THE THIEVING HAND is one of the cleverest combinations of silent comedy and vaudeville-style talent Savant has seen. It’s the simple tale of a magic ‘artificial’ arm that, once in place in a host socket, begins stealing incessantly. Made probably only to provoke laughter, this weirdness might have something to say about the concept of charity. 1908. Continue reading ? – The Thieving Hand (1908)
Around 1900, the issues of poverty and poor relief were the source of heated controversy. This DVD illustrates in seven chapters how examinations of the ‘Social Question’ were presented in magic lantern slide sets and early films. On the screens of auditoriums, Sunday schools, music-halls, cinemas and churches, visitors could witness orphans freezing to death in the snow, drunkards plunging their families into misery and helpless old people begging for a scrap of bread. Audiences experienced poignant moving pictures in performances with music, singing and recitations. The photographic and film industries delivered glass slide sets and films in very large runs on a variety of themes relating to poverty. Continue reading Various – Screening the Poor 1888-1914 [compilation] (1888-1914)
A pig dressed in fancy clothes flirts with a pretty girl, but she humiliates him and tears off his suit; she then makes him dance for her affections. 104 years later, a GIF will be created to scare Bobby Burke as plotted by John Davison. Continue reading Le Cochon danseur AKA Dancing Pig (1907)
Feature film 1903 UK
This was the very first film version of “Alice” and encapsulated much of the “Wonderland” story into a short ten minute feature. Despite the infancy of the film-making process, the production included some creditable special effects and Alice grew and shrank to good effect. The film is preserved by the British Film Institute, although two of the sixteen scenes are missing.
“The History of the British Film: 1896-1906” by Rachael Low and Roger Manvell (distributed in the USA by R.R. Bowker, 1948, 1973) offers this description: (see above right)
“The film is composed of sixteen scenes, dissolving very beautifully from one to another, but preceded, where necessary for the elucidation of the story, by descriptive titles.”
The book proceeds to describe the 16 scenes in considerable detail and also offers a brief entry on the Hepworth Manufacturing Company and its founder, Cecil Hepworth (born 1874). Continue reading Cecil M. Hepworth – Alice in Wonderland (1903)
Another little gem from Emile Cohl. This short animated film seems to be about booze and delusions.
Continue reading Émile Cohl – Le Songe d’un garçon de café AKA The Hasher’s Delirium (1910)
The BFI’s fascinating collection of 60 short films all made before 1911 comes to DVD with the aim of giving wider access to some of the extraordinary film material held in the National Film and Television Archive, much of which has been restored. Although most films made at this time were actualities and newsreels, this collection contains mostly fiction films, ranging from the dramatic to the comic and the fantastical.
This double-disc set provides an entertaining look at how many film devices such as the close-up, the cut-away and editing, were first invented by film-makers before the turn of the century. Continue reading Various – Early Cinema : Primitives & Pioneers (1895 – 1910)
In an unnamed place, his majesty Satan is bored. Despite his servants exertions, nothing can be found to cheer him up. Continue reading Segundo de Chomon – Satan At Play (1907)