Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Mexican Revolution

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.


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.


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.


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 .


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


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.


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.


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 is arrested in Paris on February 13 for spying.


The new constitution of Mexico is adopted on February 5.

SS Mendi

SS Mendi


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

A Century in Review 1916-2016

Intolerance_(1916)_-_Nazarene_-_He_Who_Is_Without_SinA lot of blogs do some kind of year-end wrap up at this point in the year, but for this blog that actually means thinking about two years at the same time: this year and the one a hundred years ago.

1916 was a rough year for a lot of people, especially in Europe. The First World War had gone from an exciting adventure to a horrendous meat grinder of death, and there was no end in sight. Each new attack on the Western Front meant the sacrifice of thousands, and there was no visible movement of the battle lines. For most of the year, men were fighting in Verdun, only to find themselves in December in approximately their original positions, and from July to November, the Battle of the Somme raged with only minor gains for the Allies. Each of these battles cost the lives of hundreds of thousands on both sides.

Meanwhile, the home front was beginning to suffer the effects of war as well. In Germany, the allied blockade was having the effect of creating severe food shortages, which resulted in riots in several cities, especially Berlin, and the imposition of food rationing through the creation of a military office with absolute power over civilian affairs. Contrary to later perceptions of socialist agitation against the military, this move was widely embraced by the working classes, who saw rationing as a way to create equity between the rich and poor in food distribution. Rationing may have helped with front-line morale as well: it was hard for soldiers to feel good about fighting for their homeland when they knew their own families faced deprivation.

Mark I Tanks on September 15, 1916

Mark I Tanks on September 15, 1916

In Russia, the domestic situation was moving from bad to worse to intolerable. The front here was not a stable line, but quite mobile, with advances and retreats of hundreds of miles. That’s fine for a cavalry officer, but it meant a great deal of marching for soldiers who were often sent to the lines without proper footwear. Equipment of all kinds was lacking: including guns. Russian soldiers were advised to take weapons from the dead during battle in order to defend themselves. Moreover, the nation’s casualties (including POWs) now numbered in the millions.

Grigory Rasputin

Grigory Rasputin

Political agitation, which had been relatively quiet since the beginning of the war, started up again in earnest in 1916, with mutinies, strikes, and street demonstrations in most major cities. Russia was also suffering from food shortages, particularly in Petrograd. Even those who had money for bread often could not find it, or waited in lines for hours to get it (reportedly there were housewives who spent up to 40 hours a week on line). The Czar was warned by his senate (the Duma) and his security forces that open revolution was a real possibility by November of 1916. It came only weeks after the New Year.

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

The USA has managed to avoid war, even re-electing President Woodrow Wilson with a slogan of “he kept us out of war.” Neutrality in World War One would not survive another year, of course, but it allowed many in the US to prosper from sales of industrial goods to Europe in 1916. The American film industry has been a major beneficiary of the decline in European productivity, and American films are finally beginning to make inroads into European distribution chains. While the distant war in Europe may seem remote or even beneficial to some Americans, a more immediate concern is the ongoing revolution in Mexico, which has spilled across the border repeatedly, and led to 12,000 troops being sent by Wilson to pursue Pancho Villa – a military intervention that brings the US to the brink of outright war with Mexico. The US also occupied the Dominican Republic in 1916, continuing an aggressive interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.

Intolerance BabylonThis year has no huge breakout film on the scale of “The Birth of a Nation,” although most historians agree that D.W. Griffith’sIntolerance” had a good run and was seen by many of the same people that made “Birth” a huge hit. It still lost money, primarily because it cost so much more to make. The next-highest grossing film is reported to be “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” But the name on most people’s lips this year is Charlie Chaplin, who is now the highest-paid movie star, working at Mutual for $670,000, with a signing bonus that nearly brought it to a million. He has finally gained the freedom to slow down his production schedule and is taking more time on each new release, which technically sets him behind on his contractual requirements by the end of the year, but Mutual is still raking in plenty from his work. Others are also benefitting from his lag in production: a huge number of “Chaplin imitators” or derivative acts are filling the void with their own shorts of varying quality, including a fellow calling himself “Lonesome Luke” that is actually a young Harold Lloyd. A new face on the scene this year is Douglas Fairbanks, whose good-natured all-American athleticism is being used to create a new kind of comedy that also finds strong audience approval. He and Chaplin will be friends and allies in years to come.

Carrying the wounded off the field.

Carrying the wounded off the field.

Although European film production is down, there are still significant contributions from European studios. The first documentary to see major box office success is “The Battle of the Somme,” released in Britain with the support of the War Office. Germany makes one of its first forays into Expressionism with the serial “Homunculus,” about a man created by science who lacks the ability to feel love. And, although Louis Feuillade is by this time serving on the Western Front, Gaumont Studios manages to profit from late release of his crime-serial follow-ups to “Fantômas:” “Les Vampires,” which runs from the end of 1915 into the early part of the year, and “Judex,” which had been shot years earlier but sees the first episode released in the last week of 1916. Finally, Evgeni Bauer gave us his column-filled drama “A Life for a Life,” which launched its star, Vera Kholodnaia, to celebrity status.

My blog remains a relatively less-popular film blog – I guess the topic and approach is a bit esoteric compared to the usual classic film blog. I’m up about 5000 hits from last year, which falls slightly short of doubling my total for 2015. I’m holding steady with about 120 followers, and I only occasionally get more than one “like” on a post. Only a few people comment, but those that do tend to come back and comment again. My impression is that I have a small cadre of dedicated readers, but not a lot of mass appeal, and I’m fine with that. I am backing off a bit (as some have probably noticed) from doing daily posts. I like doing a short movie every day when I can, and one “feature” or at least more in-depth post a week, but the simple fact is that it takes a little too much of my time away from other activities. I’m also writing fewer “context” posts, apart from my monthly Century News roundups.

I’m aware that my blog is somewhat less research-heavy than some other blogs, especially those focused on the silent era. I generally write my impressions of the movies I watch without doing a lot of background research, in part because I’m interested in what the movies themselves convey as sources. I typically avoid, in particular, reading other reviews of movies I’m discussing until after I’ve posted, because it’s all too easy to be influenced by the perceptions of others. Sometimes that means I get stuff wrong, but that’s a hazard of studying a period for which a large proportion of the primary sources are lost, and I try at least to admit when I’m writing from a position of ignorance.

Le_Voyage_dans_la_luneThe reason I started this blog was unusual: it wasn’t because I knew a whole lot about early film, it was because I wanted to learn more. In that sense, this blog is a huge success. My first posts were under 250 words (one reason daily posting was no big deal), but now it’s hard for me to write less than 500. That’s because I know more, so I see more in every movie I review. I’ve gained an appreciation for movies from this period far beyond just knowledge as well – coming back to “The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador” really demonstrated that to me recently. When I watched it in 2012, I barely understood what I was seeing, whereas now watching it is a rich experience. I’ve discovered viewing-muscles I never knew I had as I’ve done this workout. So, that’s a win, and as long as it’s true, there will be every reason to continue this project.

March 1916

While the Battle of Verdun continues to grind on in Europe, American newspapers this month would be more focused on the nearby Mexican Revolution, which once again spills across the border and brings US intervention. The Century News this month focuses on these events and also some beginnings that will impact the future.

World War One: On March 24, the Channel ferry S.S. Sussex is torpedoed by a German submarine, with a loss of fifty lives. The US protests in strong terms, with President Woodrow Wilson threatening to end diplomatic relations with Germany. Although no Americans were lost in this attack, the US public is still highly inflamed from the previous year’s Lusitania sinking. The Kaiser comes to fear possible US intervention in the war, and in May will issue the “Sussex Pledge,” which dials back “Unrestricted Submarine Warfare” to placate American public opinion.

VillaUncleSamBerrymanCartoonMexican Revolution:

The Battle of Columbus (New Mexico) occurs on March 8-9, as revolutionary leader Pancho Villa leads a raiding force of about 500 men across the border, probably to secure food and supplies for his troops. He encounters a much stronger force than anticipated, and despite initial success due to surprise, his forces are beaten back. An estimated 90 Mexican soldiers are killed or wounded, to 8 US soldiers and 10 civilians.

Pancho Villa Expedition: In response to the above attacks, and to rumors of atrocities by Villa’s men against American citizens in the press, on March 14 President Woodrow Wilson orders a force of 12,000 men, later joined by additional forces under the command of General John J. Pershing, to pursue and capture Pancho Villa. Although the pursuit undeniably inconveniences the revolutionary cause, Villa is able to evade pursuit and continue his activities.

Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa

Politics: Yuan Shikai, who had claimed the throne of China in November, abdicates on March 22 and the ever-fragile Republic of China is restored.

Industry: The Bayerischen Motoren Werke (BMW) is founded on March 7 in Germany.

Society: J.R.R. Tolkien marries Edith Bratt on March 22.

Births: Actress Mercedes McCambridge (later in “Touch of Evil” and “All the King’s Men”), March 17; actor Sterling Hayden (who appeared in “The Killing” and “Dr. Strangelove,” both by Stanley Kubrick), March 26.

October, 1915

Stamp commemorating Edith Cavell, executed Oct 12.

Stamp commemorating Edith Cavell, executed Oct 12.

As we start putting out carved pumpkins and plastic skeletons, it’s time to take a moment to look back at the headlines from a century ago. There’s plenty here to foster a chilling Halloween spirit, especially in the trenches of the First World War.

World War

Espionage: Nurse Edith Cavell is executed on October 12 by a German firing squad for assisting at least 200 Allied soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium. Cavell would become a symbol in Allied (especially British) propaganda for the decency of resistance fighters in Belgium and her execution as proof of the cold ruthlessness and militarism of Germany.

Serbian Front: A new campaign to conquer Serbia (the focal point of the beginning of the war) is launched by Germany and Austria-Hungary on October 7, joined by Bulgaria on October 14. Within six months, the Serbian army will be forced to retreat and the bulk of Serbia occupied.

Baltic: The German armored cruiser SMS Prinz Adelbert is torpedoed by a British submarine and destroyed on October 23. Over 670 sailors are killed, the greatest loss of life for the Imperial Navy’s Baltic forces during the war.

Other News

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

Literature: Franz Kafka’s book The Metamorphosis, about a man who turns into a giant insect, is first published this month in Germany.

Diplomacy: The United States recognizes the revolutionary government of Venustiano Carranza, the “Primer Jefe” of the Constitutionalists in Mexico on October 19. He will go on to become President of the country in 1917, but is assassinated only three years later.

Politics: The United Daughters of the Confederacy holds its annual meeting in San Francisco on October 21. This is the first time the meeting is held outside of the South, and reflects the growing acceptance of the “lost-cause narrative” in non-Southern states, in part due to the success of “The Birth of a Nation.”

Law: Lyda Conley, who had been arrested a year earlier for shooting a policeman, becomes the first Native American woman admitted to practice at the US Supreme Court, October 25. She had appeared in propria persona (in her own person) in 1909, to argue in favor of protecting a Native American cemetery.

Government: Billy Hughes succeeds Andrew Fisher as Australian Prime Minister on October 27. He will break with his own party (Labor) over the issue of conscription and form the new National Labor Party, which later merged with the Commonwealth Liberal Party to become the Nationalist Party, while still serving in that capacity.

Disasters: The St. Johns School in Peabody, Massachusetts catches fire on October 28. 21 girls between the ages of 7 and 17 die in this fire, in part due to poor safety procedures and lack of safety exits.

Deaths: Actress Blanche Walsh dies October 31 from kidney failure. Mostly known for her work on the stage, she appeared in a film version of “Resurrection,” the novel by Leo Tolstoy, produced by Adolph Zukor in 1912.

June 1915

William Jennings Bryan and his wife, shortly after his resignation as Secretary of State.

William Jennings Bryan and his wife, shortly after his resignation as Secretary of State.

This is a slightly slow news month, so far as I’ve found, but the First World War rages on in Europe and a few major political developments kept Americans buying newspapers and attending the newsreels through the month of June.

World War: The third Allied attack on Gallipolli fails, June 4, resulting in 6500 casualties plus 3000 for the Ottomans. The newly belligerent Italy attacks Austro-Hungarian forces on June 23, beginning the First Battle of the Isonzo. After suffering 14,000 casualties (to about 9,000 Austro-Hungarians), the battle ends in failure for the Italians.

Revolution: Pancho Villa’s and General Álvaro Obregón’s forces clash in the decisive engagement of the Battle of Celaya at León, June 3. Obregón loses an arm to a grenade in this battle, but he is victorious.

Suffrage: On June 5, women in Denmark and Iceland gain the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

Politics: William Jennings Bryan resigns on June 9 as Secretary of State over the handling of the Lusitania disaster. Bryan was a powerful figure in the populist wing of the Democratic Party, and had run for president unsuccessfully twice. He argued that the United States should avoid entanglements in the First World War, predicting that “if either side does win…a victory it will probably mean preparation for another war.” This view became unpopular after the German submarine attack, and he was seen as a liability to President Wilson’s cabinet.

Philanthropy: The British Women’s Institute is founded in Wales in June 16. Its purpose is to revitalize rural communities in order to increase food production during the War.

Film Industry: The Motion Picture Directors Association is founded on June 18, in Los Angeles. This confirms both the growing influence of directors in the industry and the now-established centrality of the Los Angeles area to film production. Founders include Maurice Tourneur, director of “The Wishing Ring” and “Alias Jimmy Valentine.”

Born: Priscilla Lane, actress (“Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Saboteur”) June 12.

Died: Elmer Booth, star of “Musketeers of Pig Alley” and also in “An Unseen Enemy,” on June 16.

Ammunition Smuggling on the Mexican Border (1914)

Ammunition Smuggling

This can be called an early attempt at making a “docudrama,” and it may be one of the most authentic of those ever filmed, because many of the actors are re-creating their own actions on the screen. The movie depicts the failed attempt of a Texas posse to apprehend smugglers taking arms across the border for the Mexican Revolution, and the subsequent captivity of two of the members of said posse, the death of one of the hostages and the eventual liberation of the other and the capture of the criminals. The movie was produced by that surviving posse member, former sheriff Eugene T. Buck, and of course is told entirely from his point of view, with no attempt at a balanced or fair perspective on the revolutionaries he fought against. Those revolutionaries were anarchists and comrades of Emiliano Zapata, and got the support of American radicals like Emma Goldman after their capture, while Buck’s testimony was called into serious question on the stand. The film was shot only weeks after that testimony. As interesting as this history makes the movie, I found the unimaginative cinematography (almost every shot is a static crowd shot, with individual characters hard to distinguish) and the poor quality of the print made it hard to maintain an interest.

Director: Eugene T. Buck

Cast: Eugene T. Buck

Run Time: 41 Min

I have not been able to find this for free online. If you know where it can be seen, please inform us in the comments.

Mexican Filibusters (1911)

Mexican Filibusters

Prior to seeing this rare American film about the Mexican Revolution, I hadn’t known that “filibuster” could mean anything except for a lengthy congressional speech, made deliberately to stall for time (ala “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”). Apparently, however, it could also mean “arms smuggler,” as in this movie, although our smugglers here are actually Mexican Americans smuggling arms into Mexico, not Mexicans themselves. It is a kind of early “heist” picture, in which the audience is far more invested in the criminals and whether they will pull off the crime than in the pursuing forces of law. It owes a great deal, in fact, to “The Great Train Robbery,” both visually and in terms of narrative, which makes it seem a bit dated for 1911. It was one of the first films in which Kenean Buel directed Alice Joyce (which also include “By the Aid of a Lariat” and “The Mexican Joan of Arc”) for the Kamen Company, which would itself make further movies about the complicated border relations during the time of the Revolution. Despite the fact that much of the film centers around a thrilling chase, the editing is fairly straightforward, with little inter-cutting or use of multiple angles to communicate the story, and the forward-facing intertitles telegraph a great deal of the action before it happens.

Director: Kenean Buel

Starring: Alice Joyce, Carlyle Blackwell

Run Time: 16 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

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.