Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pearl White -- She is in a Class by Herself -- August 31, 2017

Motography, 04-August-1917
Pearl White starred in her eighth Pathé serial, The Fatal Ring.  Actor Warner Oland played a villain.

Motion Picture News, 07-July-1917

The Serial Squadron has assembled the few surviving clips.  They are exciting.
Moving Picture World, 28-July-1917
"Miss White as a summer attraction is in a class by herself.  She will fill your house on the hottest days."  This was before air conditioning.

Moving Picture World, 11-August-1917
I like this photo of Pearl White. 

Moving Picture World, 18-August-1917

"Every serial Miss White has starred in has been a huge success." 

Moving Picture World, 25-August-1917
"Thirty-six theaters in Cincinnati have booked The Fatal Ring with Pearl White."  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

His Wedding Night -- August 29, 2017

Moving Picture World, 11-August-1917
Roscoe Arbuckle appeared with his nephew Al St John and his friend Buster Keaton in "His Wedding Night," a Comique production released by Paramount.

Moving Picture World, 25-August-1917
This is the first Comique ad I could find where Buster Keaton appears.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Mutoscope and Machinery in Motion -- August 27, 2017

Scientific American, 30-March-1901

it does not often happen that a device, which was originally designed as a mere toy, becomes an instrument of practical utility in the great world of commerce. Occasionally it does, as in the case of the bicycle, which, in the form of its natural ancestor, the “hobbyhorse," was a toy of the most rudimentary description, but in its modern development is a machine of the highest general utility.

It is the purpose of the present article to describe an instrument which is undergoing a similar change by enlarging its field of usefulness from that of a mere instrument of entertainment to one of commercial utility. Our readers are familiar with the mutoscope, which has been aptly described as “the little brother of the biograph." it is a simple and ingenious contrivance for the exhibition in a cabinet of the same moving pictures that the larger machine throws life-size upon a screen. It is not necessary to give here any detailed account of this well-known machine, and those who wish to learn fully about the construction and operation of the biograph and an earlier form of the mutoscope are referred to the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN of April 17, 1897, which contains a fully illustrated article on the subject.

Now, the art of moving photography, as we have said, has hitherto been solely devoted to the purposes of entertainment. In the case of the biograph, the subject is thrown upon a large screen hung on the stage of the theater, and in the mutoscope the photographs are set up in circular book form, within a suitable box or case, and successively tripped before the eye by means of a hand-crank or electric motor. In each case the subjects chosen for exhibition have usually been selected for their scenic or spectacular effect, and with certainly no thought to their commercial utility.

It was inevitable, however, that the great possibilities of this little machine in a commercial or industrial way should early suggest themselves. If it is possible to reproduce a train in motion, to catch the discharge of a rifled gun at Sandy Hook, or the rush of the whirlpool rapids at Niagara, why should not the mutoscope be harnessed to the service of industry, and made to show machinery in motion and recall to prospective purchasers the operation of complicated devices? There is an old saying that “seeing is believing," and while a good line drawing, or a judiciously taken photograph, will do much to bring a subject before the mind, the actual movement is lacking and may very easily be misunderstood. At present there is an endless number of commodities that cannot be sold from samples; such, for instance, as locomotives, cars, derricks, pile-drivers, and all heavy machinery, revolving doors, tire-escapes and extinguishers, blasting powder and an ever-increasing list of etceteras. Some of these devices are portable; but it is not enough to show them to the prospective customer—he must see how they work. This, however, if often impossible, for the man with a fire extinguisher or escape cannot start a blaze to order, nor can a blast of giant powder be set off at the nearest street corner to demonstrate its disruptive value. Moreover, there are many large operations, such as systems of transportation of the raw materials from mines to mills and factories, of which no mere verbal or written description conveys an adequate idea, and for which some system of continuous illustration is necessary to render it intelligible. With a view to enabling the inventor, the promoter, or the salesman, to show, as well as explain, the operation of devices which are too elaborate or too cumbersome to admit of a model or a portable sample being carried round, the makers of the biograph and mutoscope have produced the compact instrument shown in the accompanying illustrations, to which they have given the self-explanatory name of “Commercial Mutoscope." It will be recognized as an improved slot-machine mutoscope, with the stand and slot-mechanism removed, and its bulk and weight so reduced that it is as conveniently portable as a photographer's camera, or an ordinary sample case.

Of our illustrations, one shows the cabinet open, with the circular book of photographs removed, and another represents the mutoscope in operation, and also closed with the mirror and turning-crank removed. The photographs of objects in motion are taken upon a moving film at the rate of forty per second. These are reproduced upon cards which are mounted radially in consecutive order around a hollow cylinder, and stand out like the leaves of a book (see illustration). The cylindrical book is placed upon a small shaft arranged centrally and transversely within the cabinet. On the same shaft is mounted a worm wheel, which is engaged by a worm on a shaft that is carried near the right-hand wall of the mutoscope. When the cylinder is slowly revolved. the picture-cards being held back by a stop, (carried in the position shown), and allowed to sweep past the eye one by one, as one thumbs the leaves of a book, an apparently moving picture is the result, and the exact motions of the device are reproduced. One great advantage is the ability of the operator to vary the speed; for he may make the operation quick or slow as he desires, either maintaining the normal speed at which the original demonstration took place, or stopping the spectacle at any point in the series, so as to inspect each picture step by step at his leisure. The case containing the mutoscope is hinged at its forward end to a base plate, and by means of a vertical rack extending from the front end of the box the machine may hr inclined to suit the convenience of the user.

As an instrument for the exploitation of newly patented inventions, this machine should have a wide field of usefulness. We present a series of three pictures of a new style of car-fender. Life-size dummies of children were placed in front of a moving car and the biograph camera took a roll of pictures (from which these three were selected) as the fender successfully picked up the objects. Another group of pictures shows a woman in the act of unrolling a reel of hose and throwing a stream of water into a blazing cottage. There are on view at the office of the Mutoscope Company series of pictures showing the operation of heavy machinery, cars, etc. One of the best of these represents a well-known hoisting and conveying machine in operation. It can be understood that in commending this machine to the favorable consideration of the manager of a railroad, or a steamship company, the vendor would be at an immense advantage if he could place his mutoscope cabinet on the desk and let the official take the crank in his own hand and vary the “ocular demonstration" to suit his own idiosyncrasies.

We are indebted for our photographs and information to the courtesy of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company of 841 Broadway, New York, whose studio and factory afford impressive evidence of the growth and future promise of the essentially modern art of moving photography.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Diamond Theater, New Orleans, La. -- August 25, 2017

Motion Picture World, 25-August-1917
The Diamond went bankrupt in 1919.  

Diamond Theater, New Orleans, La. 

Old Vaudeville Structure Converted Into High Class Picture House -- Manager Chisholm Sees All Subjects Forming Program Before Presenting Them to Public. 

THE Diamond theater has been making history in New Orleans since its opening in the latter part of April as a motion picture house. During the winter the house was known as the Lyric. It was a vaudeville house.  Manager R. M. Chisholm looked at his neighbors who were running motion picture theaters, put his two lingers to his forehead in the attitude of deep thought and asked himself the question, "Why not convert the Lyric into a picture house?" A number of expert painters and decorators were put on the job, and in a remarkably short time the old Lyric was a thing of the past. So successful were the workmen that not a trace of its former personality was distinguishable in the new and beautified building. Structurally, the Diamond is ideal for a motion picture theater. It has the space, the fittings, the seating capacity and the convenient location. It is an attractive house from the street and more attractive in the interior. It is fitted with every appliance for the showing of pictures to the best advantage, and the management allows not the slightest defect to mar the presentation of the screen subjects.

But the most notable thing about the Diamond is the policy which was adopted at the start that no picture whatever should be shown to the patrons unless it had been screened for the management and secured his approval. This policy has been made the keynote of all oi the advertising matter of the theater and the people like it. Good pictures is the slogan of the house, and it matters not whether they are program releases or states rights subjects. Manager Chisholm is a showman. His long experience with dramatic companies and productions, his years of experience in theater management before the picture had gained the ascendancy. makes him a student of the psychology of the game.  He studies human nature.

The Diamond has a  seating capacity of 2,100; it is fitted with every appliance for the comfort and convenience of its patrons,. and it has already enlisted the support of a class of educational and professional people who have never heretofore been made to feel that the personal equation is as effective in the motion picture business as in any other one.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anorthoscope -- August 23,2017

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

Joseph Plateau also created the phenakistiscope.

ANORTHOSCOPE. An optical toy which distorts figures viewed through it. It consists of two discs, on one of which the figure to be viewed is painted, while in the other there are slits through which the observer looks, as in the Zoetrope. The discs are so arranged as to revolve in opposite directions, and the disc bearing the figures is made transparent, so that it may be seen by holding it up toward the light. The figures are usually so drawn that when viewed by the unaided eye they are unrecognizable, but when placed in the anorthoscope they are restored to their proper shape. The arrangement and results of the toy depend somewhat on the relative velocity of the disks. We will suppose that the disk bearing the slit is made to revolve once, while that with the figure does so four times. Then there must be four slits in the front disk, arranged thus -|-, and, whatever figure may be drawn on the other disk, five distorted figures, all alike, will be seen by looking through the slits. The illustrations on page 14 show the appearance of two designs, first as seen with the naked eye, and then through the slits.

The reason why the toy produces this effect will now be given. First suppose there is only one slit in the front disk, and only a dot, instead of a picture, on the other. Suppose the disk to start with the dot just behind the slit. As the back disk turns four times as fast as the front one, the dot will pass behind the slit four times before they get around into the same position again. Thus the eye will see five dots on the rear disk instead of one. If there are four slits at right angles the result will be the same, for each will pass the dot in the same place as the others. But there cannot be more than four. The same will be true of a large figure as of a dot, but each of the multiplied figures will be shut together like a fan, so as to extend only one-fifth as far around the circle as before. That is, supposing the circle to be divided into 360 degrees, if the picture extended around sixty degrees, it will appear in the anorthoscope to extend over only twelve degrees. This shutting together is a consequence of the rapid movement of the rear disk past the front one. If this reduction in size took place in all directions, the figure would be the same shape, only smaller, but it takes place in only one direction, that is, around the circle, hence the figure is twisted out of shape.

Any figure may be drawn on the disk so that it will appear in its proper shape when viewed through the anorthoscope. Suppose the figure to be that of a card as shown in the illustration. Draw lines from the center of disk through the angles of the card, and others to the points 1, 2, 3, etc., at intervals of any desired number of degrees, say five, as in the plan on page 15. The position of the card should be so arranged that the lines passing through the corners will be multiples of five degrees apart. (The degrees may be laid off with a curved scale, called a protractor, sold by any dealer in drawing materials.) Then draw an equal number of lines from the center, twenty-five degrees apart to the points 1', 2', 3', 4', etc., representing the first lines opened out like a fan. Take any line of the figure, and measure the distance, from the center, of the point where it crossed each of the radiii first drawn, and make a dot on the corresponding new radius at just that distance. For instance, measure the distance from the center to the left-hand corner on the radius drwan to 1, and then lay it off on the radius drawn to 1'. Join all the dots so made by a curved line, and do the same with all the other lines of the figure. Care must be taken that the original figure does not take up more than one-fifth of the disk; otherwise the adjoining figures, as seen in the anorthoscope, will overlap.

Anorthoscopes can be made which will multiply the figure seen as many times as desired, shutting it together to a corresponding degree. The number of figures seen is always one greater than the number of revolutions the back disk makes while the front one is going around once, and the number of slits, always one less than the number of figures, must be disposed at equal distances around the disk. Thus, if it makes eight to the front disk's one, nine figures will be seen, each of which reaches only one-ninth as far around the circle as the original. In this case there must be eight slits.

The anorthoscope may be made to work in many other ways besides the one described here. If the disks revolve in the same direction the number of revolutions can be so adjusted as to combine several figures into one, instead of expanding one into several. By slightly varying these figures an effect is obtained like that of the ZOETROPE.

The anorthoscope is not commonly sold at toy stores. The disks can easily be made as above described, but it is more difficult to make the disks revolve at exactly the proper rate This can be effected by means of cog-wheels arranged as shown in the illustration. If the number of cogs on the larger of the two parallel wheels be four times that on the smaller, the latter will revolve four times as fast. The number on the crank-wheel is immaterial. The arrangement can be made at any machine shop.

The anorthoscope is the invention of Prof. Plateau, a Belgian scientist. The name is from the Greek anorthos, crooked, and skopein, to see.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Solar Eclipse -- August 22, 2017

Yesterday we saw the first nationwide solar eclipse since 1979.  It was foggy in Pacifica, but I found a nice video.  The sky did get darker around the totality.  I had the nationwide coverage from CBS on the television while I worked. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Scream of the Screen -- August 21, 2017

Moving Picture World, 11-August-1917

Billy West closely imitated Charlie Chaplin in a long series of comedies for different studios.While Chaplin was making the excellent Mutual comedies, West was making imitations of Chaplin's Essanay comedies.

Moving Picture World, 18-August-1917

With the US in World War One, the draft was a hot subject.

Moving Picture World, 18-August-1917
"The star, Billy West, in that short time has acheived a degree of popularity that is nothing less than remarkable in one so new to the glories of the screen." 

Moving Picture World, 18-August-1917
 Billy West and his costar Ethlyn Gibson, were both arrested by the Jacksonville, Florida police for speeding. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jerry Lewis, RIP -- August 20, 2017

Jerry Lewis has died.  When I was a little kid, he was very popular.  When I got old enough to go to movies, he was laughed at, but not in a good way.  I saw many of his movies with Dean Martin on television.  I thought their comedy was undisciplined.  I preferred Chaplin and Keaton.

Then I saw The Nutty Professor on television.  I love it.  There was a shot where Professor Kelp was lying on the floor and the camera pulled back and I could see his white socks.  It broke my heart.

After that, I knew that Jerry Lewis was a great director.  I found The Total Film-Maker at the Main Library.  Video assist sounded like a wonderful idea, especially for a person who directed himself.  He talk film courses at USC. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas studied with him.

I tried to watch the telethon a couple of times.  I couldn't stand it.

The last new thing I saw him in was an episode of Law and Order

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Luke's Wild Women -- August 19, 2017

Moving Picture World, 25-August-1917
Rolin was a company founded by Hal Roach and Dan Linthicum. Harold Lloyd was their first comedy star. Bebe Daniels was their cute leading lady and Snub Pollard was Snub Pollard.  By mid-1917, the Lonesome Luke series was a big hit.  It had moved from one-reelers to two-reelers.

"Luke's Wild Women" sounds interesting.  "Besides the fun that is in every scene the cast contains the usual Rolin beauty congress."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Pictureview With Charles Chaplin -- August 17, 2017

Photoplay, March, 1917
This item is not from 100 years ago this month, but it is fun. 

Moving Picture World, 04-August-1917
Big Eric Campbell was Chaplin's villain most of his Essanay and Mutual comedies.  I had not heard this story about his wife and daughter.  Eric Campbell died in an auto accident in September. 

Moving Picture World, 04-August-1917
Chaplin had just signed a million dollar contract with First National.  They expected the first picture in December. 

Moving Picture World, 11-August-1917
Chaplin was still working on his last Mutual film, "The Adventurer." 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mrs Castle and Company at Sarnac Lake -- August 15, 2017

Moving Picture World, 18-August-1917

Irene Castle had become famous, with her husband Vernon, as a ballroom dancer.  He left the act in early 1916 to return to his native Britain, where he joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He was a successful pilot, earning the Croix de Guerre.  He was sent to Canada and then the United States to train new pilots.  He died in a flying accident in 1918.

 Sarnac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, was a popular location in early movies. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Famous Fights -- August 13, 2017

Movie Makers, April, 1943
Mogulls Film Library offered many silent or sound films for  home viewing.  These included a series of films of famous fights.  Dempsey-Willard would be the 04-July-1919 fight in Toledo, Ohio where Jack Dempsey took the heavyweight title from Jess Willard.  Willard could not come out for the fourth round.  Louis vs Galento would be the 28-June-1939 fight where champ Joe Louis defended his title against Two Ton Tony Galento.  Louis won by a TKO in the fourth.  Nova vs Baer was one of two fights between Lou Nova and former heavyweight champ Max Baer.  Nova won both fights, in 1939 and 1941 by TKO.  Braddock vs Louis was the 22-June-1937 fight where James J Braddock lost the heavyweight title to Joe Louis.  Baer vs Galento could have been the 1940 fight against Max Baer or the 1941 fight against his brother Buddy Baer.  Galento lost both. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Anerican Troops Landing in France -- August 11, 2017

Moving Picture World, 25-August-2017
America had declared war on Germany in April, 1917.  By August, American soldiers were landing in France.  This was a popular topic. 

Moving Picture World, 25-August-2017
The US government's Liberty Loan issued bonds that the public could buy to help pay for the war effort.  Movie theaters did much to promote the program. 

Moving Picture World, 18-August-2017
Moving Picture World, 25-August-2017
War movies like "The Tanks at the Battle of the Ancre," which we read about last month, were hot subjects.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Glen Campbell, RIP -- August 10, 2017
Glen Campbell died.  I remember his television show when I was a kid.  My dad liked country and western, and Glen Campbell often turned up on the radio.  I have several of his songs that get stuck in my head.  I later learned that he had been a member of the Wrecking Crew, which backed nearly everything recorded in Southern California. 

Some years ago, he announced that he had Alzheimer's disease and would do a final tour.  This helped people to be more aware of the disease.

He was good in True Grit with John Wayne.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Man Who Took a Chance -- August 9, 2017

Moving Picture World, 17-February-1917
I like the design of the ads for Bluebird Photoplays. Note the radiator grille of the racing car.  The Man Who Took a Chance starred Franklyn Farnum. 

Moving Picture World, 17-February-1917
"...the story need not be taken seriously." 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Robert Hardy, RIP -- August 8, 2017

I was sad to learn of the death of actor Robert Hardy.  Whether he played good guys or bad guys, he always had a twinkle in his eye.  I first saw him as Siegfried in All Creatures Great and Small
He seemed to have fun playing Sir John Middleton in Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson. 

He appeared in several of the Harry Potter movies. 

He was an expert on the English longbow. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Battle of Guadalcanal -- August 7, 2017
Seventy-five years ago today, on 07-August-1942, American Marines landed on Guadalcanal, an  island in the Solomons.  Japanese naval troops had occupied the island to block communications between the United States and Australia.  The Marines quickly captured an airfield which the Japanese had been building.  The fight for the island lasted six months in miserable conditions.

The movie Guadalcanal Diary was made and released the next year. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Robert Mitchum 100 -- August 6, 2017
Robert Mitchum, a pioneering joker, smoker and midnight toker, was born 100 years ago today, on 06-August-1917.  Although he always said he hated acting, he managed to give many great performances in many great films. 

After a wild youth and some factory work, he started out playing bad guys in Hopalong Cassidy movies.  After he appeared in Thirty Second Over Tokyo, directed Mervyn LeRoy persuaded RKO to sign Mitchum to a long-term contract.
Mitchum's first big hit was William Wellman's The Story of G.I. Joe, made while on load to United Artists.  The movie is the story of Ernie Pyle, a war correspondent who paid attention to the infantrymen.  I cry every time I see the death of Captain Bill Walker, played by Mitchum.
 Robert Mitchum as Captain Walker and Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle.
After The Story of G.I. Joe, RKO starred Mitchum in a series of B Westerns adapted from Zane Grey stories.
He appeared in many film noirs.  Out of the Past is one of the best. 

In 1948, Mitchum was busted for for possession of marijuana.  This would have ruined some peoples' careers, but it fit right in with his image.
Mitchum played an evil man in The Night of the Hunter with Lillian Gish and Shelley Winters.  It was the only movie that Charles Laughton directed.  I don't know why he never got another chance.
Mitchum was even scarier in Cape Fear
One of my favorites among Mitchum's later movies is Farewell, My Lovely, where he played Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe.  It was a faithful adaption with beautiful period settings.  And it had Charlotte Rampling.
Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe and Charlotte Rampling as Helen Grayle. 

A few years later, Mitchum played Phillip Marlowe in The Big Sleep.  It was horrible.  It was set in modern times in Britain. 

I remember when he died 20 years ago.  A lot of people were surprised that he lived that long.