Film History An International Journal

Published by Indiana University Press
Online ISSN: 1553-3905
Print ISSN: 0892-2160
Professor Lawrence Baron has served as the Nasatir Professor of Modern Jewish History and the Director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies at San Diego State University since 1988. He is the founder and current president of the Western Jewish Studies Association. He received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and taught at Saint Lawrence University from 1975 until 1988. Dr. Baron has authored a book on the German Jewish anarchist Erich Muehsam and over forty articles on modern Jewish history. His own research focuses on rescuers of Jews in Holland during the Holocaust and on the depiction of modern Jewish history in feature films. He acted as the historical consultant and chapter writer for Sam and Pearl Oliner's, The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe and co-edited the anthologies, Embracing the Other: Psychological, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives on Altruism, and Martin Buber and the Human Sciences. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Shofar, an Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies and the Syracuse University Press Series on Religion and the Holocaust. He has presented lectures at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Leo Baeck Institute of New York, and the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as at many American universities, conferences, synagogues and churches. 1. Robert A. Rosenstone, Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995) 238. 2. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1999) 278-279. 3. Tom W. Smith, Holocaust Denial: What the Survey Data Reveal (New York: American Jewish Committee, 1995) 55-59. When polled in 1994,65% of a random sample of American adults mostly or strongly disagreed with the following statement: "The Holocaust is not relevant today because it happened almost 50 years ago." 76% said that a lesson learned from the Holocaust was that "firm steps need to be taken to protect the rights of minorities." 73% disagreed with the statement "the Holocaust is not relevant to America because it happened in Europe." 4. Novick 208-214. 5. Ilan Avisar, Screening the Holocaust: Cinema's Images of the Unimaginable (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988) 134-148; Judith E. Doneson, The Holocaust in American Film (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1987) 31-44; Lester D. Friedman, The Jewish Image in American Film (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1987) 127-29; Annette Insdorf, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust, 2nd Ed (New York: Cambridge University Press) 198, 63-67. 6. Friedman 129-131. 7. Doneson 50-56; Friedman 140-145; Neill Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Anchor Books, 1989) 348-350; Charles J. Maland,"The Social Problem Film," Handbook of American Film Genres, Ed. Wes D. Gehring (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988) 310-313; Thomas Cripps, Making Movies Black:The Hollywood Message Movie from World War Two to the Civil Rights Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) 215-249. 8. Berlin Express, directed by Jacques Tourneur (RKO Radio Pictures, 1948). 9. Novick 103. 10. Verboten, Directed by Samuel Fuller (RKO Radio Pictures, 1958). 11. John David Nagle, The National Democratic Party (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1970). 12. Frederick Forsyth, The Odessa File (New York: Viking Books, 1972); Martin A. Lee, The Beast Awakens (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1997) 39-52, 121-154; Simon Wiesenthal, The Murderers Among Us, Ed. Joseph Wechsberg (New York: Bantam Books, 1968) 76-94. 13. The ODESSA File, Directed by Ronald Neame (Columbia Pictures, 1974). The story about the means used to kill German Jews at Riga is true, but the movie's claim that 200,000 German Jews died there is too high. See Gertrude Schneider, "The Two Ghettos in Riga, Latvia," in The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941-1945, Eds. Lucjan Dobroszycki and Jeffrey S. Gurock (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993) 185-193. 14. Jeffrey Shandler, While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) 5-26. 15. They Saved Hitler's Brain...
Eric Sterling (Ph.D. Indiana University) is Distinguished Research Professor of English at Auburn University Montgomery, located in Montgomery, Alabama. He has written three books and has published articles on the Holocaust, including essays on Arthur Miller, Joshua Sobol, Shimon Wincelberg, Janusz Korczak, Peter Barnes, the treatment of homosexuals, the actions of Adolf Eichmann, the kindertransports, and bystanders during the Shoah. 1. Marcel Pascal, "Steven Spielberg: Why I Made Schindler's List," Queen's Quarterly 101 (1994):29. 2. Phil McCombs, "The Kids Who Laughed Till It Hurt: Students' Reaction to 'Schindler's List' Fires Racial Tensions," Washington Post, 10 March 1994: C4. 3. William J. Niven, "The Reception of Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List in the German Media." Journal of European Studies 25 (1995): 170. 4. Qtd. in Michael R. Kagay, "Poll on Doubt of Holocaust Is Corrected," The New York Times, 8 July 1994:A10. 5. Claude Lanzmann, "Why Speilberg Has Distorted the Truth," Guardian Weekly, 3 April 1994: 14. 6. Yosefa Loshitzky, "Holocaust Others: Spielberg's Schindler's List Versus Lanzmann's Shoah," Spielberg's Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler's List, ed. Yosefa Loshitzky (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997) 113. 7. Qtd. in Robert Sklar, "Lanzmann's Latest: After Shoah, Jewish Power," Forward, 30 September 1994: 10. 8. Miriam Bratu Hansen, "Schindler's List is Not Shoah: The Second Commandment, Popular Modernism, and Public Memory," Critical Inquiry 22.2 (1996): 306. 9. A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth (Greenwich CT: Fawcett, 1967) 203. 10. Geoffrey Hartman, "The Cinema Animal: On Spielberg's Schindler's List," Salmagundi 70.1 (1995) 129. 11. Clifford Marks and Robert Torry, "Herr Direktor: biography and Autobiography in Schindler's List," Biography 23.1 (2000): 65. 12. Haim Bresheeth, "The Great Taboo Broken: Reflections on the Israeli Reception of Schindler's List," Spielberg's Holocaust: Critical Prespectives on Schindler's List, ed. Yosefa Loshitzky (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997) 203. 13. Qtd. in Alisa Wollach, "Doch Beisky Al haseret," Davar, 25 February 1994: 14. 14. Terrence Rafferty, "A Man of Transactions," The New Yorker, 20 December 1993: 130. 15. Marks and Torry 57, 16. Hartman 128. 17. William H. Thornton, "After the Carnival: The Filmic Prosaics of Schindler's List," Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 23.3 (1996): 701. 18. Thornton 703. 19. Hansen 303. 20. Hansen 303-04. 21. Marks and Torry 55. 22. Schindler, documentary shown on The Learning Channel. 23. David Denby, "Unlikely Hero," New York, 13 December 1993: 85. 24. Marks and Torry 59. 25. Marks and Torry 52. 26. Marks and Torry 64. 27. Jim Hoberman, "Spielberg's Oskar," Village Voice, 21 December 1993: 63. 28. Sara R. Horowitz, "But Is it Good for the Jews?: Spielberg's Schindler and the Aesthetics of Atrocity, Spielberg's Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler's List. ed. Yosefa Loshitzky (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997) 129-30. 29. Horowitz 128. 30. Denby 82. 31. Hartman 129.
Mark Allen Wolfgram is currently a visiting professor in the History Department at the University of Ottawa. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001, and is currently completing a book length manuscript based upon his dissertation entitled, "Getting History Right": East and West German Collective Memories of the Holocaust and War. He has received research and writing fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation at Princeton University, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. 1. I wish to thank the editors and Mike Darroch for their helpful comments on this article. 2. Y. Michal Bodemann, "Reconstructions of History: From Jewish Memory to Nationalized Commemoration of Kristallnacht in Germany," in Y. Michal Bodemann, ed. Jews, Germans, Memory: Reconstructions of Jewish Life in Germany. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996) 179-223. 3. The West German film database which I created is based upon the information gathered from the following sources: Heiko R. Blum, 30 Jahre danach: Auseinandersetzung mit dem Nationalsozialismus im Film 1945 bis 1975 (Köln: Horst May Scnelldruck & Verlag, 1975). Richard C. Helt and Marie E. Helt, West German Cinema Since 1945: A Reference Handbook (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1987). Richard C. Helt and Marie E. Helt, West German Cinema 1986-1990: A Reference Handbook (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1992). Sheba F. Skirball, Films of the Holocaust: An Annotated Filmography of Collections in Israel (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990). Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Jewry, <> (22 February 2001). Erika Gregor, Ulrich Gregor, Helma Schleif, eds., Jüdische Lebenswelten im Film (Berlin: Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, 1993). Fischer Film Almanach (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1990-). Filmstatistische Taschenbuch (Wiesbaden: Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft, 1952-). 4. Mark A. Wolfgram Visualizing the Imagined Community: History, Memory and Politics in Germany (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2001). 5. Filmstatistische Taschenbuch 1995, 36. 6. For a good history of film clubs in Germany see Heide Fehrenbach...
This paper explores the debates about colour and sound circulating within the British film industry in the 1920s and early 1930s. Tom Gunning has argued that the use of colour in silent cinema could tend towards either greater realism or spectacular effect, and that both tendencies contained elements of the sensual. The author shows that these were all tropes used by pioneer filmmakers to create a sense of patriotic appeal around British films and pull British film production from the slump in which it had been since 1908. By the 1920s, however, these pioneer efforts were discredited by a generation of intellectual film commentators promoting film as a new art form rooted in the sober abstraction of silence and monochrome, so that colour and sound were seen as potential backwards steps for British film.
During the First World War, the town of Düsseldorf, with its rapidly expanding local cinema industry, became the headquarters of military film censorship in the west of Germany. Unique documents held by the municipal archive show the practical side of this laborious work as well as the close collaboration between army and film industry. Before 1914, the German military were hardly interested in cinema. This changed radically during wartime, which (among other reasons) may be a consequence of some high-ranking generals' personal experience of what a serious lack of motion picture prints meant for the morale of the population.
The house was rather empty. The Treebeek audience prefers a shabby variety show with 25th rate artistes. This was again one of those nights which the majority of South Limburg citizens craved. It is a pity that this audience does not want to understand art, but instead harbours cinema mania rather than elevated sentiments.
Drawing on roughly forty years of French writing for examples, from the invention of the cinematograph to the publication of the first history of cinema in France, my aim in this essay is to consider how literature represented going to the cinema while this was still a new experience, how the raw material of this experience was processed into art. An alternative title would be ‘The Cinema Scene as Motif in French Literary Fiction’. Important work on this topic for the first part of my period has already been done by Stephen Bottomore in an invaluable essay to which I am much indebted.
Film History: An International Journal 18.1 (2006) 73-87 Unlike West German film studios, which produced Schlagerfilme (popular music films) in abundance during the 1960s, the East German DEFA studios released only about a dozen musical films during the entire 45 years of its existence. These ranged from stage adaptations, such as opera and operetta, musicalpantomime (Der junge Engländer/The Young Englishman, Gottfried Kolditz, 1958), backstage musical(Meine Frau macht Musik/My Wife Wants to Sing, Hans Heinrich, 1958), and musical revue (Revue um Mitternacht/Midnight Revue, Gottfried Kolditz, 1962) to youth musical (Heißer Sommer/Hot Summer, Jo Hasler, 1968). In this essay I will discuss musicals set in the GDR with pop-music style tunes specially composed for the film (rather than pre-existing opera or operetta melodies), focusing on three domestic box office hits that span the period from the erection of the Berlin Wall to the Prague Spring. Midnight Revue is a self-referential genre film set in the milieu of DEFA's own production studios. A backstage musical, it tells the story of four male DEFA employees – script editor, composer, author, and set designer – who are held hostage in a villa by a female assistant producer until they have completed a revue film that everybody likes. In a clever, tongue-in-cheek manner it addresses the dilemma of GDR filmmakers who were urged to produce popular entertainment films, only to be criticised when they actually submitted such projects on the grounds that these were not sufficiently realistic and meaningful. Geliebte weisse Maus (Beloved White Mouse, Gottfried Kolditz, 1964), a musical comedy, is a love story about a traffic policeman (the eponymous 'white mouse', a nickname referring to the white uniform these officers wear) and a female motorist, celebrating consumerism and modern lifestyle in the GDR against the backdrop of beautiful Dresden locations. Hot Summer, the first and only attempt at a youth musical by DEFA, revolves around the adventures of two groups of youths during their summer holidays at the Baltic Sea. In an allusion to West Side Story (Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, 1961), perhaps the best-known Hollywood youth musical about two warring gangs, Hot Summer has been called East Side Story. All three of these contemporary musicals set in the GDR proved to be immensely popular with domestic audiences. Why, then, is it that DEFA produced so few? One explanation lies in the status of the musical film genre in the history of German cinema. After taking over the UFA studios in Babelsberg, DEFA was anxious to make a clean break with UFA's tradition of glamorous spectacles and escapist entertainment films, as these were tainted by association with the Third Reich. Another reason for the scarcity of GDR musicals was the constant rivalry with West Germany, which produced predominantly light entertainment films during the 1950s and 1960s: each of the German states strove to define itself by that which the other was not. In the GDR cinema was perceived as a key player in the country's cultural self-definition, in evoking a distinct national identity and socialist way of life. Hence, in contrast to mainstream western cinema, DEFA films often tended to be set in unglamorous work-places such as factories, chemical plants, or construction sites, the 'centre-pieces of the construction of socialism' and 'battlefields of radical ideological change', as Alexander Abusch, the Deputy Minister for Culture, called them. Light entertainment films such as the Schlagerfilme, which made up a quarter of the entire West German film production of 1960, were dismissed as unserious and unhelpful in raising the consciousness of working-class men and women. Like Hollywood musicals, they were regarded as a particularly garish and offensive product of the capitalist pleasure machine, as purely escapist and therefore opposed to the most important aims of GDR cinema: to provoke thought and to provide 'Lebenshilfe', i.e. help for the viewers on how to cope with their daily lives by addressing problematic...
This essay argues for the importance of Kodachrome in stimulating direct 16mm professional film production in the late prewar and early postwar periods. Introduced for amateurs in 1935, Kodachrome became viable for professional work in 1938, when Kodak developed a successful means of duplicating 16mm Kodachrome film for release prints. Despite the traditional preference for 35mm in professional production—even for films destined primarily for 16mm nontheatrical screening—16mm Kodachrome emerged as an attractive and economical alternative for color at a time when fully successful 35mm color derived only from the very costly and cumbersome three-strip Technicolor process.
This essay charts the emergence and development of the Audubon Screen Tours (1943-58), wherein the National Audubon Society created a 16mm network for broadening membership and enlisting viewers in the cause of conservation. A case study of Screen Tour participant Olin Sewall Pettingill Jr. illustrates how he blurred the line between amateurism and professionalism in filmmaking. Pettingill produced advanced amateur lecture films for Screen Tour audiences while contributing footage to Disney's True-Life Adventures (1948-60). In his Screen Tour lectures, he countered the melodramatic voice-over narration in the Disney entertainment films with his expertise as a professional ornithologist.
This article examines the activities of the Royal Canadian Naval Film Society during World War II, particularly its employment of 16mm film. While the society’s activities can be situated within the wider backdrop of the expanded nontheatrical film exhibition typical of the era, the society’s particular screening conditions and the unique specifications of its systems of film circulation distinguish it from other contemporary wartime motion picture programs. The RCNFS was a largely localized, autonomous, and self-sufficient unit, and its use of 16mm film aboard its sea-bound vessels served as a model showcase for the format’s capabilities.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the lantern industry was adopting more formal exhibition, manufacture, and distribution strategies. Venues such as the Royal Polytechnic Institution presented large-scale lantern entertainments to sophisticated metropolitan audiences and intersected with a broader entertainment landscape. This essay demonstrates some of the stylistic responses to the formalizing lantern industry in the large-entertainment format, focusing on the 1875 production Gabriel Grub and the Grim Goblin to consider what stylistic and storytelling techniques were utilized to negotiate various institutional and public attitudes. The Polytechnic's lantern entertainments in the later years of its existence tended toward increasing internal coherence within fantastic fictional productions. This coincided with the final years of the large institutional entertainment, where the earlier educational format of public institutions ceded to large-scale spectacle before collapsing entirely and being absorbed into the variegated small-format entertainments of the final few decades of the nineteenth century.
Sometimes film history really is revisionist Unseen Cinema, both the DVD set and the catalogue of the touring exhibition which inspired it, are significant pendulum swings, exasperated correctives to the general line imposed on the history of American avant-garde (or experimental, or 'amateur') cinema since at least the 1960s. The target is not the usual laziness or lethargy that still marks much film historiography, but a specific, institutional orthodoxy. Although it goes unmentioned here, one can't help thinking that this film retrospective, catalogue, and DVD set were assembled as a direct response to an earlier internationally touring retrospective and its catalogue, A History of the American Avant-Garde Cinema, organised by the American Federation of Arts in 1976. In that narrative, American avant-garde cinema literally begins with Maya Deren in 1943. 'The precursors and models of the American avant-garde film', the catalogue told us, 'are the avant-garde films produced in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s and the cinema of the Soviet Union produced during the late 1920s'. End of story.1 But Bruce Posner, in a 15-page pamphlet included in the DVD set, dismisses the notion that 'there was NO early American avant-garde cinema' as a 'fairy tale', a seductive fiction from which it is long since time to awaken. There were good institutional reasons for the defence of one particular concept of avant-garde cinema in the 1960s, and the Museum of Modern Art, the Anthology Film Archives, and the New York University Cinema Studies department, as well as the American Federation of the Arts, all expended considerable energy in establishing it. Those standing in the way, like Amos Vogel, wound up in the dust bin of history, at least for awhile. Historians have recently begun to pick apart these battles, documenting the series of academic and curatorial strategies that led to the triumph of the cinematic vision canonized in the touring AFA show. Posner enters the fray with ammunition of his own. Not only was there an earlier American avant-garde, he insists, but its history was consciously suppressed, its accomplishments consigned to the realm of the 'unseen'. To win this argument, he assembles 19 hours of film and asks us to believe the evidence of our own eyes. The set is a treasure trove, an elegantly produced collection of rarities, and a few familiar favourites, which takes full advantage of the possibilities of this digital format (ironic, though, that the vehicle responsible for rehabilitating the reputation of this avant-garde is a technology which its creators would never have imagined). Image quality is nearly always superior to existing show prints, and considerably better than battered 16mm library copies. Projection speeds have been 'corrected'. Great care has gone into the musical accompaniments. Some titles are presented without sound, 'as intended'; many are sensitively scored by excellent contemporary musicians, including Donald Sosin, Robert Israel and Rodney Sauer; at times, such historic accompaniments as George Antheil's for Ballet mécanique have been scrupulously recreated. (Ballet mécanique can find a home here because, in line with another strand of historical revisionism, it is now largely attributed to Dudley Murphy.) Orchestrating all this was an accomplishment of great judgment and skill. Negotiating with numerous film archives and artists' estates could not have been an easy task – not to mention raising the funding for so elaborate a package. David Shepard, Bruce Posner and Robert Haller are all to be congratulated, along with Cineric and the other underwriters. Emlen Etting's Oramunde (1933) from Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894–1941. [Courtesy of Anthology Film Archives.] Of course, knowledge of this early period had not completely disappeared. In 1968 Lewis Jacobs reprinted his seminal 1947 essay on American experimental film in the new edition of Rise of the American Film, a widely distributed text.2 A few others, like Herman G. Weinberg and Cecile Starr, also continued to write about the movement as if no quantum shift had occurred. Yet for almost a generation, most critics viewed this past only through the prism of New American Cinema. Anthology Film Archives – which deserves...
The translation of an essay by Gabriel Aubray published in France in early 1887. The essay is a philosophical reflection on how the recently invented cinematograph can record human actions and preserve them for all time. In this way, Aubray suggests, the new device symbolises the omniscience of a greater being or God. With an introduction by Stephen Bottomore.
Reprint of an article originally published in June 1899 quoting three Biograph cameramen on their adventures while filming. Two cameramen are named, F.S. Armitage and Arthur Marvin, and subjects filmed include trains in motion, a speeding fire engine, and Spanish-American War scenes.
Explorer and artist Anthony Fiala successfully shot the first motion pictures in the polar regions between 1901 and 1905. The footage, however, was not edited and distributed as a film until 1909 when Kineto Ltd., London, released A Dash for the North Pole. This essay repositions Fiala as a pioneer in arctic filmmaking by examining the circumstances that delayed the film's production and distribution and caused the material to be misdated in archives.
Reprint of an article originally published in March 1908 discussing feats of filming in both non-fiction and fiction genres. The article mentions such subjects as a risky assignment by cameraman Henry Howse, the impressive effects that could be achieved through trick filming, and the scenes of distant places that had been filmed by this time.
Historians have well documented the decline of illustrated songs in nickelodeons in the United States from 1909 to 1913. In this article, a close examination of the 1907 and 1908 issues of Moving Picture World shows that several crises occurred before 1909 that help us understand this decline. Here I examine three main crises: the structural crisis of free music, the economic and aesthetic crisis of piracy, and the legal dispute over exclusive illustration rights.
Richard Abel's study of American movies and moviegoers after the turn of the century is film history at its best. A welcome contrast to screen studies based on theoretical models with fashion cycles, his work will have a lasting shelf life. Writing about reception in terms of constructing nationality when cities teemed with immigrants, Abel illuminates subject matter as well as method based on print media in engaging chapters. An imaginative presentation of data includes not only illustrations, but poetry and documents that bring the era to life, and entr'actes about topics such as song slides and non-fiction films. A few maps and charts would have highlighted this wealth of material. Abel focuses on southern New England, northern Ohio, and the upper Midwest, particularly cities like St. Louis, Des Moines, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Pawtucket, and Lowell. Painstaking research based on local newspapers, the trade press, and the earliest fan magazine, Motion Picture Story Magazine, yields significant distribution and exhibition data: location and number of theaters, admission and seating capacities, play dates, variety programs with short films versus features, General Film's rivalry with independent distributors, critics influencing production and reception, social composition of moviegoers, popular genres exploiting racial and gender relations, and ascending early stars. Walking to neighborhood theaters to see westerns disparaged by trade press critics, moviegoers voted with their feet. Consequently, producers and distributors began to market cowboy (and cowgirl) films on a regular basis to draw predictable crowds. As product improved, with attractions like G.M. Anderson (who was Jewish) as Broncho Billy, critics became more enthusiastic. Westerns were also exported because Europeans were enthralled with the vast landscape of the Wild West and the romantic figure of the Indian. Particularly instructive for immigrants, who were themselves other (but Americanized at neighborhood venues) were characterizations of the Indian as racialized and unassimilable. Another genre that attracted ethnic moviegoers, Civil War films romanticized the Old South and represented blacks as self-abnegating Uncle Tom characters. Showcasing large battle scenes, exciting spy stories, and melodramatic romances, such films validated national reunion (while Jim Crow practices disenfranchised blacks). So many characters, even cross-dressers, donned so many disguises as they criss-crossed enemy lines that immigrants learned to reinvent themselves by shopping for apparel. Abel neglects to comment, however, on the most egregious and problematic example of "passing" in these films, that is, white actors donning blackface. Constituting yet another popular genre were thrillers, including animal and jungle pictures. But critics interested in Progressive uplift were dismayed by the appeal of sensational French crime films. By contrast, Traffic in Souls (1912) represented the triumph of Protestant morals and law enforcement over filthy urban vice. Serials like The Perils of Pauline (1914) featured feisty heroines in cliffhanger episodes calculated to entice moviegoers on a regular basis. Writing historical narrative about local events raises questions about just how much space should be devoted to the broader context. Unlike most film historians, Abel draws upon the work of social and cultural historians. But his use of Benedict Anderson's construct of "an imagined community" is problematic because "horizontal comradeship" among diverse first generation immigrants was difficult to build. Roy Rosenzweig found ethnic enclaves of Jews, Poles, and Lithuanians in Worcester, for example, to be "insular and separate". American laborers have historically been unable to unite across ethnic, let alone racial, lines to promote class interests. Workers in a color-conscious society would forego economic gains to cling to what David Roediger terms "the wages of whiteness". Anderson himself states that American society was internally riven by fierce racial conflict; nationality was based on exclusion as well as inclusion. Abel's characterization of the western as a "usable past" with a foundational myth for "an imagined community" has unexplored implications. Americanizing immigrants not then considered white raises issues about the meaning of race relations in frontier narratives. As Carroll Smith-Rosenberg argues, such myths substitute nationalism and jingoism for harsh economic reality. White males escaping the industrial order felt entitled to perpetrate violence against Mexicans, native Americans, and blacks (and later Chinese). As for striking it rich, revisionists like Patricia Nelson Limerick debunk Frederick Jackson Turner's formulation of the democratic frontier...
In the period from 1910 to 1913, Sarah Bernhardt embraced several media forms: vaudeville, the phonograph, motion pictures, and the newspaper (as a columnist). A well-known opponent of women's suffrage, she changed her mind and became its strong advocate during the course of her 1912–13 American vaudeville tour. Both phenomena contributed to the transformation of her cultural persona and revitalized her career.
This article examines the exhibition and reception of Kinemacolor in Russia from 1910 to 1916. Kinemacolor was a British method of filming and projecting in natural color invented by George Albert Smith and financed by Charles Urban, a US-born entrepreneur; film historians generally regard it as the most commercially viable color process before the outbreak of war in 1914. The article investigates Urban's interest in Russia as a potential market for Kinemacolor and as a source of interesting filmic material. In addition to identifying the extent of Kinemacolor's exhibition and distribution in Russia between 1910 and 1916, it also examines the Russian subjects filmed by Urban's companies in black and white and color, and identifies two occasions (1909 and 1913) on which Tsar Nikolai II and Tsarina Aleksandra Fedorovna were filmed in Kinemacolor. The article argues that the reception of Kinemacolor was widespread and diverse, and included members of the Russian imperial family and the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin. It references the specialist film-trade press in Britain, Russia, Europe, and North America; theater listings in Britain and Russia; and contemporary reports on Kinemacolor exhibitions in the British and Russian media. The article also draws upon the extensive archive of Urban's private papers, which is currently preserved in Bradford's National Science and Media Museum.
Through extensive research into local newspapers throughout the United States in the early 'teens, the author chronicles the work of little-known columnist Gertrude Price, demonstrating how she crafted an appeal to female movie fans while highlighting the powerful roles played by women in the early industry.
Motion-picture house organs, or theater programs, were notoriously ephemeral in the silent period. Among the rare few that survive are the Weekly Film News, published by J. H. Kunsky Theatrical Enterprises in Detroit and given out to patrons of Kunsky's circuit of downtown and neighborhood theaters. The fifty or more issues extant, from May 1916 to April 1919, offer a unique opportunity to deepen our knowledge of early cinema history. This unique ephemera illuminates the weekly programming of a major theater circuit in an unexamined metropolis, what that circuit assumed its patrons wanted to read and why, and perhaps even who those patrons were.
The following night, while my wife is exchanging small talk with German Generals’ wives and Majors’ widows – in the drawing room of the pension house – I am walking around at a loose end, ‘with my soul under my arm’, and with that same soul I walk into a cinematografo, for the sum of 20 Centesimi. I just happen to like contrasts. I just happen to like to sit one night, chic, with my wife, on a rather expensive poltrone in a gala performance, and the next night visit those public amusements where the common man for a few Soldi gives himself the illusion of something very beautiful sad, gay, and in particular sentimental. I once read that Edison invented the cinema to give the common man his theater. I entirely agree with that, but … But what I want to say, I won’t say right away. First I will describe what the waiting room looks like... because, if you have paid 30 Centesimi, you don’t wait: there are always places; however, if you want something cheaper, for two Soldi less, you need to wait... in the waiting room. You’ll understand, dear reader, that I am that frugal that I will wait, right ... [e]specially because the waiting amuses me, or rather interests me … This waiting room is very dirty. People often spit on the ground with great gobs, and nobody minds. The ground is covered not only with saliva but also with tangerine peel, used matches, cigarette butts and torn entrance tickets. On a platform is a palm-court orchestra of some pale girls dressed in white. All around are test-your-strength machines, shooting galleries, candy automats ... Chairs are against the wall; every chair is taken; the place is full to the brim. Look at all those tired faces that sharply light up like ghosts in the cruel and stark electric light. These are not the Roman marchionesses, princesses, loaded with their family jewels; these are not gentlemen in tails and elegant lieutenants shining in gold; this is not the noble spawn of the Duke of the Abruzzi. This is the tired waiting of the ‘common man’ – with wife and kids, often with babies – after the common man has finished working. He is out, he is going to amuse himself; he wants above all to see something. When he is out with his family, it easily costs him almost a Lira. But he gets a lot in return. He starts with resting on a chair, in front of an enormous ‘mirror’, which, ghostlike, reflects to him his pale, tired face. He also perceives electric light on walls with art nouveau patterns and he hears the din of the palm-court orchestra. When he is finally allowed to enter, then he, his worn out wife and worldly-wise children, first see a dal vero: a parade or an instructive industry film or a trip through Norway or Switzerland. Secondly, a sentimental drama, which moves their petty bourgeois souls to tears in such a marvellous way: stolen children, noble little chimney sweeps, virtue especially rewarded ... And now and then something of opera or true comedy, but without the words and with no more music than the plonky piano accompaniment. And as life is so merry and gay, the delicious show ends with a farce: which often consists of drunken men and people tumbling over each other and running after one other through fields and roads: oh such lovely merry farces, drawn from lovely merry life! The little citizen, for his four soldi, is educated, has a tear squeezed from the eye, and has his ‘laughing muscle’ tickled. Alright, I allow him that. I allow him this cheap theater of Edison. But … And now I will say it ... Why, after he is educated, cannot the tear be squeezed from his eye with beauty; the laughing muscle tickled ... with grace? Does it have to happen – is it impossible not to let it happen – but with coarse, false, weepy sentimentality ... and with an even more coarse, more false, drunkard’s burlesque? The show is over. I have stayed until the end. And not like yesterday, in the chic Opera, left before the...
This essay applies a scaled data set of archival cost ledgers from the Majestic plant at 4500 Sunset Boulevard to the question of macroscale production control in the American film industry during the late one-reel/early feature period. The documents show that Majestic budgeted multiple-reel features according to cost percentages very similar to those of its one- and two-reel shorts, making them substantially cheaper than the films on competing feature programs. Mutual then marketed its features in distribution by advertising nationally and offering flexible, nonprogram booking arrangements. These findings suggest that with the aid of distribution strategies, program-oriented producers like Mutual could scale up shorts production to feature length in order to compete on the nascent market for program features.
This article considers the problem of lost silent films, an issue that is particularly relevant to the study of Russian cinema. Most early Russian films have not been preserved, and it is nearly impossible to describe the film history of this period without them. Reconstructing films that have been lost or only partially preserved requires using every available source: stills, production photographs, reviews, memoirs, and so on. This article presents one such paper reconstruction using the example of Vladimir Gardin's Anna Karenina (1914), one of the most important Russian films of the mid-1910s. The results of this reconstruction prove that Anna Karenina was an innovative screen adaptation made in the spirit of the Silver Age that contributed to the development of the so-called Russian style in pre-Revolutionary cinema.
From late 1914 through late 1916, dozens of “documentary” war films circulated within commercial venues in the United States, precisely during a period of debate about whether the country could or should maintain a politically expedient position of “neutrality” or would have to engage directly in the Great War. Usually sponsored by metropolitan newspapers and made by American cameramen/reporters, these films often were exhibited widely, even in small towns, and sometimes had long runs. Moreover, at least half took a more or less German perspective on the war. This essay explores their circulation and reception by describing the variety of films, their sources, and the difficulties in undertaking their study; sketching some of their political and cultural contexts, particularly in terms of other media; analysing the different ways they were promoted, where they were exhibited, and how they seem to have been received; and finally, speculating on their contribution to the ongoing debate over US neutrality in the war.
War newsreels distributed in France from 1914 to 1918 comprise a body of work which has long been ignored by traditional film historians. In order to draw attention to this material, this article, summarising many years of the author's work on the subject, places these films in their context of production and analyses them in detail, showing that they are valuable sources both for documenting the socio-cultural history of the time and for the history of the cinematograph.
Albert K. Dawson (1885––1967) was an American photographer from Vincennes, Indiana, who started his career in 1912. His firm Brown & Dawson supplied films and news photographs of the First World War's Western and Eastern fronts, taken by Dawson between January 1915 and February 1916 with the aid of the German, Austrian and Bulgarian armies. The paper examines Dawson's experiences during World War I based on excerpts from his published diary and other documentary sources, as well as portions of his films recently discovered in the Library of Congress's John E. Allen collection.
In 1916, Rafael Colorado D'Assoy, Nemesio Canales and Luis Llorééns Torres formed the Tropical Film Company in Puerto Rico, one of the first motion picture production company to be organized there by local residents. The essay discusses how Tropical's small number of fiction and non-fiction releases aligned with the founders' social and political agenda, and suggests reasons for the company's ultimate demise in 1917.
The contrast between North and South manifests itself in many different ways. At the Bioscoop, too. First of all, in the South the Bioscoop is called Cine-matografo in Italy or Cine[ma] in Spain. Well, this difference is negligible. But in both southern countries the difference is great as compared with cinema in Germany and the Netherlands. As soon as we go North, the cinema becomes something of a theater, becomes pretentiously heavy. You are received by employees in braided frocks, your coat and stick are taken from you, you are allocated a certain, fixed seat, you are not allowed to stand up, you notice everybody around you in the shimmering darkness in their seats for hours, there is an intermission ... Nothing of all this in Italy or Spain. Not only is the cinematografo or the cine much cheaper than the bioscoop, but the whole interior is more light-hearted, comfortable, accommodating. The illuminated foyer which you can see from the street is inviting, with a salon orchestra (albeit not very attractive to me personally), and a reading table. To enter when it rains, when I don’t want to go to a bar, when I have paraded around enough, when I am tired, bored…. I pay 30 centimes and whenever I want to look rich, 50 centimes. I cannot go above that, unless for a world famous film such as Quo Vadis? Even for 50 centimes – both in Italy and Spain – my seat is too chic, so terribly chic, that I prefer to pay 30 centimes ... Around me are casual, very decent people, so decent that if I want to see the less decent, I need to descend into places where I pay only 20 or 15 or 10 centimes. I see the same films, but... one week later. But everywhere the experience is light and capricious, an ephemeral joy; while in the North cinema has shut itself inside an impenetrable shell.17 Really, when I walk into a cinema I want to do it in a lighthearted and casual way. I’ll stand up for a quarter of an hour if necessary, just to see Max Linder or a scene of the war, and then leave again. Dear heavens, you really notice when you are in the North, as soon as you are away from Italy: in Munich or...The Hague. There is no question of standing up; everything is so solemn and heavy, that your first casual impulse to see a film is immediately crushed. In Italy I saw the whole war in Tripoli screened before me, surrounded by a decent officer-with-family audience, without reserving seats and always for 30 centimes each day. Here, I am hesitant to go and see The Battle of the Somme because I don’t want to reserve a seat, I want to keep my coat on, even keep my wet umbrella with me; I’d rather stand than sit; in particular I don’t want to turn my cinema joy into a solemn visit; rather I desire an unpretentious, casual ‘walking in’, a passing pleasure, which should not last more than twenty minutes at the most. Another frame enlargement from Una tragedia al Cinematografo. The woman outside the cinema is Pina Menichelli, some years before she had her breakthrough as a diva. Oh North and South, not even in the bioscoop and cinematograph do you have anything in common. But now the analysis. Why is it so different in the North and the South? Because of the heavy soul of the Northerners? Of course, but also because ‘street life’ does not exist in the North and because in the South ‘walking into a cinema’ is a part of everyday life. Just as in the North it is not allowed in a lunchroom bar to toss off a little glass of vermouth standing up, or to consume a pastry or a biscuit while standing up, so it is not normal to consider the cinema as a short halt in your flanerie, as a shelter from the rain, as a short, oh, so short, distraction from the melancholy which can so affect the flaneur...
This paper reconstructs levels of cinemagoing in Britain over the two decades preceding the first accepted estimates of the national audience, which were produced in 1934. It uses the receipts from the tax on entertainments, levied by British governments starting in 1916, to examine the impact of broader developments, from war to major economic downturns, and radical changes within the industry itself with the introduction of sound technology. A significant discontinuity is identified in the emergence of the talking picture, which worked to broaden and deepen support for the cinema, confirming it as the dominant mass entertainment form of the period.
Tony Shaw, 'Early Warnings of the Red Peril: A Pre-History of Cold War British Cinema, 1917-1939', Film History, Vol. 14 (3/4): 354-368, 2002, doi:10.2979/FIL.2002.14.3-4.354. Published by Indiana University Press.
In the 1920s, researchers attempted to gauge the emotional impact of motion pictures by measuring spectators' respiration and blood pressure during screenings. This paper analyzes psychophysiological spectator studies conducted by William M. Marston at Columbia University and Universal Studios and traces the roots of his methods to Hugo Münsterberg's applied psychology. Examining the model of embodied spectatorship and concepts of film aesthetics articulated in Marston's experiments exposes their ethical and epistemological implications. Further, despite his claims to objectivity, Marston's interpretation of his data reflected cultural clichés and perpetuated the universalist fallacies of biologically oriented psychology.
This article reframes the relationship between women and early cinema in Bombay in the 1920s by foregrounding women's collective work toward sanitizing the cinematic medium and using cinema as an instrument to further public well-being and women's rights. It argues for a historiography of cinema in 1920s Bombay where female cultural and political instigators used cinema to shape progressive social and educational policies. Through events such as the Bombay Baby Week and the All India Women's Conference, influential women produced and employed useful cinema to create the earliest film exhibition spaces for women in late colonial Bombay.
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