Vast audiences at the World’s Fair are favourably impressed with the brilliance of Cinema.
Installation of the Giant Screen
PARIS 15 MAY 1900. One of the major events of the Exhibition was the first performance of the giant Lumiere Cinematograph, which took place today in the vast Machine Gallery. The overall supervisor Alfred Picard requested that Lumiere undertake the projection onto an enormous screen. They clearly did not take an easy option in erecting an immense 400 square-metre white canvas in the centre of the gallery that, nightly, had to be taken down to a large water storage tank. Just prior to the showing, the canvas is erected by a winch installed above
the glass roof. Thus, the dampened material absorbs the light and remains sufficiently transparent to be seen from both sides. The program lasted 25 minutes and was comprised of 15 films. Originally the Lumieres wanted to use a film format in a 75mm size. A camera was even manufactured to do this, but the projector failed to turn up on time, so they were forced to use the normal 35-mm one. Yet another Lumiere project consisted of the projection of their films on a huge screen set up outside in front of the Eiffel Tower. However, the wind threatened to blow the screen down, and it was considered wiser to return to the safety of the Machine gallery.
Despite these technical difficulties, the first showing was a triumph. Lumiere Brothers had carried it off!
Film cameras document the final journey of a great monarch
LONDON 4 FEBRUARY 1901. Film cameras are out to record the funeral of Queen Victoria. At Victoria Station, Cecil Hepworth films the cortege and the principal mourners lining up. As the procession moves off, King Edward VII, the Kaiser and the Duke of Connaught pass right in front of the camera. The King reins up for a moment to allow Hepworth to get a better shot. Later Hepworth’s camera obtains a spectacular shot of the procession from the vantage point of the Canadian arch on Whitehall.
However the noise of the cameras disturbs the solemn silence of the occasion and an embarrassed Hepworth confesses that he wished that the earth could have opened up and swallowed both himself and the camera.
A wonderful work from Melies enriches the cinema.
PARIS 1 SEPTEMBER 1902. George Melies’ latest film Voyage to the Moon, is an unprecedented triumph. The public at the fairground where it was shown, unreservedly applauded this fantastic tale, which contain 30 tableaux and lasts 13 minutes. Melies has again manipulated the marvels of science with impressive dexterity. One wonders whether the Cinematograph will take the place of the large shows at the Chatelet Theatre. With Melies anything is possible.
Completed in July, the 260 metre film has broken all records. It required 3 months shooting, a large cast, and cost 10000 francs. Melies got his inspiration from two Jules Verne novels - From the Earth to the Moon and Around the moon. But there are episodes in the film which Verne himself would never have dared depict. The fantastic tale begins at the Congress of Astronauts presided over by Professor Barbenfoullis, who is played by Melies himself. He and five other boffins take off for the moon in a giant shell fired by a cannon. The shell lands in the “eye of the moon” as the title of the ninth tableaux explains.
When the shell returns to earth amidst panic, it falls into the sea, and the heroes are fished out. The last two tableaux show ther public rejoicing and the inauguration of a statue to Professor Barbenfoulllis.
Edwin S. Porter provides a model for the “western”
Paris 1 Jan.
Pathe has released a reconstructed news film, Episodes of the Transvaal War filmed by Lucien Nonguet in the Bois de Vincennes.
New York 20 Jan.
Thomas Edison has terminated Vitagraph’s licence in reply to a lawsuit threat over Edison’s alleged failure to acknowledge Vitagraph’s royalties on print sales
Peking 14 June
Japanese cameramen T. Shibata and K. Fukaya have made a film of the Boxer uprising against the Western powers in China.
London 28 September
According the the British Journal, the longest cinematographic footage to date was filmed here during the boxing match between Sharkey and Jeffries. Cameramen used four movie cameras and 400 arc lights to make the half-hour film.
Paris 30 September
Leon Gaumont has launched a new machine, the pocket Chrono, which takes and projects films with central perforation.
Washington 1 December 1903 The outlaw chief turns towards the camera, takes a bead with his Colt revolver and then fires repeatedly at the audience at
point blank range, whereupon the screen turns red! This is the major talking point of The Great Train Robbery, the latest film produced by the Edison Manufacturing Co., a copy of which has just been deposited in the Library of Congress. “The Great Train Robbery” has a Western setting, but most of the scenes were filmed on location at Paterson, New Jersey, in the fall of 1903. Director Edwin S. Porter who is the head of production at Edison, filmed much of the exciting action in the actual woods that surround the infamous Lackawanna ironworks, and the accent is on realism. In this story, a train is held up and the passengers are forced by the bandits to descend from their carriages and form a line by the track, their hands in the air. The robbers then make their getaway on horseback.
From a technical point of view there is an interesting use of double exposure plus a clever bit of jump-cutting when a dummy is substituted for one of the trainmen and hurled off the engine after a frenzied fist-fight. Porter’s film has established a formula which many producers are already rushing to to imitate Thus it is clear that the Western has well and truly arrived as a staple of the cinema.
The International Ambitions of M. Charles Pathe
NEW YORK 31 JULY 1904.. The Pathe brothers are expanding abroad. They are opening a sales outlet for their phonographic and film equipment in New York, have established a factory in Bound Brook and set up a film studio in Jersey City. The brothers are bidding to create a worldwide empire. In February they opened a branch in Moscow. Pathe’s aim is to control local production and to produce prints of their films on the spot. Charles Pathe wanted to make his cockerel trademark an internationally recognised symbol.
The revenue from Pathe’s films far outstrips that from phonographs, and the company is now the most important film production unit in France. The most recent Pathe catalogue , published in August contains over 1,000 titles of all kinds, some of which can be enjoyed with sound provided by Pathe Cine-Phono. Among the company’s specialists are bawdy scenes unsuitable for children.
`Mans best friend` is star of new film
LONDON 3 JULY 1905.. The Hepworth Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Was registered just over one year ago, on 25 April 1904. As befits the head of a successful business, Cecil Hepworth, has become currently more of a supervisor or producer and is less involved in
the actual filmmaking process. The latest film released is a truly delightful adventure . Entitled Rescued by Rover it is sure to be enormously popular with British audiences . In the case of this film however, not only did Hepworth take charge of the production but his entire family pitched in on the project.
The story and scenario was written by Mrs. Hepworth who also plays the role of the distressed mother in the film, Hepworth himself appears as the harassed father, and the couple’s eight month old baby daughter has a cameo appearance as the infant abducted by gypsies in the story. Rover the faithful pet and undisputed star of the film, is the families own collie. The seven-minute-long film cost exactly 7 pounds, 13 shillings and nine pence to make Hepworth first became involved in the industry in 1897 when at age 22, he began to put on his own film shows.
Harris and Davis open their first Nickelodeon in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH 6 NOVEMBER 1905. “Nickelodeon” is the new name for the latest type of motion picture theatre which John P. Harris and his brother-in-Law Harry Davis have just opened at the storefront which they occupy in Smithfield Street. A variety of pictures such as the Edison production of The Great Train Robbery are shown each and every day, for a full eight hours until midnight . This is the first purpose-built movie theatre of its kind to be opened in the U.S. And in order to gain admission, customers must pay an entrance fee of five cents - or a nickel - hence the name. Another innovation is that the screenings are accompanied by music fro a pianist. It is a big success, with all 100 seats usually occupied.
Ned Kelly and his gang immortalised on celluloid
MELBOURNE 24 DECEMBER 1906. Australian director Charles Tait has broken new ground with the Story of Ned Kelly, a biopic of Australia’s most famous outlaw which measuring 4000 feet, has a running time of 70 minutes. Premiered at the Athenaeum Hall last night, the film was shot over a period of of about six months, much of it on location on Tait’s farm.
The body armour actually worn by Kelly, including a bullet proof helmet and jerkin made from ploughshares, was borrowed from Victoria’s state museum and worn by the actor playing Kelly. But the actor, a Canadian touring player, disappeared before filming was completed and had to be replaced by an extra who was filmed in long shot. Produced by the theatrical company J & N. Tait of Melbourne The Story of Ned Kelly recouped its cost within a week and looks set to earn a handsome profit at home and back in the United Kingdom.
Vitagraph has a pretty new leading lady.
NEW YORK 7 JUNE 1907. The Vitagraph Company’s most popular leading lady is diminutive, demure Florence Turner, star of “How to Cure a Cold”. The 20-year-old Turner, quite a successful stage performer, has been in the acting profession since the age of 3. She was spotted in a crowd watching a Vitagraph production and was immediately taken on by the company as a wardrobe mistress at a salary of $18 a week with an extra five whenever she acted in a film. Like everyone in films, Turner is expected to combine several jobs in a production, but she is attracting more attention than other Vitagraph players. As yet her name has not been revealed to the public, and she is known simply as “The Vitagraph Girl”. Film companies are still reluctant to name their most popular players. After all, these new stars might take the opportunity to ask for more money.
Key developments in the Chicago cinema.
CHICAGO 4 NOVEMBER 1907. Recent developments in the Windy City suggest that Chicago is set to rival New York as the leading film making centre in the U.S. In fact, this city is already ahead of New York in one respect: censorship.
The authorities have have passed the first local censorship ordinance in the country “prohibiting the exhibition of obscene and immoral pictures commonly shown in Mutoscopes, Kinetoscopes , Cinematographs and penny arcades”. Earlier this year projectionist Donald Bell and camera repairman Albert Howell founded the Bell & Howell Camera Co. Which hopes to play an important role if the industry continues to grow at the same rapid pace as during recent years. But most important of all has been the formation of the Essenay Company in February by George K. Spoor and actor-producer G.M. Anderson, who is best known for the Westerns he has made for Selig since 1904. Wasting no time Essenay is already filming in its studio at 501 Wells Street.
World Record beaten in Montreal
MONTREAL 31 AUGUST 1907. The largest luxury theatre for the screening of animated pictures in North America, curiously named Ouimetoscope, has just opened its doors at the corner of Montcalm and Sainte-Catherine. Its 1200 seats constitute a world record . Leo-Ernest Oiumet, the owner, began his career as a stage electrician at the National Theatre and at the Sohmer Park, among others. In January 1906, he bought the former Poire Halll and transformed it into a projection theatre. Despite its success, the first Ouimetoscope was pulled down during the summer of 1907; since then the army of workers has rebuilt the hall of gigantic proportions on the ruins.
The cinema caught in the grip of respectability
PARIS 1 OCTOBER 1908
The Pathe Company has put on sale L’arlesienne a picture based on Alphonse Daudet, and filmed by Albert Capellani in Arles. It is the first big production following some more, and some less, successful
experiments from the company made up of composers and men of letters. This company (SCAGL), founded on 23 June by the bankers Saul and George Merzbach, has the popular novelist Pierre Decourcelle and the playwright Eugene Gugenheim on staff. They took their inspiration and aims from Film d’Art, which attempts to bring plays and novels to the screen starring famous actors.
Building of World’s Biggest Studios
PARIS 31 DECEMBER 1908. At Buttes-Chaumont there is a vast assemblage of offices, workshops laboratories and also [photo studios, which has now been christened Cite Elge after the initials of Leon Gaumont. Since 1905, these buildings have been spread out over more than 10,00 square metres. “Its the largest studio in the World”, the advertisements proclaim.
Louis Feuillade is still directing productions with help from an unrivalled team; Romeo Bosetti, Etienne Arnaud, Leonce Perret and a newcomer, the designer Emile Cohl, all of whom juggle with camera technique. The basement of the glass topped studio has been converted into artists’ dressing rooms, and a second workshop has been constructed exclusively for the shooting of sound films. The warehouses for props have been enlarged. Gaumont presides ruthlessly over his domain.
Front row - George Rogers, Chas Pathe, George Eastman, Georgees Melies and Chas. Urban
Extravagant Congress of International Executives
PARIS 4 FEBRUARY 1909. The Dupes Congress” was how Georges Dureau a journalist attached to Cine Journal described the International Congress of Film Producers which has just finished after two days of debates. George Eastman has managed to come to France after the establishment by the Edison Trust in the U.S. Of the Motion Picture Patents Company, which has amalgamated nine new companies, including those of Pathe and Georges Melies. In future, only the films of the MPPC can be shown in America. The founding of the company , with strong authoritarian ambitions, has met with resistance from small and large operators within certain firms. The stakes
are high since the American Market constitutes an inexhaustible outlet for all the companies. If this market is closed to certain firms, it may spell ruin for many of them.
Pathe “faits divers” marks the launching of a weekly newsreel.
PARIS 31 MARCH 1909
Encouraged by the public’s insatiable curiosity about the details of daily life in far flung parts of the world, Pathe has launched a weekly newsreel , with exciting documentary footage provided by an army of cameramen dispatched
to the four corners of the globe. From now on the company’s film cameras will venture into savage and unexplored regions. Always on the lookout for the sensational, Pathe’s cameramen also follow the important events of the week: disasters, murders, trials and sporting events. The newsreel entitled Pathe faits divers and edited by Albert Gaveau, aims to act as an historical witness to contemporary events.
Hollywood gives a welcome to filmmaking
LOS ANGELES 1 NOVEMBER 1909 The sleepy town surrounded by orange groves in the northern suburbs of Los Angeles seems likely to become a more lively place if an assumption can be made by the interest shown in it by filmmakers. They have already been spotted in the area, and many popular films have been shot here by crews from New York. So far the most famous is Kalem’s The Count of Monte Cristo, adapted from the book by Alexander Dumas. Director Francis Bogs cast a hypnotist found in a local fairground as the Count. The film was released in New York and then around the country with great success. The producer William Selig has decided to return to California to make more films.
The rise of Broncho Billy Anderson
NILES 30 December 1909. Cinema’s cowboy hero G.M. Anderson is about to assume a new personna in the name of Broncho Billy, based on the character in a Peter B. Kyne story, Broncho Billy and the Baby, the film will be called Broncho Billy’s redemption. The burly Anderson is already one of the cinema's bright new stars. Born Max Aronson in Little Rock, Arkansas, in March 1882, he was briefly a travelling salesman before trying his luck as an actor in New York using the stage name Gilbert M. Anderson.
While working as a male model in 1902, he was hired by the Edison studio to play the lead in a one-reeler directed by Edwin S. Porter, The Messenger Boy’s Mistake. A year later Anderson played several parts in Porter’s trail blazing Western, The Great Train Robbery. He was originally cast as the outlaw leader but was disqualified by the fact that he could not ride. On the first day of filming he parted company with his horse - and the role of the outlaw leader.
New York 17 August
D.W. Griffiths has signed a contract at $50 a week with the Biograph company and has become the firm’s main director due to the departure of Wallace McCutcheon.
England 5 March
Birth of Rex Harrison
England 25 March
Birth of David Lean
Russia 1 January
Cameramen from Pathe and Edison have filmed Leo Tolstoy at his home in Jasnia Polonia.
Paris 15 March
The measures taken by the International Congress of Film Producers concerning film hire have come into force. Films are to be rented out for a period of 4 months and then returned to the original production company for destruction.
Louis B. Mayer formerly a scrap metal dealer turned cinema owner, founds the Gordon-Meyer Circuit with Nat Gordon.
New York 1 August
Edwin S. Porter has resigned his position as the head of Edison productions. He has now founded Rex Motion Pictures in partnership with William H. Swanson.
Paris 19 December
Gaumont has released two two films, which have been toned and tinted under the supervisory eye of Louis Feuillade.
Pennsylvania 11 February
Birth of Joseph Mankiewicz
Scotland 1 March
Birth of David Niven.
Tasmania 20 June
Birth of Errol Flynn.
New York 9 December
Birth of Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
New York 23 December
After the success of his two-reeler Napoleon , J. Stuart Blackton has released the first part of The Life of Moses, a five-reeler(50 minutes) to be shown in five separate parts.
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