Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Unknown - 1927


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Tod Browning
Writers: Tod Browning (story), Waldemar Young (scenario), Mary Roberts Rinehart (novel "K" – uncredited), Joseph Farnham (titles)
Stars: Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry and Joan Crawford
Release Date: 4 June 1927 (USA)
Also known as: The Unknown (USA - original title); Alonzo the Armless (USA - working title); Az ismeretlen (Hungary); Demon cyrku (Poland); Den ukjendte (Norway); Der Mann ohne Hände (Austria); Der Unbekannte (Áustria); Garras humanas (Spain); Kädetön Alfonso (Finland); L'inconnu (France); Lo sconosciuto (Italy); O Homem Sem Braços (Portugal); O Monstro do Circo (Brazil); O anthropos horis heria (Greece - transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title); The Unknown - Der Unbekannte (Germany)
Budget: $217,000 (estimated)
Production Co: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Runtime: 63 min (23 fps)  | UK: 49 min (BFI print)  | USA: 49 min (alternate version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Love | Circus | Murderer | Surgery | Surgeon  | Armless Man | Murder | Circus Performer | Knife Thrower | Blackmailer | Doctor | Engagement | Unrequited Love | Death | Aphephobia | Freak | Unnecessary Surgery | Knife Throwing | Horse | Fear Of Loving | Deception | Obsessive Love | Muscleman | Male Female Relationship | Killer | Blackmail | Amputee | Unethical Doctor | Silent Film | Father Daughter Relationship | Self Sacrifice | Arm Amputation | Amputation | Circus Train | Frigidity | Revenge | Liar |
Death Of Father | Based On Novel
Genres: Drama | Horror | Romance | Thriller 
Alonzo is an armless knife thrower and gun shooter for a circus---or so he appears. He is actually a burglar with his arms intact. He and his accomplice, Cojo (a little person), are hiding from the police, and Alonzo views his disguise as perfect, especially since it keeps from view an unusual deformity of his left hand that would immediately give him away as the burglar. Nanon, the daughter of the circus owner, is the target in his act. Although Alonzo is in love with her, Nanon's father despises him. Nanon is attracted to Malabar, the circus strong man, but she is also repulsed by his uninhibited sexual advances and desire to touch and hold her. Apparently her phobia extends to the touch of any man. Alonzo feeds her fears in the hopes that Nanon will fall in love with him since he is "armless." Because Zanzi discovers Alonzo really has arms, Alonzo kills him, but Nanon witnesses the killing without seeing Alonzo's face; however...
Trivia
For many years this film only existed in murky 9.5mm dupes on the black market. In March 1973, at a screening of this film at George Eastman House, archivist James Card said that Henri Langlois and his staff at the Cinematheque Francais discovered a copy of it in 1968 among other miscellaneous cans of film marked "l'inconnu" (films "unknown" due to missing titles, etc.).
As 'Peter Dismuki' was born armless, he doubled for some shots of Lon Chaney where Dismuki used his feet for smoking or playing a fiddle.
Director Tod Browning loosely based the story on a real event of his circus days, where a man has masqueraded as an acrobat to evade the police.
Joan Crawford always considered The Unknown a big turning point for her. She said it wasn't until working with Lon Chaney in this film that she learned the difference between standing in front of a camera and acting in front of a camera. She said that was all due to Lon Chaney and his intense concentration, and after that experience she said she worked much harder to become a better actress.
Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. 
Goofs
Continuity
When Alonzo and Cojo are drinking wine, the glass suddenly fills between shots.
During the scene where we fist meet Alonzo and he is throwing knives with his feet, the shot shows the girl against the board and there are no knives. It cuts to Alonzo throwing and when it goes back to the girl to see the impact there are knives in a silhouette around her.
Miscellaneous
When tricking Nanon's assistant to leave the stage, Lon Chaney clearly uses his hands to close the door behind him, although he plays a guy who's hands had been amputated earlier in the film

The Dippy Dentist - 1920


Country: United States
Director: Alfred J. Goulding
Stars: 'Snub' Pollard, Marie Mosquini and Ernest Morrison
Release Date: 25 January 1920 (USA)
Production Co: Rolin Films
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Comedy | Short
There are actually TWO dentists in this Roach short subject, one of them played by Harold Lloyd's brother Gaylord. He's wooing beautiful young thing Marie Mosquini, but with only marginal success, as she's also the apple of another man's eye. Enter--on the back of a motorcycle--The Dandy, once again portrayed by the inimitable Snub Pollard, who gets his bag of dental equipment switched with that of some back alley hooch salesmen (remember, Prohibition was only a year old, and was probably still being taken somewhat seriously in certain circles). Snub then meets cute with Sunshine Sammy Morrison and his faithful pooch, who looks a lot like the dog from the Our Gang series. The booze leaks from the bottle, the dog gets drunk, and Snub takes his liquid anesthetic into Gaylord's office, where he steals his competitor's patients with the sweet scent of alcohol. It's patently absurd, but the scene of Snub giving gas to Sammy Brooks is worth the price of admission alone. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Herbert Brenon
Writers: Herbert Brenon (scenario), Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
Stars: King Baggot, Jane Gail and Matt Snyder
Release Date: 6 March 1913 (USA)
Production Co: Independent Moving Pictures Co. of America (IMP)
Runtime: 26 min  | 26 min (video version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Jekyll And Hyde | Based On Novel | Character Name In Title
Genres: Horror | Short
Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.  

You Remember Ellen - 1912


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Sidney Olcott
Writer: Gene Gauntier (scenario)
Stars: George K. Hollister, Gene Gauntier and Jack J. Clark
Release Date: 4 March 1912 (USA)
Filming Locations: Beaufort, County Kerry, Ireland
Production Co: Kalem Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Drama | Romance | Short 

A Strong Revenge - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Mack Sennett
Stars: Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling
Release Date: 10 March 1913 (USA)
Also known as: The Rivals (USA - reissue title); The Shoemaker's Revenge (USA - working title)
Production Co: Keystone Film Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy

Halifax Explosion: The Aftermath and Relief Efforts - 1917


Country: Canada
Actual footage following the 1917 Explosion in Halifax, showing devastation and the relief effort, beginning with activities the day after the Explosion and following the reconstruction in the north end of Halifax, including the Hydrostone housing project.
Filmmaker: W.G. MacLaughlan
For more information on the archives and these films, please visit: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/nsfilm/

Whirlwind of Whiskers - 1917


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Alfred Santell
Writers: Frank Howard Clark, Phil Lang, and Alfred Santell
Stars: Lloyd Hamilton, Bud Duncan and Marin Sais
Release Date: 19 October 1917 (USA)
Production Co: Kalem Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Ham And Bud Series | Actor Shares First Name With Character
Genres: Short | Comedy
Ham and Bud try to catch a counterfeiter. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Suspense - 1913


Country: United States
Language: English
Directors: Phillips Smalley, Lois Weber
Writer: Lois Weber (scenario)
Stars: Lois Weber, Val Paul and Douglas Gerrard
Release Date: 6 July 1913 (USA)
Production Co: Rex Motion Picture Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Tramp | Rescue | Key Under The Mat | Rescue Of Child | Keyhole  |Damsel In Distress | Car Chase | Title Directed By Female | Burglary | Suspense | Chase |
Split Screen Telephone Call
Genres: Short | Drama | Thriller
An isolated house in deserted area is too remote for a servant, who leaves a note, quietly exits the back door, and puts the key under the mat. Alone in the house is a mother and her infant. A tramp watches the servant leave, then begins to skulk. The woman sees him outside as he discovers the latchkey. She phones her husband, who's working in town, and he jumps into a car idling in front of his office. He races toward home while the car's owner (and the police) are in pursuit. The tramp grabs a knife and heads up the stairs toward the defenseless woman. Can the husband elude the police long enough to rescue her or will the tramp have his way?
Trivia
A Print survives in the National Film Archives, in London.
Memorable quotes
The Husband: [on the phone with the Wife] I won't be home until late. Will you be all right?
The Wife: [looks out the window] A tramp is prowling around the house!
The Wife: [on the phone with her husband, telling him about the tramp] Now he is opening the kitchen door. Now he is in the...
[the tramp saws through the phone wire]
Connections
Featured in Hollywood: Pioneers Clips of the film are shown; Hollywood 100 Years at the Movies brief clip shown; The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.1 Clips shown
Referenced in Hollywood: Pioneers The film is discussed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt's Return from Africa - 1910


Country: United States
Summary
TR returns from his African hunting trip through the countries of Sudan, France, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Great Britain, and finally his reception in New York City. There are views of: 1) his riverboat on the Nile River in Sudan; 2) TR's visit in Paris with French Ambassador Jules Jusserand, Gen. Jean B. Dalstein, American Ambassador Robert Bacon, and Mrs. Bacon; his trip to Issy-les-Moulineaux; TR reviewing French troops with Jusserand, Bacon, and Dalstein at Vincennes on Apr. 27, 1910; and TR leaving the University of Paris (Sorbonne) on Apr. 23, 1910; 3) TR with Prince Christian and others in Denmark May 2-3, 1910; 4) TR and King Haakon in Christiania (now Oslo) on May 4-6, 1910; 5) views of Berlin including the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag; TR, Kaiser Wilhelm, the Kaiserin, and others leaving the University of Berlin on May 12, 1910; 6) the funeral cortege at Windsor on May 20, 1910; identified in the processional, left to right, walking in rows are: Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, King George V of England, and the Duke of Connaught; the Duke of Cornwall (later King Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later King George VI); two rows of the King's aides; King Alfonso XII of Spain, King George I of Greece, and King Haakon VII of Norway; King Manuel II of Portugal, King Frederik VIII of Denmark, and King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria; Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, King Albert I of Belgium, and Prince Yusuf Izzedin of Turkey; the Duke of Aosta, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch of Russia, and Prince Sadanaru Fushimi of Japan; the Crown Prince of Rumania (later King Carol II), the Duke of Sparta (later King Constantine I of Greece), and probably Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria; Crown Prince of Serbia (later Peter I), Duke Albrecht of Wurtemberg, and Prince Henry of the Netherlands; the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Grand Duke of Hesse, and Prince Henry of Prussia; Crown Prince George of Saxony, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and Prince Charles (later King Gustav VI) of Sweden; probably the Prince of Waldeck, probably Prince Tsai-tao of China, and Prince Mohammed Ali of Egypt; Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Prince Arthur of Connaught, and Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein; Prince Alexander of Battenburg; Prince George of Cumberland, and the Duke of Fife; TR is visible at the end of the procession; 7) TR's arrival in New York City, his greeting by Mayor William J. Gaynor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Loeb, his speech at the Battery, and the parade in his honor.
Other Titles
Theodore Roosevelt's return from Africa, 1910 [2]
Roosevelt Memorial Association title: Roosevelt's return from Africa
Created/Published
United States : Roosevelt Memorial Association Film Library, [1925?].
Notes
Editor, Mae Manning.
Subjects
Heads of state.
Kings and rulers.
Brandenburger Tor (Berlin, Germany).
Reichstagsgebäude (Berlin, Germany).
Denmark.
Oslo (Norway)
Streets--Germany.
Edward--VII,--King of Great Britain,--1841-1910--Death and burial.
Roosevelt, Theodore,--1858-1919--Speeches, addresses, etc., American.
Actuality--Short.
Related Names
Gentry, Caroline, direction.
Manning, Mae, editing.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Jusserand, J. J. (Jean Jules), 1855-1932.
Dalstein, Jean B.
Bacon, Robert, 1860-1919.
Christian X, King of Denmark, 1870-1947.
Haakon VII, King of Norway, 1872-1957.
William II, German Emperor, 1859-1941.
George V, King of Great Britain, 1865-1936.
Arthur, Prince, Duke of Connaught, 1850-1942.
Windsor, Edward, Duke of, 1894-1972.
George VI, King of Great Britain, 1895-1952.
Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, 1886-1941.
George I, King of the Hellenes, 1845-1913.
Manuel II, King of Portugal, 1889-1932.
Frederik VIII, King of Denmark, 1843-1912.
Ferdinand I, Czar of Bulgaria, 1861-1948
Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, 1863-1914.
Albert I, King of the Belgians, 1875-1934.
Gaynor, William Jay, 1851-1913.
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 1873-1942.
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924.
Loeb, William, 1866-1937.
Roosevelt Memorial Association. Film Library.
Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection (Library of Congress)

Theodore Roosevelt in Africa - 1909


Country: United States
Summary
Scenes of African peoples and of TR's safari party, all probably filmed in British East Africa (Kenya) in 1909. View of TR planting a tree in front of trading company building, possibly located in Mombasa, long shot of busy amusement area in Kenyan seaport of Mombasa, including shot of ferris wheel filled with Swahilis; shots, taken from observation platform on train engine, of plains along the Uganda Railway, with herdsmen who are probably Masai and railroad workers visible along tracks; train pulls into small community; women who are probably Masai, incorrectly identified by interior title as Zulu, gather water at spring, accompanied by children.
Rainmaker dances in ritual ceremony, surrounded by Swahilis; members of unknown tribe draw water from a well, with large thatched structure in background; views of Masai men, women, and children in kraal, with clear shots of mud houses; TR and his party appear in group of Kikuyu and/or Masai tribesmen; women who are probably Masai, incorrectly identified by interior title as Zulu, form ceremonial circle on open plain; TR and members of his party examine a gun in the presence of African tribesmen; unidentified tribesmen pose individually for camera at close range, with campsite visible in background; at campsite porters work busily, either setting up or breaking camp, with TR briefly visible; view of Kikuyu and/or Masai dance, incorrectly identified by interior title as Zulu dance, in honor of TR's visit; Roosevelt party crosses stream, with porters carrying gear and safari members across water toward camera.
Other Titles
Theodore Roosevelt in Africa [1909, 2]
Roosevelt in Africa
Created/Published
United States : [s.n.], 1909.
Notes
Roosevelt Memorial Association lists date in title as 1910.
Film appears to be fragment of production, Roosevelt in Africa, released April 18, 1910.
Photographer, Cherry Kearton.
Appearing: President Theodore Roosevelt.
Subjects
Roosevelt, Theodore,--1858-1919--Travel--Africa--Kenya.
Big game hunting--Africa.
Tree planting--Kenya.
Maasai (African people)
Maasai (African people)--Social life and customs.
Kikuyu (African people)
Kikuyu (African people)--Social life and customs.
Dance--Africa.
Africans.
Kenya--Social life and customs.
Mombasa (Kenya)
Nonfiction films.
Short films.
Documentary films.
Newsreels.
Travelogues (Motion pictures)
Related Names
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
Kearton, Cherry, 1871-1940, photographer.
Community Motion Picture Service, inc.
Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection (Library of Congress)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New York, Yarmouth, & Bear River - 1928


Country: Canada
Trip by boat from New York, arriving at Yarmouth, and traveling to Bear River to attend the Cherry Carnival. Film features shot of New York City, the boat landing at Yarmouth, and a variety of activities at Bear River, including foot races, fishing, canoe races, and various shots of the crowds and performers.
Filmmaker: John Loré
For more information on the archives and these films, please visit: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/nsfilm/

Artificial Respiration - 1927


Country: United States
Produced by Loucks & Norling, Inc. New York

Tobeatic Game Sancutary - 1930


Country: Canada
Film of canoeing, trout fishing, and camping at the Tobeatic Game Sanctuary, Birchill Creek, and Middle Clyde, Nova Scotia.
Filmmaker: John Loré
For more information on the archives and these films, please visit: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/nsfilm/

Manhatta - 1921


Country: United States
Also known as: Mannahatta (USA - alternative spelling)
New York the Magnificent (USA - alternative title)
Runtime: 11 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Harbor | Tugboat | Bridge | Skyscraper | Ferry  | Ocean Liner | New York Skyline | New York City
Genres: Documentary | Short
Morning reveals New York harbor, the wharves, the Brooklyn Bridge. A ferry boat docks, disgorging its huddled mass. People move briskly along Wall St. or stroll more languorously through a cemetery. Ranks of skyscrapers extrude columns of smoke and steam. In plain view. Or framed, as through a balustrade. A crane promotes the city's upward progress, as an ironworker balances on a high beam. A locomotive in a railway yard prepares to depart, while an arriving ocean liner jostles with attentive tugboats. Fading sunlight is reflected in the waters of the harbor... The imagery is interspersed with quotations from Walt Whitman, who is left unnamed.
Here's the beginning of the city symphony film, which would include 'Berlin: Symphony of a City' (1927) and 'The Man with a Movie Camera' (1929). Although 'Manhatta' doesn't contain the rapid rhythmic montage of some of the later city symphonies, it does have a sort of slower, poetic rhythm to it. It's discernible from a travelogue in that it has something to say about its city, other than it's a nice place to visit. The steady progression of images interloped with poetic intertitles taken from Walt Whitman produce the rhythm.
From the still photographer Paul Strand and the painter and still photographer Charles Sheeler, their view of Manhattan is, of course, modern. The shots are of skyscrapers and the inter-workings of the city. One is Strand's 1915 still photograph "Wall Street" come to motion. The composition, camera placement and observation of light and shadow are striking throughout the short film, and they are reflective of the work by the filmmakers in other media. Sheeler and Strand had already transplanted modern, abstract and formal ideas from painting into still photography and with 'Manhatta' they similarly redirected film. 
Trivia
The poet whose works are quoted during the film is Walt Whitman.
Connections
Featured in The Secret Life of Sergei Eisenstein (1987)

Broncho Billy and the Greaser - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Writer: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Stars: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, Lee Willard and Marguerite Clayton
Release Date: 10 October 1914 (USA)
Filming Locations: Niles, California, USA
Production Co: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, The
Runtime: 15 min  | 15 min (DVD)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Directed By Star | Broncho Billy | Character Name In Title
Genres: Western | Short
Broncho Billy comes between a Mexican thug and the young woman he is disturbing. The Mexican plots revenge for the insult and captures Billy, who has rescued a lost old man. The young woman discovers Billy being held prisoner and rides for help. The townsmen gallop toward Billy's rescue.
Connections
Featured in Golden Saddles, Silver Spurs archive footage  

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Christmas Carol - 1910



Country: United States
Language: English
Writer: Charles Dickens (short story)
Stars: Marc McDermott, Charles Ogle and William Bechtel
Release Date: 23 December 1910 (USA)
Production Co: Edison Manufacturing Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Spirit | Business Partner | Ghost | Nephew | Future  | Christmas | Charity | Uncle Nephew Relationship | 1840s | Christmas Dinner | Miser | Party | Wealth | Clerk | Christmas Song | Compassion | Redemption | Dinner | Christmas Carol | Disabled Person | Gravestone | Victorian Era | Regeneration | Giving A Toast | Uncle | Death | Ex Partner | Based On Novel
Genres: Short | Drama | Fantasy
Based on the story by Charles Dickens: The day before the Christmas holiday, Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee, and then rudely rejects his nephew when he visits Scrooge in his office. When Scrooge returns home, he sees the ghost of his former business partner Marley, who warns him of the punishment he will suffer in the next life if he does not change his ways. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits, who show him his past, the present, and the future that awaits him.
While the first decade of the 20th Century was ending, cinema was rising as a new form of entertainment, and after more than 20 years of constant experimenting, it was beginning to show the elements of a new art form. Gone were the days of the early pioneers, and it was now the time of the very first filmmakers, those who would shape the new art form and develop the language of cinema. Director J. Searle Dawley, who considered himself as "the first motion picture director", was one of those first artists who would complete cinema's transformation from charming sideshow attraction to a full-fledged narrative art. Hired by film pioneer Edwin S. Porter to make new and original films, J. Searle Dawley would use his experience in theater to follow the steps of Vitagraph and adapt many popular novels to film. Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol" was one of them.
The story of "A Christmas Carol" is very well known, and while short, this early version remains faithful to the most important parts of the plot. Marc McDermott plays the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge, a harsh man so concerned about money that on the day before Christmas refuses to donate to the Charity Relief Committee, neglects his worker Bob Cratchit (Charles Ogle) the permission to leave early and even rejects his nephew in a very rude manner when the young man comes to invite him to his Christmas celebration. However, that Christmas' night the old Scrooge sees the ghost of his former business partner Marley, who tells him that no good can come from that behavior, and warns him about the horrible punishment for those who follow those ways. Later that night, Scrooge will be visited by three spirits that will show him more than what Scrooge was ready to see.
"A Christmas Carol" wasn't directed only by J. Searle Dawley, as he was assisted by Vitagraph regular Charles Kent and newcomer Ashley Miller. Considering Kent's experience in adapting plays to screen for the Vitagraph Company, it is very possible that this short film was also written by him, or at least assisted Dawley with it. Considering it is only a short film, this version of Dicken's novel is remarkably faithful to the source, and manages to condense the most important parts of the tale without losing the novel's meaning. Obviously, it doesn't go into full detail about every scene and the script moves at a very fast pace, but that's natural because it had to cover a lot in a very short time. To the writers' credit, they managed to make the adaptation entertaining and easy to understand despite these shortcomings.
The cooperative work between Dawley, Miller and Kent is truly excellent in this film and make it stand out among the many early films by the Edison Manufacturing Company. Kent's experience in Vitagraph's versions of literature classics adds a lot of class to the movie and gets excellent performances from the actors. This style works perfectly well with Dawley's directing style, who makes the film look a bit less stagy than the usual Vitagraph movie by making interesting visual compositions and giving good use to the limited camera-work of the time. While, as written above, the story moves at a fast pace, the film flows nicely thanks to the narrative style of the directors. The highlights of the film are of course the visits by the four ghosts, done with an excellent use of several special effects (mostly double exposures) that look outstanding for its time and add a powerful eerie atmosphere to the movie.
In any version of "A Christmas Carol", the role of Scrooge is often one that can make or break the adaptation due to its enormous importance, and in this version Marc McDermott doesn't disappoint. A rising star in Edison's Studio, McDermott shows off his enormous talent for acting by playing the considerably older (McDermott was only 29 when filming this movie) in a very natural and convincing way. With the aid of makeup, McDermott delivers one of the best portrayals of Ebenezer Scrooge in film, by transforming himself into the wicked old miser with an extraordinary ease that makes the movie a must-see. The rest of the cast is very good too, although it is obvious that this movie depends completely on McDermott's performance. Interestingly, and uncredited Charles Ogle makes a small appearance in the role of Scrooge's clerk Bob Cratchit.
Judging the film by today's standards, the 1910 version of "A Christmas Carol" (or any other film from those years) could be seen as a stagy, uneven and incomplete attempt to adapt a classic story; however, set in the context of its time, it is actually one of the best silent movies of those early years of cinema. While not exactly the most innovative film of its time, it's easy to tell how the styles of J. Searle Dawley and Charles Kent would be of great influence to a young D.W. Griffith who was just starting his career in those years (in 1908 under Dawley's direction) and would develop cinema's language even further. With an amazing performance by Marc McDermott and the excellent direction by Dawley, Kent and Miller; this early version of Dickens' classic is a very good example of early film-making and a good choice to watch in Christmas.
Trivia
Worldview Entertainment and the Killiam Collection has released a set of nine early movies about Christmas collectively called "A Christmas Past," with an original score by Al Kryszak. This movie is the eighth one, and has a running time of 11 minutes. 

Keystone Cops Festival



Country: United States
To read more about the Keystone Cops, click here

Ella Cinders - 1926



Country: United States
Director: Alfred E. Green
Writers: Mervyn Leroy (story) and Frank Griffin (story); Mervyn Leroy (scenario) and Frank Griffin (scenario); George Marion Jr. (titles); William M. Conselman (comic strip) and Charles Plumb (comic strip)
Stars: Colleen Moore, Lloyd Hughes and Vera Lewis
Release Date: 6 June 1926 (USA)
Production Co: John McCormick Productions
Runtime: USA: 75 min  | USA: 60 min (edited version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Winner | Beauty Contest | Desert | Judge | Iceman  |  Stepsister | Indian | Movie Location | 1920s | Movie Director | Based On Comic Strip | Cinderella | Fire | Wealthy | Silent Film Star | Movie Studio | California | Based On Comic | Cigarette Smoking | Contestant | Photograph | Football Player | Father Son Relationship | Jazz Age |
Arizona | Hollywood Agent | Actress | Wicked Stepmother | Character Name In Title
Genres: Comedy | Romance
Poor Ella Cinders is much abused by her evil step-mother and step-sisters. When she wins a local beauty contest she jumps at the chance to get out of her dead-end life and go to Hollywood, where she is promised a job in the movies. When she arrives in Hollywood, she discoves that the contest was a scam and the job non-existant. But through pluck, luck, and talent, she makes it in the movies anyway, and finds true love. 
Connections
Featured in Hollywood: Single Beds and Double Standards Clip with Moore as aspiring actress; Hollywood; Hollywood: Trick of the Light clip shown; Special Effects: Anything Can Happen; Lost Forever Clips from this film are shown in Lost Forever. 

His Majesty The Scarecrow Of Oz - 1914



Country: United States
Language: English
Director: L. Frank Baum
Writers: L. Frank Baum (novels), L. Frank Baum (screenplay)
Stars: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore and Pierre Couderc
Release Date: 14 October 1914 (USA)
Also known as: Óz madárijesztője (Hungary); His Majesty, the Scarecrow (USA - review title); The New Wizard of Oz (USA - new title); The Scarecrow of Oz       (USA - alternative title); The Wizard of Oz (USA - promotional title)
Production Co: Oz Film Manufacturing Company, The
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Princess | Love | Scarecrow | King | Kangaroo  | Girl | Battle | Cornfield | Witch | Wizard | Wagon | Anthropomorphic Scarecrow | Double Exposure Effects | Adaptation Directed By Original Author | Underwater Scene | Animal Costume | Tin Man | Swordfish | Mermaid | Kidnapping | Barrel | Character Feels Around For Missing Head |
Magic Spell | Crow | Donkey | Rich Poor | Can | Decapitation | Sequel | Based On Novel
Taglines: The Oz Film Company presents L. Frank Baum's famous comedy
Genres: Family | Fantasy | Adventure | Comedy 
A wicked king has taken over the Emerald City, and wants his daughter, Princess Gloria to marry the horrid courtier Googly-Goo, though she loves Pon, the Gardener's Boy. The camera follows two farmers placing a Scarecrow upon a pole in a cornfield. Pon rescues a Kansas girl named Dorothy from the evil witch Mombi, whom Princess Gloria has been taken to by King Krewl to freeze her heart so she will no longer love Pon. An Indian princess has a ceremony to bring the Scarecrow to life. Pon rescues the cold-hearted princess and they flee for help, discovering the Scarecrow, who promptly falls in love with the princess, and Button-Bright, a lost boy from America. They come to the castle of the Tin Emperor, Nick Chopper, and after oiling him, he falls in love with Gloria. After a bit of a chase aided by the Sawhorse and the Wizard, Mombi turns Pon into a Kangaroo, and a slough of Fred Woodward's animals battle it out.
Connections
Featured in Wiz on Down the Road; The Whimsical World of Oz A scene from this film is shown; The Hollywood Road to Oz; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic;
In Search of Oz; Oz: The American Fairyland; The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond footage shown
Follows The Patchwork Girl of Oz; The Magic Cloak
Referenced in The Wizard of Oz; Aysecik ve sihirli cüceler rüyalar ülkesinde; Return to Oz 

The Patchwork Girl Of Oz - 1914



Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: J. Farrell MacDonald
Writers: L. Frank Baum (novel), L. Frank Baum (screenplay)
Stars: Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore and Raymond Russell
Release Date: 28 September 1914 (USA)
Also Known As: De adventuen van Ojo in Wonderland (Netherlands - informal literal title); L. Frank Baum's Whimsical Fairy Tale The Patchwork Girl of Oz (undefined); Ragged Girl of Oz (USA - reissue title); The Raggedy Girl (USA - reissue title)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, California, USA; Oz Film Manufacturing Company Studios - Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio); Pan American Exposition, San Diego, California, USA
Production Co: Oz Film Manufacturing Company, The
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Journey | Oz | Turned To Stone | Sequel | Rag Doll  | Based On Novel
Taglines: It's a whirlwind of laughter, pathos and illusion; Be a Woozy; Be Square!; 5,000 FEET OF JOYOUS FILM!
Genres: Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Comedy
Ojo and Unc Nunkie are out of food, so they decide to journey to the Emerald City where they will never starve. Along the way, they meet Mewel, a waif and stray (mule) who leads them to Dr. Pipt, who has been stirring the powder of life for nine years. Ojo adds plenty of brains to Margolotte's Patchwork servant before she is brought to life with the powder. When Scraps does come to life, she accidentally knocks the liquid of petrifaction upon Unc Nunkie, Margolotte, and Danx (daughter Jesseva's boyfriend). So all go on separate journeys to find the ingredients to the antidote. (Of course Jesseva has Danx shrunken to take with her, which causes trouble with Jinjur.) Of course, no one ever told Ojo that some of the ingredients were illegal to obtain... 
Trivia
Harold Lloyd and Hal Roach, who both have minor roles in this film, met on this set in San Diego. Roach was impressed by Lloyd's energy and sought him out when he formed a production company in 1915 after receiving a small inheritance. Although their association was stormy, their association was ultimately one of the most successful in silent film history.
Film debut of Charles Ruggles'.
Featured in American Masters: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius; The Hollywood Road to Oz; In Search of Oz; Oz: The American Fairyland; The Yellow Brick Road and Beyond footage shown; Time of the Robots contains footage from
Followed by The Magic Cloak; The New Wizard of Oz
Referenced in
Return to Oz Ozma's crown is a replica of Vivian Reed's crown from this movie;
After Hours; Real, the True, the GEN-U-INE Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum; The Last Temptation of Christ; The Dreamer of Oz A photo of Vivian Reed as Ozma can be seen on Baum's desk; Mr. Stitch
Version ofThe Patchwork Girl of Oz based on same novel 

The Magic Cloak - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: J. Farrell MacDonald
Writers: L. Frank Baum (novel), L. Frank Baum (screenplay)
Stars: Mildred Harris, Violet MacMillan and Fred Woodward
Release Date: 28 September 1914 (USA)
Also Known As: The Magic Cloak of Oz (USA - alternative title), The Witch Queen (UK - cut version)
Filming Locations: Oz Film Manufacturing Company Studios - Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
Production Co: Oz Film Manufacturing Company, The
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Cloak | Queen | Wish | King | Tiger  | Lion | Magic | Robbers | Fairy | Mule | Princess | Monkey | Invader | Donkey | Animal Costume | Fighting | Fantasy Land | Maid | Happy Ending | Sequel | Double Exposure Effects | Fairy Tale | Kingdom | Crow | Based On Novel
Genres: Short | Adventure | Family | Fantasy
The fairies of Oz gather in the forest of Burzee one evening and weave a magic cloak that gives the wearer one wish, so long as it has not been stolen. The man in the moon tells them that their messenger should give it to the first miserable person she sees. Two children, Fluff and her younger brother "Bud" (a child's attempt at "brother," which stuck), have just lost their father and are taken by Aunt Rivette to live in Nole, the capital city of Noland, where the king has just died without heir. The messenger gives Fluff the cloak, who wishes to be happy again, while a legal loophole places Bud on the throne, and they empty the treasury to buy toys. Their pet mule Nickodemus is captured by robbers and puts together a small animal army (including the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, the Lonesome Zoop, the Woozy, and others) to battle the Rolly Rogues that have invaded the city...
Connections
Featured in  Like Babes in the Woods; The Hollywood Road to Oz; Oz: The American Fairyland
Followed by The New Wizard of Oz
Follows The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Referenced in The Church
References A Trip to the Moon 

Broncho Billy's Fatal Joke - 1914


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson
Stars: Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, Carl Stockdale and Marguerite Clayton
Release Date: 8 August 1914 (USA)
Filming Locations: Niles, California, USA
Production Co: Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, The
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Directed By Star | Broncho Billy | Character Name In Title
Genres: Short | Western  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dogs of War - 1923


Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Robert F. McGowan
Writers: Hal Roach (story), H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Hal Roach's Rascals, Roy Brooks and Joe Cobb
Release Date: 1 July 1923 (USA)
Filming Locations: Hal Roach Studios - 8822 Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Children | Our Gang | Reference To Theda Bara | Actor Shares First Name With Character
Genres: Comedy | Family | Short
Two groups of children are staging a mock trench battle in a tomato patch. When the battle ends, one girl's mother comes to take her to her job at the nearby motion picture studio. The other children decide that it might be fun to work there, too, and they sneak into the unsuspecting studio.
This Hal Roach comedy short, Dogs of War, is the fourteenth in the "Our Gang/Little Rascals" series of films produced in the studio named after Mr. Roach, a.k.a. "The Lot of Fun". In this one, the kids reenact a war scene with Mary a nurse that smitten Jack and Mickey fake injuries for fake treatment by her. During many of these proceedings, many members of the gang throw tomatoes as weapons and Farina wanders around and finds a skunk that gets everyone, including the toddler, putting on gas masks! Then Mary's mother comes and takes her daughter away to put her in a picture that pays her five bucks. The gang decide to follow along but they get thrown out. Farina, however, has disappeared so the others crash the West Coast Studios (actually Hal Roach Studios) to find "her". That's when the fun really starts...Hilarious from beginning to end, director Robert McGowan really hits his peak as the series' filmmaker during this silent movie era. Allen Hoskins as Farina has many of the short's scene stealing moments like the time he accidentally makes a treadmill on an empty set move while some workers are standing on it causing them to run in the same place for awhile. This happens to the gang later on. Also very funny is when they see Mary "strangled" by the "villian" and they attempt to kick his butt as a result and their later reenactment of that scene with Jackie ending his with (via inter-title) "Kiss me my boob!" Then there's the later double-exposure scene that must have had the audience of the time in stitches and, finally, there's the other big Hal Roach star at the time, Harold Lloyd at the time of filming "Why Worry?", helping the gang, one of whom happening to be his brother-in-law Jack Davis, escaping the studio guard with the cute way he playfully spanks Farina being the topper of his cameo.  Erine "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison's father, also named Ernie, appears as an assistant director.
Trivia
Filmed alongside Harold Lloyd's Why Worry?, using the South American town set built for that film, and featuring Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston as themselves.
Connections
References: Why Worry? (1923)
Featured in "American Masters: Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius (#4.9)" (1989).

A Midsummer Night's Dream - 1909


Country: United States
Language: English
Directors: Charles Kent, J. Stuart Blackton
Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Eugene Mullin (scenario)
Stars: Walter Ackerman, Charles Chapman and Dolores Costello
Release Date: 25 December 1909 (USA)
Production Co: Vitagraph Company of América
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Love | Fairy | Play | Mischief | Wedding  | Magic | Queen | Weaver | Duke | Herb | Sleeping | Jackass | Boy | Rehearsal | Love Quadrangle | Unrequited Love | Athens Greece | Fickleness | Magic Wand | Love Potion | William Shakespeare | Transformation | Flying Boy | Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream | Young Love | Falling In Love | Fickle Man | Vanishing | Forbidden Love | Pursuit | Elopement | Forest | Impossible Love | Tradesman | Based On Play
Genres: Drama | Fantasy | Romance | Short
The Duke of Athens, on the eve of his wedding to Hippolyta, decrees that Hermia shall marry Demetrius, as per her father's wishes. Demetrius and Hermia's father are the only ones happy about this arrangement. Hermia is in love with Lysander. And a fourth lover, Helena, is in love with Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander elope into the woods; Demetrius follows them. And Helena follows Demetrius. Meanwhile, Titania, the queen of the fairies, quarrels with Penelope, who gets her revenge by enlisting Puck to find a magic herb that, when placed upon the eyes of a sleeper, will cause him to fall in love with the first person he sees upon waking. Puck's mischief soon involves the four young lovers as well as a group of tradesmen rehearsing for a play. The weaver among them finds himself with the head of an ass. Stranger still, Titania falls in love with him.
Quotes
[first title card]
Title Card: The Duke of Athens, soon to be married to Hippolyta, decrees that his subject, Hermia, shall give up her lover, Lysander, and marry Demetrius whom her father has chosen. The lovers decide to elope. They are followed by Demetrius and Helena in love with Demetrius.
Title Card: [last title card]
[SPOILER]
Title Card: Penelope discovers the mischief that has been done. She restores the weaver to his normal shape and happily unites the lovers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Doughboy - 1926


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: James D. Davis
Stars: 'Snub' Pollard
Release Date: 22 September 1926 (USA)
Production Co: Snub Pollard Comedies
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy 

Under a Spell - 1925


Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Richard Smith
Stars: Neely Edwards, Bert Roach and Alice Howell
Release Date: 5 January 1925 (USA)
Production Co: Universal Pictures
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Comedy
Back in the silent days, Alice Howell was a star--though today she and her comedies are mostly forgotten. There aren't a lot of them available any more--so it's hard to say how representative "Under a Spell" is of her work.
Alice thinks that her husband has been cheating on her when she sees a lady bandit breaking in their home. He is innocent--and the lady is a guy in disguise. But Alice doesn't know that and hires a wacky hypnotist to get him to tell the truth about his affairs. Unfortunately, by mistake one of them now is convinced he's a gorilla

J-U-N-K - 1920


Country: United States
Stars: Madge Kirby, Jim Welch and John J. Richardson
Cast overview: Madge Kirby ... A society bud; Jim Welch ... Her father (as James Welsh); John J. Richardson ... A Count (as Jack Richardson); Vernon Dent ... The junk dealer; Hank Mann ... His helper 
Release Date: 1920 (USA)
Production Co: Excelsior Feature Film Company, Hank Mann Comedies
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Comedy | Short

Der magische Gürtel - 1917


Country: Germany
Director: Hans Brennert
Writer: Hans Brennert
Stars: Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière
Also known as: Auf einer Fernfahrt mit U 35 (Germany); La croisière de l'U 35 (France);
The Exploits of a German Submarine U35 (United Kingdom); The Log of the U-35 (United States)
Production Co: Bild- und Filmamt (Bufa)
Runtime: USA: 27 min  | Germany: 45 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: U Boat | Sinking | Cargo | Germany | Submarine  | Prisoner Of War | World War One | Exploding Ship
Genres: Documentary | War
A documentary filmed aboard a German U-Boat during the First World War , featuring footage of the capture and sinking of cargo ships and a private schooner.
This movie's unnerving premise has a camera crew following an actual U-boat during the First World War, as it attacks and sinks its victims. Most of the resulting footage (which has been preserved in very good condition) is just as chillingly suggestive as the premise would lead you to expect, and it is almost impossible to pull your attention away from the screen. At the same time, this actual war footage speaks about its subject more eloquently than even the most carefully crafted fictional story or re-enactment could have.
U-35 was phenomenally successful in its grim mission, and within less than a half-hour of running time, a large number of the submarine's targets are shown in succession. On one level, the tactics and the methodical approach of the Kaiser's sailors are intriguing. But what comes across more than anything else is the use of their technical skill, the ingenious ideas, and the patient planning, all for the purpose of destroying equally skillful and careful use of resources by an 'enemy'. It all results in nothing of value for anyone, simply an immense waste of valuable resources.
The inter-titles, though about as close to being objective as you could ask, often underline the enormous waste by detailing the cargoes that were destroyed, the vast majority of which were not for military use. The titles also fill in many of the gaps, since there were long stretches of battle during which the film crew was, obviously, not able to photograph the action.
Because of the limited opportunities for filming, the actual footage generally comes from less bloody or overtly horrifying moments, yet these are generally more than enough to hint strongly to the carnage that occurred off-camera. The feature would be very watchable simply as a historical curio, but it is of even more significance as a piece of genuine history that provides an inside look at the nature of this aspect of military conflict.
Connections
Featured in The Moving Picture Boys in the Great War (1975) -  lots of footage from this film is used, and it is identified by name in the narration.

Miss Lulu Bett - 1921


Country: United States
Director: William C. de Mille
Writers: Clara Beranger (adaptation), Zona Gale (novel) (play)
Stars: Lois Wilson, Milton Sills and Theodore Roberts
Release Date: November 1921 (USA)
Production Co: Paramount Pictures
Runtime: 71 min
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Bigamy | Pulitzer Prize Source | Based On Novel | Based On Play
Genres: Comedy | Drama
Spinster Lulu Bett lives with her sister, Diana, and is a servant in Diana's household. Diana's brother-in-law, Ninian, visits, and smitten with Lulu, arranges a dinner party in her honor. At the party Ninian jokingly proposes marriage to Lulu, and recites the wedding ceremony, which Diana's husband, a justice of the peace, realizes is binding. Lulu lives with Ninian until she discovers he is already married. She goes back to her sister's home where she is treated poorly. Lulu has had enough of this family, and when she finds out that Ninian's wife is alive, leaves to marry the village schoolteacher.
Trivia
Zona Gale re-wrote her novel into a play, which was first produced by Brock Pemberton at the Belmont Theater, New York. The premier took place on 27 December, 1921. The following cast was featured: Carroll McComas as Lulu Bett, William Holden as Dwight Deacon, Catherine Doucet as Ina Deacon (billed as Catherine Calhoun Doucet), Jack Lionel Bohn as Bobby Larkin (billed as Jack Bohn), Willard Robertson as Neil Cornish, Louise Closser Hale as Miss Bett (misspelled as Louis Closser Hale), and Brigham Royce as Ninian Deacon, plus Lois Shore as Manona Deacon and Beth Varden as Diana Deacon.
The original Broadway production of "Miss Lulu Bett" by Zona Gale opened on December 27, 1920 at the Belmont Theater, ran for 198 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1921.