Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Christmas Truce

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 and December, 1914

The 1914 "Christmas Truce" as depicted in a British magazine, January 1915.

The 1914 “Christmas Truce” as depicted in a British magazine, January 1915.

Due to a major paying project last month, I fell behind on this unpaying blog. I didn’t even get around to the news roundup for November, 1914. So, I’m going to combine November and December into a single post this time out. Without further ado…

November 1914

Politics: On November 24, Benito Mussolini is expelled from the Italian Socialist Party. A school-teacher by trade, Mussolini has worked his way up the ranks of the Party and has been very successful as the editor of Avanti! (“forwards”), the party newspaper. He is expelled for disagreeing with the party line on neutrality in World War One, and he will soon begin a campaign for militarization and joining the war on the Allied side.

Diplomacy: Britain and France declare war on Turkey on November 5. The UK annexes the island of Cyprus, holding on to it until 196o, using it as a base in both World Wars, and recruiting Greek Cypriots to fight for the Allies.

Finance: The Federal Reserve Bank of the US opens on November 16.

War: US troops vacate Veracruz, Mexico, November 23, allowing Venustiano Carranza’s troops to occupy the city and establish it as his headquarters.

December 1914

Law and Order: On December 17, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Harrison Narcotics Act into law, making cocaine and opiates illegal to sell or distribute, except under highly regulated medical exceptions. The immediate effect is to squeeze the supply of these drugs into the United States, driving the price up and creating a highly profitable criminal market, as well as forcing many addicts to suffer withdrawal due to inability to feed their addiction.

World War I: This is the December of the famous “Christmas Truce” on the Western Front. British and German soldiers crossed no man’s land between the trenches to exchange gifts and goodwill, and engage in football matches together. This symbolic moment of mutual respect and gallantry does not characterize the nature of trench warfare in general, and it is never repeated on such a scale during the war.

Industry: On December 15, a gas explosion at the Mitsubishi Hojyo coal mine in Japan kills 687 workers, the worst coal mine disaster in Japanese history.

Finance: On December 12, the New York Stock Exchange re-opens after more than four months of closure due to the war.

Films released in the last two months of the year include “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” “His Prehistoric Past” (the last movie Charlie Chaplin will make for Mack Sennett at Keystone Studios) and two “Perils of Pauline” clones: “The Hazards of Helen” and “The Exploits of Elaine,”

Born: Dorothy Lamour (the “sarong queen” of “Jungle Princess” and several Hope & Crosby “Road” movies) , December 10; Larry Parks (who played Al Jolson in “The Jolson Story” and “Jolson Sings Again” before being blacklisted as a former Communist), December 13; Richard Widmark (a diversely talented actor, mostly remembered for playing off-balance villains in film noir movies like “Night and the City” and “Kiss of Death”), December 26; Jo Ann Fleet (who was Cathy Ames in “East of Eden” and also Paul Newman’s mother in “Cool Hand Luke”), December 30.

Died: Stellen Rye, the German director of “The Student of Prague” died on November 14, as a prisoner of war in a French prison.