Friday, August 12, 2011

The Actor's Children - 1910

The Actor's Children: One reel of approximately 1,000 feet, March 15, 1910
The first Thanhouser release about the disappearance of an actor's children, their thrilling adventure and how they return to their parents.
Print source: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Archive, 13 minutes 27 seconds.
Directed by Barry O’Neil. Scenario by Lloyd F. Lonergan. Photographed by Blair Smith.
Cast: Frank H. Crane (father), Orilla Smith (girl), Yale Boss (boy), Nicolas Jordan (comedian).
Original music composed and performed by Ben Model (
Photographic supervision by Joseph Bianchi, inventor of the Bianchi camera, two of which were rented by Thanhouser.
Remarkably for a movie studio’s first release, The Actor’s Children is well up to the state of the art for early 1910. Intertitles announce, in a few words, what will happen in the upcoming scene (a convention that lasted through 1912). Each scene is an unedited fixed-camera shot suggesting a front-row-center viewpoint. (Later in the film a single scene/sequence is a combination of two separate shots in separate sets, an important step toward ever increasing complexity of scene-building.) Sets are12-foot cubes with one exterior location filming.
The Actor’s Children is the story of the insecure lives of theater people and was supremely appropriate for the Thanhouser studio, whose principals Edwin and Gertrude Thanhouser had a wealth of theatrical experience in acting, production and entrepreneurship.
This print of The Actor’s Children has survived against all odds, so the nitrate deterioration and other poor condition in places is unfortunate but bearable.

For futher information on films by Thanhouser, visit the site above. Let’s keep memories of this great studio alive.

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