Friday, April 20, 2012

Old Silent Movies

The library in Sparta, New Jersey, had to cancel The Birth of the Movies, the show I was going to do there on Sunday afternoon, because not enough people signed up to go and see it. While I'm sorry I won't be seeing Sparta, and sad not to be meeting the librarian and the readers there and entertaining them with antique movies, I must confess that I wasn't looking forward to the two-hour drive.

It's been canceled a couple of other times because people didn't sign up to come. I don't do the show very often, mostly because people don't ask me to do it very often, and partly because it always seems like a drag to leave Lambertville. I don't even market it anymore. Still, it's fun. Every time I do it I see different things in the movies I show and their interrelationships, and I tinker with it between times. It starts out with Thomas Edison and his merry men, the film studio they called the Black Maria, and three of the films they made for the Kinetoscope peep-show machines, including the boxing cats and Eugen Sandow, that incredible hunk of beefcake, flexing his muscles in a state of near-nakedness.

After that, some of the movies they showed to audiences in the nickelodeons, including The Great Train Robbery and D. W. Griffith's A Corner in Wheat. Finally I show them the last half of The Cheat, an early film of C. B. DeMille that still fascinates today. Since the last time I gave the show I've added a little movie directed by Alice Guy Blache, who became such a force in the movie industry in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Here it is, for your enjoyment. You will notice that it is full of French people, for when Madame Blache made this movie she was still in France.

Kate Gallison

1 comment:

  1. You have amazing knowledge of this subject! tjs