Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Month: July, 2016

The Surrender at Tournavos (1897)

Alternate Titles: La Prise de Tournavos, La Prise de Tournavos par le Troupes du Sultan

This is a reenactment of a current event done by Georges Méliès in a studio. Similar to “The Dreyfus Affair,” Méliès created a kind of newsreel by having actors portray action from newspapers in motion for the screen.

Surrender of Tournavos_(Star_Film_106,_1897)We see a fairly small stage, showing the interior courtyard of a fort with four defenders, who are firing over the wall at an unseen enemy. Soon, the enemy breaks in through a gate, and the defenders run inside a building (exit stage left). The attackers, who we can see are wearing fezzes, run in through the gate and find their way blocked by a locked door. Most of them run back out the gate while a demolitions man places a bomb on the door to the building. It explodes and the attackers run back in, an officer urging them on as bullets start to fly from inside. The officer is hit and goes down but the soldiers press the attack as the movie reel ends.

This movie is quite action-packed, and like action films ever since, no one is ever seen to reload, although we see impressive bursts of smoke from their guns. The event it portrays is a scene from the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, which would for European audiences invoke the image of a Christian nation besieged by Muslim invaders, a common theme in literature and history. Méliès dispenses with his fanciful set design to make a quite realistic fort set, although to any modern viewer it is still obviously a set. Great care also seems to have gone into the uniforms of the Greeks and the Turks. As far as watching it today, it’s important to remember that it would most likely have been accompanied by live narration that explained what was on the screen and also that an audience in 1897 would probably be familiar with the situation from reading the newspapers. Viewed in silence, without context, it doesn’t seem to “mean” much to us today, but it would have been quite thrilling at the time.

Director: Georges Méliès

Camera: Unknown (possibly Georges Méliès)

Starring: Unknown (possibly Georges Méliès)

Run Time: 1 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

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A Nightmare (1896)

Alternate Title: Le Cauchemar

This is another early “dream sequence” film from Georges Méliès, in which he uses the camera to represent “impossible” events that would have been challenging at best on the live-action stage. Made in the same year as “A Terrible Night” and “Card Party,” at this point in time his aesthetic is more clearly defined.

NightmareWe see a man on a stage, in bed, thrashing about agitatedly. Suddenly the background changes from a modern look to what seems to be the interior of a castle, and a young woman is sitting on the edge of his bed. He leaps up excitedly, but when he goes to embrace her she disappears and is replaced with a man in blackface, dressed as a performer in a minstrel show, playing banjo. The new performer dances about on the bed, breaking it, and the man tries to grab him, but he disappears also and is replaced by a white clown or Pierrot figure. Now the background has changed again and there is a balcony visible through an arch, and the moon hovers smiling over it. The clown leaps outside and gestures to the moon before dancing off. The sleeper points at the moon, and suddenly it appears just outside his window, and bites his hand with its large mouth. It hovers there, laughing, and the man gets up and hits it in the face. Now it jumps back to where it belongs in the sky, and the three figures of the clown, the minstrel, and the girl appear on the balcony, dancing and mocking. The man tries hiding in his covers, but the trio come inside to  torment him. Suddenly the background changes back to what it was in the beginning and the dream figures disappear. The man looks around, relieved to find it was a dream (his bed is still broken, however), then decides to roll over and go back to sleep.

Nightmare1I was recently asked what the “first dream sequence” in cinema was, and I think this is a good contender. While “A Terrible Night” is somewhat unclear as to whether it takes place in dream or reality, this one gives us the framing of the man in a different setting to show where he goes to sleep and wakes up, thus establishing  the dream and its parameters. As always with “firsts,” it can be hard to be certain, and depends to some degree on how you define the term. Similarly, one might make a case for this as among the “first horror films,” but I think I chose to skip it in October because the dream aspect makes it not really an exploration of the supernatural but simply, as the title suggests, a nightmare. I spoke of the “Méliès aesthetic” above, and that is most clear from the animated moon, which of course we associate with his most famous film, “A Trip to the Moon,” but it was also a recurring theme in Méliès movies. Also the people and objects appearing and disappearing at random to torment a protagonist would be a frequent theme. According to the Star Films Catalog, this was #82 in their list of over 400 films, and was still available in 1905, suggesting that it was quite successful with audiences, even after they had more sophisticated fare to choose from.

Director: Georges Méliès

Camera: Unknown

Starring: Unknown (possibly Georges Méliès in the bed?)

Run Time: 1 Min, 7 secs

You can watch it for free: here.

Card Party (1896)

Alternate Titles: Une partie de cartes, Playing Cards

This early remake by Georges Méliès is interesting in both showing the degree to which early film makers were influenced by one another, but also how distinctive Méliès’s movies were even before he had developed his signature style. His vision is clear, even as he was uncertainly beginning to experiment with the camera.

Partie_de_cartes_(Star_Film_1,_1896)In an intentional re-enactment of “Playing Cards” by the Lumière brothers, Méliès and two male companions sit at a table outdoors with playing cards and a woman serves them wine. The other two men seem to want to focus on their game, but Méliès is the center of attention, toasting the other men, gesturing with his newspaper and telling them something that makes everyone laugh. In an age well before the concept of the “movie star” had been born, Méliès shows a powerful presence in front of the camera. Whereas a person watching the original will simply remember that it was a clear image of people at play, the viewer here takes away the performance and persona of Méliès as a character.

As with Lumière, Méliès called in members of his family for this early film. The girl who runs out at the beginning is his daughter Georgette and one of the card players is his brother Gaston, who would later prove to be a terrible business manager, helping to end Georges’s career.

Director: Georges Méliès

Camera: Unknown

Starring: Georges Méliès, Georgette Méliès, Gaston Méliès

Run Time: 1 Min, 7 secs

You can watch it for free: here.

Land Beyond the Sunset (1912)

This late-period movie from Edison Studios seems to be an attempt at copying D.W. Griffith’s success with “social message” films, but winds up going in a surprising direction. It makes good use of New York locations to contrast urban poverty with natural, outdoor settings.

Land Beyond the SunsetWe see a busy New York street corner. A boy in rags is selling newspapers – or trying to, but no one seems to want one. We see wealthy-looking people come and go, businesspeople, workers, all hurrying to get where they are going, but no one buys a paper. The boy looks increasingly discouraged as time goes by. Finally, a woman with a little girl walks up to the corner. The woman isn’t interested in a paper, but the daughter feels sorry for the boy. She convinces her mother to give him a coin as a hand-out. The boy gratefully accepts and goes home. At home, his grandmother, who is drinking out of a flask, scolds him for not selling more papers. He tries to put the coin in a jacket pocket for later, but she catches him and takes it, presumably to buy more booze.

Land Beyond the Sunset1In the next scene, we see a minister hard at work at the Fresh Air Fund. He hands out stack of tickets to various women for them to distribute – each is good for a ride on a train to a picnic event. The boy gets up early Saturday morning to redeem one of these tickets, though it’s not at all clear how he got it. He meets up with the picnic party and is taken in hand by one of the young women volunteers. He rides out to a nice waterfront park, the like of which he’s never seen before, and runs on green grass and eats a good meal. The minister leads everyone in prayer before the food is broken out. After the meal, he hears a fairy tale about a boy who meets fairies and is carried in a boat to “the land beyond sunset.” When everyone gets ready to go back to the city in the afternoon, the boy hides and stays in the park, then he walks down to the beach. He finds an old rowboat and casts off. The final scenes show him afloat in his boat, drifting towards the sunset.

Land Beyond the Sunset2Oddly enough, this movie was made with the cooperation of the Fresh Air Fund, presumably to promote the charitable work they did with New York slum children, although the end seems to suggest that they routinely abandon kids in the park! The end sounds rather grim – this poor kid is either going to drown, starve, or die of thirst out there in this ratty rowboat – yet, it has a strangely positive, or at least melancholy, feeling, in part because of the lovely framing of the shot of the sunset. I’d love to know who the cinematographer was for this, but perhaps director Harold M. Shaw conceived it. As I suggested above, the city shots are also quite memorable, and the whole piece is one of contrasting images. The kid in this movie reminded me of Jackie Coogan (who wasn’t born until 1914), and I thought did very well in showing his feelings through body language. The park footage was shot near Long Island Sound in the Bronx, so the whole production was done close to home for relatively cheap. It’s a poetic little film from a largely ignored (at this point in time anyway) studio.

Land Beyond the Sunset3Director: Harold M. Shaw

Camera: Unknown

Starring: Bigelow Cooper

Run Time: 12 Min, 30 secs

You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music).

 

Interior New York City Subway (1905)

Alternate Title: Interior N.Y. subway, 14th St. to 42nd St.

This is a surprisingly artful “actuality” film, showing the New York City subway for people all over the country who had only heard or read about it. This is a great example of how the cinema brought people from all over the country (and world) together, and established iconic images that everyone would recognize, even if they had never seen the original.

Interior New York SubwayThis film consists of a single long shot taken from the front of a train following another train. The train we follow is in actual service – it stops at stations and lets people on and off, but “our” train (which we never see) simply keeps pace with it. Another train runs on the side track, with a platform full of lighting equipment, which makes it possible to see the train in front (and the tunnels), but it also sometimes comes into view of the camera. The train runs, according to the notes of cameraman Billy Bitzer, from 14th Street to 42nd, and we can see signs that say “Grand Central” when it pulls into the final station, which suggests that we are following the course of the modern-day 6 train, which I believe was part of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) line at the time. This train must be an express, because it doesn’t stop at all of the stations we pass through.

Interior New York Subway1Much of this film shows us racing along in a dark tunnel, with just the back of the train ahead of us visible. We only get a square of light, with the girders of the tunnel appearing and disappearing as the light passes over them, and then an occasional station, which we don’t see very well, because we are looking ahead, not to the sides. It’s a lot like what you see when you stare out the front of a subway train, which I have always found somewhat hypnotic. I should mention that I grew up in New York City, and I regularly rode the Subway for family outings (eg: to the Bronx Zoo) and later every day to get to High School. Today, many of my worst nightmares, or more precisely, anxiety dreams, are set in the subway system: usually the theme is that I have a destination, but I miss my stop, or go to the wrong tracks and can’t find a way to the right ones, or am otherwise prevented from getting to my destination. I have this dream most frequently when I am stressed out about a task which seems endless or impossible, or when I am feeling frustrated and hopeless. The images of this movie invoked that dream-landscape for me, but happily without the accompanying stress. I was able to accept that I was just along for the ride, and enjoyed it, knowing it would end soon enough.

Director: Billy Bitzer

Camera: Billy Bitzer

Starring: Unknown subway riders

Run Time: 6 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music).

White Fawn’s Devotion (1910)

This, I believe, is the first movie I’ve reviewed by James Young Deer, a Native American director who mostly made movies about Native Americans for white audiences (at white-owned film studios). This is a short movie, based on the themes of “The Squaw Man,” but told from the Indian girl’s perspective, utilizing fairly basic editing techniques and a central chase sequence to heighten tension.

White Fawns DevotionThe movie begins with a white settler receiving a telegram informing him of his inheritance. He has to go to some unspecified place to receive it (the ancestral home, I suppose), but he’s very happy to hear it and runs home to tell his family. Said family consists of a small child and a Native wife. When he tells them of his good fortune, the child seems happy for her father, but the wife looks uncertain. Finally, when he gestures about his coming departure, she objects. They argue, apparently the wife is concerned that he plans to go for good, abandoning her (and the child? It’s never clear what her intended fate is). No matter how he tries to reassure her, she will not be consoled. Finally, the father sends the child away, not wanting her to hear the dispute, which escalates until the father goes into the house to pack his belongings. He has left his knife on the table, however, and his wife grabs it and plunges it into her heart. He comes out and finds her, pulling out the knife just as the child returns, making him look like the murderer!

In a panic, the child runs to the neighboring Indian tribe and speaks to a Native elder. When he hears her story, he demands justice for the wife, and sends out the warriors to hunt the white man down. He figures out what is happening and runs for it, grabbing a horse and making tracks as fast as possible. Unfortunately, he is cornered at a cliff and has to climb down, leaving the horse behind. He winds up in the river, fighting the current and losing, ending up passed out on the shore. His pursuer finds him, binds him, and returns him to the tribe, where the elder tells the daughter to kill him, giving her a large dagger. She balks, and the warriors begin a dance. Just as it seems that the elder will take his tomahawk and do the deed himself, White Fawn suddenly arrives, apparently uninjured, and interposes herself. She, evidently, explains the situation and the white man is freed. The family gathers together and the elder signals them to leave.

White Fawns Devotion1According to the notes that came with the DVD, there’s a missing scene at the end where the father renounces his inheritance and stays with his family, making this the one version of “The Squaw Man” with a truly happy ending. I guess. It seemed to me as if he could go attend the will reading or whatever and then get his money and come back to the homestead easily enough. This version didn’t make it clear what all the fuss was about. In “The Squaw Man” it’s made very obvious that his marrying a non-white is unacceptable, and there’s even some question as to the child. Apparently, Young Deer later made a gender-reversed version in which a white woman was married to a Native American, which Moving Picture World found “disgusting.” There’s also some dispute about the female lead: the “Treasures” disc and the imdb attribute Lilian St. Cyr (aka “Princess Red Wing”) as the actress, but Wikipedia says it doesn’t look like her. I’m inclined to agree, but it’s hard to tell from the distance of the shots and the quality of the available prints (and my own uncertainty regarding the still images Ive seen of her).

In this movie, the focus is really on the chase, which is handled competently, but not especially innovatively. Action tends to cut from the pursued back to the pursuer just as the latter reaches the place the former just left. There’s a bit of more sophisticated inter-cutting for the scene at the cliff, where the warrior cuts the rope that the white man is climbing down on, but it’s pretty standard for 1910. There are no close-ups or camera movement, and pretty much the whole movie is done in wide shot. Young Deer made this fairly early in his contract with Pathé Freres, which hired him because American critics were making fun of their phony Westerns, and it was felt that he would bring added authenticity to the new American unit.

Director: James Young Deer

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Uncertain (see above)

Run Time: 11 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music).

The Thieving Hand (1908)

This odd little short from Vitagraph has a kind of reputation as a (pre-)Surrealist masterpiece. It does involve the use of trick photography to bring an arm to life, but how does it look from a modern viewpoint?

Thieving HandWe see a one-armed man begging on the street. He is selling pencils or some other time-honored item to get handouts. He sells to a man in an expensive-looking coat and the man walks away. Shortly thereafter, the beggar notices something on the ground and picks it up – it seems to be a ring or small piece of jewelry. He runs after the man and catches him in front of his house. The man is very grateful to get back his ring and starts to reach for another handout, but thinks better of it. He takes the beggar to a shop called “limbs” and buys him a new arm! The shopkeeper demonstrates that the arm works by winding it up on the display case. It moves by itself (actually a jump cut has allowed it to be replaced by the arm of an actor hiding behind the case). The shopkeeper attaches the new arm and cranks it up for the beggar. The beggar is thrilled, but doesn’t seem to notice the arm stealing from his benefactor. When the shopkeeper notices, he takes back his goods and sends them on their way. The beggar scolds his new arm.

The beggar goes back to his corner and continues trying to sell pencils. While he does so, his new arm flails about and grabs things off of each passerby while the beggar distracts them with the pencils in his other hand. Several come back, annoyed, and take back their possessions. Finally, returns the arm to the shop, but when the shopkeeper puts it in the window, it steals a bunch of rings and goes back to the beggar! The shopkeeper discovers the theft and has a policeman arrest the beggar. Once in jail, he meets a one-armed convict who recognizes that it is his arm. He returns the arm, and the convict now has back his thieving hand – no doubt his main means of labor.

Thieving Hand1

As I suggested above, this film stands out by its very weirdness, and seems reminiscent of some of Alice Guy’s more bizarre comedies, like “The Drunken Mattress” or “The Truth Behind the Ape Man” in which the animate and inanimate world become blurred for comic effect. It’s pretty pedestrian, really, in terms of camera-work, editing, and effects, but it feels new because we’ve never seen this particular story before, although it might fit into the strange world of “Felix the Cat” or another of the wilder cartoon series. There’s an interesting irony to the fact that the beggar is rewarded for his honesty with a gift that makes him appear dishonest, and even gets him arrested.  There’s also an element to this movie that makes me think of David Cronenberg, a Canadian director whose horror films often explore invasions or mutations of the body. A hand acting of its own volition is right up his alley. This is a good memorable movie from the early Nickeloden Era, when American film makers were just starting to think about their possibilities.

Director: J. Stuart Blackton

Camera: Unknown

Starring: Paul Panzer

Run Time: 6 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music).

July 1916

This is a particularly “bloody” entry in the Century News series, with the outbreak of one of the worst battles of World War One, two terrorist attacks on the United States (one domestic, one foreign), as well as shark attacks and forest fires all hitting the headlines at once. It’s a reminder that the news we see today is no worse than what our ancestors endured, but it’s also a sad reminder of how much damage hatred and intolerance has caused in every era. The movies provide a small escape for us, with the release of a comedy classic and the birth of a legend.

British Tank at the Somme, Sept 1916

British Tank at the Somme, Sept 1916

World War One

The Battle of the Somme begins with the “Battle of Albert” on July 1, in what will be the British Army’s bloodiest day with more than 19,000 killed. On July 15 another sub-battle, the “Battle of Delville Wood” claims 766 South African troops – the highest number lost by South Africa in a single engagement. The “Battle of Fromelles,” July 19-20, is another operation in which British-allied forces suffer disproportionate losses. The Somme will drag on until November, claiming over a million lives.

The Battle of Erzincan begins on July 2, with Russian forces overwhelming the Ottomans and inflicting 34,000 casualties by July 25.

Terrorism: The Preparedness Day Bombing in San Francisco on July 22 kills 10 and injures 40 at a parade organized to “prepare” Americans for intervention in World War I. Two labor leaders, Tom Mooney and Warren K. Billings are arrested, tried, and convicted, but later pardoned on the basis of false testimony against them. The true culprit remains unknown.

Sabotage: German agents blow up the Black Tom munitions depot in Jersey City, near to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on July 30, killing 7 people.

Jersey Shore Shark Attack NewsAnimal Attacks: The Jersey Shore Shark Attacks take place from July 1 to 12, resulting in four deaths and one disabling. These attacks will later inspire the book and movie “Jaws.”

Natural Disasters: A forest fire in Ontario, Canada caused by a lightning strike on July 29 kills 233 people.

Industry: Founding of Boeing July 15 as “Pacific Aero Products” in Seattle, Washington.

Food: Mass public-dining program initiated during July in major German cities to combat the effects of the Allied blockade.

Science: Publication of Einstein’s “Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie, first explication of the general theory of relativity, in Annalen der Physik.

Vagabond_(1916)Film: Release of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Vagabond,” July 10.

Births: Olivia de Haviland (actress, “Gone with the Wind” and “The Snake Pit”), July 1; and Keenan Wynn (actor, “Dr. Strangelove” and “Laserblast”), July 27.

Portrait of Lady Anne (1912)

Florence LaBadie has the title role in this one-reel morality play and costume drama from Thanhouser. Her acting presence shines through, and we get a look at what made her one of the first movie stars.

Portrait of Lady AnneThe movie begins in 1770, when the portrait is first hung in the home of a genteel colonial family. White men in blackface play the servants, and Florence takes center stage as she watches her own image hung in a prominent part of the house. Her suitor comes over, and, with her father’s indulgent permission, they take a walk together on the grounds. While they are out together, however, another woman rides up on horseback and greets them. An intertitle tells us that Anne is unreasonably jealous when her fiancé goes over to speak to this other woman and returns her dropped riding crop to her. Once the other woman has ridden off, she removes her engagement ring and throws it on the ground, walking off in a huff while her beau looks despondent. Soon, she’s entertaining another man and receives a note from the first telling her of his intention to go off to war with a broken heart. She immediately agrees when the new man proposes. The next scene shows her rocking the cradle of their child, but a scene of her first fiancé’s presumed death on the battlefield plays as a superimposition over her shoulder. She collapses from regret.

Portrait of Lady Anne1Now, the scene moves to modern times, and Florence plays an ancestor of the original Lady Anne. She shows off her resemblance to the portrait at a large party, and invites all the other girls to put on period costumes from the wardrobe. She dresses like her own ancestor in the portrait. The 140-year-old problem begins again when she sees her new boyfriend dancing with another woman, and she runs upstairs. While she’s sulking, the “spirit of Lady Anne” comes down from the portrait and dances with her man, now wanting to heal the mistake made so long ago. Modern Florence climbs down the trestle and sees him kiss the image of herself, then sees the portrait without its picture and somehow figures out what it going on. She manages to forgive him and the spirit is able to rest once again.

Portrait of Lady Anne2This very simple little film actually shows how sophisticated movies were getting by 1912. The story is simple enough, but here we see special effects, cross-cutting, and creative camera work, just to get across a very simple idea. The costumes may well have eaten up much of the budget, and I almost get the sense that this story was written to justify using as many colonial-era costumes (especially women’s costumes) as possible. The actors all seem to enjoy the opportunity to dress up and show their ability to act in the unfamiliar garb. I was impressed by the number of camera set-ups as well. The ballroom is actually seen from several angles, including from outside the window, signaling a very sophisticated approach to space, as opposed to the usual stages with entrances and exits that we see from this period. Finally, while most of the editing is chronological, the sequence in which the spirit of Lady Anne comes out of the portrait and is observed by her descendant is edited in simultaneous time, and this allows the tension to build as we wonder if the two Florences will somehow meet and interact.

Portrait of Lady Anne3Beyond the technical aspects, the other thing this movie highlights is the star power of Florence LaBadie, who truly lights up the screen in each scene. She goes through several challenging emotional shifts, as she has to become “insanely jealous” quite rapidly after being happy and contented, then show us her regrets and her sorrow, as well as keeping the two characters reasonably clear for the audience. She pulls all of it off well, using expressions and body language to express what words cannot. I only thought she was a bit overstated at one point – when the modern descendant sees the black portrait and mouths “Oh! I get it” to the camera, but on the whole she is a model of the best in silent film acting. It’s easy to see how her fans came to know and love her, even though Thanhouser refused to credit their actors publicly at the time.

Director: Lloyd Lonergan

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Florence LaBadie, William Russell, Harry Benham

Run Time: 15 Min

You can watch it for free: here (also on vimeo: here).

Her Crowning Glory (1911)

Before there was a “big three” (or four, or five) comedians, before Keystone Studios, before almost anyone (except Ben Turpin), there was John Bunny, the best-known film comedian of his day. Bunny was a large man with a red face and a larger-than-life style of acting. His frequent co-star, Flora Finch, was thin, pinched-faced, and demure. Together, they made a series recalled as the “bunnyfinch” shorts. We’ll be looking at one of those today.

A strong reaction to a hairdo.

A strong reaction to a hairdo.

John stars as an apparently wealthy widower with a small daughter. His daughter is becoming spoiled, as John’s instinct is to indulge her and let her get away with whatever she wants. A “friend” who looks like a typical D.W. Griffith-style bluenosed busybody comes over and tells him the child needs discipline. She recommends a governess of her acquaintance, emphasizing that she is a “strict disciplinarian.” The governess is, of course, Flora Finch. Although when she arrives her long hair is tied up, Bunny shows considerable attraction to it – despite the fact that Finch has been made up to look even uglier than usual. John’s daughter does not take to Flora, however, sticking her with a pin and otherwise being bratty. The relationship proceeds along these lines, with John being fascinated by Flora’s hair, and the child being as contrary as possible, until Bunny proposes to Finch. She happily says yes, and the maid now decides she needs to take action. That night, she gives the little girl a pair of scissors while Flora is combing her hair before bed. Exhausted (probably from running after the child all day!), Flora falls asleep in her chair and the child gives her a haircut while she snoozes. John wakes her with a kiss, but when he sees what has happened, he calls off the wedding, and Flora leaves in shame. John and the child go back to playing as before, and there is an indication that John has noticed how attractive the maid is for the first time.

Don't try this at home, kids!

Don’t try this at home, kids!

John Bunny was not known as a slapstick comedian; his movies are “situational” in their humor. This one seems fairly average, based on the few I’ve seen. It’s a little funny, in terms of the situation, but doesn’t really get me laughing very hard. The most interesting part of the movie is the child, played by Helene Costello (who would become an adult star in the twenties), whose willfulness and dislike of snooty adults is compelling. Silent movie children are often much more natural than their sound-era counterparts, confirming the old adage that “children should be seen but not heard.” Helene does look at the camera once or twice, and does seem to follow instructions from off-screen as she spies on her daddy with the governess. The contrast between Finch and Bunny is played up here – it helps to sell us on the idea that Finch is not the right woman for him, he is simply distracted by her head of hair. The movie is shot in a conventional manner for 1911 (few edits, long shots, stationary camera), but does include an important close-up on the hair as it is cut.

Director: Lawrence Trimble

Camera: Unknown

Starring: John Bunny, Flora Finch, Helene Costello, Kate Price

Run Time: 14 Min

You can watch it for free: here.