Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clara Bow #18 -- July 30, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.  "I'm never going to give up the screen.  I have to have an outlet for all this energy.  I can pour it in to pictures -- and I love pictures." 

 From the June, 1926 Moving Picture Classic Magazine. Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Beautiful and Celebrated Prima Donna -- July 29, 2014

Motography, 04-July-1914
George Middleton, a San Francisco automobile dealer, married beautiful  musical comedy actress Beatriz Michelena in San Francisco in 1907. She left the stage for 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.

Motography, 04-July-1914
"This corporation, which is devoting its time exclusively to feature adaptions from famous books, plays and operas, has been carrying on actual operations at the base of Mount Tamalpais since the first of May... The title role in the motion picture adaption will be assumed by Beatriz Michelena, the beautiful and celebrated prima donna, the announcement of whose debut before the screen has already caused a sensation in theatrical circles." 
Motography, 11-July-1914

Moving Picture World, 11-July-1914

Salomy Jane appears on Disc One of Treasures From the American Film Archives, The West.  The Beautiful and Celebrated Prima Donna was very good:

Monday, July 28, 2014

No Other Film Production Equals It In Size -- July 28, 2014

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

The image is from the 18-July-1914 Motography.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Zoopraxiscope -- July 27, 2014

From The British Journal of Photography, June 9 and 16, and July 28, 1882.  Miss Thompson was Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler.  Étienne-Jules Marey was a pioneering chronophotographer. 
I assume M Meissonier is the painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier.  Thomas Protheroe was a Bristol photographer. 

The illustration is from "The Horse in Motion" by George Waritig, Jr, in The Century; a popular quarterly / Volume 24, Issue 3, July 1882:

June 9, 1882

Mr. MUYBRIDGE At Liverpool.—On Monday evening last, the 5th inst., at the Liverpool Art Club, in Upper Parliament-street, Mr. E. Muybridge delivered a lecture on The Attitudes of Animals in Motion. Mr. Benson Rathbone presided, and introduced the lecturer. There was a large attendance of members of the Club and their friends, and the lecture, which was similar to that recently delivered at the Royal Institution, London, and which attracted great attention at the time, was listened to throughout with the deepest attention. It was illustrated by photographic projections of the consecutive attitudes assumed by various animals in rapid motion—particularly the galloping of a horse—these being shown by the aid of the oxyhydrogen light and the zoopraxiscope, by which the most complicated movements were readily analysed. The subject is one of the highest importance and interest to artists and scientists, and, though, as the lecturer explained, the motion of fignres had been shown in the earliest pictorial art, it will be remembered that the subject received a new impetus at the time of the public controversy which originated with Miss Thompson's Roll Call, the great question of that day among the art-critics being "How a horse walks." That and other recent pictures, as well as the inquiries of scientific men, aided as they have been by the discoveries brought about by the process of instantaneous photography, have originated new ideas with regard to animal motion; but the recent lecture demonstrated some most extraordinary truths, which will be of the greatest benefit to art. On Thursday evening last Mr. Muybridge repeated his demonstration, before a large and appreciative audience interested in photography, at the private residence of Mr. John J. Atkinson, Upper Parliament street. All present expressed themselves pleased and instructed by Mr. Muybridge's treatment of his novel and most important topic. We understand an elaborate work upon the above subject is in preparation, in which Professor Marey and M. Messonier will co-operate. This is intended to be a perfect exposition of the art of illustrating the attitudes of animals in motion from the earliest period to the present time. The volume will be issued under the auspices of Mr. Robert C. Johnson, of San Francisco—a wealthy and enthusiastic patron of art.

June 16, 1882

On Thursday evening, the 8th inst., Mr. J. J. Atkinson invited a number of artists, scientists, photographers, and others to his residence, 140, Upper Parliament-street, Liverpool, to witness Mr. Muybridge, of San Francisco, give his seance representing quadrupeds, bipeds, and birds in motion, illustrated by means of the zoopraxiscope, as briefly noticed in our last issue.

Mr. Muybridge explained that the problem of animal mechanism had long engaged the attention of mankind. In every age and in every country philosophers have found it a subject of exhaustless research. M. Marey, the eminent French savant of our own day, dissatisfied with the investigations of his predecessors, and with the object of obtaining more accurate information than their works afforded him, employed a system of flexible tubes, connected at one end with elastic air chambers which were attached to the shoes of a horse, and at the other end with some mechanism held in the hand of the animal's rider. The alternate compression and expansion of the air in the chambers caused pencils to record upon a revolving cylinder the successive or simultaneous action of each foot as it correspondingly rested upon or was raised from the ground. By this ingenious and original method much interesting and valuable information was obtained, and new light thrown upon movements until then but imperfectly understood. While the philosopher was exhausting his endeavours to expound the laws that control and the elements that effect the movements associated with animal life, the artist, with but few exceptions, seems to have been satisfied and content with the observations of his earliest predecessors in design, and to have accepted as authentic, without further inquiry, the pictorial and sculptural representations of moving animals bequeathed from the remote ages of tradition.

Yet (Mr. Muybridge argued) the action of no single limb can be availed of for artistic purposes without a knowledge of the simultaneous action of the other limbs; and to the extreme difficulty of the mind being capable of appreciating the simultaneous motion of the four limbs of an animal may be attributed the innumerable errors into which artists have been betrayed. The walk of a quadruped would seem to be a simple action, easy of observation, and presenting but little difficulty for analysis; yet it has occasioned interminable controversies among the closest and most experienced observers. The remarkable conventional attitude of the Egyptians has, with few modifications, been used by artists of nearly every age to represent the action of galloping, and prevails in all civilised countries at the present day. A few eminent artists—notable among whom is M. Meissonier—have endeavoured, in depicting the movements of animals, to invoke the aid of truth instead of imagination to direct their pencils, but with little encouragement from their critics. Until recently, artists and critics alike have necessarily had to depend upon their observation alone to justify their conceptions or to support their theories. Photography was soon recognised as a most important factor in the search for truth; and he (Mr. Muybridge), being much interested with the experiments of the French professor Marey, invented, in 1877, a method for the employment of a number of photographic cameras— twenty-four—arranged in a line parallel to a track over which the animal would be caused to move, with the object of obtaining, at regulated intervals of time or distance, several consecutive impressions of him during a single complete stride as he passed along in front of the cameras, and so of more completely investigating the successive attitudes of animals while in motion than could be accomplished by the system of M. Marey.

Mr. Muybridge illustrated the action of the horse and other animals with the zoopraxiscope, showing the walk, tlie amble, the trot, the gallop, and the leap, with the animals in motion. One of the most graceful movements was that of the deer, though the greyhound also came in for much admiration. Some of the stationary photographs of horses foreshortened were most artistic, and will teach artists and sculptors what the true motions of quadrupeds and bipeds really are, and prevent them depicting impossible positions. Among other novelties not before exhibited in Liverpool was one representing a pair of light-weight boxers, which caused so much amusement to the Prince and Princess of Wales. The foot race, representing a number of professional runners working themselves along with their elbows, created much interest, as did also the photographs of vaulters and circus riders.
Altogether the lecture, though much curtailed in order to give more time to using the zoopraxiscope, was a most interesting one, and several of the guests questioned the lecturer freely as to how certain results were obtained. The moral of the lecture seems to be that it will soon be definitely established that the various motions of animals trotting, cantering, galloping, &c.—are governed by laws which are as fixed as the motion of a locomotive.

July 28, 1882

Gentlemen,—In reading the lecture by Mr. Muybridge before the Society of Arts one cannot but be struck with his refreshing assurance at the commencement, where he says that artists from all ages to the present time have been inaccurate in their notions in depicting animals in motion.
After reading the article and seeing the pictures of the animals he has photographed, I am of opinion that he is not warranted in his attempt to lecture and censure artists. An artist paints simply an impression of motion as he sees it, as it is impossible for him to see the subdivision of motion or section of a stride; and until we are endowed with further visual powers we must remain contented.
In some of the pictures a horse is represented motionless, the fore limbs standing still, while the hindermost are in what appears extravagant motion, such as I have never seen it in life. When a horse rises to a fence it is impossible to see his hind pasterns horizontal. Again: fancy a bird in flight painted with its wings folded under it, or a running dog with his legs gathered up as if in a knot! It may be right photographically, but is wrong artistically. To give a notion of hunters, or a pack of hounds in full cry, they must be painted as we see them— with their limbs stretched to the utmost, "tearing away like mad."
Another illustration: if the spokes of a wheel in motion are perfectly seen as represented by instantaneous photography, and an artist were to paint them so, we should have no idea of motion, as they always appear as a blurred circle, and must, therefore, be so painted. Instantaneous photography, in many instances, might be termed photographic juggllng or a glimpse of the unseen—a practical illustration of a line from Longfellow, that ''things are not what they seem."

The lecture and illustrations are, undoubtedly, of great interest to the scientist or the curious as studies of analyses of motion; bnt beyond that, I fear, will be of little use. Probably they may be the means of starting a new school of fanatics in painting, who will stand the chance of being laughed at for their pains, in trying to depict what is right photographically, but is never seen with the unassisted eye, and therefore incongruous.
Persons who are interested in this matter should study the pictures referred to—not with the aid of the zoopraxiscope, but simply as they are; and I leave them to judge whether they seem correct with their own idea of animals in motion.—I am, yours, &c, T. Protheroe,
Bristol, July 24, 1882.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

First Fight Film -- July 26, 2014

Many accounts say that the James J Corbett- Tom Courtney fight, filmed on 08-September-1984 was the first fight film.  However, on 14-June-1894, WKL Dickson of the Edison company filmed a fight between lightweight boxers Mike Leonard, the Fashion Plate, the Beau Brummel of the Prize Ring, and Jack Cushing.  The original production had six one-minute rounds, each on a Kinetoscope reel.  It was filmed in a tiny ring in Edison's Black Maria studio in West Orange, New Jersey. 

I couldn't find much about Jack Cushing, but here is an ad for a vaudeville appearance by Mike Leonard from the 25-August-1895 Washington Morning Times

What survives of the fight looks like a good scrap. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mutoscope #5 -- July 25, 2014

The blue clamshell Mutoscope at Disneyland. In 2011, I did not get to watch any movies on the Disneyland Mutoscopes. I saw another Mutoscope in Virginia City and did not get to watch that one, either.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Grauman's Chinese #40 -- July 24, 2014

In July, 2012 we paid a return visit to Hollywood and Grauman's Chinese Theater. Sid Grauman was a San Francisco showman who came to Los Angeles and built three major houses, the Million Dollar, the Egyptian, and the Chinese. The theater has hosted many film premieres, but is most famous for the hand and footprints (and hoofprints and nose prints and other types of prints) in the forecourt.

Beautiful actress Jean Harlow left her handprints, footprints and three mysterious dots on 29-September-1933.  She died at the age of 26 in 1937. 

The poster is from

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz -- July 23, 2014

Moving Picture World, 24-October-1914
The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, located in Los Angeles, was formed in 1914 to produce movies based on stories by L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wizard of Oz.  The company made some movies, but was not a financial success.  Their third feature was His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz.  I don't know much about the movie. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jim Garner, RIP -- July 22, 2014

I was sad to hear that James Garner had died.  I knew who he was before 1971, but I had never seen Maverick.  I must have seen some of his movies on television. 

I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that he was going to appear in a modern western called Nichols.  The review was enthusiastic.  I watched it and enjoyed his non-violent, funny approach.  I was sorry that the show did not last for long. 

Later, my friends and I all enjoyed The Rockford Files.  I watched more of his movies. 

Eventually, I saw reruns of Maverick and saw why people liked it. 

Even though he often played shifty men, Garner always seemed honest, especially in interview. 

He was a Korean War combat veteran, who was wounded twice. 

The image of Garner and the poster for Sunset are from www.listal.comSunset was an odd movie, where Bruce Willis played Tom Mix and Garner played Wyatt Earp.  It could have been much better.  Bruce Willis looked nothing like Tom Mix , but displayed some of his charisma.  Jim Garner looked nothing like Wyatt Earp, but displayed some of his poise and threat. 


Monday, July 21, 2014

Compelled to Race With Death -- July 21, 2014

Motography, 11-July-1914.

The Perils of Pauline was a big hit in 1914. The 20 chapter serial was not the first movie serial, but it was one of the big ones. It starred Pearl White, the first serial queen. The Eclectic Film Company distributed Pathé movies in the United States. The film exists only in a mutilated form, based on a copy exported to France. The subtitles has been translated into French, then translated back into English. I like the large image from the 11-July-1914 Motography.

Motography, 04-July-1914.
During the 1913-1914 offseason, the National League Champion New York Giants, led by manager John McGraw, toured the world with members of the Chicago White Sox, led by manager Jimmy Callahan. The Giants roster included Christy Mathewson, Jim Thorpe and Turkey Mike Donlin. As seen in the list above, they visited and played exhibition games in, among other places, Japan, Hong Kong, Manilla, Shanghai, Australia, Ceylon, Egypt, Naples and Rome. In 1914, the Eclectic Film Company released a movie about the tour.

Motography, 04-July-1914.

Motography, 11-July-1914.
"Pauline Escapes Unharmed" sort of gives away the conclusion. 

Motography, 18-July-1914.
"Pauline Pulls People.  She's a Gold Mine." 

Motography, 25-July-1914.
Motography, 25-July-1914.
Click on the images to see larger versions.

Motography, 20-June-1914.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tom Mix and Will Rogers -- July 20, 2014

Tom Mix had been a big star for the Fox Film Corporation.  Humorist Will Rogers joined Fox in 1930.  Here they pose on the Fox lot.  I'll bet they got along well.  From the March, 1930 Photoplay

Saturday, July 19, 2014

John Barleycorn -- July 19, 2014

Motography - 11-July-1914

Jack London published John Barleycorn in 1913.  The autobiographical novel told the story of the effects of alcohol on London at different points in his life, starting when he was a boy.  "The Lad Himself -- Age Seven -- DRUNK -- Strongest Plea for Temperance Ever Pictured."  The book became popular with the growing Prohibition movement. 

Actor Hobart Bosworth admired Jack London's writing and formed a company to produce movies based on London's stories and novels. After The Sea Wolf, Bosworth produced John Barleycorn, which was release through Paramount.

Motography - 18-July-1914

Moving Picture World - 04-July-1914
This ad claims that "Wets" (people opposed to Prohibition) tried to pay $25,000 to stop the distribution of the movie.  It reflects the change in distribution from WW Hodkinson to Paramount. 

Moving Picture World - 18-July-1914
Moving Picture World - 18-July-1914

Friday, July 18, 2014

It Ain't No Sin -- July 18, 2014

Film Daily, 06-June-1934.

We just got back from a wonderful vacation in New Orleans.  Mae West wrote a movie called It Ain't No Sin, which was set in New Orleans.  The newly enforced Production Code forced a change of title, to Belle of the Nineties and a reduction, but not elimination, of double entrendres. 

Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra played the house band at the Sensation House in New Orleans. 

Film Daily, 21-September-1934.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Erle Stanley Gardner 125 -- July 17, 2014

125 years ago today, 17-July-1889, author Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Massachusetts.  He went to Palo Alto High School in California.  He got thrown out of law school, so he taught himself the law and passed the California Bar.  He practiced law, but spent much of his time writing for the pulp magazines like Black Mask.  When he created attorney Perry Mason, Gardner could stop practicing the law.  Mason appeared in a series of movies with Warren William in the 1930s, and then the television show with Raymond Burr in the 1950s.  The television show is still in syndication. 

The image is from

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fantômas -- The Iron Man -- July 16, 2014

Moving Picture World 04-July-1912

Fantômas was a popular criminal character who first appeared in a series of French thriller novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre.  In 1913-1914, Louis Feuillade created a 5-part movie serial which was released by the Gaumont Company.  Each episode, was 54-90 minutes, longer than episodes of a typical American serial.  The serial/series was very popular.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Moving Picture World 13-April-1912

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Villa is Getting More Famous Every Day! -- July 15, 2014

Moving Picture World, 18-July-1914

Pancho Villa was a general during the Mexican Revolution.  In 1916 Villa and his troops raided Columbus, New Mexico.  The US Army spent nine months trying to catch him, but never succeeded. 

Before that, Villa had been popular with many in the United States.  The Mutual Film Corporation released The Life of General Villa, a movie that combined documentary footage with reenactments of General Villa's life.  DW Griffth produced from a distance.  Christy Cabanne directed.  Future director Raoul Walsh played Villa as a young man.  Villa received a nice chunk of American money to finance his fight against General Victoriano Huerta, who had staged a military coup, deposing and murdering President Francisco Madero. 

The movie was a success, but is probably lost. 

Moving Picture World, 04-July-1914
"Villa is getting more famous every day!"  "The Mexican War Pictures -- the only authentic ones actually taken under fire -- are in seven full reels, filled with thrilling, throbbing excitement from start to finish." 

In 2003, HBO made a movie about the production of this movie, And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself.  Antonio Banderas played General Villa. 

Moving Picture World, 20-June-1914

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bastille Day, 2014 -- July 14, 2014

In honor of Bastille Day, here is my favorite French actor/singer, Maurice Chevalier, from the March, 1930 New Movie Magazine. I don't know the significance of the pencils in his pocket. 

I have always been fond of the Marx Brothers' routine in Monkey Business when they all tried to pose as Maurice Chevalier. I wanted to be Maurice Chevalier when I grew up.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Snub Pollard -- July 13, 2014

Snub Pollard was born in Australia.  He supported Harold Lloyd in most of his early movies.  Later, producer Hal Roach gave Pollard his own series, where he frequently performed with Marie Mosquini. 

A friend had a Super-8 copy of "It's a Gift," one of Pollard's most popular shorts. 

From the October, 1921 Cine-Mundial

Saturday, July 12, 2014

World Film Corporation -- July 12, 2014

Moving Picture World 18-July-1914

The World Film Corporation was an important early distributor, founded by Lewis J Selznick, father of David and Myron.  It distributed movies produced by Selznick's Equitable Pictures, Jules Brulator's Peerless Pictures, and William A Brady's Shubert Pictures.  World stars included Clara Kimball Young and Lillian Russell.  Frances Marion wrote scripts for World.  An elephant turned up in most of the company's ads. 

The Peerless studio:

Moving Picture World 04-July-1914

Friday, July 11, 2014

Big Six for Pics -- July 11, 2014

Christy Mathewson was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.  He won three games for the New York Giants in the 1905 World Series.  He was widely considered the best human being in baseball.  He served in the army during the First World War and was exposed to gas during a training exercise and developed tuberculosis.  This led to his early death at the age of 45.  He was a member of the first class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

In 1914, Mathewson signed with Universal to do a series of movies.  I don't know how many got produced, and I doubt any still survive. 

Above is an ad from the 25-July-1914 Motography.  Below is an ad from the Moving Picture World of the same date.  Matty Roubert was a popular child actor. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cabiria -- July 10, 2014

Giovanni Pastrone's Italian feature Cabiria was a popular spectacle which influenced filmmakers all over the world, including DW Griffith.  It was set during the Second Punic War.  The image above shows children being sacrificed to Moloch in Carthage.  The movie introduced the strongman character Maciste, who went on to appear in many movies. 

From the 11-July-1914 Motography

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Paramount Program -- July 9, 2014

Paramount Pictures started as a releasing company.  Production companies included Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, which made Mary Pickford's movies, The Jesse L Lasky Feature Play Company, and Bosworth, Inc, which produced movies based on the stories of Jack London.  Notice that Cecil B DeMille, Lasky's primary director, is not mentioned.  From the 25-July-1914 Moving Picture World.  Click on the image to see a larger version. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mozart Theater, Milwaukee -- July 8, 2014

Signs on Milwaukee's Mozart Theater advertise After the Ball, a film starring husband and wife Herbert Kelcey and Effie Shannon.  "Crowd gathered ... at 10:30 P.M. still waiting to see 'After the Ball' the Photo Drama Company's multiple reel feature."  Kelcey and Shannon had appeared on stage together frequently and made one more movie together before he died in 1917.  From the 28-November-1914 Motography