Inside the Submarine

Dans le sous-marin
R and actors: Unknown. P: Pathé frères. Fr 1908

The French submarine Monge
“One of 18 Pluviôse-class submarines built for the French Navy (Marine Nationale) in the first decade in the 20th century.(…) The first six boats completed were armed with a single 450-millimeter (17.7 in) internal bow torpedo tube, but this was deleted from the rest of the submarines after an accident with their sister Fresnel in 1909. All of the boats were fitted with six 450 mm external torpedo launchers; the pair firing forward were fixed outwards at an angle of seven degrees and the rear pair had an angle of five degrees. (…) Monge, named after the 18th-century mathematician and Minister of Marine Gaspard Monge, was ordered on 24 August 1905 from the Arsenal de Toulon. (…) At the outbreak of the First World War Monge was part of the French Mediterranean Fleet and sailed with that force to the Adriatic tasked with bringing the Austro-Hungarian Fleet to battle or blockading it in its home ports.”

“D” Class Submarine,  UK 1908
“The Royal Navy’s eight ‘D’ Class Submarines entered service between 1908 and 1911. The Royal Navy considered these to be ‘patrol’ (as opposed to coastal or fleet) submarines. They were significantly larger than the preceding classes and, with twice the endurance offered the British their first plausible ocean-going submarines. The Grand Fleet Battle Orders specified that the top speed on the surface was 13 knots, but that a more realistic ‘sea-going speed’ was 11 knots. The two forward tubes were mounted one atop the other, which allowed a sleeker hullform but which complicated the loading arrangements in the confined space. A single cap for the forward tubes rotated 90° in ‘roll’ to uncover both tubes at once. In effect, this piece was the prow of the submarine.”
The Dreadnought Project

Pochtovyy, Russia 1905


“Drzewiecki design, construction funded by public subscription between workers of Russian mail service, so the submarine was named Pochtovyy [i.e. Mail]. The chief aim of the design was to provide a submarine with a single diesel propulsion when surfaced and submerged. Because of the lack of a suitable diesel engine in 1905 gasoline ones were fitted instead. These were supplied with oxygen from 45 air cylinders (10m3 of air under 500kgf/cm2 was carried) when submerged. Exhaust gases were ejected overboard by compressor jointed to a perforated pipe under the keel. With only 1 engine running she was able to cover 28 miles when submerged and 350 miles on two another engines when on the surface. The whole system proved reliable enough but further refinement was abandoned because of steam collecting inside the hull when the boat was submerged and the bubble wake on the surface.”

French submarine Pluviose, 1908. Sank at Calais in 1910 but raised and repaired:

French submarine Pluviose, 1908

>>> WAR

America’s Roots

Christophe Colomb
R: Étienne Arnaud. D: Renée Carl. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1910

“This May 2023 restoration is the best print you are going to find of this rare film. We used Adobe Premiere to achieve these results. For this film, we upscaled to 4K, adjusted the h/w ration, adjusted black and white levels and eliminated damaged sections and provided stabilization throughout. In addition, we have added a soundtrack to help carry the film. The English intertitle version of the film is from the Library of Congress. The LOC copy of this film was virtually unwatchable prior to our restoration. A higher quality French version exists as well.”
Silent Film Restoration Channel

“An instructive and interesting historical film, representing important scenes in the life of the Portuguese navigator who gave a new hemisphere to the world and died in poverty. To say whether a film of this type is accurate is impossible, since much of the information which has come down to modern times is at best fragmentary and conflicting. The important points are well understood, however, and in the scenes presented in this film those features of Columbus‘ life which are well known are graphically set forth. It is a sumptuous film, well acted, adequately staged and clearly photographed. The combination is responsible for a picture which conveys reasonably accurate facts and does it in an interesting and convincing way.”
The Moving Picture World, May 28, 1910

“This film presents some of the principal episodes in the life of Christopher Columbus, including the discovery of America. Here we see the meeting with Queen Isabella of Spain and her promise to fit out a fleet. The next scene gives one an idea of the Spanish galleons at sea. Months seemed to have passed and no sight of land; the sailors are very impatient and in the end mutiny. Just at this moment land is sighted, and here we get a very fine view of the ‘lookout’ in the ‘crow’s nest.’ The next scene shows how Columbus had to fight his way with the natives, while these in the end were conquered by kindness. The next scene brings us back to Spain, where he has awakened great jealousy, and is charged with cruelty by some of his crew. Investigations are made and he is cast into prison. He sees from his cell, the great welcome Amerigo Vespucci receives, as having added a new world to the throne of Spain. The authorship of this film was also ascribed to Louis Feuillade.”

>>> more films by Étienne Arnaud: Feuillade’s “André Chénier”,  Éclair in America

250 years later:

“Alas, this film, despite its evident good intentions, fails on so many grounds. The composition is stagy. The acting is stagy. The Indians don’t look like Indians, they look like Jack Carson and Curly Howard dressed in buckskins and Comanche war dress. The interiors look like they were designed and painted in a couple of hours. When the chief Indian comes to Washington to plead that their lands not be taken, the daughter of one of the Senators — who looks to be in her forties — vamps him until the bill passes. When he accuses her, she faints, and rises having decided she loves him. – It’s all piffle, poorly executed, even by the standards of the day.”
IMDb (boblipton)



“A woman spies a gang of dwarfs disappearing underground in a forest, and a fairy takes her into their abode where they forge gold. – There’s no director listed for this on IMDB, but it looks somewhat like the work of Gaston Velle or Segundo de Chomón to me. There’s no plot; it’s more like a series of fantastically derived set pieces with the theme of gold tying them together, and it feels something like a factory tour; the woman even gets free samples at the end. The neatest effect is watching the gold being forged to coins, which is basically achieved by creating filming several fake pieces of gold being melted in a pan, and then running that footage backwards. There’s a giant face that spits out gold coins as well as a series of women being offered the gold of their respective nations. The whole thing is nicely hand-tinted as well.”
Dave Sindelar
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“An artist is in danger of losing his home when he can’t pay the rent. After he sends his female companion out to pawn her jewelry, he is visited by dancing money chests that offer him gold.
It’s a little difficult to make a judgment on this one, as it appears to be incomplete. It’s a fairly big jump from having a man glory in a fantasy about having tons of gold to hanging himself, and I suspect a chunk of plot is missing. It’s also a little on the disappointing side for Chomón; it’s a little too similar to the work of  Méliès and lacks Chomón’s individual touch that usually sets it apart; it even has the standard Méliès dancing girls number. Maybe a version that isn’t missing footage would be better; as it is in this form, it’s not essential Chomón.”
Dave Sindelar
Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

Comedy without Comic Snap

Fixing a Flirt
R: Unknown. D: George Reehm, Frances Ne Moyer, Spottiswoode Aitken,  Bobby Burns,  Walter Stull. P: Lubin Manufacturing Company. USA 1912

George Reehm stiffs his landlady so he can pester Frances Ne Moyer into a date at a fancy restaurant. When all her friends from work show up, George finds himself short of cash.Mr. Reehm, who resembles Franklin Pangborn, is very good in his comic discomfiture, but there is no comic snap to this short Lubin comedy. Every punchline is foreshadowed so fully that there is no surprise to any of the situations, nor, except for Mr. Reehm’s reaction, much effect. This was pretty much the style to comedy before the rise of slapstick, with its outsized reactions. Neither does Mr. Reehm show any particular adeptness in his stage business. He is simply transported from being the aggressive masher to the victim of his own folly; it’s a good outline for comedy without much in the way of execution.”
IMDb (boblipton)

>>> Spottiswoode Aitken in Griffith‘s The Avenging Conscience

Frank Powell

All on Account of the Milk
R: Frank Powell. K: Arthur Marvin. D: Mary Pickford, Kate Bruce, Blanche Sweet, Mack Sennett, Arthur V. Johnson, Flora Finch. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910

“Frank Powell (born May 8, 1877) was a Canadian-born stage and silent film actor, director, producer, and screenwriter who worked predominantly in the United States. He is also credited with ‘discovering’ Theda Bara and casting her in a starring role in the 1915 release A Fool There Was. Her performance in that production, under Powell’s direction, quickly earned Bara widespread fame as the film industry’s most popular evil seductress or on-screen ‘vamp’. (…) In New York in 1909, Powell expanded his career into the rapidly expanding motion picture industry, working initially as an actor and scriptwriter at Biograph Studios. There he also co-directed his first film with D.W. Griffith and demonstrated an adeptness at directing comedies.

After directing 63 short films for Biograph, Powell in 1914 journeyed (again) to Europe, where he joined Pathé Frères as a producer of historical and romantic dramas. (…) On his return to the United States, Powell in April 1912 was engaged by Powers Motion Pictures, and after being with that company for less than a year, he worked briefly again for Biograph before rejoining Pathé as a director of special features. (…) Later, as a freelancer, Powell directed the first film made by George Kleine’s production company. He was then hired near the end of 1914 by Fox Film Corporation, where he directed two highly popular films starring Theda Bara. The first one, A Fool There Was, was released in January 1915 and made the young actress an international star and gave her the nickname “The Vamp”. Often credited with ‘discovering’ Bara, he had cast Bara six months earlier in a very minor role in her onscreen debut for the Pathé drama The Stain.”

“The October 1916 edition of the Motion Picture News Studio Directory contained the following biographical account, which gives additional information concerning his wide roving in the field: ‘Frank Powell, president and director, Frank Powell Productions – Stage career: First with Eugene Blair in ‘A Lady of Quality’. Three years as stage director for Augustus Thomas in ‘The Education of Mr. Pipp’. Two years as stage director for Ellen Terry in her English tours. Stage director for Fannie Ward in ‘Lady Bantock’, etc. Screen career: Biograph (acted in and directed comedies), Pathé (directed in Paris and London), Kleine (Officer 666), American Pathé, Fox (director, The Children of the Ghetto, A Fool There Was, The Witch, The Fourth Estate, The Stain, Princess Romanoff, From the Valley of the Missing, The Chain Invisible, The Corsair, The Ghost, Jane Shore, The Other Sister, etc.), now at work on the first feature of his own, starring Creighton Hale, Linda Griffith, and Sheldon Lewis.'”

“The date, exact location, and cause of Powell’s death remain uncertain due to the lack of conclusive documentation. The presence of various Frank Powells in historical records in different states, conflicting information in federal indexes, and the ongoing need to find a corroborating obituary in a newspaper or trade publication leave many questions regarding Powell’s final years and death unanswered.”

Frank Powell as actor on this site:
>>> A Corner in Wheat
>>> The Mended Lute
>>> The Country Doctor

698-Frank Powell

Early Spanish Cinema (4)

Filmación documental de Cuesta sobre la Exposición Nacional Regional celebrada en Valencia en 1909.

Antonio Cuesta and José María Codina

“La realización de Colina con Cuesta era muy antigua, ya che fue el prima distribuidor de los filmes taurinos de éste. Se instaló en Barcelona en 1908 para organizar la red nacional que luego amplió al extranjero. Aci pues, buena parte del éxito international de las películas de Cuesta era debido a Codina. Codina, tenía experien.cia como reliziador. Ya que en 1908 hizo de colaborador de Fructuoso Gelabert en ‘María Rosa’; sus primera películas fueron Amor que mata (1911) de dos rollos; Lucha de corazones (1912), cuatro rollos y filmada en un solo día en exteriores. Esa rigidez y capacidad de trabajo fue la causa de sua predicamento. Su calidad técnica era buena, no asi su nivel artístico que era más bien escaso; El lobo de la sierra (1912), fue la primera película que realisazó para la produccion de Cuesta. Un filme que incidía en el folletín del bandelorismo, pero que no aportaba ninguna novidad. Mejores fueron sus filmes sigiuentes en los que se ampliaba el documenta taurino con un argumento idóneo. Tales como los títulos: La barrera número trece, de cinco rollos y en la que se mezclaban tomas do corridas auténticas con un drama folletinesca; La lucha por la divisa, en la que la corrida era el número fuerte del final de una melodramática historia rural en la que el amor de una mujer lleva a dos jóvenes al drama de una corrida en la quel el triunfador quedaría con el amor de la moza.”
Félix Martialay: Esquemas para el estudio de la historia del cine. El sastre de los libros 2020, p. 205/06

“The co-operation of Codina with Cuesta was very old, as he was the first distributor of Cuesta’s bullfighting films. He settled in Barcelona in 1908 to organize the national network, which he later expanded to include foreign countries. Thus, much of the international success of Cuesta’s films was due to Codina. He had experience as a filmmaker. In 1908, he collaborated with Fructuoso Gelabert on ‘Maria Rosa,’ and his first films were Amor que mata (1911) with two reels and Lucha de corazones (1912, see below) with four reels, which was filmed in a single day outdoors. His rigidity and work capacity were the cause of his popularity. His technical quality was good, but his artistic level was rather low. El lobo de la sierra (1912) was the first film he made for Cuesta’s production. It was a film that focused on the banditry genre but didn’t provide anything new. His following films were better, as they expanded on the bullfighting documentary with a suitable plot. Titles such as La barrera número trece with five reels, which mixed authentic bullfighting shots with a melodramatic drama; and  La lucha por la divisa in which the bullfight was the highlight of the end of a rural melodramatic story where a woman’s love leads two young men to the drama of a bullfight in which the winner would win the love of the girl.”

Lucha de corazones
R: José María Codina. K: Fructuoso Gelabert. D: Lorenza Adriá, José Claramunt. P: Barcelona Films. Sp 1912

>>> Early Spanish Cinema (1),  Early Spanish Cinema (2),  Early Spanish Cinema (3)

Rigadin (2)

Rigadin n’aime pas le vendredi 13
R: Georges Monca. D: Charles Prince. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1911

Rigadin tzigane
R: Georges Monca. D: Charles Prince, Barally, Delmy, Gaston Dupray, Gabrielle Lange,  Maud Loti,  Andrée Marly, Germaine Reuver. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1911

Rigadin nègre malgré lui
R: Georges Monca. D: Charles Prince, Georges Tréville, Fernand Tauffenberger, Paul Landrin, Marie-Charlotte Descorval, Nancy Vallier, Gabrielle Lange. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912

“Charles Prince Seigneur (27 April 1872 – 18 July 1933) was a French-born film actor and comedian, best known for his screen persona ‘Rigadin’ in numerous short slapstick comedies. He was also known as ‘Moritz’ in Germany, ‘Whiffles’ in England and the US, and ‘Tartufini’ in Italy. He was the second biggest film star in the world in the years leading up to World War I, just behind his rival Max Linder. Prince’s “Rigadin” character was similar to Linder’s ‘Max’ in that they were both upper-class dandys that were constantly getting into trouble with authority figures and love interests. Prince began his acting career on the stage and was hired by Pathé Frères in 1908. He made over 200 films as ‘Rigadin’ from 1909 until 1920. By 1920 his popularity had faded and he played supporting roles in a handful of films in the 1920s and 1930s. Two of his Rigadin shorts, Rigadin Directeur de Cinéma and Rigadin et le Chien de la Baronne, were preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2010.”

>>> Rigadin (1)

Max Linder 1912

Max a peur de l’eau
R: Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Lucy d’Orbel. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912

Max lance la mode
R: René Leprince, Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Stacia Napierkowska, Jane Renouardt. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912

“Actor, director, and screenwriter. Born Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle in 1883, Max Linder, as he would be known onscreen, was attracted to theater from a young age. He began to seriously study theater at the age of seventeen and then went to Bordeaux to become an actor. In 1904, he moved to Paris where he became a star of the Parisian theater and of the café-concerts. Because of his connection to other theater and café-concert performers and managers turned cinema pioneers (Ferdinand Zecca, Gaston Velle, and Lucien Nonguet among them) Linder was hired on at Pathé in 1905. He was already something of a star at that time, since he was one of the more popular of the Parisian performers. (…)  However, it was in cinema that Linder would truly become a star, in many ways the first film star, with one of the first truly developed and recognizable characters in cinema, the eponymous Max, and by 1908, Linder was working so much at Pathé he was forced to give up the theater altogether.

The character of Max was not an immediate creation at Pathé. Linder’s first films, mostly under the direction of Louis J. Gasnier, featured him in various comic roles, although the elements of Max, the look of the refined gentleman, the comedy that derives from a combination of bad luck and hedonism, are there. Linder’s first credited role in La Première sortie d’un collégien (1905) already contained some of these elements, which were no doubt holdovers from his live performances in the café-concerts. These comedic traits or signatures become progressively more evident in the early films such as Le Pendu (1906) and Idée d’Apache (1906). The character Max, a dandy in a top hat and a bit of a cad, made his debut in the 1907 film Les Débuts d’un patineur. (…)

While Linder’s Max was undoubtedly the best known and one of the most influential of the comic characters of the silent-film era, he was not the first. André Deed‘s Boirieau and Roméo Bosetti’s Roméo had both already appeared in film before Linder arrived on the scene, as it were. However, both Boireau and Roméo remain fairly two-dimensional. Both are representative of  ‘the fool’ type character typically found in common burlesque, and both lack the distinctive character traits that made Max so memorable. Moreover, there is a move toward subtlety and sophistication of performance in Linder’s comic performances, a differentiation between what is needed onstage and what onscreen. It is this comic subtlety, no doubt, that would influence later screen comics, such as Charlie Chaplin, and it is completely absent from the performances of either Deed or Bosetti.”
Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins. 2007

>>> 30 and more MAX LINDER films on this website

Promoting a Military Enterprise

Tra le pinete di Rodi
R: Unknown. P: Savoia film. It 1912
Print: EYE

“Short Italian propaganda film about Rhodes. Idyllic shots of a couple in love in the woods and by the sea are followed by images of Italian naval ships that ‘cross the waters around their new occupation’. Finally, there is a staged shot of a cannon firing a shot, with the Italian tricolor and the coat of arms of the company Savoia appearing over the statue. The island of Rhodes, which had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1522, was conquered by the Italians in 1912.”

“‘Tripoli, beautiful land of love…’ is how the refrain of A Tripoli! begins, a song of propaganda written by the journalist Giovanni Corvino of ‘La Stampa’ in the wake of the 1911 Italo-Turkish war. The Italian government’s decision to send a military envoy and take over the Turkish territory of Tripolitania was met with general, overall enthusiasm. The conviction that the colonial conquest would legitimate Italy as a world power, the idea that territories abroad could absorb growing emigration, the illusion that control of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica would become the passport to a greater influence over the trade routes of the Mediterranean were a few of the debatable geo-political reasons propelling nearly all the political parties and movements to demand (nationalists first of all) or at least support the reckless enterprise.(…) 1911 was the ideal year for a media campaign of this kind: the lavish commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the nationalist celebrations of the Risorgimento battles were the perfect stage for promoting a new military enterprise. The special rhetorical emphasis placed on the Risorgimento by newspapers and consumer publications was reused to support the African expedition, and film would play an important part in the manipulation of the collective Italian imagination. Between 1911 and 1912 all the important Italian production studios undertook to validate the reasons for the military intervention by producing various types of films that all more or less explicitly supported the war underway. (…)

Moreover, the Italian film industry did not fail to emphasize the cruelty of the Ottomans, making films about historical events that demonstrated the eternal conflict between the Christian West and the Turkish Empire: films like I cavalieri di Rodi (Ambrosio 1912), Hussein il pirata (Vesuvio Films, 1912), Gulnara (Una storia dell’indipendenza greca 1820-1830) (Ambrosio 1911). When later on in the conflict several Arab tribes of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica began to support the Turkish army, the idea of justifying the war as an inevitable epilogue of an ancestral clash of civilizations solidified even further. (…) If fictional war films were decisive for building popular consent for the war, documentary films made in the war zone by a few Italian production companies would become increasingly important in this direction. In October 1911 Cines began the production of a series of documentaries, 150 m. each, which were distributed weekly to theaters in order to informer moviegoers about the latest events of the military campaign. Reassuring images scientifically studied to tranquilize the soldiers’ families back home. In addition to the infinite correspondence filmed by Cines (over 80 films) between 1911 and 1912, dozens of documentaries about war events were also made by Ambrosio of Turin, by Itala Film, by Giovanni Pettine’s company and Luca Comerio of Milan, one of the most active cameraman in the war zone.”
Giovanni Lasi
Il Cinema Ritrovato

>>> Italy’s Colonial Wars – 1

>>> Italy’s Colonial Wars – 2

>>> Italia: Il Risorgimento


Die Suffragette
R: Urban Gad. B: Urban Gad. K: Karl Freund, Emil Schünemann, Guido Seeber. D: Asta Nielsen, Max Landa, Charly Berger, Fred Immler, Mary Scheller. P: Projektions-AG Union (PAGU). D 1913
Print: Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin

“Women of the silent screen are often slotted into stereotypes, such as Pola Negri the vamp or Mary Pickford the ingénue. With Asta Nielsen, however, it’s difficult to pin her down as one established type, except simply as ‘Die Asta’. Over the course of her career, the Danish-born actor would appear on screen in a tragic heroine, a precocious girl or a scheming comedienne. Her name value alone was enough to market her films as a series to cinemas around Europe in the 1910s. At this time film still clung onto the coattails of the stage for cultural legitimacy. Marketing materials would proclaim Nielsen to be “the Duse of cinema” referring to the Italian opera singer Eleanora Duse. Nielsen’s 1913 film Die Suffragette declares itself to be “a mimed play in five acts” in the title sequence, connecting it to the relatively more respected sphere of theatre.  Nielsen had trained for the stage before breaking into film, but what sets her apart from her co-stars and contemporaries of the 1910s is her restraint. While many others often resorted to exaggerated gesticulations, an acting style more suited for performing on stage for a live audience than to a lifeless camera, Nielsen’s movements are more controlled and subtle, drawing the audience into the psychology of her characters rather than telegraphing it to the masses. This makes her work inherently cinematic, rather than a direct translation from stage to screen, allowing her to portray memorable characters with a degree of sophistication.”
Cathy Brennan: Where to begin with Asta Nielsen. A beginner’s path through the glittering career of Danish diva Asta Nielsen – gender-bending star of the silent screen.

“The inter-title insists that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, which — in light of the film’s theme of women’s suffrage — can be regarded as an avowal that a woman’s place is in the home and thus women have no need to vote. From that perspective, the tableau showing Nelly with her husband and children constitutes a conservative frame that privileges the existing order. On the other hand, the conclusion of the film can also be read as a grotesque parody of a happy ending. This interpretation is supported by the considerable temporal leap from the first kiss to being a mother of four (judging by the children’s ages, at least five years must have passed), by the rather artificial arrangement of the characters in a tableau, and because Nelly at one point gets a baby’s dummy in her mouth (which Lord Ascue removes again). This tableau sequence therefore depicts the domestication of a suffragette, but the temporal jump and the aesthetic shift point to ambiguity as a possibility. (…)

The idea that the ambiguous ending hints at a parody is supported by the foregoing plot of the film. Nelly is very engaged in her involvement with the community of suffragettes. At their first encounter, Nelly becomes the centre of attention; this is where we see the medium close-up that shows the excitement on her face. Nelly’s enthusiasm and proud political engagement are also clear later on, when the suffragettes defend her against her sceptical father. (…) Nelly’s character stands out in A Militant Suffragette as the character to whom we have most access in the filmic narrative (…). In the film’s mise-en-scène, Nelly is always positioned centrally in relation to the other characters: in two-shots, the other character is often seen in profile, while they look at Nelly, who is oriented towards the camera so that we can see her facial expressions. (…) A Militant Suffragette is a political film about women’s struggle for voting rights. It is also a diva film with a focus on the female star, Asta Nielsen, and its narrative gives special access to the character Nelly Panburne through its film-aesthetic expression, in terms of cinematography as well as costumes. The ambiguous ending imbues the political topic with broad appeal, but also opens up the possibility that it could be interpreted as a parodic comment.”
Helle Kannik Haastrup: Asta Nielsen: A Cosmopolitan Diva

Asta Nielsen on this website:

>>> AfgrundenBalletdanserindenDie Filmprimadonna (Frgm.), Zapatas BandeDas Mädchen ohne Vaterland,  Die Verräterin,   S1,  Den sorte Drøm