Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

I was busy with Christmas Evening wrapping yesterday that I didn't get my last day's countdown to Christmas up...heck I didn't even have time for email!  So I'm doubling up today


The first film is a funny little silent film I found on You Tube.  It proves that not all silent movies need to be really old!

This next "movie" is a clip of numerous Christmas silents from all sorts of sources.  Have a Merry one, one and all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Countdown To Christmas 4

Yet another Edison Christmas short, but this is one of the company's earliest, dating from 1905.  Of all of Edwin S. Porter's directed holiday shorts, I tend to favor his earliest work.  They just have a glint of silvery charm to them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Countdown To Christmas Day 3


Yet another Edison Christmas short.  It's a little funny, the one earliest Edison Christmas short from 1907 that I'd really like to present here has never been uploaded to You Tube, even though, arguably, it as a great deal more charm than do many of the company's later Holiday efforts.  This film, however, is quite charming and not directed by the rather "true to life" stark style original in-house director Edwin S. Porter, but rather by a later Edison hire:  Bannister Merwin, who was primarily a writer.  Hope you enjoy.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Countdown To Christmas Day 2

A Winter Straw Ride (1906)

Another Edison holiday short, this was photographed and directed by one of motion pictures very first director's Edwin S. Porter.  It's only 7 minutes long, so give it a look.  Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Countdown To Christmas Day 1

This is another Edison Christmas short produced in 1914, I wanted to juxtapose it with the earlier Little Girl Who Didn't Believe In Santa from 1907 because their plots are almost polar opposites of each other, but alas no "Little Girl" on You Tube and I am way to busy trying to catch up on Christmas stuff to upload it right now--maybe later.

In any case, this is quite funny, considering "the wrong Santa" is a bugling burglar!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Carol (1910)

Due to family issues and a lot a fall and winter illnesses I have blown through one important holiday on this blog; and have almost blown through another.  Before it gets too late, here is the first in an installment of Christmas silents.

I'd like to write out a longer bit on this little 10 minute film from Edison's company; but I'm still having symptoms from a very bad stomach virus that I suffered over the weekend and just don't have the energy at the moment.  I will say that this is not the earliest film of the classic Dickens holiday tale, as it stated in several places in print and around the web, but it is the most important of the earliest "Christmas Carol's; and, probably, the only one to survive.  The earliest appears to date from 1908 and was produced by rival American company Essanay, who one Charles Chaplin would work for.  Some still below.  Whole film follows.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Cameraman's Revenge 1912

This is a masterpiece world of stop motion animation from 1912 Russia.

The ? Motorist (1906)

Also known as "The Made Motorist" it is listed on the catalogs of Science Fiction films.  It is certainly a hilarious little fantasy, that showcases some early slipstick in the Keystone Kops vein.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Midnight Girl (1925)

It's a silent melodrama from 1925 with Lugosi!  Not the best movie in the world by any means, but it is at least of historical interest...and hey it has BELA!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Impossible Voyage (1904)

This embed if from the good folks over at Internet Archive.  It looks strangely out sized in the post, but it does play; it's probably best viewed in full screen.  This is another one Melies trick movies.  He really had a strange obsession with Jules Vern and H. G. Wells!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Excelsior!--Prince Of Magicians (1901)

It's a real pleasure being able to embed this little known Melies film.  It was found in an antique trunk purchased by Lobster Films from an antique dealer (I believe, in Paris) that turned out to be full of turn of the century films!  I love stories like this!!  It is part of film history that really fascinates me.  Over the last 15 years or so, several famously lost films, like Richard III from 1912 have been found in similar circumstances (if memory serves, in South Africa).  

Title card created for the film by Lobster
This print was amongst 30 Melies films in the trunk, 17 of which, including this one, were not previously known to exist anywhere else.  The print was printed on 35 mm negative in Haghefilm in The Netherlands (as was the entire collection).  This little fancy is another one of Melies "trick films" that were at there height of popularity at the time.  Though film historians debate Melies' importance or true film making merit at the turn of the 20th century, he certainly was very instrumental in two regards:  the pushing of a story line or narrative in film, and the invention of the special effects in film.  No small things!  So enjoy this little film fancy.  And:  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (1910)

This is the earliest film of L. Frank Baum's novel of the same name.  Dating from 1910, it was the product of the Selig Polyscope Company, which was owned by producer William Selig.  It stars Bebe Daniels , just 9 years old at the time, who would later go on to have roles in the likes of 42nd Street and The Maltese Falcon.  


Runtime:  13 minutes (at 20 fps)
Title cards in English
1 Reel
Release Date:  24 March 1910 


Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Trip To The Moon (1902)

This is the original Le voyage dans la lune or The Trip to the Moon fro 1902 by cinematic pioneer of the "trick film" Georges Melies.  Happy Halloween!

Les Vampires (1915-1916) Part 10

Finally episode 10 of the ground breaking French serial Les Vampires.  My edition is the two disc edition put out in 2005 (which sadly is out of print and expensive).  This edition contains a lengthy liner notes essay by Fabrice Zagury.  It is a lengthy read, but worth the time, starting with Louis Feuillade's beginnings through to the film's posterity.  I think he stresses some key points as the the film making of Feuillade's place as a true pioneer in early cinema over all, and I believe, in early horror films in particular.  

He says of Fueillede in the important year of 1913, when Gaumont started producing true feature length films; "In the  eyes of posterity and from this moment on he would remain the glorious pioneer of the serial film.  Les Vampires, which describes the achievements of a secret society of criminals and their muse, is regarded as Feuillade's masterpiece in this genre.  It was shot during the war in the empty and grey streets of Paris."

Passerby inspecting a Vampires poster
He later concluded:  "Feuillade, the father of the Vampire, enriched the collective imaginary of the French by exploiting the latent fascination and magical powers coming from the serial film."  Here is the final installment of his ground breaking Vampires.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Les Vampires (1915-1916) Part 3

Just a bit about director Louis Feuillade

Born in 1873, during his lifetime, Feuillade would go on to direct a whopping 700 films!  He actually wrote 800 screenplays in his lifetime as well.  His film career started Le Maison Gaumont in 1905.  He starting directing films for them in 1906, starting with Un coup de vent under artistic production director Alice Guy (who was the first woman in world ever to direct a film).  He directed or produced 9 short films that year. In 1907, after Mll. Guy left the company,  he was promoted to artistic director in charge of production, her old job.  It was from this position that he film making career really took off.

Though all early filmmakers started out making shorts, even long after solid narrative scripts of stories entered the picture, there are a few that quickly progressed on to something more.  In the United States, D. W. Griffith was constantly trying to find was to lengthen his films in one sitting.  He had experimented with movies in parts, but it was a format that didn't suit him.  So his work pioneering lenght of film is well documented and well regarded, he is the the father of the feature.  Louis Feuillade also deserves credit for the advancement of the length of a filmed story; but his approach was in pioneering and promoting serials.  By 1910 his serials were well established, by 1913 Gaumont began to produce feature length films and along came his Fantomas series.  It remains his most successful series after Les Vampires to this day.  

Still from Fantomas
Fueillade was above all a director who loved to tell a story, and resisted later efforts, especially in France, and especially after World War I, in intellectualized film to a point that most of the narrative was pushed back out.  Famed director in his own right, René Clair, who started out as Fueillade's assistant said of his days working on serials with him "very often we started a film in 12 episodes without knowing how we would finish it."  Feuillade himself later commented 1920, "A film is not a sermon or a conference, even less a rebus, but a means to entertain the eyes and spirit."  He was known to be quite a humble man, the son of wine makers, he appreciate the wider audience, and didn't at all cotton to the new notions that intellectualizing cinema to draw a more cultivated audience was anything laudable.  He continued his statement, "The quality of the entertainment is measured by the interest of the crowd form whom it was created."  Well merely 5 years before his Les Vampires did just that.  Here's part 3.

Note:  quotes taken from liner notes,  in essay written by Fabrice Zagury.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Les Vampires (1915-1916) Part 1

Dating from 1915 this actually a serial that ran into 1916.  It's what people used to do LONG  before there was television.  By the mid 1910's these really were a dime a dozen; so much so that many were simply discarded.  This French production was actually rescued from complete destruction from a trash heap by the side of the road.  

The most famous still from the film:  The Vamp Irma  Vep

It was original broken into 10 films and now the restored to disc addition by Image Entertainment runs a w'/hopping 7 hours!  I've only ever screened it through all the way once--in fact, it was a couple of Halloween seasons ago, during a crime theme as part the countdown to Halloween.  It was one epic viewing!!  

It was part of a day of crime, and not vampires, because it is a crime serial.  Yes it is laced with supernatural elements in some places, but they are subtle.  It is also a kind of vaguely super-human sort of vision of occulted crime syndicates--organized crime.  For the longest time, secret crime organizations were denied not just in Italy and the US, but in other countries as well, and France was no exception.  And this was no ordinary crime syndicate--as it is run by a woman who is called Irma Vep, whose very name is a reworking of the word "vampire."  When the serial first debuted, it was, in fact banned by the Paris police.  But the "damage" had been done.  The serial had created the character of "The Vamp"--evil women with dark hair that were always out for something that was most definitely not theirs!

Here is a Halloween special, part 1 of Les Vampires, entitled "The Severed Head."