Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Clara Bow Bellisima Interprete de "Ello" -- September 30, 2014

Mensajero Paramount, Mayo 1927

Red haired Clara Bow was probably the most popular silent actress after Mary Pickford. The cover of the Mayo, 1927 Mensajero Paramount advertises her performance in Ello.  This was the Spanish-language title of It.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Big Man in a Big Man's Play -- September 29, 2014

Moving Picture World, 05-September-1914

Cecil B DeMille's first movie, The Squaw Man, was released in February, 1914: http://bigvriotsquad.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-squaw-man-100-february-23-2014.html

In the following months, DeMille kept busy.  In September, the Jesse L Lasky Feature Play Company released, through Paramount, an adaption of Owen Wister's novel The Virginian.  This has been a very popular movie subject.  Dustin Farnum also starred in The Squaw Man

Moving Picture World, 12-September-1914

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Universal City -- September 28, 2014

Moving Picture World, 26-September-1914

In this six-page ad, Universal announced the building of its new studio, Universal City.  Be sure to click on the images to see larger versions. 

Universal's old Los Angeles studio had burned earlier in the year: http://bigvriotsquad.blogspot.com/2014/05/after-recent-fire-may-6-2014.html

"THE UNIVERSAL is now spending A MILLION DOLLARS in the construction of AN ENTIRE CITY -- a City large enough to hold a population of 15,000. A City to be devoted exlusively to the making of Motion Pictures."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An Unusually Realistic Prototype of Hang Town Temperment and History -- September 27, 2014

Moving Picture World, 12-September-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.

Moving Picture World, 12-September-1914

Hang Town is now called Placerville. 

Motography, 05-September-1914

A very similar, almost identical, item appeared in Motography the week before. 

Moving Picture World, 12-September-1914

The Alco Film Corporation often gets blamed for the poor distribution of CMPC movies.  Note that Ethel Barrymore is in the center of the constellation of stars. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Norton Fought Grimly with the Conspirators -- September 26, 2014

Motography, 12-September-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, 12-September-1914

"Norton fought grimly with the conspirators."

Motography, 12-September-1914

"Florence hears the plot to kill Norton." 

Motography, 26-September-1914

"Packed houses is the record..."  That doesn't sound right. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chronophotography, Part One -- September 25, 2014

An excerpt from "Chronophotography" from Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography, edited by Albert Allis Hopkins.  We will learn more about Étienne-Jules Marey in Part Two. 

Instantaneous photography has been of the greatest possible use to science, especially that branch of it which has been termed "chronophotography." It is to the investigations of Mr. Muybridge and M. Marey that we are indebted for the most valuable researches on the subject. Chronophotography consists in taking a number of photographs of any object at short and regular intervals of time. This is accomplished in many ways, and results obtained are useful for many purposes. The graphic method has been of great service in almost every branch of science, and laborious statistics obtained by computation have been replaced by diagrams in which the variation of a curve expresses in the most striking manner the various phases of some patiently observed phenomena. Furthermore, by the methods of modern science, a recording apparatus has been devised which, working automatically, traces the curves of such physical or physiological events which, by reason of their slowness, feebleness, or their speed, would otherwise be inaccessible to observation. The development of these methods of analyzing movement by photography have enabled the researches of physiological laboratories to become of the greatest possible value. The matter in this chapter is very largely an abstract of M. Marey's researches, which were originally published in "La Nature" and their publication in the "Scientific American Supplement" extended over a period of several years. Subsequent to this publication M. Marey wrote a book called "Le Mouvement,""which has been translated by Mr. Eric Pritchard under the title of "Movement." It is published in the International Scientific Series; and for a more extensive and scientific treatment of the subject than we are able to give here, we refer our readers to this excellent work. M. Marey describes the rudiments of chronography by supposing we take a strip of paper which is made to travel by clockwork at a uniform rate. A pen affixed above the paper marks, as it rises and falls alternately, the various periods and intervals. When the pen comes in contact with the paper it leaves a record in the form of dashes of different lengths at varying intervals. If the dashes should be equidistant it shows that the periods of contact follow one another at equal intervals of time. Now, as it is known that the speed at which the paper travels is so many inches or feet per second, it is an easy matter to obtain an accurate measurement of the duration of contact and of the intervals between. In brief, this is the principle of chronography. Chronophotography is simply an amplification of this system and has many advantages, rendering measurements possible where the moving body is inaccessible. In other words, there need be no material limit between the visible point and the sensitized plate.

Mr. Muybridge's experiments on the gaits of the horse are famous. He used a battery of cameras as shown in our first engraving. Some of the results obtained are shown in Fig. 2.

On the left is the reflecting screen against which the animal appeared en silhouette. On the right is the series of photographic apparatus, of which each one took an image.

In Mr. Muybridge's arrangement, photographic instruments faced a white screen before which passed an animal walking, trotting, or galloping. As fast as the animal advanced, the shutters of the lenses opened and permitted the taking of negatives of the animal. These were, of course, different from each other, because they were taken in succession. They therefore showed the animal in the various attitudes he assumed at different instants during his passage across the field covered by the instruments. The dazzling white light brought out en silhouette the body of the animal. Each shutter is actuated by a powerful spring; the shutter is opened as the animal advances. Threads may be observed across the road; the animal, breaking these threads one after the other, opens the shutters. Mr. Muybridge varied his experiments most successfully. He studied the gaits of different animals, and those of men in jumping, vaulting, and in the handling of various utensils. But since this time the progress of photographic chemistry has wonderfully increased the sensibility of the plates, and at the present day more than mere silhouettes of moving animals and men can be obtained. In a good light full images with all desired relief can be obtained. For example, if an athlete in motion is photographed, all of the muscles of the body are perfectly traced in relief, indicating the parts taken by each of them in the movement executed. The methods used by Mr. Muybridge would always suffice to illustrate the successive phases of the displacement of the members if they were taken at equal intervals of time, but the arrangements adapted for bringing about the formation of the successive phases cause irregularity in the extent of these intervals. The threads give more or less before breaking; moreover, the progress of the horse is not at an even rate of speed. Nevertheless, Mr. Muybridge endeavored to develop from a series of images the trajectory of each leg of a horse, but the curves obtained in these laborious attempts had not sufficient precision.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's a Knockout! -- September 24, 2014

Movie Makers, February, 1948

Wilco Photo Products offered films of the second fight between heavyweight champ Joe Louis and challenger Jersey Joe Walcott.  Walcott had lost a controversial decision in late 1947, so they founght again on 25-June-1948.  Jersey Joe danced and avoided many of Louis' punches, but Joe Louis caught up with him in the 11th round for a KO.  Louis announced his retirement after the fight.  It didn't last.  Walcott later defeated Ezzard Charles to win the heavyweight championship. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The "Mutograph" and "Mutoscope" -- September 23, 2014

"The 'Mutograph' and 'Mutoscope'" from Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography, edited by Albert Allis Hopkins.

The "mutograph" and "mutoscope" are names of very interesting machines for presenting moving photographs. The camera frame is mounted, by means of three adjustable legs, upon a triangular turntable, which may be placed upon any suitable support. Upon the top of the frame is bolted a two horse-power electric motor which is driven by a set of storage batteries; the combination of the turntable with a vertical adjustable enables the camera to be shifted so as to take in the required field. In the front of the camera is fixed a lens of great light-gathering quality which produces an image of exceedingly clear detail. Inside the camera is a strip of gelatine film two and three-quarter inches wide, and usually about one hundred and sixty feet in length, which is wound upon a small pulley and drum. The length of the film varies for different subjects. In case of a prolonged scene it may extend several thousand feet. The film is led through a series of rollers, and is caused to pass directly behind the lens of the camera, and is finally wound upon a drum. The object of the rollers is to cause the film to pass behind the lens with an intermittent instead of a continuous motion. At ordinary speeds this could be easily accomplished, but the difficulties are increased when it is remembered that the impressions are taken at the rate of forty per second, and that the film, which is running at the rate of seven or eight feet a second, has to be stopped and started with equal frequency. The film comes to a rest just as the shutter opens, and starts again as the shutter closes. The impressions vary in actual exposure between one one-hundredth and one four-hundredth of a second. While the ordinary speed is forty a second, the mutoscope can take equally good pictures at the rate of one hundred per second, if it is necessary. The highest speed would be used in photographing the flight of a projectile or other object which was in extremely rapid motion. After the mutograph has done its work, the films are carefully packed and sent to the New York establishment of the American Mutoscope Company. Here they are taken to the dark room, the interior of which is shown in our engraving. Arranged along each side of this room is a series of troughs, above which are suspended large skeleton reels three feet in diameter and seven feet long, the axes of the reels being journaled in brackets attached to the end of the trough. The films are wound upon the reels and subjected to the action of the various solutions for developing, fixing, etc., the reels being transferred from bath to bath until the films are ready to go to the drying-room. In this room are also prepared positive transparent strips for use in the biograph and the bromide prints for the mutoscope.

The films are unwound on to large wooden drums about the same size as the reels, where they are carefully dried. At the far end of the room are seen the machines for cutting up the bromide prints. Here also is carried on the work of retouching the films and preparing them for use in the biograph and mutoscope pictures. The biograph is somewhat similar to machines which we have aready described.

The annexed engravings show pictures of clay-pigeon shooting and of the firing of a ten-inch disappearing gun at Sandy Hook.

Upon the roof of the New York establishment of the company there has been erected a large movable stage for taking photographs of celebrated scenes from plays or of individual performances in which it is desired to reproduce the motions as well as the features of the subject. It consists of a floor of steel I-beams which carries a series of three concentric steel traps. Upon this rotates the massive frame at one end of which is a stage supplied with the necessary scenery, and at the other end a corrugated iron house, in which is located the mutograph. The stage is bolted to the frame, but the house travels upon a track, so that it may be moved to or from the stage as required. The frame carrying the stage and house rotates about the smaller circular track located beneath the house, and may be swung around so as to throw the light full upon the scene at any hour of the day.

The "mutoscope" is compact, and the picture are large. It is not any larger than the cover of a sewing machine. The enlarged bromide prints, measuring four by six inches, are mounted in close consecutive order around the cylinder and extend out like the leaves of a book, as shown in the illustration. In the operation of the mutoscope the spectator has the performance entirely under his own control by turning a crank which is placed conveniently at hand, and may make the operation as quick or as slow as he desires, and can stop the machine at any particular picture at will.  Each picture is momentarily held in front of the lens by the action of a slot attached to the roof of the box, which allows the pictures to slip by in much the same way as the thumb is used upon the leaves of a book.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grauman's Chinese #38 -- September 22, 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.

 Betty Grable left her hand and leg prints in the forecourt on 15-February-1943.  She included the initials of the Army, the Navy and the Marine Corps.  This was before the Air Force became independent.  Betty Grable appeared in a lot of Technicolor musicals for 20th Century-Fox.  She was famous for her legs.  She had been forgotten by many people. 


This is the last entry in this series.  I think I'll start over again because until I moved to this new site, I didn't include other photos, like these of Betty Grable. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Weird and Spectacular Modern Drama -- September 21, 2014

Moving Picture World, 19-December-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. Looking to change their luck, they made a movie out of L Frank Baum's 1908 adventure novel, which had been published anonymously, The Last Egyptian.  It was done in the style of H Ryder Haggard.  Three of the five reels survive at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

That is Where the Film Leaves One Gasping for Breath -- September 20, 2014

Motography, 05-September-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.

The reviewer particularly admired the cliffhanger in Episode 12. 

Motography, 19-September-1914
This Eclectic Film Company ad describes a five reel feature, The Perils of Pauline, and a Max Linder split reel comedy. 

Motography, 19-September-1914
In Episode 13, Pauline gets kidnapped again and has to jump off a clip to escape. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Land of Hope -- September 19, 2014

Exhibitors' Herald, 28-May-1921

Today I am speaking to the Junior High kids at Good Shepherd School, Pacifica about the subject of the Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest, "A Child's Journey Through Ellis Island."

Alice Brady was the daughter of theatrical impresario (great word) William A Brady.  She was a popular actress in silent and sound films.  She played Carole Lombard's mother in My Man Godfrey.  In the lost film The Land of Hope, she played a Russian immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The War of Wars -- September 18, 2014

Motography, September 5, 1914

Ramo Films, Inc presented The War of Wars, a movie intended to represent the Germans' violation of Belgium.  "...the events which it relates in dramatic form are those which have actually happened since the beginning of hostilities." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whoopee!!!! Tom Mix -- Septebmer 17, 2014

Tom Mix had been away from movies during the transition from silents to sound, but Universal was happy to announce, in the 17-June-1931 Moving Picture Daily, that they had signed the "undisputed King of Western Stars and 'Tony' his Wonder Horse." 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Martin Eden and Burning Daylight -- September 16, 2014

Moving Picture World, 05-September-1914

Actor Hobart Bosworth admired Jack London's writing and formed a company to produce movies based on London's stories and novels.

I first read Martin Eden one summer while I was in high school.  London's description of working conditions during the Gilded Age made a large impression on me.  Martin Eden shares many of Jack London's traits, as a self-taught man who pulled himself from the bottom to the top.  I have never seen any of the film or television adaptions. 

Moving Picture World, 19-September-1914
Jack London published Burning Daylight in 1910 and it was his biggest seller while he lived.  I have not read the book, but I use the phrase a lot.  It is another story based on London's time in the Klondike.  Has anyone seen the 2010 version? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Trip Thru Barbarous Mexico -- September 15, 2014

Moving Picture World, 13-March-1913

The Mexican Revolution was a hot subject for US films.  Here we have an ad for Barbarous Mexico, a five reel feature.  The title gives an idea of the feeling many people in the US had towards Mexico and its people.  "A Five Reel Production Featuring the Peasant Revolution." 

"Madero versus Diaz."  Francisco Madero, a democrat who fought for social justice, was a leader of the revolution, who was elected President after hated dictator Porfirio Diaz resigned and fled in 1911.  In February, 1913, General Victoriano Huerta led a military coup.  Madero was deposed and then assassinated.  I think I remember more than one movie where the characters would say Huerta's name then spit.  The only movie I could find in a quick Google search was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I believe there are others.