Monday, September 1, 2014

Germinal -- September 1, 2014

Moving Picture World, 03-January-1914.

In honor of Labor Day, I am writing about Germinal, Pathé's major production of 1914, based on the novel by Émile Zola.  Zola wrote about coal miners.  The mine owners treat the miners the way coal mine owners usually treat miners, cutting their wages and making their work conditions worse.  The families of the miners sink into poverty and hunger.  The miners strike.  The owners respond with violence. 

The novel is regarded as a classic in France and has been filmed at least three times. 

Moving Picture World, 10-January-1914.
Moving Picture World, 17-January-1914
Moving Picture World, 24-January-1914
Be sure to click on the images to see larger versions. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Clara Bow #19 -- August 31, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.
From the wonderful site  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Extra Attractions -- WAR -- August 29, 2014

There are two interesting things going on here. 

The obvious one is that a movie distributor is trying to deceive the public.  WAR is "We Are Ready to help you get the money".  "THOUSANDS VOLUNTEER expressions of satisfaction."  "ONE OF THE GREATEST BATTLES of wits ever presented to the public." 

The other thing is that this is an ad for Melies Films.  By 1914, pioneer Georges Méliès and his useless brother Gaston Méliès had stopped making movies.  I see a "G" for Gaumont logo in the middle.  I'm not sure what that is all about. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leading Lady's Narrow Escape -- August 28, 2014

Motography, 15-August-1914

George Middleton, a San Francisco automobile dealer, married the beautiful and celebrated prima donna (that's how she was billed), musical comedy actress Beatriz Michelena in San Francisco in 1907. She left the stage for a while, then returned in 1910. In 1912, Middleton, son of a famous family in the lumber business, founded the California Motion Picture Company in San Rafael, north of San Francisco. At first he made promotional films for his auto business, but in 1914 he began to produce dramatic features starring his wife. Salomy Jane still survives and is very impressive. Most of the CMPC movies were destroyed in a fire.

This article from the 15-August-1914 Motography describes an incident which may or may not have occurred while the company was filming Salomy Jane at the Russian River.  House Peters was her leading man.  In the photo, the beautiful and celebrated prima donna is posing in front of the stump of a redwood tree. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Remarkable Acting -- August 27, 2014

Motography, 01-August-1914

The Million Dollar Mystery was a Thanhouser production made in association with the Chicago Tribune, which ran the weekly stories in printed form. The 23-chapter serial starred Florence La Badie, a popular Thanhouser actress who died the next year in a car wreck. Her leading man was James Cruze, who later became a director. His most famous production was The Covered Wagon.

Motography, 15-August-1914
" $10,000 will be paid for the best 100-word solution of this mystery." 

Motography, 29-August-1914

"Remarkable Acting."  Yes indeed. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sir Richard Attenborough, RIP -- August 26, 2014

Actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough has died.  I enjoyed his acting in many movies, like the 1947 adaption of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock.  Attenborough usually seemed like a kind, gentle person, so it was interesting to watch him play Pinkie.

I enjoyed A Bridge Too Far.  I admired Gandhi, but I haven't seen it again since it came out.  Oh! What a Lovely War blew my mind and made me cry.  He sure could direct. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Thaumatrope: Its Retribution -- August 25, 2014

Charles Babbage was one of the great polymaths of the 19th Century.  He is regarded as one of the fathers of computers because of his work on the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine.  Here, in a passage from this memoir Passages From the Life of a Philosopher he talks about the thaumatrope.  Sir William Herschel was an astronomer.

The image is from The Young Folk's Cyclopædia of Games and Sports by John Denison Champlin and Arthur Elmore Bostwick, 1890.

The Thaumatrope.
One day Herschel, sitting with me after dinner, amusing himself by spinning a pear upon the table, suddenly asked whether I could show him the two sides of a shilling at the same moment.

I took out of my pocket a shilling, and holding it up before the looking-glass, pointed out my method. "No," said my friend, "that won't do;" then spinning my shilling upon the table, he pointed out his method of seeing both sides at once. The next day I mentioned the anecdote to the late Dr. Fitton, who a few days after brought me a beautiful illustration of the principle. It consisted of a round disc of card suspended between the two pieces of sewing-silk. These threads being held between the finger and thumb of each hand, were then made to turn quickly, when the disc of card, of course, revolved also.
Upon one side of this disc of card was painted a bird; upon the other side, an empty bird-cage. On turning the thread rapidly, the bird appeared to have got inside the cage. We soon made numerous applications, as a rat on one side and a trap upon the other, &c. It was shown to Captain Kater, Dr. Wollaston, and many of our friends, and was, after the lapse of a short time, forgotten.

Some months after, during dinner at the Royal Society Club, Sir Joseph Banks being in the chair, I heard Mr. Barrow, then Secretary to the Admiralty, talking very loudly about a wonderful invention of Dr. Paris, the object of which I could not quite understand. It was called the thaumatrope, and was said to be sold at the Royal Institution, in Albermarle-street. Suspecting that it had some connection with our unnamed toy, I went the next morning and purchased, for seven shillings and sixpence, a thaumatrope, which I afterwards sent down to Slough to the late Lady Herschel. It was precisely the thing which her son and Dr. Fitton had contributed to invent, which amused all their friends for a time and had then been forgotten. There was however one additional thaumatrope made afterwards. It consisted of the usual disc of paper. On one side was represented a thaumatrope (the design upon it being a penny-piece) with the motto, "How to turn a penny."

On the other side was a gentleman in black, with his hands held out in the act of spinning a thaumatrope, the motto being, "A new trick from Paris."