) and Ludwig Berger and script writers like Walter Schlee went in exile from Nazi Germany and gave the Dutch film industry a healthy impulse. Ezerman played character parts in such films as the comedy Bleeke Bet/Pale Beth (1934, Richard Oswald, Alex Benno), Het meisje met den blauwen hoed/The Girl With the Blue Hat (1934, Rudolf Meinert) with Truus van Aalten, Komedie om geld/The Trouble with Money (1936, Max Ophüls), the popular romcom Vadertje Langbeen/Daddy Long Legs (1938, Frederic (Friedrich) Zelnik) starring Lily Bouwmeester, Morgen gaat het beter/Tomorrow It Will Be Better (1939, Frederic Zelnik), and the thriller De spooktrein (1939, Carl (Karel) Lamac), based on the play The Ghost Train (1925) by Arnold Ridley. In 1941 the Nazis censured films such as Bleeke Bet for reissues and all the Jewish actors such as Lau Ezerman were cut from the film, but he himself would never know that. In 1940 Lau Ezerman had committed suicide in the city of Amersfoort.”
European Film Star Postcards


One-Joke College Comedies

Revolution in a Bachelors’ Club
R: Unknown. D: Irving Cummings, Paul Panzer, Crane Wilbur. P: American Pathé Frères. USA 1911
French and Dutch titles

“Great excitement prevails in the clubroom over the question of woman’s suffrage and the boys all agree that never in all their mortal lives will they have anything to do with any woman. One particularly vehement denouncer of the fair sex hies him home about 1:30 A.M. to his apartment house, where only bachelors live and by a strange accident crawls into the wrong apartment. It seems that in the meantime a beautiful woman has moved into this apartment, and hearing the intruder enter and believing it to be a burglar, she hides under the bed. Here she is discovered by the bachelor, who thinks it’s a suffragette burglar, and rushes off to the club and later to the police station, with the whole club at his heels. They go with two officers to arrest the intruder, only to discover that Mr. Bachelor had been in somebody else’s quarters.”
Moving Picture World synopsis

Willie’s Sister
R: Unknown. D: James Morrison, Earle Williams, Tefft Johnson, Anne Schaefer, Alec B. Francis. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“Willie Green, off for college, tearfully kisses Ma and Pa and Sister good-bye. Arrived on the campus, he approaches a grave and reverend senior to ask where the proctor is located. The senior knocks off his hat. Willie replaces it and laughs feebly at the joke. The senior sternly tells him to take it off and be respectful to his betters. Willie obeys, and awe-stricken, repeats his question. The senior points, Willie dodges, gathers up his suitcases and exits cautiously, watching the senior. The proctor places him in a room with a senior, who makes life a burden to him, using him as a valet.(…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“Paul Panzer (3 November 1872 – 16 August 1958) was a German-American silent film actor. He appeared in 333 films between 1905 and 1952. Panzer was best known for playing Koerner/Raymond Owen in The Perils of Pauline. From 1934 through the 1950s he was under contract to Warner Brothers as an extra. He was born in Würzburg, Bavaria, and died in Hollywood, California.”

>>> more about Paul Panzer: Buffalo Bill


Psychological Symmetry

Zia Bettina
R: Unknown. D: Ida Carloni Talli, Alberto Collo, Augusto Mastripietri. P: Cines, Roma. It 1912
Print: Museo Nazionale del Cinema

“Aunt Bettina is an old maid who lives of memories. One day she accepts to host a young niece of her, Margherita, who is sent by her parents to forget a love story. The aunt discovers, that the man her niece loves, is the son of her first and never forgotten love. Concerned that Margherita might have the same sad fate as her own, who could never marry the man she wanted, she decides to try to soften the heart of the old man. Taking advantage of the similarity between her and the young niece, she dresses her up like herself when she was young. The old Count, moved by the sweet memory, finally accepts their marriage.
The video is a copy from the film print held by the Museo Nazionale del Cinema: 35mm, positive, polyester, 168 m, 9′ at 18 fps, colour (Desmetcolor), Italian intertitles, silent.”
european film gateway

541-zia bettina   Ida Carloni Talli and Augusto Mastripietri