Sunday, November 30, 2014

Clara Bow #22 -- November 30, 2014

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford.  I couldn't find a Thanksgiving-related photo, so I thought this would do. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Clansman Completed -- November 29, 2014

Motography, 21-November-1914

100 years ago this month, DW Griffith completed The Clansman, which later became known as Birth of a Nation.  This movie is still controversial. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

News of the Week 28-November-1914 -- November 28, 2014

The 21-November-1914 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels.

"British troops gathering at St. Albans, England to resist possible invasion.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  There was fear of an invasion early in the war, but the great strength of the Royal Navy made anything more than raids unlikely. 

"The Kronprinzessin Cecilie held in Boston harbor to escape capture by British.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie sailed for North German Lloyd between Bremen and New York.  She was on her way to Germany from the United States when the war started.  She turned back to America.  After the US entered the war, the government commandeered her to use as a troop ship and renamed her Mount Vernon. 

"Celebrating Trafalgar Day in England.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Animated Weekly."  Trafalgar Day, October 21, celebrates Admiral Horatio Nelson's 1805 victory over the French and Spanish fleets. 

"Salvation Army, in Boston, making bandages for Europe's wounded.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  During the war, making bandages was an important act. 

"Belgian troops advancing to the Yser to meet Germans.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The Belgians did what they could to resist the German invasion. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 -- November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I'm grateful for health and life, my family, and my coworkers.

Actress Barbara Kent, who lived until 2011, had a career that spanned the transition from silent movies to talkies.  She starred in Harold Lloyd's first two talkies, Welcome Danger and Feet First

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Richard Widmark 100 -- December 26. 2014

Actor Richard Widmark was born 100 years ago today, on 26-December-1914.  He made a big impression playing Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death, his first movie.  Udo giggled while shoving an old lady in a wheelchair down a stairway. 

Widmark was typecast in antisocial roles for many years, such as the pickpocket Skip McCoy in Pickup on South Street.  Later he played heroes. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

$1 Million Dollar Mystery Ends -- November 25, 2014

Motography, 07-November-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, 21-November-1914
All Star Productions
Meet With the
Approval of
-- Everybody
-- Everywhere
-- Everytime"

Motography, 28-November-1914
Episode 22 would be the last of The Million Dollar Mystery until a later date.  "Episode number twenty-three, which contains the solution of the mystery, will be released at a date to be announced later, and will be made from the best solution submitted by those who have seen the pictures."  The winner would receive a $10,000 prize. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chronophotography, Part 3 -- November 24, 2014

An excerpt from "Chronophotography" from Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography, edited by Albert Allis Hopkins.  We learned about Eadweard Muybridge in Part One:

We learned about Étienne-Jules Marey and other French experimenters in Part Two:

I may decide to do a Part Four, about an amateur chronophotographic apparatus. 

Be sure to click on the images to see larger versions. 

The analysis of locomotion in water is one of the most interesting developments of chronophotography. In order to study locomotion in water it was necessary to modify the method. The animals experimented with swam in a glass-sided aquarium fitted in an aperture in a wall, as shown in our engraving. The aquarium was directly illuminated by the light of the horizon, forming a very clear field upon which the animals were outlined as silhouettes. Sometimes the external glass of the aquarium was covered by letting down an opaque shutter; then, upon opening another shutter, placed above the water, the brightly illuminated animals were seen standing out from the black field. In most cases it was found necessary to operate before the luminous ground, so it was not possible to receive several successive images upon a removable plate, but it was necessary to cause the sensitized surface to move by starts, so as to bring before the objective points which were always new for each new image that is to be formed. A flexible gelatino-bromide-of-silver film was used. The film was cut into a long and narrow strip which in the camera passed along at the focus of the objective, and unwound from a supply bobbin, and wound around a receiving one.

The objective turned toward the right has a slit in the center for the passage of the diaphragm which, in revolving, allows the light to pass intermittingly. When the small diaphragm makes one revolution the large one makes five revolutions, and it is then only that the apertures meet and the light passes. The bellows behind the objective allows the light to reach the sensitized film. The box is, of course, tightly closed. The focusing is done by means of a small telescope or spy glass. It is necessary at each new experiment to use a new band of film, and the substitution of rolls of films is effected in the light by means of bobbins upon which the film is rolled.

At the extremity of each band of film are glued paper bands of the same width. One of these prolongations is red and the other is black. Each of them is about twenty inches in length. Having the two colors makes it almost impossible to re-expose a film, as one is not liable to confound a bobbin which has been used with one that has not, the color of the roll being different. Special devices are employed in the camera to render the film immovable for an instant while it receives the impression from the object. Arrangements are also provided for obtaining a uniform velocity. The use of the apparatus which we have just described permitted of seeing with what a variety of means of locomotion the various kinds of aquatic animals—fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, etc.—propel themselves. The motion of the medusa is particularly interesting, and the phases of the movement of the umbrella are shown in Fig. 26. The propulsion of this mollusk is effected through the alternate contraction and dilation of its umbrella. Ten images per second were sufficient to obtain a pretty complete series of the phases of this motion. These images gain much by being examined in the zoetrope, wherein they reproduce with absolute perfection the aspect of the animal in motion.

The hippocampus, which is otherwise known as the "sea-horse," affords another interesting example of aquatic locomotion. The principal propeller of this animal is a dorsal fin which vibrates with such rapidity that it is almost invisible, and has an appearance analogous to that of the branches of a tuning fork in motion. With twenty images per second it is seen that this vibration is undulatory. We have before us the successive deviations of the lower, middle, and upper rays of the film. In the present case the undulation takes place from the bottom upwards.

The comatula is habitually fixed to the bottom of the aquarium, just as a plant is fixed to the earth by its roots. It therefore makes nothing but vague motions of the arm, which it rolls up and unrolls; but if the animal be excited by the means of a rod, it will be observed to begin a strange motion which carries it quite a distance. In this kind of locomotion the ten arms move alternately; five of them rise and keep tightly pressed against the calyx, and the other five descend and separate from it. Upon the arms that rise, the cirri are invisible, and while upon those that descend, they diverge in order to obtain a purchase upon the water. These motions of the cirri seem passive, like those of a valve that obeys the thrust of a liquid.

M. Marey says: "I hare obtained images of a certain number of other aquatic species, the swimming of the eel, the skate, etc. These types of locomotion ought to be studied methodically, compared with each other, and considered in their relations with the conformation of the different species. It will, I hope, be a new element for the interpretation of the laws of animal morphology, which are very obscure."

M. Marey has also investigated the flight of insects by means of chronophotography. These experiments are most delicate and interesting, and the results obtained go a long way towards making up a satisfactory theory of insect life. M. Marey says that the wing in its to-and-fro movements is bent in various directions by the resistance of the air. Its action is always that of an inclined plane striking against the fluid, and utilizing that part of the resistance which is favorable to its onward progression. This mechanism is the same as that of a waterman's scull (reference of course being to "sea sculling" and not to "river sculling"), which, as it moves backward and forward, is obliquely inclined in opposite directions, each time communicating an impulse to the boat. There is, however, a difference between these two methods of propulsion. The scull used by the waterman offers a rigid resistance to the water, and the operator has to impart alternate rotary movements to the scull by his hand—at the same time taking care that the scull strikes the water at a favorable slant. The mechanism in the case of the insect's wing is far simpler. The flexible membrane which constitutes the anterior part of the wing presents a rigid border which enables the wing to incline itself at the most favorable angle. The muscles only maintain a to-and-fro movement. The resistance to the air does the rest, namely, effects those changes in surface obliquity which determine the formation of an 8-shaped trajectory by the extremity of the wing.

M. Marey states that he succeeded in obtaining a photograph of the gilded wing of an insect, which, though not absolutely at liberty, could fly at a comparatively high rate of speed. The photographs of the trajectory of the wing of an insect are very interesting. A wooden box was lined throughout with black velvet. The bottom of the box, a simple disk supported by a foot piece, was placed in position; the periphery of the space was covered with a white material, leaving between it and the central disk an annular track covered with black velvet. It was around this annular track the insect was made to fly. A needle stuck in the middle of the disk served as an axis for a revolving beam and its counterbalance. This beam consisted of a straw, and at the end of it was fixed a light pair of forceps to hold the insect. The dragon fly commenced flying around the track at a very rapid rate, drawing the straw after it. The gold spangles passing through his wings described a trajectory which was easily photographed.

The chronophotography of insects by the use of it moving film has been also accomplished by means of very ingenious apparatus. In some cases the insects were held in forceps, and in other cases they were allowed free flight in a cardboard box.

"Comparative locomotion," which is rendered possible by chronophotography, might almost be called a new science. It is, at any rate, an important adjunct to the studies of the zoologist. The researches of M. Marey upon the different terrestrial mammals, birds, tortoises, lizards, frogs, toads, tadpoles, snails, eels, fish, insects, and arachnids are of the greatest possible value and interest. The applications of chronophotography to experimental physiology are numerous. It supplements the information obtained by the graphic methods. It has rendered possible the photography of the successive phases of cardiac action in a tortoise under condition of artificial circulation. The mechanism of cardiac pulsation has also been studied by its means, as well as the determination of the centers of movements in joints.

It has been found that chronophotography could be applied not only to objects of considerable size, but to those of microscopic size as well. Special arrangements of apparatus are necessary for this purpose. By its means the retraction of the spiral stalks in vorticellas, the movement of the blood in capillary vessels, and the movements of the zoospores in the cells of conferva have been determined.

The great value of chronophotography is unquestionable for use in every case where the body whose rapid changes of position or form we wish to know is inaccessible to us, or its movements cannot be mechanically traced.

Chronophotography has been used in France for studies touching the military art, being employed for registering the firing of projectiles having a relatively slow motion, such as the explosion of stationary torpedoes, the recoil of guns, the motion of automobile torpedoes, etc. Special arrangements are provided to permit of electrically controlling the phenomenon to be photographed. The apparatus is described in detail in the " Scientific American Supplement," No. 743.

We present a diagram showing the results obtained by photographing the firing of torpedoes. Although the velocity of these projectiles is not very great, about sixty feet per second, it is yet very difficult for the eye to take exact account of what is occurring during the launching. As the net cost of a torpedo is considerable, it is essential that the conditions which influence the regularity of its submarine flight shall be known with precision. If it inclines in front more or less in plunging, the regularity of its running will be put to hazard; if, on the contrary, it falls flat upon the water, the results will be very different. Our engraving shows the torpedo starting from the tube and traversing the different panels in the field of firing. In the first half the torpedo, gradually inclining, falls point foremost; it has been badly fired. In the second series, on the contrary, the torpedo is maintaining itself horizontally, and, in a manner, moving always parallel with itself. Under such circumstances it falls flat and starts off normally and regularly to the object to be reached. This shows the great utility of chronophotography.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This Special Shows all the Law Allows -- November 23, 2014

Film Daily, 26-September-1926

Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler, defended his title against former Light Heavyweight champ Gene Tunney, the Fighting Marine, on 23-September-1926 in Philadelphia.  Tunney was the underdog, but Dempsey, who had not fought in three years, lost a unanimous decision in ten rounds.  This was a big upset.  After the fight, Dempsey told his wife, actress Estelle Taylor, "Honey, I forgot to duck." 

The interstate transportation of fight films was illegal from 1912 until 1940, so this Pathé News production showed events before and after the fight.

Dempsey and Tunney fought again in 1927.  More on that later. 

Dempsey and Tunney later became friends.  When Gene's son John Tunney ran for the US Senate in California, against tap dancer George Murphy, Dempsey campaigned for him. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mike Nichols, RIP -- November 22, 2014
When I was a kid, there were radio shows dedicated to comedy.  They played a lot of Tom Lehrer and some Bill Cosby and a lot of Mike Nichols and Elaine May.  I liked their delivery, but I didn't understand a lot of their humor till I got older.  Then I learned that the team had broken up years before and that he had become a director.  She had become a writer and director too, but I didn't see any of her work till later. 

Nichols directed all sorts of movies in all sorts of genres.  I didn't understand Catch-22 till I read the Mad Magazine version.  I didn't see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? till I was older.  I didn't understand a lot of The Graduate till I got older.  Angels in America was my favorite recent work. 

I never got to see any of the plays he directed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

News of the Week 21-November-1914 - November 21, 2014

The 21-November-1914 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels. 

"U.S. Battleship New York passing under Brooklyn Bridge after making speed trial.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Film Mfg. Co."  USS New York (BB-34) served in both World Wars. 

"Loading J. D. Rockefeller's chartered steamer for Belgians' relief.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  After the German invasion, the people of occupied Belgium were starving.  Many Americans tried to provide relief. 

"French troops going to the front.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  You can't see it in the photo, but their trousers would have been bright red and their coats would have been blue. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wanted, 10 Mutoscopes -- November 20, 2014

New York Clipper, 28-March-1903

Mr CW Parker of Abilene, Kansas was looking for "10 Mutoscopes of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co.'s Make, One Sleeping Car and One Ten Cent in the Slot Tin Type Photograph Machine."  Setting up a traveling carnival?  Amusement machines were a big deal in 1903. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Norman Lloyd 100 -- November 19, 2014

I keep forgetting to mention that Norman Lloyd was born 100 years ago, on 08-November-1914, and he is still with us.  I remember when Saint Elsewhere began its run on television and I realized that the kindly old doctor had also been in Saboteur and Limelight.  I imagine there is only a limited set of people who worked with both Alfred Hitchcock and Charley Chaplin and a much smaller set of those people who are still alive. 

Lloyd was put on the Hollywood blacklist, but Hitchcock had enough influence to get him off of it.   Lloyd was associate producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and he directed many episodes. 

His character in Saboteur was named Frank Fry.  What a great name for an arsonist.  And what a wonderful exit. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grauman's Chinese -- Douglas Fairbanks -- November 18, 2014

I recently finished my series of photos taken at Grauman's Chinese. I started it on my other blog in 2009-2010, then picked it up again after a visit in 2012 ( I moved it here when I started this blog in 2014, and finished it two months ago. Last month I thought I would start rerunning the series, adding photos of the people and animals who left their hand/foot/nose/profile/leg/hoof prints in the concrete.

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. 

Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks were the first people to leave hand and footprints in the forecourt of Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, on 30-April-1927. No one was paying attention to Miss Pickford, but some people were looking at Doug, perhaps thinking about Hedley LaMarr's last words in Blazing Saddles. DSCN4144.

One of his best-remembered movies is The Thief of Baghdad

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tillie's Punctured Romance -- November 17, 2014

Motography, 14-November-1914

100 years ago, the Keystone Film Company offered states rights to its first feature production, Tillie's Punctured Romance.  Note that star Marie Dressler was billed above Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett. 

Some sources claim that Tillie's Punctured Romance is the first feature-length slapstick comedy, or even the first feature-length comedy.  I don't know if that is true, but it is certainly the first one to be a big success.  Marie Dressler was a comic star in vaudeville and Broadway.  She starred in Tillie's Nightmare on Broadway.  Tillie's Punctured Romance is loosely based on the play. 

Motography, 14-November-1914

"Up to the present time multiple reel comedies of three reels or more have been more or less experiments, and , in the majority of cases, absolute failures..."  "It is the 'Cabiria' of comedy."  "She is supported by the well-known Keystone pair, Mabel Normand and Charles Chaplin.  To the latter falls the greater part of the action, and there is probably no one on the screen better able to give it a comedy twist than this inimitable comic." 

If you would like to see the movie, there are many poor-quality version available.  It has recently been restored.  I want to see that version. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dog Stars in "Pauline" Film -- November 16, 2014

Motography, 14-November-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 had been translated into French, then translated back into English. A dog, whose name is not mentioned in the article, was key to the plot of the 17th episode. 

Motography, 07-November-1914

Paul Panzer, who played the wicked villain, was a reservist in the German artillery.  In the case of many German-Americans, the German government expected them to come back to serve in World War One.  Panzer's two brothers were fighting and he was the sole support of his mother, so he had an exemption.  "The German consul-general has thus saved 'poor Pauline' from an untimely and premature death." 

Motography, 14-November-1914
The Eclectic Film Company announced that Pauline would end with its 20th episode.  "'The Perils of Pauline' has been extraordinarily successful and the demand for it is holding strong to the very end." 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Comin' at Yuh! -- Tom Mix -- 15-November-2014

Moving Picture Daily, 27-June-1931

Tom Mix had been away from movies during the transition from silents to sound, but Universal was happy to announce, in the 27-June-1931 Moving Picture Daily, that Rom Mix and and Tony his Wonder Horse were "Comin' at yuh!" "in 6 big Westerns." 

Friday, November 14, 2014

News of the Week 14-November-1914 - November 14, 2014

The 14-November-1914 Motography featured "News of the Week as Shown in Films," with items from current newsreels. 

"The Belgian retreat from Antwerp.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial." The war began when the Germans violated the neutrality of Belgium by invading that country on their way to invade France.

"Belgians in armored auto returning with war trophies.  Copyrighted 1914 by Universal Film Mfg. Co." The Italians had used armored cars in the 1911-1912 war with the Turks, but the Belgians were the first to use them during World War One. This may be one of their improvised Minerva Armored Cars.

"Fifty lives lost in mine disaster at Royalton, Ill.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  Fifty-one miners died when Franklin Coal and Coke's North Mine exploded. 

"England's prisoners of war at Detention Camp, near Aldershot.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."Aldershot, a major center of the British Army, housed German POWs during the war. 

"Buying horses in New York for the Allies' armies.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  The British, French and Russians purchased many horses in America.  Armies in World War One depended on horses for pulling wagons and artillery.

"Arrival of English wounded at West Ham Hospital.  Copyrighted 1914 by Hearst-Selig News Pictorial."  West Ham was a borough of London. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Indian Wars Refought by United States Army -- November 13, 2014

Moving Picture World, 14-Nobember-1914

Both Colonel William F Cody (Buffalo Bill) and General Nelson A Miles had served in the Civil War and the Indian Wars.  Both men won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The Colonel William F Cody (Buffalo Bill) Historical Pictures Company produced a six-reel feature about the Indian Wars.  It featured the two men and "One Thousand Indians, Many Famous Chiefs and 1000 U. S. Troops."  I suspect it is lost. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Cream of Mirth Provokers -- November 12, 2014

Moving Picture News, 14-November-1914
In his wonderful book The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr suggested that Lloyd Hamilton was one of the great silent comics whose reputation has diminished. This is because many of the solo movies Hamilton made for Educational during the 1920s are lost. Perhaps this is also because he was not able to succeed as a star in feature films.

This ad for his earlier movies with Kalem promises that their comedies would be without vulgarity.  Hamilton's Ham and Bud comedies, with Bud Dancan were actually very rough and very vulgar. 

Marshall "Mickey" Neilan, who had been an actor, became a director at Kalem.  By the later teens, he was considered an important director. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remember My Forgotten Man -- November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day, everyone.  "Remember My Forgotten Man" from Mervyn LeRoy and Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers of 1933 reminds us that we need to remember the men and women who have given a part of their lives, and sometimes their lives, to their country.  Joan Blondell, one of my favorites, lead the ensemble in a powerful number.   Etta Moten was the African American contralto. She later played the lead role in Porgy and Bess.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Famous Gish Sisters -- November 10, 2014

Moving Picture World, 07-November-1914

After leaving the Biograph, DW Griffith formed Reliance-Majestic with Harry Aiken. Griffith brought along most of his Biograph stock company, including Lillian Gish, "the most beautiful actress in America."

Moving Picture World, 07-November-1914

Lillian Gish "has been absent from Majestic features for two months, having been engaged during that itme in playing a leading part in Mr. Griffith's special production of The Clansman.  She will now appear regularly in Majestic releases." 

Moving Picture World, 14-November-1914

I have mentioned before that I really like this photo of Blanche Sweet. 

Moving Picture World, 14-November-1914
The only member of the "Famous Authors Whose Stories are Filmed By The Majestic Motion Picture Co." may be O Henry. 

Moving Picture World, 28-November-1914

"The Famous Gish Sisters -- Lillian and Dorothy -- Appearing together for the first time in a Majestic release."  Appropriately, it was called "The Sisters."