Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Category: Context

March 1917

This is the month that the “February Revolution” kicks off in Russia (they were on a different calendar, so it happened in March, so far as we’re concerned), and things start to change dramatically in Europe and the world as a result. Meanwhile, the USA is drifting closer to war and things are finally stabilizing in Mexico after years of revolution. Here are some of the headlines you’d have been reading 100 years ago:

World War One:

First Battle of Gaza: On March 26,  British Egyptian Expeditionary Force troops virtually encircle the Gaza garrison but are then ordered to withdraw, leaving the city to the Ottoman defenders.

Russian Revolution:

Riots break out as women calling for bread in Petrograd protest on March 8, the unrest  spontaneously spreading throughout the city.

The Duma declares a provisional government on March 12.

Emperor Nicholas II of Russia abdicates his throne and his son’s claims on March 15.

Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia refuses the throne on March 17, and power passes to the newly formed Provisional Government under Prince Georgy Lvov.

Mexican Revolution:

Venustiano Carranza is elected president of Mexico on March 11; the United States gives de jure recognition of his government.

Diplomacy:

The U.S. government releases the text of the Zimmermann Telegram to the public on March 1.

Republic of China terminates diplomatic relations with Germany on March 14.

Colonialism:

The United States takes possession of the Danish West Indies on March 31, which become the US Virgin Islands, after paying $25 million to Denmark.

Politics:

The enactment of the Jones Act on March 2 grants Puerto Ricans United States citizenship.

 

Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first woman member of the United States House of Representatives, her term beginning on March 4.

Hjalmar Hammarskjöld steps down as Prime Minister of Sweden on March 30. He is replaced by the right-wing businessman and politician Carl Swartz .

Religion:

The Georgian Orthodox Church restores the autocephaly abolished by Imperial Russia in 1811.

Music:

Livery Stable Blues“, recorded with “Dixie Jazz Band One Step” on February 26 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in the United States, becomes the first jazz recording commercially released on March 8.

Film:

Release of “Poor Little Rich Girl” starring Mary Pickford, March 5, reputedly the third-highest grossing film of 1917.

Release of “The Tornado” on March 3, debut film of John Ford.

Births:

Desi Arnaz (actor, in “I Love Lucy” and “The Long, Long Trailer”), March 2; Googie Withers (actress, in “The Lady Vanishes” and “Dead of Night”), March 12; Virginia Grey (actress, in “Another Thin Man” and “The Naked Kiss”), March 22.

February 1917

Most of the headlines for this month relate to the First World War, and increasing international tensions that will bring the US into the war soon are becoming visible. At the end of the month, we see the first hints of what will be known as the “February Revolution” in Russia (because they were on a different calendar, most of this revolution occurs in March for our purposes).

Nekhl in the Sinai Peninsula

Nekhl in the Sinai Peninsula

World War One

Germany announces its U-boats will resume unrestricted submarine warfare, rescinding the ‘Sussex pledge‘ on February 1.

The United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany on February 3.

Beginning of the Raid on Nekhl on February 13 by units of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, to complete reoccupation of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

mata_hari_2Espionage

Mata Hari is arrested in Paris on February 13 for spying.

Politics

The new constitution of Mexico is adopted on February 5.

SS Mendi

SS Mendi

Disasters

British troopship SS Mendi is accidentally rammed and sunk off the Isle of Wight on February 21, killing 646, mainly members of the South African Native Labour Corps.

Diplomacy

United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Hines Page, is shown the intercepted Zimmermann Telegram on February 24, in which Germany offers to give the American Southwest back to Mexico if Mexico declares war on the United States.

nicholas_iiRevolution

On February 26, Mikhail Rodzianko sends Tsar Nicholas II a telegram with the following warning: “Serious situation in the capital, where anarchy reigns. General discontent increasing. In the streets, uninterrupted firing, and one part of the troops is firing on the other. It is necessary to nominate without delay a person possessing the confidence of the people and who would form a new Government. To wait is impossible.” The Tsar never replies.

buster-keatonFilm

Buster Keaton first meets Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in New York and is hired as a co-star and gag man.

February 2: The Marriage of Luise Rohrbach, directed by Rudolf Biebrach, starring Henny Porten, Emil Jannings – (Germany).

February 18: Release of “The Bad Boy” starring Robert Harron, Mildred Harris, and Colleen Moore.

Births: Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress (in “Queen of Outer Space” and “Moulin Rouge”), February 6; Lucille Bremer, actress (from “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Behind Locked Doors”), February 21.

Fred Mace

Fred Mace

Deaths: Fred Mace, actor (in “The Water Nymph” and “Bangville Police”), February 21, found dead in his hotel room, reportedly of a stroke at age 38.

January 1917

A new year has begun! This will forever be the year best known for the Russian Revolutions, but of course at this point in the year no one knew the days of Czradom were numbered. The First World War continues, and the USA is less determined about its “neutrality” than ever before, and by the end of the year there will be American Doughboys in France. The film industry will embrace both events as inspirations for movies, but in the meantime, the concept of “Hollywood” is finally entrenching itself as an industry, rather than as a collection of entrepreneurs and artists. This promises to be an exciting year for the Century Film Project! Let’s take a look at some of the headlines for January.

Firing line at Battle of Rafa

Firing line at Battle of Rafa

World War One:

The Battle of Rafa: The last substantial Ottoman Army garrison on the Sinai Peninsula is captured on January 9 by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force‘s Desert Column.

British armed merchantman SS Laurentic is sunk January 25 by mines off Lough Swilly (Ireland) with the loss of 354 of the 475 aboard.

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

Diplomacy: President Woodrow Wilson gives his “Peace without Victory” speech before Congress on January 22.

Disasters:

The Ratho rail crash occurs on January 3. NBR H class locomotive 874 Dunedin in charge of the Edinburgh to Glasgow express train collides with a light engine at Queensferry Junction, leaving 12 people dead and 46 seriously injured. The cause was found to be inadequate signaling procedures.

On January 19, a blast at a munitions factory in London kills 73 and injures over 400. The Silvertown explosion as it comes to be known, is a major cause célèbre for improving conditions in munitions factories and for workers in England generally.

On January 26, a combination of easterly gales and exceptionally high tides breached the sea-defences of the village of Hallsands, and by the end of that year only one house remained habitable. The villagers’ fight for compensation took seven years.

kingsland_explosion_newspaper_photoTerrorism: Unknown saboteurs set off the Kingsland Explosion at Kingsland (modern-day Lyndhurst, New Jersey) on January 11. This is one of the events leading to United States involvement in WWI.

Mexican Revolution: On January 28, The United States formally calls off its search for Pancho Villa. On January 30 Pershing‘s troops in Mexico begin withdrawing back to the United States.

Colonialism: Denmark sells the Danish West Indies (now the Virgin Islands) to the United States for $25 million on January 16.

Sports: The University of Oregon defeats the University of Pennsylvania 14–0 in U.S. college football‘s 3rd Annual Rose Bowl Game on January 1.

Finance: Royal Bank of Canada takes over Quebec Bank on January 2. The lack of an independent provincial bank will be an obstacle to Quebecois Separatism in years to come.

Law Enforcement: On January 25 anti-prostitution drive in San Francisco occurs and police close about 200 prostitution houses.

easy_street_1917Film:

Great Expectations” starring Jack Pickford released January 8.

Easy Street” by Charlie Chaplin, released on January 22.

Ernest Borgnine, born January 24, 1917.

Ernest Borgnine, born January 24, 1917.

Births:

Vera Zorina, dancer, actress (in “Goldwyn Follies” and “Follow the Boys”), January 2.

Jane Wyman, actress (in “Brother Rat” and “Stage Fright”), January 5.

Hilde Krahl, actress (in “Der Postmeister” and “A Devil of a Woman”), January 10.

Lally Bowers, actress and singer (in “We Joined the Navy” and “Dracula: AD 1972”), January 21.

Ernest Borgnine, actor (in “Marty” and “Escape from New York”), January 24.

December 1916

After more than two years of bitter fighting and mass slaughter, there will be no Christmas Truce on the front lines of World War I this year. The war is grinding on with no end in sight, although in general the Allies seem to be coming out ahead of the Central Powers in one battle after another. No one knows for sure, but the war still has almost two more years to go before Armistice. This month’s roundup of headlines mostly reflects the ongoing massacre in Europe. On the lighter side of entertainment, Christmas, 1916, seems to have been a great day to spend in a movie theater!

Soldiers in a trench at Verdun

Soldiers in a trench at Verdun

World War I:

On December 13, an avalanche on Mount Marmolada crushes an Austrian barracks, killing approximate 100 soldiers. An estimated 9000 men will be lost to avalanches in the Dolomites this December.

The Battle of Verdun ends in France with German troops defeated on December 18.

El Arish occupied by the British Empire Desert Column during advance across the Sinai Peninsula on December 21.

The Desert Column captures the Ottoman garrison during the Battle of Magdhaba on December 23.

A Sopwith Camel.

A Sopwith Camel.

Technology:

The British Sopwith Camel aircraft makes its maiden flight on December 22.

Youth:

Robert Baden-Powell gives the first public display of the new Wolf Cub section of Scouting December 16 at Caxton Hall, Westminster.

Insurrection:

The criminal Humberto Gómez and thirty seven mercenaries seize Arauca in Colombia December 30 and declare the Republic of Arauca. The action is largely an act of revenge on the police commissioner, who is killed in the raid.

Grigory Rasputin

Grigory Rasputin

Assassinations:

The mystic Grigori Rasputin is murdered in Saint Petersburg on December 31 (December 17 by the Russian Old Style calendar).

Disasters:

The Hampton Terrace Hotel in North Augusta, South Carolina, one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the United States at the time, burns to the ground on December 31.

20000 Leagues Under the Sea1Film:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” is released December 24. It is estimated to be the second-highest grossing movie of the year, after “Intolerance.”

The Americano,” starring Douglas Fairbanks, is released December 24.

Joan the Woman,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille, is released December 25.

Snow White,” starring Marguerite Clark, is released December 25. Walt Disney will later cite this film as an inspiration for the animated version.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas

Births:

Kirk Douglas (actor, known for “Spartacus” and the later “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) born December 9.

Betty Grable (actress, who was in “Down Argentine Way” and “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and numerous World War II pinups) born December 18.

Roy Ward Baker (director, who made “Five Million Years to Earth” and “The Vampire Lovers”) born December 19.

November 1916

This month’s Century News is a bit late, due to distractions and the US election of the present year. The biggest news of 1916 for Americans was also a Presidential election, but there was plenty of other news for the headlines of that month as well, including the end of the bloodiest battle of World War One in Europe.

Map of allied progress in the Battle of the Somme.

Map of allied progress in the Battle of the Somme.

World War One:

Douglas Haig ends the British and allied offensive in the Somme, ending the Battle of the Somme on November 18. Each side has lost about half a million soldiers, and the allies have advanced nearly six miles along a wide front, although the keys cities of Péronne and Bapaume remain in German hands.

Hospital ship HMHS Britannic, designed as the third Olympic-class ocean liner for White Star Line, sinks in the Kea Channel of the Aegean Sea after hitting a mine on November 21. 30 lives are lost. At 48,158 gross register tons, she is the largest ship lost during the war.

On November 23, Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is occupied by troops of the Central Powers.

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

Politics:

In Russia, liberal politician Pavel Miliukov delivers his “Stupidity or Treason” speech to the State Duma on November 1, contributing to the downfall of the current government and drawing attention to the powerlessness of the Duma in the face of an increasingly revolutionary public.

Woodrow Wilson narrowly defeats Charles E. Hughes to retain the White House on November 7. “He kept us out of war” was used to apply to his policy regarding both Mexico and World War One (although the US had been militarily engaged with the former, and would soon be in the latter).

Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, also on November 7.

Prime Minister of Australia Billy Hughes is expelled from the Labor Party on November 13 over his support for conscription.

Funeral for a worker killed in Everett, Washington.

Funeral for a worker killed in Everett, Washington.

Labor:

The first 40-hour work week officially begins in the Endicott-Johnson factories of Western New York on November 1.

An armed confrontation in Everett, Washington, between local authorities and members of the Industrial Workers of the World results in seven deaths on November 5. The Everett Massacre will also lead to the prosecution of several Wobbly leaders, although the charges are dropped in 1917.

Diplomacy:

The Kingdom of Poland (1916–18) is proclaimed by a joint act of the emperors of Germany and Austria on November 5. It exists as a puppet state of the Central Powers, which now occupy much of Polish territory.

The altar in Honan Chapel.

The altar in Honan Chapel.

Architecture:

Honan Chapel, Cork, Ireland, a product of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement (1894–1925), is dedicated on November 5.

Journalism:

Radio station 2XG, located in the Highbridge section of New York City, makes the first audio broadcast of presidential election returns on the night of November 7-8. It is estimated that 7000 people listened to the broadcast.

goldwyn_picturesStudios:

Samuel Goldfish (later renamed Samuel Goldwyn) and Edgar Selwyn establish Goldwyn Pictures on November 19. The studio is later to become one of the most successful independent filmmakers and eventually forms part of MGM.

Births:

Evelyn Keyes actress (Suellen O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” and also in “Before I Hang” with Boris Karloff), November 20.

Deaths:

Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria dies of pneumonia at the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, aged 86, after a reign of 68 years, on November 21, and is succeeded by his grandnephew Charles I. His own son, Rudolph, had committed suicide with his mistress in 1889.

Writer Jack London dies of kidney failure at his California home aged 40 on November 22. As early as 1908, D.W. Griffith had adapted “The Call of the Wild” to film, and many other London works would be made as movies through the century to come.

October 1916

As usual, I lead off this installment of the Century News with updates from the Western Front, although there’s a good range of other news in the headlines this month.

World War I:

The Battle of Le Transloy begins on October 1. This is the last offensive attempted by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force in the Battle of the Somme.

Also on October first, the British Reserve Army initiates the Battle of the Ancre Heights to press successes in another region of the Somme.

The French initiate the First Offensive Battle of Verdun on October 20. This attack is the beginning of a German defeat in Verdun.

Ethiopian artist's rendering of the Battle of Segale

Ethiopian artist’s rendering of the Battle of Segale

Civil War:

The Battle of Segale is fought on October 27 in Ethiopia, providing a victory for the new Empress Zewditu against forces loyal to Iyasu V, her uncrowned rival.

Sports:

In the United States, the “most lopsided game in the history of college football” occurs on October 7, when Georgia Tech beats Cumberland with a score of 222 to nothing.

Politics:

Nonviolent activist Hipólito Yrigoyen is elected President of Argentina on October 12. His regime is hampered by a highly oppositional political class, which controls parliament, and he resorts to extra-constitutional means through declaring a “state of emergency” to enact measures in many provinces.

Education:

Perm State University, today one of the oldest universities in the Ural region is founded in Russia on October 14.

Health:

Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in the US on October 16, a forerunner “Planned Parenthood.” Sanger will be arrested nine days later for distributing contraceptives.

Terrorism:

Assassination of Count Karl von Stürgkh, Minister-President of Austria by Friedrich Adler. Adler was a socialist who defended his act as one of revolutionary necessity at his trial. His party, which endorses Austria’s involvement in the war, repudiates his actions.

PawnshopFilm:

The Pawnshop” starring Charlie Chaplin, released October 2.

Return of Drew Egan” starring William S. Hart, released October 15.

A Daughter of the Gods,” reputed to be the first movie with a one million dollar budget, released and allegedly the first movie with a nude scene by a major actress (Annette Kellerman), released October 17.

Died:

Henry Woodruff, who had starred in the movies “A Beckoning Flame” and “A Man and His Mate,” October 6, from Bright’s Disease.

September 1916

Our roundup of headlines from 100 years ago shows a mix of tragedy and triumph, with natural disasters, political unrest, and important movies being released in a month that marks the end of the second full year of fighting in Europe. Here are some of the things newspapers were talking about at the time.

Mark I Tanks on September 15, 1916

Mark I Tanks on September 15, 1916

World War I.

Bulgaria declares war on Romania on Sept 1, going on to take Dobruja.

Battle of Flers–Courcelette in France begins September 15 with a British advance. The battle is significant for the first use of the tank in warfare; also for the debut of the Canadian and New Zealand Divisions in the Battle of the Somme.

British pilot Leefe Robinson becomes the first to shoot down a German Zeppelin over Britain.

Collapsed Quebec Bridge, Sept 11, 1916

Collapsed Quebec Bridge, Sept 11, 1916

Disasters

A mechanical failure causes the central span of the Quebec Bridge, a cantilever-type structure, to crash into the Saint Lawrence River for the second time on September 11, killing 13 workers.

Animal Cruelty

Mary, a circus elephant, is hanged September 13 in the town of Erwin, Tennessee for killing her handler, Walter “Red” Eldridge.

Politics

Iyasu V of Ethiopia is deposed in a palace coup September 27, in favour of his aunt Zewditu.

CountFilm

Charlie Chaplin’s short “The Count” released September 4.

Release of D. W. Griffith‘s film Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Through the Ages in the United States, September 5.

Births

Douglas Kennedy (actor, in “Adventures of Don Juan” and “The Amazing Transparent Man”), Sept 14; Margaret Lockwood (actress, in “Night Train to Munich” and “The Lady Vanishes”), Sept 15; Rossano Brazzi (actor, in “South Pacific” and “Omen III”), Sept 18; Peter Finch (actor, in “Network” and “The Miniver Story“), Sept 28.

Deaths

Sydney Ayres, 37, American stage & screen actor and director, The Sting of Conscience, The Avenger, As in a Dream, multiple sclerosis.

Arthur Hoops, 45, American stage & screen actor, The Secret of Eve, Bridges Burned, Extravagance, The Eternal Question, The Scarlet Woman, heart attack.

Camille D’Arcy, 37, American actress, The Prince Chap, Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, A Daughter of the City, The White Sister, The Pacifist, infection from bathing.

August 1916

Once again it’s time to round up the major headlines of this month from 100 years ago. While the real Battle of the Somme continued to rage, audiences in Britain went to theaters to experience it on the screen. In the US, several steps were taken to conserve natural resources and even towards future decolonization, and the Cub Scouts got their start this month as well.

The 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, at a site near Romani.

The 8th Australian Light Horse Regiment, at a site near Romani.

World War I

The Battle of Romani begins August 3 and ends August 5. British Imperial troops secure victory over a joint Ottoman-German force.

 

Diplomacy

Portugal joins the Allies, August 7.

Peru declares neutrality, August 21

The Kingdom of Romania declares war on the Central Powers August 27, entering the war on the side of the Allies.

Germany declares war on Romania, August 28.

Italy declares war on Germany, August 28.

 

Conservation

Lassen Volcanic National Park is established in California on August 9.

Migratory Bird Treaty between Canada and the United States signed, August 16.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs legislation creating the National Park Service on August 25.

 

Colonialism

As a step towards future autonomy, the United States passes the Philippine Autonomy Act on August 29.

 

Education

Robert Baden-Powell publishes The Wolf Cub’s Handbook in the U.K. during August of this year, establishing the basis of the junior section of the Scouting movement, the Wolf Cubs (modern-day Cub Scouts).

Battle of the Somme-film-adBattle of the Somme-filmFilm

One AM” starring Charlie Chaplin is release on August 7.

The premiere of the movie “Battle of the Somme” in London is on August 10. In the first six weeks of general release (from 20 August) 20 million people view it.

The first episode of the series “Homunculus” is released in Germany on August 18.

The movie “The Danger Girl,” starring Gloria Swanson, is released on August 25

 

Births

Van Johnson, actor (in “Thirty Seconds over Tokyo” and “Battleground”), August 25; Martha Raye, actress (in “The Big Broadcast of 1937” and “Monsieur Verdoux”), August 27.

Projection in 1916 and the Great Frame Rate Debate

I’ve deliberately avoided talking about “frame rates” and the “correct” speed of silent films on this blog, and for good reason – it’s a very contentious subject, and also quite technical, but looking at the history of presentation will give us some insight. My layman’s version goes like this: After sound film came in, all projectors were motorized and set to run at 24 frames-per-second (although some could be slowed down to lower settings, 24 was the standard for sound). This was pretty fast, compared to earlier standards, but projectionists with no experience would occasionally screen silents (especially Charlie Chaplin) during the sound period, and it would run fast. By the 1960s, everyone had forgotten what movies used to look like, and they came to think that silent movies had always looked fast and jerky. But then, someone found an old copy of Moving Picture World that said that the “official” standard during the silent era was 16 frames-per-second. New projectors were built for specialists who wanted to study films at their “original” speed, and silent movies slowed to a crawl. A new problem was discovered: at that speed, movies have a noticeable “flicker” effect as the eye catches the light between frames. Some film historians assumed that silent audiences were used to that, and just accepted it.

CinematographeProjection

Lumiere projecting with the Cinematographe

But wait! Along comes James Card, William Everson, and a few other collector-historians who were old enough to remember the silent days. They were darn sure that the movies they saw of Douglas Fairbanks and Clara Bow when they were children didn’t flicker, and they sure didn’t crawl along like molasses on a cold day in January. They suggested that going back to 24 frames-per-second was a better standard. Who was right?

Well, this gets tricky, like I said, but let’s start with one fact that I deliberately left out of this: until the transition to sound, most cameras and projectors were hand-cranked, not motorized. By the end of the silent era, motorized projectors were coming in, but the camera was hand-cranked until the day it had to be synched with sound. In other words, different cameramen and different projectionists did different things, no matter what their “standards” said. It also appears that there was a kind of frame-rate-race between the two professions for much of the period, so the real standard changed over time. This goes back to that issue of exhibitors not really respecting the producers’ wishes in terms of their movies: sometimes, instead of cutting a film, they just told the projectionist to speed up. This was apparently very common, and camera operators began to fight against it by speeding up as well, which led the projectionists to go even faster, and so on. Tests made at the time by the Society of Motion Picture Engineers confirmed this, and they revised their standards upward occasionally, though they were in general conservative about it. Billy Bitzer, for example, was actually timed at right around 16 frames-per-second, so that’s a perfectly reasonable rate for screening “Intolerance,” but other cameramen went a lot faster.

Projector BioscopeSo, here’s one conclusion I draw from all of this: those folks in the 60s may not have been so far off after all. Probably most early movies weren’t run at 24 fps, but it happened some of the time, and fast was much more common than slow. This is probably why there wasn’t that much protest during the occasional Chaplin revival in the 1930s and 40s. A lot of people did remember him moving fast.

A Bell & Howell projector

A Bell & Howell projector

But, so what? Do we have to watch a jerky, speeded-up film just because that’s what people did then? Do we have to sit in uncomfortable folding chairs because that’s what a Nickelodeon usually had? Is it “cheating” to watch a Chaplin movie on your phone? Is it not fair to watch “Intolerance” in a building that lacks a sumptuous lobby and a live stage performance? My real conclusion is that frame rate was pretty much subjective in the pre-automated era, so we should be equally subjective now: go with what looks good. Often, that probably will be about 24 fps, as Card and others advocated, but with earlier movies it probably needs to be slower, and there are probably a few that look better at an even faster rate. This needs to be audience-subjective. We don’t usually get a choice what rate to watch a movie nowadays (the recent “Phantom of the Opera” release from Kino Classics is an exception), and so we leave it to experts to decide for us. On most of the high-quality releases we get today, the action looks natural at whatever speed the distributor has chosen, and I have yet to see a silent film festival that really messed up the speed of a silent movie, so this debate is largely academic anyway. I only mention it because there are people out there who get really het up about it, but then there are people who can’t hear Chaplin’s name without reflexively saying “Keaton was funnier,” and who wants to be friends with them?

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.