Sergeant, the (1910)
This one-reeler was apparently shot partly in Yosemite Park and partly along the Willamette River in Oregon, though it’s hard to say which parts are which (it’s been speculated that the Merced would have been too cold to swim in, so those parts might be Willamette, but I wouldn’t be certain of it). It tells the story of a romance between a non-commissioned officer and the inevitable colonel’s daughter, and its interruption by an “Indian renegade” who steals their horses and riles up the local tribe against the intruders. It was shot by John Dored, a Latvian cinematographer who went on to become a famous newsreel cameraman. There are a surprising number of pans for a narrative film of the period, either because Dored was an innovator or because the landscape inspired a more panoramic approach. The director, Frank Boggs, is credited with being the first producer of motion pictures to establish a studio in Los Angeles (Selig Polyscope) and was later shot by a disgruntled studio employee. The on-camera action is almost as thrilling as the story of the filmmakers, though, with various shootouts and a daring swim through icy-cold (or not) rapids to try to rescue the girl. The hero of the movie, Hobart Bosworth, was one of the first silent actors to do stuntwork and later claimed to have “fallen down most of” the West.
Director: Frank Boggs
Camera: John Dored
Run Time: 16 Min
You can watch clips from it for free: here. I have been unable to locate the entire film online, please comment if you know where to find it.