Stockholm Cinema Studies 9

ACTA UNIVERSITATIS STOCKHOLMIENSIS
Stockholm Cinema Studies
9
Framing the Feature Film
Multi-Reel Feature Film and American Film Culture in the 1910s
Joel Frykholm
©Joel Frykholm, Stockholm 2009
Cover page image by Joel Frykholm. Original photograph of
35 mm film strip by “Éclusette” (made available by the
author through Wikimedia Commons and published under
GNU Free Documentation License). Textual elements from
advertisement for Majestic, Reel Life 4, no. 2 (March 28,
1914). Market Street Philadelphia photograph (1900-1910)
from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection, Library of
Congress Photographs and Prints Division. Frame enlargement from The Spoilers (Selig, 1914).
ISSN 1653-4859
ISBN 978-91-86071-23-3
Printed in Sweden by US-AB, Stockholm 2009
Distributor: eddy.se ab
Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Jan Olsson, whose intellectual vigor and wit and great
knowledge awoke my interest in early cinema in the first place. His patient
support and encouragement, not to mention his receptive reading of the
manuscript at various stages, have been invaluable.
Tom Gunning also offered much inspiration and good advice during his
two-month visit to Stockholm University in the early fall of 2006, by aiming
my attention to the significance of the early multi-reel feature, and, more
generally, by sharing his awesome insight into film culture.
I am immensely grateful for the financial support provided by various organizations and institutions. I received grants for the printing of the dissertation from the Holger and Thyra Lauritzen Foundation and from Anders
Karitz Stiftelse. The Holger and Thyra Lauritzen Foundation funded the
acquisition of some valuable sources on microfilm, and helped finance a first
three-month research stay in New York City in the spring of 2007. Helge
Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse and the Department of Cinema Studies at Stockholm University also contributed to the first research trip to the United
States. A generous grant from the Sweden-America Foundation made possible a second, six-month research stint in New York City in the spring of
2008.
Essential for these trans-Atlantic crossings to come about was a muchappreciated invitation from Dr. Dana Polan at New York University.
A number of libraries and archives have been helpful beyond the call of
duty, thereby allowing me to make the most of my research time in the US. I
owe a deep gratitude to the staff at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; to the staff at the Film Study Center at the Museum of Modern
Art in New York, especially Charles Silver; to the staff at the Library of
Congress Motion Picture and Television Reading Room, especially Rosemary Hanes; to the staff at the Free Library in Philadelphia, especially
Geraldine Duclow at the Theater Collection and everyone at the Free Library’s Newspapers and Microfilm Center; and, finally, to the staff at the
Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, especially Barbara Hall.
I would also like to thank friends, colleagues, and office roommates at the
Department of Cinema Studies at Stockholm University, in particular
Christopher Natzén, whose competence and kindness have helped me out of
various jams on more than one occasion.
Bart van der Gaag has offered indispensable technical assistance over the
years, including lending me a much-needed laptop when my own machine
collapsed a few months short of the dissertation deadline.
I am greatly indebted to Elaine King, who copy-edited the manuscript
with impeccable precision.
Finally, I want to thank my family and friends for all kinds of support
during the work with this dissertation.
Most important of all, thank you Caroline, for the love and inspiration and
all the fun you bring into my life every single day.
Stockholm
September 2009
Contents
Acknowledgements..............................................................................................v
Introduction........................................................................................................ 11
Framing the Feature: A Brief Presentation of the Topic .............................................. 11
The Early Multi-Reel Feature Film and the Transformations of American Cinema in the
1910s.......................................................................................................................... 13
A Survey of Research on the Breakthrough of the Multi-Reel Feature Film ................ 18
Widening the Historical Framework............................................................................. 22
Methodological Considerations and Qualifications ...................................................... 27
Part I Framing the Feature .............................................................................. 39
Chapter 1 Negotiating the Breakthrough of the Multi-Reel Feature Film ...... 40
Part II The Case of Philadelphia...................................................................... 73
Chapter 2 Philadelphia in the Early Twentieth Century: Selected Frames ... 74
Basic Urban Organization: Core and Ring/Center City and Suburbs........................... 75
Transportation............................................................................................................. 77
Demographics............................................................................................................. 78
Industry, Economy, Workforce .................................................................................... 79
Politics ........................................................................................................................ 79
Cultural Decline? ........................................................................................................ 80
Chapter 3 Film Culture in Philadelphia, 1895–1914: Selected Flashbacks .. 82
Early Exhibition: Venues and Contexts ....................................................................... 82
Regulatory Issues ....................................................................................................... 88
From Nickel Theater to the Legitimate Stage: Diverse Exhibition Contexts, Parallel Film
Cultures ...................................................................................................................... 92
Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia: From the First Wave to the Vice Film Vogue 95
Film and Theater....................................................................................................... 106
Chapter 4 Film Culture in Philadelphia in 1914: Selected Cases ................ 110
Exhibition: Some Basic Data on Movie Theaters and Other Venues for Film Exhibition
................................................................................................................................. 110
Distribution: An Eldorado for Feature Exchange Men ............................................... 112
Production: From Expansion to Conflagration........................................................... 114
Exhibition: Price and Length of the Show.................................................................. 115
Exhibition: The Significance of Music........................................................................ 118
Exhibition: A Note on Racial Issues .......................................................................... 121
Exhibition: Movies in Convention Hall ....................................................................... 122
Assorted Events: Extra-Theatrical Exhibition, Political, Social, and Cinematic Activism,
and Other Mergers of Film Culture and City Life ....................................................... 123
Films and Formats: The Serial .................................................................................. 128
Films and Formats: Travel Views and Traveling Exhibitors....................................... 129
Films and Formats: Local Views and Newsreels....................................................... 131
Films and Formats: Dance Pictures .......................................................................... 133
Censorship: The John Barleycorn Controversy......................................................... 135
Features, Marketing, and Picture Personalities: The Significance of Mary Pickford and
Jack London in Philadelphia in 1914......................................................................... 140
Intermedial Reconfigurations I: A Little Theatrical War ............................................. 145
Intermedial Reconfigurations II: Film and Theater..................................................... 148
Chapter 5 Multi-Reel Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914 ........ 151
Number of Venues and a Rough Categorization ....................................................... 153
Seating Capacity of Different Types of Venues......................................................... 153
Location of Motion Picture Venues ........................................................................... 155
Multi-Reel Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914: A Chronological Overview
................................................................................................................................. 166
Part III The Case of The Spoilers.................................................................. 202
Chapter 6 The Spoilers: The Anatomy of a Feature Success ..................... 203
The Biography .......................................................................................................... 203
The Novel ................................................................................................................. 203
The Play ................................................................................................................... 205
The Deal ................................................................................................................... 207
The Production ......................................................................................................... 210
The Film.................................................................................................................... 211
The Chicago Sneak Premiere ................................................................................... 223
The New York City Strand Theatre Premiere ............................................................ 224
The Reviews ............................................................................................................. 226
The Spoilers on the Road ......................................................................................... 226
Programming The Spoilers ....................................................................................... 241
A Red-Blooded Story: Americanizing the Feature Market? ....................................... 245
The Aftermath ........................................................................................................... 249
Summary and Conclusions............................................................................. 252
Notes ............................................................................................................... 255
Sources............................................................................................................ 312
Index ................................................................................................................ 335
Introduction
Framing the Feature: A Brief Presentation of the Topic
The breakthrough of the multi-reel feature film was a key catalyst for the
changes the American film industry and film culture underwent in the 1910s.
This is not a discovery by film scholars working a century or so after “the
fact,” but was duly noted by contemporary commentators:
That the photoplay art is now undergoing a sort of transition, is a fact
that is well understood by those who are giving it their professional
attention. There are many new elements that are entering the field
which are giving rise to an unusual amount of discussion. The remarkably rapid growth of the feature film is one of the chief causes of
this agitation.1
Some of the terms, for example “photoplay,” may have lost currency for us,
while others, such as “transition,” remain critically significant. Either way, a
similar insight has much more recently brought forth calls for more refined
research agendas for studying the transformative power of the feature format: “Treating the early feature as a locus point for shifts throughout production, distribution, exhibition, and reception, rather than simply as a production trend that had certain effects outside production, has the potential to
transform our understanding of the period,” Michael Quinn argued in 2001.2
In spite of Quinn’s own as well as others’ contributions, the breakthrough
of the multi-reel feature film in the United States and the significance of this
process within the wider context of American cinema in the 1910s still lack a
more comprehensive analytical framing. Above all, our understanding of the
connection between the early feature and the changing conditions of exhibition and reception seems acutely limited. This dissertation is an attempt to
set the record somewhat straighter on both counts.
The study is devoted to the examination of two broad questions and a
supplementary case study: (A) How was the breakthrough of the feature
negotiated within the trade and by contemporary commentators? Such a discursive approach offers an opening for a multi-perspective framing of the
11
chain of events as well as for extensive hypothesis construction that might
inspire further research topics. (B) How did the new format and its gradual
rise to dominance affect local film markets and film cultures? This question
will be addressed in the form of a case study of film exhibition and film
culture in Philadelphia, primarily with respect to the exhibition of multi-reel
feature films in 1914, although presented against a wider historical backdrop
of film in Philadelphia, reaching back to the first public screening of moving
pictures at Keith’s Bijou on Christmas Day 1895. The thrust of this part of
the dissertation aligns with a fairly recent turn to the local in film historical
studies. (C) To extend and deepen the investigation of the diverse local conditions of feature film exhibition and reception, the dissertation leads up to a
case study of one specific film: The Spoilers (Selig Polyscope Co., 1914).
The aim here is to approach the historical reception of the film, primarily by
studying relevant intertexts and critical and promotional discourses. Shifting
attention to a particular case film will lay bare the anatomy of a successful
multi-reel feature film, but more importantly uncover how the protracted
interpretative event that this film set off was perforated by a range of discourses that turn out to be vital not only for an understanding of the early
feature but of the transformation of cinema at this juncture.
The remainder of this introductory chapter will be devoted to a survey of
research on the early feature; a widening of the historical framework for
understanding the early feature and its contexts; and finally, the making explicit of the various methodological considerations that underpin the study.
The first part of the research survey links the breakthrough of the feature
to an array of film-historical transformations unfolding around the same
time. This is followed by an assessment of the scholarly work that has been
more or less explicitly directed toward the early feature. The widening of the
film-historical framework serves the double purpose of providing a further
context concerning the object of study while simultaneously generating a
few methodological stances of potential bearing on the rest of the dissertation. This section of the introduction is also bipartite. I first address a selection of contested areas within early cinema scholarship and the possibility of
a piece-meal approach for the discussion of the early feature. The subsequent
part concerns the problems of periodization in general and of early cinema in
particular, and how these problems affect our scholarly framing of the
breakthrough of the multi-reel feature film. The final section of the introduction is devoted to various methodological considerations, ranging from
very broad underpinnings to much more detailed accounts, for instance, regarding the uses of sources.
12
The Early Multi-Reel Feature Film and the
Transformations of American Cinema in the 1910s
The Feature Craze; or, A Case of Feeturitis
The sudden and widespread popularity of multi-reel feature films was sometimes compared to the spreading of infectious diseases: “From what I hear in
various quarters the fell disease of ‘Feeturitis,’ found in the case of practically every Italian film maker, is assuming a virulent form and shows signs
of developing into a constitutional inability to make a film less than 4,000
feet in length.”3 According to the same witty commentator, features should
more properly be called “feet-ures,” as the key aspect of such films often
seemed to be to use as many feet of film stock as possible.4 When it came to
the new format’s impact on audiences, a different form of illness seemed
more applicable. An Edison representative commented upon the unprecedented success of Quo Vadis? (Cines, 1912; imported and distributed in the
U.S. by George Kleine Attractions/Kleine Optical Company in 1913) and
suggested that following this film, “the country went rapidly feature crazy.”5
The notion of a “feature craze” diagnosed audiences as being enthused by
the big multi-reel features to the verge of insanity.6 It also implied that although large segments of audiences were afflicted by this madness, the
popularity of the feature film would be short-lived. By embracing the notion
of a “feature craze,” commentators literally identified the feature as a fad
that was gaining momentum only to soon face its own demise in some historical dead-end alleyway. The sudden appearance as well as the novelty,
spectacle, and spread of the new format had caused awe and admiration at
first, but this initial shock-like response would quickly pass, commentators
opined.
In more recent film historiography, the “feature craze” metaphor has
taken on a different tonality. According to Ben Singer, there has been a tendency to accentuate the “speed and decisiveness” of the transition from the
single-reel standard to feature film dominance and references to the “feature
craze” seem indicative of this tendency.7 In these cases, however, earlier
connotations of insanity have been dislodged, as has (needless to say) the
predictions of the feature’s rapid passing. On account of an eighty plus year
period of meaning slippage then, the phrase has gone from hinting at the
imminent death of the feature to suggesting its speedy and decisive historical
triumph. Obviously, the feature was not a passing fad, but neither was its
coming to dominance as swift and decisive as has sometimes been suggested.8
The persistence of a latter-day triumphant version of the “feature craze”
trope is perhaps due to the obviousness with which the feature format has
13
long occupied the position as central commodity as well as that of the dominating format for film artistic expression. A similar obviousness of program
cinema based on the one-reel standard might correspondingly have been
what spurred people to dismiss the feature as a fad.
Program Cinema, the One-Reel Standard, and the Emergence of
Rivaling Formats
After years of struggle for market control, on the one hand involving the
ousting of Pathé as the leading film company in the United States and globally, and on the other hand a series of legal proceedings between American
firms over patents and copyrights, the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC, a.k.a. the Trust) had brought relative stability to the
industry.9 The enduring presence of independent firms guaranteed some
competition, but any serious threat to stability was contained by the emergence of an oligopolistic market structure that located industrial control to
the General Film Company, formed for the purpose of distributing the output
of the production companies linked to the MPPC, and eventually Mutual and
Universal, the two independent counterparts to General Film that remained
after the series of splits and dissensions that had caused both the Motion
Picture Distributing and Sales Co. and the Film Supply Company of America to wither away.10 The “program companies,” as they were often referred
to, spearheaded a notion of “program cinema” that was built upon the onereel standard and the daily program change. The idea was to supply exhibitors with a steady and reliable output of one-reel films (sometimes two films
were merged onto one reel, thereby forming a so-called split-reel),11 distributed in the form of a weekly program that accommodated for a daily change
of four to six reels. The great economical advantage for exhibitors as well as
film production companies was that the system ensured predictability. Economic predictability was, however, hinged upon the handling of each reel of
film as a perfect substitute for the next. There were mechanisms of differentiation in place, primarily connected to the brand name/trademark of the
production company, genre, and increasingly, to recognizable film stars, but
economically, program cinema treated reels of film as piece goods.12
Films longer than one reel had appeared sporadically almost as long as
cinema had existed—the standard film historiographical examples are passion plays and prizefight films13—but it was not until the early 1910s,
around 1912, that longer films started to become more frequent. Around the
same time as multi-reel films grew more common, the serial film reached
considerable popularity. This format was based on one- or two-reel episodes
released on a weekly basis, each episode constituting a part of an extended
narrative or being connected in some other way to the other episodes, if none
14
other than by a leading character—usually a female lead, hence the notion of
the “serial queen.”14 Another format that deviated from the standard one-reel
narrative films was the newsreel.15
The success of the serial, although relatively brief, was partly due to its
qualities as a hybrid format that could nurture protracted narratives while at
the same time adhering to the distribution practices of program cinema.
Equally important were the innovative methods of marketing that were employed to promote the serial, especially the tie-ins to the newspaper press
that also served to strengthen the ties between the two media—in turn a sign
of cinema’s cultural maturity.16 The newsreel turned out to have better prospects for long-term survival, since this format could be integrated into the
variety show typical of program cinema as well as into the “balanced program” typical of early feature cinema, since the latter presented the longer
feature in conjunction with shorter films.17 In comparison, the multi-reel
feature format posed a potentially vaster challenge. Seemingly irreconcilable
with the cornerstones of the existing version of program cinema, the multireel feature threatened to displace the one-reeler as the central commodity of
the film industry and thereby triggering a radical industrial reconfiguration.
At this point, the Trust, troubled from the start by internal conflict and beset from the outside by changing industrial conditions as well as the threat of
anti-trust legislation, was already under considerable pressure.18 Moreover,
the industry was engaged in the gradual relocation of film production to the
Los Angeles area, a movement that also involved the standardization of a
range of new business practices.19 Adding to this the transformative force
exerted by new formats—the feature in particular—it is easy to see in hindsight that the very notion of program cinema was imperiled. As we will find
in a later section, the negotiated responses surfacing in the midst of the moment of change, was however another matter.
Features and Film Style
Filmmaking practice was in no more a restful state than the industry in general, regardless of whether we choose to frame the changes with regard to
style, narration and modes of representation as an intensified codification of
the classical Hollywood style, as the further development of a cinema of
narrative integration (with its roots in the “narrator system” peculiar to D.
W. Griffith) or as the sketching out of a transitional style that is to be judged
as a “finished type” in itself.20 Although the multi-reel feature may not have
been pivotal in these processes, the new format clearly affected filmmakers,
if not otherwise than by entailing new creative possibilities as well as a pressure to master a new format. But filmmakers were not just passively reacting
to changes inflicted upon them, but actively influencing the course of events.
More specifically, although the increasing length of films put filmmakers
15
under pressure to reinvent their practices, the escalating frequency and importance of such films was at least partly brought on in the first place by
filmmakers’ push for increased narrative and stylistic options.
New Format, New Exhibition Contexts, New Audiences
On the level of exhibition, from about 1908 and onwards, the predominant
nickelodeon, neighborhood and storefront theaters were joined by larger and
more elaborately equipped venues, newly built or renovated.21 As a result of
filmic entertainment more frequently finding its way into legitimate theaters,
vaudeville theaters of varying classes as well as a range of other venues beyond the nickelodeon, the exhibition context diversified further.22 The early
feature has often been associated with the new and more upscale of these
exhibition contexts, but as I show in later sections, reality was more complex
than a simple correlation between the appearance of “picture palaces” and
the emergence of features entails.
On a more theoretical note, Miriam Hansen has argued that the narrative
integration, duration and complexity that the feature contained fostered a
new conception of the film spectator. The loud, local and essentially empiric
spectator of the earliest days was supplanted by ideas of a hypothetical addressee, a quiet and absorbed ideal spectator securely seated in an increasingly de-realized theater space.23 Others have argued that the spectatorial
ideal of the transitional period never was, and never was meant to be universal. Moya Luckett highlights children’s spectatorship as an example of an
ideal that was deviant yet sanctioned. Deviant to the extent that children
were the beneficiaries of special matinees and were not expected to exercise
the same self-control as adults with regard to making noise, moving and
expressing emotion; sanctioned to the extent that children spectators were
seen as important markers of the medium’s respectability: “[T]heir presence
at the movies demonstrated that the medium was not only ‘safe’ and uplifting but as pure as the children themselves.”24 Shelley Stamp has made similar observations regarding female spectatorship, arguably an equally convincing case of a specially tailored spectatorial ideal. According to Stamp,
the transitional discourse on female patronage was fundamentally paradoxical, as women’s presence at the movie theater on the one hand was perceived
to contribute to the uplift of the film medium’s status, but on the other hand,
seen as placing these same women under a grave moral and sexual threat.25
Economic reasons also made it imperative to nurture female patronage, since
the “flâneuse” constituted a possible link between film culture and consumer
culture.26 Nonetheless, anxieties over women’s presence at the movie show,
and possibly in the public sphere in general, and over the vast number of
children patronizing the movies, were influential sources of inspiration for a
variety of regulatory initiatives. The most concrete manifestations of these
16
initiatives were the emergence of boards of reviews and censorship bodies at
different levels.27
The efforts to target key audience groups by means of new strategies in
filmmaking, programming and marketing can be seen as being prompted
both by the desire to widen the audience base and the ambition to elevate the
status of the medium. Some have argued that both these objectives conflate
in a “wooing” of the middleclass. Others, most notably revisionist historians
of the late 1970s, claimed that a middle class audience made its presence felt
virtually from the beginning of cinema.28 Without picking sides in the highly
contested matter of early film audiences, we can acknowledge that the multireel feature format was, if nothing else, widely perceived to have attracted a
new audience, one that supposedly would never have set foot in the storefront Nickelodeon theater.
Features, Fans and Film Stars
The emergence of fan magazines has also been said to attest to the desire of
film producers to widen the audience base and to find new forms of marketing that would appeal to new audience groups.29 On the other hand, magazines such as Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay were manifestations of a fan culture that should not single-handedly be seen as an elaborated instantiation of marketing, but as at least partly originating from the
genuine interests, desires and needs of film fans.30 Early on, fan culture was
caused to undergo processes of gendering that resulted in the identification
of the typical film fan as a young woman.31
Soon outflanking previously prominent components such as “storyalized
films” and the more explicit fan participatory discourse on scenario writing,
fan culture was increasingly predicated on the figure of the film star.32 Certain actresses and actors had surfaced from anonymity as a combined result
of curious spectators and the recognition by film companies of the players’
marketing potentiality. Such “picture personalities” came to occupy a position crucial to the structuring of the film experience for thousands and thousands of film viewers, while simultaneously representing a uniquely powerful tool for product differentiation.33
The revealing of motion picture actors’ identities dated back at least to
1909, to intensify further in 1910 and 1911,34 but the increasing popularity of
multi-reel features brought new blood into fan culture in the form of theatrical stars who had agreed to appear in feature films. The brouhaha caused by
some of these special feature performances was nonetheless accompanied by
doubts and questions: Could a speaking actor excel in the silent drama too?
What would the audience prefer, a theatrical star or a “genuine” movie star?
What really set the two art forms apart?
17
***
After thus having linked the emergence of the multi-reel feature to an array
of concomitant processes of change, we now turn to the more conventional
part of the research survey. This gives further substantiation to the links between the feature and adjacent historical phenomena, but also offers an opportunity to problematize some of the research undertaken and to uncover
what might still be lacking.
A Survey of Research on the Breakthrough of the MultiReel Feature Film
A current standard version of the history of the early feature is outlined in
Eileen Bowser’s volume on the history of American cinema from 1907 to
1915.35 Following a brief terminological background and problematization
of the word “feature,” Bowser moves on to revise earlier accounts that claim
that the conservatism of the Trust stood in the way of a breakthrough of the
feature, and rightly so, not least considering the further substantiation offered by Michael Quinn, whose closer look at the MPPC shows that the
Trust’s main issue was not whether to put out features or not, but how to
handle the new type of product within the parameters of program cinema.36
Bowser’s alternative theory of inertia (it remains unclear in Bowser’s account exactly why we should expect a frictionless shift from the one-reel
standard to a feature-dominated industry) is instead predicated on the notion
that the long format gave rise to industrial control issues. More specifically,
Bowser frames the emergence of the multi-reel feature as entailing a shift of
control from exhibitors and film exchanges to the producers, an argument
that should perhaps be reviewed in relation to the preceding volume of the
History of the American Cinema series, in which Charles Musser’s convincing case for the exhibitor’s creative role during cinema’s first decade is one
of the focal points.37 It is most definitely the case that considerable numbers
of primarily exhibitors, but also film exchange managers, expressed their
resistance to anything deviating from the one-reel standard, but whether or
not it was on account of a perceived loss of control (as Bowser suggests) or
how many and influential these protestors actually were remains somewhat
unclear. I also find Bowser’s claim that the inertia and resistance of some
agents necessitated the handling of features outside of the regular industrial
system as questionable.38 More accurately, the handling of features outside
regular channels was in fact one of the things that potentially made the feature a feature (i.e. “special” in some manner, which was not necessarily directly tied to length). In other words, a different economic rationale of this
18
commodity encouraged different handling (on the level of distribution as
well as exhibition), regardless of the resistance of some. Bowser seems to
make a similar misjudgment when making the claim that the increasing
length of programs at many movie theaters (from three to four reels to five to
eight reels) paved the way for an integration of the multi-reel feature film.
The problem here is, once again, that the early feature was not exclusively,
or even primarily, differentiated by length. Accordingly, in spite of the
seemingly simple operation to substitute a five-reeler for five of the onereelers in an eight-reel program, the different economic rationale previously
alluded to might still have caused great problems for exhibitors. Later research has confirmed that many exhibitors, chiefly the ones operating
smaller houses found themselves in a tight spot as features grew more common.39 Bowser also provides a basic chronology of the early feature, dating
the origins to the Vitagraph experiments in a longer format (e.g. The Life of
Napoleon [1909] in two reels, Les Misérables [1909] in four reels and The
Life of Moses [1909] in five reels) and the European imports arriving shortly
hereafter.40 She also notes that longer films stimulated more frequent adaptations of books and plays, and a heightened interest in famous authors, the
contract for the film rights to Jack London’s novels offering a significant
case in point.41
Richard Abel’s account to some extent draws on Bowser, but offers a
more comprehensive analysis of how the influx of multi-reel feature films, at
first mainly stemming from European sources, disturbed the stability of the
closed market. However, as Abel also demonstrates, there was an alternative
current that regarded disturbances of the closed market as a prerequisite for a
development toward better films that would attract wider (and “better”)
audiences. Regarding the European influence, Lee Grieveson and Peter
Krämer have argued that the reason that European companies, in particular
Italian and Danish ones, pioneered the feature market was that filmmakers in
these countries were not limited by the extreme standardization of film
length prevailing in the United States, but also that it was much more common in the European context to label film “art.”42 While at least the first
claim seems accurate, Ben Brewster’s explanation is more convincing. According to Brewster, the oligopolistic structure of the American film industry
in effect excluded European companies from the American one-reel market,
which meant that a parallel and increasingly open feature market offered the
Europeans their seemingly only opportunity to compete.43 And as long as
such a parallel market did not exist, it is easy to see why foreign companies
might have been interested in creating one.
Expanding the horizon beyond the nickelodeon era, Abel also addresses
the Americanization of the feature market. He identifies Famous Players and
Warner’s Features as two early key players. The activities of Warner’s Features in particular is taken to represent an initial stage in the Americanizing
of the feature market, however, with doubtful results, as the sensational
19
melodramas this company tended to put out on the market had a difficult
time gaining cultural legitimacy.44
Famous Players’ strategy of producing and distributing multi-reel adaptations of well-known theatrical plays featuring high-profile theatrical
stars—beginning with the co-financing/importing in 1912 of Queen Elisabeth (L’Histrionic Film, 1912, co-financed and imported by Famous Players
Film Company), featuring Sarah Bernhardt—proved more successful at this
point. Michael Quinn’s comparison of the respective approaches to the feature of the MPPC and Famous Players shows how the former attempted to
integrate the longer format within the established model of program cinema,
whereas Famous Players offered a “high-class alternative” to the standard
program. Recognizing the problems of simply substituting a longer feature
film for the standard variety program of one-reelers, the Trust launched an
“exclusive-service program” in October 1913, thereby allowing for added
differentiation of the feature films on the level of distribution. Quinn frames
this as a compromise between the standardization of program cinema and the
differentiation of feature cinema, but notes that General Film’s “exclusiveservice program” would only last about a year. In contrast to the MPPC’s
attempts to integrate features into program cinema, the Famous Players
model worked instead to stimulate the market to adapt, or rather reconfigure
itself, to fit the highly differentiated features that the company offered. This
reversed perspective was in turn predicated on a different conception of the
audience and of the possible modes of spectatorship. According to Quinn,
Famous Players’ refashioning of the film market was accomplished by a
systematization of the states’ rights distribution form and the creation of
links between distribution and production, of great future consequence for
the film industry: “These links eventually led to the creation of Paramount
and of vertical integration.”45 The major strength of Quinn’s comparison is
the manner in which it demonstrates the transformative character of the shift
from program cinema to feature cinema,46 and moreover how a redefining of
the early feature brings the areas of distribution and exhibition to the forefront of scholarly attention. Quinn’s own contribution covers several important aspects of distribution, whereas our understanding of how exhibition
was affected remains much more sketchy and unsystematic.
A repeated complaint voiced by Quinn concerns the parochial understanding of the early feature as a production trend. Arguably, Quinn exaggerates slightly in order to more strongly justify his own project, but to the
extent that “production trend” includes questions of style, modes of representation and genre, we may agree that comparatively much has been said.
Richard Abel’s work on French cinema investigates the French influence in
general, a part of which related to multi-reel feature film production. Very
roughly summarized, Abel analyzes the diverse modes of representation in
early French multi-reel features, ranging from the tableau style of historical
film to the more flexible and analytical style of contemporary melodrama.47
20
Linked to the codification of the classical Hollywood style, Kristin Thompson has argued that while the feature did not constitute a decisive breaking
point in this process (a move toward “causal unity” was apparent long before
the emergence of the feature), the longer format was instrumental in the
“crystallization” of various classical stylistic devices.48 Similarly, Charlie
Keil suggests that up until 1913, the techniques that constitute the classical
style were seen as innovations to be tested and experimented with, whereas
the period that followed allowed for filmmakers to engage in “refining and
honing” these techniques.49 This seems to be equivalent to Thompson’s idea
that the feature presented improved opportunities for a variety of techniques
to be explored.50
One of Thompson’s co-authors, Janet Staiger, sets forth a different
framework, defining the feature primarily with reference to its marketability,
ascribing its success to a superior potential for differentiation.51 Staiger’s
linking of the feature to transformations within the field of marketing was
explored further in an article on the history and theory of film advertising.52
Staiger as well as Thompson highlights the increasingly common practice
of adaptation in relation to the feature. Staiger suggests that adaptation could
be offered as a motivation for the increased length of films, whereas Thompson argues that adaptation was a solution to the problem of how to raise the
quality of films, in order to better compete with theater.53 Tino Balio offers a
slightly different explanation of this practice. According to Balio, the appeal
of adaptation lay in the fact that it widened the potential audience and alleviated the economic risk often associated with the early feature.54
Staiger’s emphasis on the feature’s potential for differentiation led her to
the conclusion that the new and longer format presented an opportunity for
exhibitors to make more money. In theory a valid inference, and in practice
true for some exhibitors, but more recent research by Ben Singer indicates
that the small-time exhibitor might have been the biggest loser when the
feature assumed dominance. A principal cause was that many small picture
theaters catering to neighborhood audiences were pivoted on a mode of exhibition that did not align with the economic rationale of the feature. Making
matters worse, to the extent that these small theaters could adjust to a new
mode, it remained a difficult and dicey challenge to compete with venues
that boasted greater seating capacity and more comfortable amenities.55
The second crucial point of Singer’s study is to question the swiftness
with which the multi-reel feature has been assumed to achieve dominance.
According to Singer, talk of a “feature craze” that has sometimes been uncritically reproduced in later film historiographic accounts, placing an excessive emphasis on the speed of the shift to feature cinema.56 This seems a
plausible and convincing hypothesis, but Richard Abel, although accepting
the essential gist of the argument that variety programs of single-reels were
not about to immediately disappear, nonetheless detects some problematical
aspects of Singer’s methods. The main critique is that Singer’s exclusive
21
reliance on production data “skews his analysis” when applied to the level of
exhibition. Neglecting the impact of non-US feature films and overestimating the dominance of small movie theaters exacerbate this problem.57 Accordingly, Singer’s reel count gives an indication of how the feature developed as a production trend in the US, but to more accurately measure the
historical impact of the feature, we need a more thorough assessment of its
effect on the level of exhibition.
The discussions of how swiftly and decisively the multi-reel feature film
came into dominance can also be related to the issue of exactly when the
feature reached this position. Different suggestions have been set forth; Balio
claims that the feature was “norm” by 1915 whereas Staiger argues that the
feature had “prevailed” by 1916.58
Widening the Historical Framework
Scholarly Battlegrounds
The many aspects of historical change touched upon so far are far from being subject to consensual scholarly view. On the contrary, virtually all these
areas have been contested.59 This applies to details and to the overall explanatory frameworks that have been applied. A conspicuous example is the
issue of modernity and early cinema, for a considerable time lodged into the
positions carved out in the debates over the so-called “modernity thesis.”60
The “thesis” was a means for one of the camps to summarize and label the
alleged perspective of the other camp and should more accurately be seen as
a rhetorical tool used in the debate rather than the subject of the debate. The
real issue was how to interrelate formal and stylistic aspects of film to wider
social and cultural contexts, in particular with respect to how stylistic
changes come about. Broadly speaking, David Bordwell’s “historical poetics
of cinema,” rooted in neo-formalism and a cognitivist stance typical of the
school spearheaded by Bordwell, was formulated in opposition to “culturalist” scholars. The major oversight of the culturalists, according to Bordwell,
was not in itself the interest in possible cultural and social determinants, but
the failure to account for the most proximate and pertinent causal factors in
processes of film stylistic change—most importantly the problem-solving
activities of filmmakers and the creative constraints to this that is set up at an
institutional level in accordance to the specific economic and social organizing of how films are made at a given time.61
Another contested area concerns the impact of various strategies to culturally legitimize the film medium. It is beyond doubt that the discourse on
cinema in the 1910s, in particular as it was articulated in the trade press, was
22
predicated on boosting cinema’s cultural prestige, perhaps most fundamentally by the promotion of moving pictures as “art.” The extent to which this
project can be taken to explain changes of the modes of filmic representation
is more debatable. While some have identified the strive for cultural legitimacy and respectability with a wooing of the middle-class and have argued
that this can explain certain changes in film style, including a move toward
heightened verisimilitude and deepened narrative integration, others have
instead claimed that these changes were ushered in due to a need for narrative efficiency and standardization that in turn were motivated by the goal of
profit maximizing.62
More recently, another framework for understanding film cultural change
has been set forth by Jan Olsson, according to which this process is driven
by the rational negotiating of film culture’s overall cultural position. This
framework is inspired by cultural studies in general and Raymond Williams
in particular, suggesting that early film culture can be culturally
mapped—internally and in relation to the overall culture—by using Williams’s categories of the “emergent,” the “residual,” and the “dominant.” It
is also suggested that these categories in fact guide the logic of the first three
volumes of the History of the American Cinema series.63
Issues of cultural repositioning and initiatives to increase cinema’s respectability also cross paths in the debates over regulations and censorship.
Lee Grieveson’s influential account subsumes regulating efforts and censorship under the banner of “policing,” a broader term that locates an “elite
anxiety” about mass culture and a consequential call for the exercise of
moral control at the heart of the various regulatory discourses that was directed toward cinema.64 But regulatory enterprises were not exclusively, or
even primarily, spurred by conservative and fearful responses to a perceived
threat to moral and social order; they were equally the result of the goaldriven and self-aware pursuit of progressive agendas. Accordingly, some
scholars frame the issue by aid of a different set of keywords: “activism,”
“campaigning,” “uplift,” and “reform” take precedence over “policing” in
such accounts.65
A less contested area concerns the “Americanizing” of the movies. It was
readily accepted that domestic market domination was a prerequisite for
global hegemony. This notion provides logic to an emplotment that links the
ousting of Pathé and intensified Americanizing of film culture on various
fronts to the exporting of entertainment over the world that followed.66 The
limits of the explanatory force of Americanizing, i.e. the extent to which it
may help explain changes in a range of other areas (genre, modes of representation, exhibition, and so on), remains to be scrutinized.
The continuing generating of new and competing frameworks for understanding film industrial and cultural change in American cinema in the 1910s
is a sign that real conflict and controversy exists. On the other hand, it is also
indicative of a need for multiple explanations of multifaceted historical
23
change. Although all frameworks in their entirety cannot be “true” at the
same time, perhaps all offer some explanatory adequacy in relation to some
“generative mechanism” in film history.67 More useful to our purposes here,
parts of each of the frameworks mentioned seem to cross paths at the “locus
point” that is the object of study: the breakthrough of the multi-reel feature
film. For instance, while analytical concepts such as standardization, efficiency and profit maximizing are valuable in understanding the economicalindustrial impact of the multi-reel feature, theories of rational negotiation
might prove useful in relation to the discursive construction of the feature as
a cultural object. In this respect, it might not be completely off the mark to
label this dissertation “piecemeal,” or describe it as relying on a set of
“piecemeal” approaches.68
Deconstructing Periodization: Problematizing the “Transitional”
in “Transitional Cinema”
The notion of a “transitional period” emanates from Bordwell, Staiger and
Thompson’s The Classical Hollywood Cinema. The major break made by
these scholars distinguishes a classical paradigm from a preclassical/primitive one, although 1909–1917 is recurrently identified as a
“transitional period.”69 A book inspired by Bordwell et al. suggested a
slightly different time frame, according to which the “transitional period”
lasted between 1907 and 1913.70 Although not intended as a vehicle for periodization, the enormous impact of the notion of a “cinema of attractions”
and the claim that the mode of representation it designated was dominant up
until 1906–07, led to the still prevalent custom of letting the term denominate the period preceding “transitional” cinema.71 This completed the periodization of early cinema that most of us have grown accustomed to.
Richard Abel points out how and why we divide cinema history into periods depends on the “conceptual framework in which we choose to work,”
and that the framework that governed the above periodization focused on
stylistic practices in relation to modes of production.72 Convincingly he goes
on to demonstrate how other conceptual frameworks have resulted in completely different periodizations, thereby unveiling how easily matters of periodization can become complicated. Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp register
the same complication in direct relation to the problematic notion of a “transitional period.” Due to differing emphases and interests, “not all scholars
delineate this era in the same terms,” Keil and Stamp observe.73
A controversy more directly related to the “transitional period” concerns
the very name used to designate the period. Ben Brewster argues that “the
designation ‘transitional period’ is an oxymoron simply draining the years it
covers of any particular characteristics.”74 In light of the rest of Brewster’s
24
article, this claim should be interpreted as a critical comment on the stylistic/production mode framework that gave rise to the term, and working in
favor of the alternative periodization that Brewster himself outlines.75 Keil
and Stamp also vent a certain discontent with the “transitional” in the “transitional period,” stating that the term implies a smooth transition from one
stable state to another. This reduces the “transitional period” to being defined merely by reference to its end product: the classical period.76
The problem is that to constitute a period at all, it must be temporally delineated, i.e. there must be a beginning and an end, which means that the
period by necessity is determined by what came before and after. This is if
nothing else a psychological given. As one scholar of language and cognition puts it: we can imagine a horse’s body with a man’s trunk but not a man
and a horse standing next to each other with neither on the left.77 This sheds
some new light on the various critiques of the currently dominant periodization (i.e. the attractions/transitional/classical scheme), but also deepens the
general problems associated with the act of periodization to an almost untenable point. As to the current periodization, we can take issue with the function that the periodization has fulfilled in assigning to each specific period a
paradigmatic status. Recognizing that the current periodization is the result
of the post-Brighton legacy to salvage early cinema from its previous designation as a primitive forerunner to later highpoints in a teleological film
historical trajectory, we might argue that salvation came at a cost, viz. an
alarming neglect of important continuities between the various periods.78
Charles Musser was probably not guided by such discontent, but his framing
of early cinema in terms of a continuous “screen practice” nonetheless offers
an interesting alternative view to the period as discrete paradigm view.79
From another perspective, and quite conversely, we might instead assert that
the link between periods is too tight, or at any rate of that the links are of the
wrong kind. This is the strategy we uncovered among opponents to the designation of the era as “transitional.” In this case, to resort to our previous
metaphor again, we could say that the salvaging of cinema’s first decade left
the following ten years or so hanging out to dry.
A possible solution is to present an alternative interpretation of “transitional” in “transitional period,” one that states that the term does not refer to
a specific transition but should be taken to signal a general character of flux
that is typical of the period. This is why Keil and Stamp talk so emphatically
of the “volatility” and “heterogeneity” of the period and its “propensity for
change,” and try to loosen the meaning of “period” to, in this case, be
equivalent of “so many notable changes occurring in rough synchronicity.”80
Correspondingly, Jan Olsson has more recently suggested that “transitional
cinema” as an overarching designation of a period is “marked by the very
name by instability and fluidity,” and that it has come to function as a key
scholarly term to analyze a “complex web of transformations and negotiations” taking place at the time.81 However, to appropriate Ben Brewster’s
25
phrase for a different argument than his: “Periodization is a dubious enterprise; everything is always changing into something else.”82 And it is particularly dubious if the trademark of the suggested period is said to
be—change. Could it be that it is the alternative interpretation of “transitional” that leaves the period with a name bereft of meaning, rather than the
old stylistic/production mode rendition, which at least assigned to the period
certain functions within a teleological trajectory?
Doubts about the “transitional” in “transitional period,” and the possible
solution of interpreting the name as indicating a general character of flux,
seems governed by what I would like to call a hinterland assumption that
stipulates that the period in question should be perceived of as a site of contingencies rather than as an element of a larger and essentially linear flow of
historical events. This characterization is attractive, and probably a reason
for many of us to direct our attention to the period in the first place, but
sadly, it seems more poetically convincing than adequate. Most crucially, the
conception of a period as a temporally discrete entity is at worst utterly misleading, and at best an effect of mere convention and convenience given that
all social reality is a dynamic process and not a fixed state. Moreover, even
if we were to sever the temporal ties to that which surrounds a period (any
given period that is), its internal logic of change would nonetheless be found
to be multifaceted (although some processes of change might of course be
more dominant than others at specific times), making it difficult to explain
why one specific period should be singled out with reference to change in
itself and why we should presuppose that stability reigned before and after.
Both axioms involved here, i.e. that reality is always changing and that
change is always multifaceted, implicates that the hinterland assumption
may be a modality of our thinking about the past, possibly an accurate assumption about past reality in general, but not an attribute of one specific
film historical period. Accordingly, we are justified to think about film history as a site of contingencies where everything is seemingly possible, but
not to use this imagined or real quality as a line of demarcation between
periods.
The course of action truly consistent with the above would be to abandon
not only the hopes of “arriving at an accurate periodization,”83 but the idea of
periodization altogether. Ben Brewster reaches another conclusion, viz. that
the value of periodization is that it indicates “what in the mass of data can be
aggregated together, what averages and what comparisons are revealing and
what misleading.”84 Fair enough, but the crucial problems of periodization
remain. First of all, we would still generate different and competing periodizations depending on the conceptual framework. Brewster’s own attempt to
reconcile stylistic and institutional periodizations within a third one based on
modes of exhibition is a case in point. Secondly, what periodization as aggregation of averages and comparisons tells us about a given event, process
or field may be severely limited. With regard to the multi-reel feature, it is of
26
course important to identify at least roughly the points when features were or
were not more common than one-reelers, but we learn little about the wider
industrial and cultural impact of the format from this. Thirdly, only rarely
and only in limited areas is there any “mass of data” to aggregate general
conclusions at all. Once again with regard to the feature, the aggregation of
production data can disclose certain insights into the feature perceived of as
a production trend, but since there are no comparable mass of data to aggregate from the level of exhibition and reception, the factual impact of features
remains unclear. Hence the poignancy of Richard Abel’s remark that Ben
Singer’s analysis of the shift to feature cinema is accurate but nonetheless
skewed.85
I have implied that the consistent action would be to abandon the project
of periodization altogether and thereby the attempts to delineate the “transitional period.” As a result, the relation between a shift to multi-reel feature
films and the processes of change that it is connected to should be slightly
re-framed. This does not mean that I would refute the assertion that this shift
was one “of the period’s prominent changes,”86 only that such phrases all too
neatly slide the feature in alongside a row of parallel lines of change that are
held to make up a period. Admitted, I am setting up something of a straw
man here, since it is normally recognized that the “transitional” lines of
change are not strictly parallel but converge at least on occasion. Still, the
limitations of periodization on an object of study such as the early feature
reminds me of the old joke according to which the local tells the tourist
seeking directions that “you can’t get there from here.”87 It is in the nature of
space that all its locations are connected, which is why the joke is funny, and
why a spatial metaphor such as Quinn’s “locus point” offers a potentially
much more productive conceptualization of the object of study than its insertion into a periodic scheme. This does in no way rip the object from its
temporality; on the contrary, it liberates it from the imaginary state of rest
that the notion of “period” threatens to put it in.
Methodological Considerations and Qualifications
From “History-Making” to Case-Based and Discourse Oriented
Two broad underpinnings for the methodological orientation of this study
should be made explicit. Both are derived from a general theory of historical
change as “history-making” and “social becoming,” which in turn is based
on a radical dynamic perspective of social reality as being in perpetual
movement.88 The first identifies the event (understood as processual moment) as a fundamental unit of social reality, and that historical processes are
27
made up of historical events. The second identifies a broad sense of what we
might refer to as consciousness as an inescapable context (alongside with
nature) of social reality conceived of as a processual field between human
agency and social structure.89 Some further qualifications are required. First
of all, “event” here should not be taken to represent an element of narrative
emplotment à la Hayden White but as a basic and empirical unit of social
reality, more precisely a processual moment where action and structure
meet.90 Secondly, by consciousness I refer to a cumulative mass of ideas and
beliefs that is available to human beings, as individuals and as a collective,
and the expression of which is discursively traceable in various forms of
spoken and written communication. The practical consequence of these
stances is a study that is essentially case-based and discourse oriented.
Aphorisms, One-Liners, Catchphrases and Frames: Approaches
to Studying the Discussions on the Early Multi-Reel Feature
Film
A reliance on a range of discourses to generate historical arguments permeates the dissertation. Whenever the term “discourse” appears in the text, it
should be taken to represent its lexical meaning (“verbal interchange of
ideas,” “written or spoken communication or debate,” “extended verbal expression in speech or writing,” or the like).91 Wholly avoiding any Foucauldian charge would have called for the unmitigated omission of the word,
but in many cases it is difficult to find an apt substitute.92 Fortunately, this is
of lesser methodological consequence than it might seem, since painstaking
considerations of exactly which word to use to describe the textual sources
relied upon often appears to be more about either pledging allegiance or
signaling novelty, i.e. about scholarly branding and re-branding. Although
such processes may reveal fascinating aspects of film historical study as a
psychosociological activity, they have limited bearing on the practical sides
of it.
Nevertheless, different words have different heuristic power. In trying to
move away from the charged and dull “discourse” to more playful candidates, the textual source as aphorism has offered one inspiring pathway. It
should immediately be made clear that I do not wish to claim that the film
historical sources used are essentially aphoristic with respect to their stylistics or to the forms of knowledge they contain. Little of the language that
one encounters in the trade press, fan magazines, letters and legal documents
is primarily non-narrative, dense, succinct, contracted, regulated by acuity,
predicted upon interruption, concise and complete in itself, possessing universal extension and aiming at transhistorical significance by effacing the
conditions of its emergence—to name a few of the formal qualities that pop
28
up in literature on aphorism.93 Similarly, although some rhetorical devices
employed in aphoristic language, such as paradox, antithesis, inversion,
metaphor and comparison might very well be detected in discussions on the
early feature film, the effects sought after are most likely other than those
strived at by aphorisms (e.g. exaggeration, excess, recess, surprise, puzzlement, etc).94 Neither have I aspired to let my historiographical representation
of these discussions take on an aphoristic form. Instead, an “aphoristic approach” conveys heuristic signals, loosely defined rules of thumb, regarding
how to work with a wide body of film historical non-filmic sources.
These rules and signals may be drawn from the common ideas of what an
aphorism is and does, including (a) the notion that it represents the purest
form of an interesting idea; (b) that it is based on a logic of discovery and
hypotheses construction; (c) that aphorisms should be culled and connected
in a manner that propels thinking on a topic onward, or stimulates reorientations of thinking on a topic; and (d) that such associative connecting and
collecting floodlights the topic from multiple perspectives. Then again, there
is a generality to these heuristics that indicate that they are not restricted to
apply to the source as aphorism—“one-liner,” “catchphrase,” “slogan,” or
the like, seem to be equally productive conceptualizations to arrive at a
similar approach.
More important perhaps is to establish what the approach is supposed to
accomplish. To outline this on a general level, I suggest bringing into play
another metaphor, that of the frame. Frames and framing can be thought of
either as primarily visual metaphors, but also as linguistic ones. In both
cases, framing should be seen as that which allows us to make sense of a
particular event or group of events. In the linguistically influenced reading,
framing may also (highly tentatively I might add) be seen as an empirical
solution to the problem of context, i.e. as a way to say something more about
context than that it matters. Certainly, we have all learned that it does, but
usually, “context” is nonetheless left either as a residual, unexplained universal or an element of infinite regress (“everything and anything is the
context of everything and anything else”). However, if context is that which
defines the meaning of utterances, if frames are statements that are used to
“place” utterances, and if contexts are assemblies of frames, then framing the
topic (i.e. collecting and arranging utterances) would be identical to identifying relevant contexts.95
It should be clear that the framing of an event, process, or topic in the
above sense involves the assemblage of multiple frames, not necessarily
unified or coherent. To highlight a certain film historical approach’s tendency to mix and multiply has been popular among film and media scholars
in recent times, although theorized in different manners. Thomas Elsaesser
has drafted a media archeological notion of “parallax historiography” (originally coined by Catherine Russell).96 Nanna Verhoeff outlines an idea of a
“kaleidoscopic approach” applied to the “constellations of intersections” that
29
she claims her object of study—the west in early cinema—constitutes.97
Allison Griffiths promotes what she refers to as “multiperspectivism.”98 Jan
Olsson refers to his object of study as “constellations of discourses.”99 And
so on. “Constellations” in turn seems to have been picked up from Walter
Benjamin, who uses the term to characterize history as the image that appears when past and present meet, as an image “wherein what has been
comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.”100 Equally
poetic: “The true image of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an
image that flashes up at the moment of its recognizability, and is never seen
again.”101 The anti-systemic/anti-organic view of social reality that I subscribe to seems to sympathize with Benjamin’s dissolving of the line between past and present, although I do not believe the kind of historical
meeting that he alludes to always transpires so haphazardly. At any rate, my
approach is sympathetic to all of the above to the extent that diversity is preferred over uniformity.
On the other hand, it might be argued that the aphorism is closed, that it
pushes outside anything beyond its own internal logic.102 Operationally, I do
not find this to be a liability of the approach, according to which the aphorism, in this respect more resembling a fragment, calls for attention from an
imaginary totality. That the aphorism relates to a totality does not mean,
however, that it does not exclude, or that totality can be fully grasped.
Framing cannot be exhaustive and aphorisms are not like monads, each one
carrying inside itself the image of the totality it belongs to. It is simply an
inescapable epistemological and historiographic constraint that each spotlight will leave something else in the dark.
To a considerable degree, my framing of the breakthrough of the multireel feature is derived from trade press discourse, most prominently Moving
Picture World, Motography and Motion Picture News.103 A downside to this
is that the findings are predictable in some cases, as some of these sources
have been used before; Bowser, for instance, draws almost exclusively upon
Moving Picture World. Hopefully though, the potential of my approach to
transgress established categories will alleviate tendencies to predictability.
Another problem concerns the frequently biased character of the trade papers.104 This should be offset rather unproblematically by awareness of this
dubious character and a firmly critical outlook when the trades are relied on.
In spite of these and other problems with the trade press taken as source, we
must also recognize that it is no coincidence that film historians have often
relied upon them anyway. These papers often represent the thickest slices of
the discourse, and a framing of the feature without considering the trades
would become severely impoverished. This does, of course, not mean that
trade papers are the only sources used. A wide range of source material is
taken into account, including fan magazines, certain film companies’ inhouse publications, marketing material and correspondence, and, most crucially, records from the hearings concerning the USA v. MPPC case.
30
The Local Turn
The case study of film culture in Philadelphia that makes up the second part
of the dissertation shifts attention to the localized responses to the breakthrough of the feature. Initially, the intention was to restrict the scope of the
case study to feature film exhibition in 1914, but this time-frame was untenably narrow. Not only did it work against the overall thrust of the project,
I also found that a wider assessment of film cultural events and processes
were necessary to be able to position the early feature in the local film cultural nexus. Accordingly, the chapter devoted to the exhibition of feature
film in Philadelphia in 1914 is preceded by an introductory triptych, encompassing a brief section on the city itself (its population, industrial characteristics, and so on), a selective account of film culture in Philadelphia up until
1914 and, finally, a cluster of local film cultural cases unfolding in 1914.
The resorting to a local film history aligns with something of a local turn
in recent film historical studies, evident by the publication of an assortment
of studies in local film history, as well as institutionalizing initiatives such as
the Homer project.105 After a period of intense focus primarily on the two
leading American metropolises of New York and Chicago, the field has diversified.106 Robert Allen has directed film scholarly attention to the South,
Richard Abel has begun to uncover the Midwest, while Jan Olsson has
pushed the westward frontier to Los Angeles.107 Two other recent additions
are Michael Aronson’s book-length study of Pittsburgh and Paul S. Moore’s
examination, based on the case of Toronto, of how cinema became a mass
practice at the interface between local showmanship, regulation, and promotion.108 The collection of historical case studies of local moviegoing gathered
in a reader edited by Kathryn Fuller-Seeley also attests to the recent activity
in the field.109 The same can be said about the volumes edited by Richard
Maltby and Melvin Stokes on early audiences and moviegoing, the latest of
which was co-edited with Robert Allen and published in 2007.110 Fuller’s
monographic study of early fan culture and small-time audiences from a few
years earlier also helped widen the scope of the field beyond the large metropolises and in the direction of rural areas and small-town USA.111 Gregory
Waller’s study of movies and other commercial entertainment in Lexington,
Kentucky, as well as a “sourcebook in the history of film exhibition” edited
by Waller made influential contributions.112 The key achievement of these
and other ventures into histories of local film exhibition and film culture, and
what essentially motivates my own turn to the local, has been to demonstrate
how the local level harbors an incomparable potential for a deeper, more
nuanced and sometimes wholly redefined film historical understanding.
For a long time, audience composition occupied the top spot of the
agenda, which was most notoriously manifested in the controversies over
Manhattan nickelodeon audiences that ignited in 1995 with the appearance
31
in Cinema Journal of an article by Ben Singer, in which he questioned and
revised data on Manhattan audiences that Robert Allen and Russell Merritt
had set forth a decade and a half earlier.113 Among the series of historiographic, methodological and other issues that the debate brought to the fore,
one question has revolved around which places, cities or regions are appropriate objects of local film historical study. Robert Allen’s work on the
South is a call for the relocation of film historical studies, away from what
he perceives as a “Gothamcentric” hang-up on metropolitan conditions,
while Richard Abel has advocated further study of “medium- and smallsized cities throughout the country’s northern corridor.”114 On a more theoretical level, Allen’s intervention resonates against the conflict between what
he and others have labeled “grand theory,” in particular its psychoanalytically charged model of spectatorship, and the types of cultural and social
film history that attempts to grasp the empirical, material and physical conditions under which viewers experience film.115
The last-mentioned issue points to real and critical differences among approaches (to cinema studies in general one might argue), whereas other controversies which have played out within the field of local film history seem a
little less substantial. Not to brush aside a potentially stimulating conflict,
but in the long run, I understand the ongoing explorations of the local to be a
cumulative and collective enterprise that shares a few basic assumptions
about the relevance and productive potential of local film history. Also, I
believe that some of the controversy has been stirred up due to an obsession
with the “representative” as the only crucial link between the micro and
macro levels, and the accompanying inability to theorize other possible links
between various historical levels. How to make sense of the connection between the micro level of the local and the mezzo and macro levels is perhaps
the fundamental theoretical and methodological conundrum of local film
history. The dilemma arises from the difficulty to link local patterns to national and global trends in a productive way without too strongly subordinating the local empirical findings to grand and preconceived narratives and
explanatory schemes—or, differently put, without placing our empirical
findings under what Jane Gaines once termed “plot pressure.”116 From the
reverse end of the same dilemma, it is equally important that the evasion of
“plot pressure” does not lead to scholarly myopia, or, as Charles Musser
feared in the mid-1980s apropos the “chaser theory” debates, to a “disarray
of revisionist micro-histories” resulting from the pendulum swinging too far
away from a panoramic perspective on film history.117 I offer no theoretically coherent solution to the micro-macro problem, but would suggest that
keeping an open mind both to pieces that fit and to those that deviate, to
findings that corroborate prevalent ideas and trends as well as to those that
lead to dead-ends, offers the best available stance. This is done in full
awareness that there will never exist an archive that could offer the kind of
media archeological zero-point that would fully cater to such a stance.
32
The Newspaper Press as a Film Historical Source
The dissertation’s shift from a wider framing of the early feature to a local
case study is mirrored by a discursive shift from the nationally circulated
trade papers and fan magazines (among other sources) to local newspapers
as the primary source. It was a long-standing argument of Jan Olsson and
Richard Abel that local newspapers offered a largely untapped source for
scholarly investigation of early cinema. As Abel argued in an article on
Gertrude Price’s syndicated movie column, newspaper discourse from the
1910s “enhance our understanding of a range of cinema conditions and
practices at the time.”118 More recently, these methodological invocations
culminated in the publication of Jan Olsson’s Los Angeles study, which also
offers an authoritative survey of the various historical conflations of film
culture and journalism.119 A major reason to align with the main thrust of
this project—aside from the recognition of how the newspaper press represents, in Olsson’s words, the “neural flow” of the city—is to be found in the
often different tone of this particular source.120 For instance, compared to the
obsessive punditry of the trade papers, the buzz of the newspaper discourse
opens up new and different perspectives on film culture.
Paul S. Moore is another scholar who has provided a basic rationale for
the reliance on newspapers as the gateway into local film culture that seems
applicable for the study of cinema in a city like Philadelphia. Much of the
allure of Moore’s account lies in the suggestion that the newspaper is not
only an important document of the institutionalization of cinema but also an
agent in the processes of urbanization. Drawing on Gunther Barth’s City
People and the urban sociologists of the Chicago School, Moore argues that
newspapers functioned as a “menu of urban possibility,” offering their readers a legible and manageable version of urban life. A key example with regard to this is the ways in which “the entertainment section orders the practice of going out.”121 While making a convincing case for the great value of
newspapers as film historical and sociological documents, it should also be
clarified that Moore raises a warning flag before his own model: although
the press offers a map or menu of urban life, this is as partial and charged a
map or menu as any.122 Or, as Jan Olsson argues, the newspaper may be a
menu of urban life, but it is an “eclectic menu incorporating multiple cuisines.”123
Using the Philadelphia Newspaper Press
In the case study at hand, one particular newspaper is an all-dominating
source: the Philadelphia Inquirer (henceforth Inquirer). The main reason for
this is a superior access to this paper thanks to its full inclusion in the ProQuest Historical Newspapers database. Of course, if it were not the case that
this paper offered a substantial coverage of film culture, and as comprehensive an advertising section for amusements as any other Philadelphia paper,
33
good availability would have amounted to nothing. With regard to circulation, around 1914, the Inquirer was second only to the Philadelphia Evening
Bulletin (henceforth Bulletin), making it the largest morning paper in the
city. While the extensive background that leads up to the analysis of the film
cultural situation in 1914 is drawn almost exclusively on the Inquirer, the
chapters that center specifically on 1914 also trace the discourse on film in
the Inquirer’s three major competitors: the Bulletin, the Philadelphia Record
(henceforth Record) and the North American. The circulation of these papers
(the four largest in the city) was reported to be as follows in 1914: the Bulletin—325,198; the Inquirer—191,956 on weekdays and 280,942 on Sundays;
the North American—182,632 on weekdays and 153,205 on Sundays; and
the Record—179,035 on weekdays and 144,237 on Sundays.124 These figures can be put into the perspective of Philadelphia’s total population around
this time: 1,549,008 according to the 1910 census and an estimated
1,657,810 for 1914 according to Ayer & Son’s American Newspaper Annual
Vol. 1915.125 Politically, the newspapers singled out here represent the three
major political movements/parties of the time. While the Bulletin declared
itself to be independent republican and the Inquirer just flat-out republican,
the North American supported the progressive party in 1914 while the Record defined itself as independent democratic.126 In the 1912 multi-candidate
presidential race, Philadelphian voters favored republican incumbent William H. Taft slightly over progressive party candidate Theodore Roosevelt,
who had left the republicans after the razzmatazz of the republican party
convention earlier that year, although the latter in the end carried the state of
Pennsylvania and the democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson won the presidency (in an electoral landslide but with only 42% of the popular vote).127 In
general, Philadelphia had a reputation of long having been under the complete, utter and democratically crippling control of the statewide Republican
machine.128 Although the machine was challenged from time to time, sometimes successfully—a significant case in point was the election for Philadelphia Mayor of reform candidate Rudolph Blankenburg in
1911—Philadelphia was by and large a republican stronghold. Accordingly,
the favoring of Taft, as well as the fact that the two largest newspapers were
of Republican affiliation is not surprising.
Around this point in the mid-1910s, there were also a range of nonEnglish language newspapers, e.g. Gazette, Tageblatt and Demokrat (German), Voce del Popolo, Mattino and Opinione (Italian) and Jewish Morning
Journal and Jewish World (Yiddish), all of which potentially might have
provided important evidence with regards to aspects of film culture and the
ethnic composition of audiences in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, covering the
time period in question, none of these papers are available at the Free Library of Philadelphia and I have not located them elsewhere. Lacking language skills would at any rate have rendered a productive reading difficult.
34
Why Philadelphia?
I have so far refrained from addressing the obvious question: Why Philadelphia? It is tempting to retort with another question: Why not? More politely
stated, and as I have already touched upon, I conceive the ongoing studies in
local film history as a cumulative and collective project, and as such, a lot
remains to be done. In addition, we have no apparent reason to expect that
the situation in say Des Moines, Iowa or Cleveland, Wisconsin would be the
same as in, say, Portland, Oregon or Springfield, Massachusetts. The same
goes for New York and Chicago in relation to Philadelphia; we cannot assume that the conditions for film exhibition are the same in the third most
populous city in 1914 as in the most or second most populous city at this
time. This is especially pertinent in the case of Philadelphia, since the relative proximity to New York City seemed to have been an influential factor in
itself. More specifically, a film cultural lag that is surprisingly long for a city
of Philadelphia’s magnitude is evident. A plausible hypothesis is that Philadelphia became a second-run city at least partly because crucial segments of
the audience already were in the habit of traveling regularly to New York
and Atlantic City (still something of a theatrical center at this point, at least
during summer) for business as well as for pleasure. Even aside from such
peculiarities to the Philadelphia case, my simple point is that what is needed
is not less but more research into the local contexts of film exhibition.
The Case of The Spoilers
The final part of the dissertation is devoted to a case study of Selig’s 1914
film version of Rex Beach’s novel, The Spoilers. Instead of delving deep
into the film cultural fabric of one particular place, we look at how one particular feature film was exhibited and received in different parts of the
United States, in order to better grasp the shifting local conditions of exhibition and reception at the point of the breakthrough of the multi-reel feature
film. This will further deepen our sense of the diversity of the multifaceted
character of film historical change and give further indications of how localized responses to the transformative processes triggered by the early feature related to national trends.
The Spoilers was one of the smash hits of 1914, which means that this
study will also be an inquiry into the anatomy of a successful feature, and
whether the success of one film may be linked to the gradual dominance of
the format as such. I also make a tentative case for The Spoilers as a kind of
missing link between Quo Vadis? and The Birth of a Nation (D. W. Griffith
Corp./Epoch Producing Corp., 1915), i.e. as a stepping-stone in the Americanizing of the feature field.
35
The empirical entry point to the case study has been the collection of material relating to The Spoilers found among the William Selig Papers at the
Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in
Beverly Hills. Various parts of the Charles G. Clarke Collection, held at the
same research library, have also provided useful information about the film
and the Selig Polyscope Company. Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida,
which Beach attended before moving to Chicago to study law, hosts a Rex
Beach archive, but these holdings only include limited sources related to the
1914 film version and Beach’s involvement in the film industry.129
For the descriptions of story, narration and style in the film, sections intended for readers who have not had the opportunity to view the film for
themselves, I have basically relied on the text-book notion of film as a formal system, as outlined by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson.130 This is
not because it necessarily represents the most alluring approach to stylistic
and narrative analysis, but it does generate a readily comprehended description of the film based on a vocabulary familiar to virtually all film scholars
and students.
The lion’s share of the study is hinged upon the examination of newspaper press coverage of The Spoilers in twelve cities of various size and character around the United States: Boise, Idaho, Boston, Massachusetts, Charlotte, South Carolina, Columbus, Georgia, Duluth, Minnesota, Kansas City,
Missouri, Los Angeles, California, Olympia, Washington, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, Salt Lake City, Utah, San Antonio, Texas, and San Jose, California. The inclusion of these particular places is the result of a combination
of factors, including the ambition to achieve diversity as to size and character as well as a geographically wide distribution, the availability of specific
newspapers and some random factors.
I also discuss the publication of the novel in 1905, the launching of a
stage version the following year, Beach’s venture into the film business and
certain relevant aspects of Beach’s biographical legend. If these sections take
the film’s intertexts into account, the formal analysis sketches the film’s
modes of address and the survey of newspaper coverage around the country
examines the critical and advertising discourses, these efforts combined will
hopefully at least initiate a reconstruction of the interpretative event that we
may call the historical reception of The Spoilers. In this reconstructive process, we also pay heed to a core idea that underpins reception studies, viz. that
the diverse meanings of the film viewing experience are best accounted for
by factors outside and beyond the cinematic “text” itself.131
1914—the Year of the Feature?
The various case studies carried out in this dissertation are all shaped by the
assumption that 1914 was a crucial year with respect to the breakthrough of
36
the feature. This does not mean that the intention has been to set forth a sort
of “synchronic” snapshot of that particular year; in many ways, the distinction between “synchronic” and “diachronic” seems absurd. However, it
seems probable that a deep zooming in of a particular moment rather than
primarily trying to position particular moments and events within a longerspanning temporal flow offers prospects for better grasping the character of
change as it unravels. While 1914 has been the operational key year, a wider
time-frame has been taken into account, although perhaps not on empirical
par with the study of the various 1914 events and processes.
A Terminological Question
In latter-day vernacular, the term “feature” has come to signify a featurelength film, usually a film of four reels or more. This is, for example, the
definition that the editors of the American Film Institute’s feature film catalog for 1911 to 1920 settled for:
[A]lthough The Life of Moses, released in five parts in December 1909
and January 1910 is undisputed as the first American feature-length
film, there were no other films of four reels or more made in the
United States until 1912. Thus, according to chronological order, the
first film in our Catalog is Paul J. Rainey’s African Hunt [Jungle Film
Co.], released on 14 April 1912.132
Problematically, a definition predicated on length fails to take into account
how the “feature” attribute has historically referred to a potential for differentiation.133 Strictly speaking, such a potential can be generated on any level
and by any element (e.g. length, size, the cost of production, the use of a
particular actor, spectacular conditions of production, distribution outside the
regular channels, a unique musical score, etc.), extra-ordinary length being
merely one possible such element. This point has been raised by several
scholars, and is sometimes underscored by eye-catchingly illustrations of
how the term “feature” was used to label films as early as 1904.134 Instead of
reiterating one of these early instantiations of the term, I offer this passage
from a letter dated May 18, 1906 to William M. Selig from the Pittsburgh
Calcium Light Company: “We are in a very bad way to get feature subjects
as we have exhausted the supply of Eastern Manufacturers and would be
glad to get hold of a new field, and if prices are satisfactory, we are positive
we can handle all the feature stuff you have unless some of the subjects have
been played out in this territory.”135
The difficulties in pointing out exactly what a feature is have made it no
less difficult to temporally circumscribe it. Consider, for example, these
answers to the question, “When did features begin?” Edison representative
Horace G. Plimpton, argued that the “ball started rolling” when Quo Vadis?
37
hit big in mid-1913.136 In the same special issue of Moving Picture World,
published on July 11, 1914, Jesse L. Lasky outlined the many goals he believed that features had accomplished “within their short year of existence.”137 W. Stephen Bush suggested that the feature was born in 1911:
“The origin of the feature itself, dating back to 1911, was due to a continued
pre-dominance of the ‘inane and dreary commonplace’ of the single reel.”138
As far as Frank L. Dyer, then president of General Film, could recollect,
American producers began to make feature films in early 1912.”139 Frank E.
Woods, prominent scenario writer and trade press pundit of the period, recognized an earlier phase in the history of the feature, during which Vitagraph
had “experimented” with Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Vitagraph, 1910) in three
reels, sent out one at a time.140 Louis Rosenbluh, of William Fox’s Greater
New York Film Rental Co. and later long-time Fox Film Corporation aide,
also evoked a kind of proto-feature period during which films longer than
one reel were offered within the parameters of the regular program, i.e. distributed reel by reel.141
As we will discover, the discourses on the feature around 1914 are full of
attempts to sever the immediate ties between “feature” and film length, and
thereby preserve the original and wider meaning of the term. This is, however, in itself evidence of the fact that by this point, the term was well underway to acquire its later meaning. Length did matter when it came to defining the early feature, and unsurprisingly so, since the industrial impact of
the feature was largely generated by the challenge it posed to the extreme
standardization of film length.
The conclusion is that using the term “feature” in the strict sense of “feature-length film” would be anachronistic, but also that it is appropriate to
somehow take length into account. The most fitting term seems to be “multireel feature film.” This encompasses all films longer than one reel but not
necessarily all films historically labeled as features on account of some other
criterion of differentiation. This is problematical, but a stricter nomenclature
might have posed even more problems. Stylistically, the problem is that the
consistent use of the term “multi-reel feature film” would detract from the
readability of the dissertation. I have tried to alleviate this by often letting
“feature,” “feature film” or “multi-reeler” stand in for the longer “multi-reel
feature film.”
Speaking of readability, a recurring tendency in all parts of the dissertation due to the heavily discourse driven character of the work, is to reproduce quotations from the source material. Some readers may find this practice objectionable, but I maintain that no considerable stylistic harm has been
done, while also reminding the reader of the adage that to write history is to
cite history.
38
Part I
Framing the Feature
39
Chapter 1
Negotiating the Breakthrough of the MultiReel Feature Film
This chapter discusses how the breakthrough of the feature was negotiated
within the trade and by contemporary commentators. As argued in the Introduction, assembling a wide range of evocative commentary (“aphorisms,”
“one-liners,” “catchphrases”) has the potential to provide a multi-perspective
framing of the object of study, which can moreover be seen as tantamount to
providing an empirical context for it. There is, however, no obvious strategy
in which a set of such statements is best collected and connected. One suggestion would be to group them in accordance with various sub-themes, e.g.
“exhibition,” “distribution,” “prices,” “programs,” “uplift,” and so on. Another procedure would be to group by author. Neither seem particularly inspiring. Therefore, I have instead attempted to collect and connect in a much
more associative manner, a decision based on the perceived potential of the
source as aphorism to transgress established categories, including that of
“author.” To my mind, this is also the best way to take seriously the suggestion that the early feature was a focal point for a multifaceted process of
historical change.
***
As motion picture exhibitors gathered for the International Motion Picture
Association’s second annual convention in June 1914, a majority declared
that they preferred to rely on a mixed program made up of single and tworeel films over the longer feature film for their everyday business.1 In contrast to this mainstream position, the voice of dissension that Frank J. Rembusch of Indiana offered was perceived to be quite radical: Mr. Rembusch
“went so far as to advocate eliminating the footage method of producing
pictures, saying art should not be measured by feet,” Motography reported.2
Moving Picture World also quoted the Indiana exhibitor: “No other science
is measured by the mile. … When the time comes—it must come eventually—that films are made for the story and not by the foot we will have the
highest art in moving pictures.”3 This type of artistic argument in favor of
40
the multi-reel feature film identified a conflict between ambitions for artistic
progress and a commercial organization of the film industry that was predicated on the handling of strips of celluloid as if they were “simply merchandise like cloth or ribbon.”4 The analogy between film and piece goods was
exaggerated in the sense that single-reel film was not a completely undifferentiated commodity—the brand name of the producing company, the genre
or the presence of a particular star could set a film apart in the eyes of the
audience, and the marked age of the film could set it apart on the level of
rental price.5 Nonetheless, it was an accurate assessment that the single-reel
standard encouraged people in all three branches of the industry to act as if
any given reel of film was a perfect substitute for the next one.
Mr. Rembusch’s “footage method of producing pictures” implied that
filmmakers were under commercial and industrial pressure to ensure that the
film fitted the single-reel format, regardless of the nature of the story. The
idea of “natural” length at odds with the single-reel standard was not new. In
1912, a commentator in the fan magazine Photoplay argued that “[t]he time
is not far distant when producers will release stories naturally requiring over
1,000 feet; let the play demand what length it desires to portray its theme
without ‘cut-outs’ and present the subject in a tone and length corresponding
to its natural requirements.”6 What the reference to “cut-outs” merely implies here, had been made explicit in another Photoplay article the previous
month: “Another fault we many times find is the fact that the film companies
try to cram the story into one or two reels, where three or four should have
been the minimum.”7 The opposite practice, i.e. to add or prolong scenes
only to bring the picture up to the prescribed length, was seen as equally
problematical: “The tendency has been to either cut the story to bring it
within the prescribed mileage, or pad it up to a specified length.”8
Initially, then, the multi-reel feature film was seen as offering a remedy to
a problem of padding that was typical of the single reel, but already by 1913,
padding began to be identified as a major shortcoming of the longer feature
film rather than of the single reel. In fact, Frank L. Dyer, manager of General
Film at this point, argued in November 1913 that the very origins of the
American feature was plagued by padding: “At first these multiple reel subjects were generally a single-reel subject stretched out to two reels by putting
in superfluous scenes, or lengthening out necessary scenes, but later on the
character of the subjects began to justify the length.”9 A few months earlier,
a Motion Picture News review of Pathé’s twelve-reel version of Les
Misérables (1913) had suggested that “two- and three-reel features are losing
somewhat of their interest, because most of them are subjects that would
make a fair reel, but are stretched and padded to satisfy the fad of feature
films.”10 By 1914, the trade press, the production and distribution companies’ in-house publications, fan magazines and advertisements to promote
the different production companies’ output abounded with similar accusations.11 Lacking from most of these charges were, however, the elucidation
41
of specific ways in which particular films were suffering from padding or,
more generally, of what padding was.12 This left the various padding claims
in themselves easy targets for critique, and at least one Motion Picture News
commentator did not fail to take a shot. According to him/her, not only was
it difficult to distinguish what padding was in the specific case, it would also
be virtually impossible to produce a completely padding-free motion picture.
Not much would remain of a film stripped to its bare plot, as “jokes, touching scenes, humorous situations, brave speeches, suspended action or anything else of interest to the audience, though it may be extraneous to the plot
proper” would have to be omitted.13
Although this account lays bare the theoretical weaknesses of the padding
charge as it was hurled against the multi-reel feature, it was an exception to
something of a discursive rule, an imbalance that can be explained not only
with reference to idiosyncrasies within the discourse itself. First of all, the
economy of the film industry caught up between the program cinema of
footage-based releases and the more open market of the feature, provided
incentives and thereby an economic rationale for padding. Secondly, allegations of padding can be seen as a discursive indicator of the need for more
advanced forms of differentiation once length itself was no longer a sufficient marker of difference.
Outlining the economies of padding calls for a slight digression based on
Frank L. Dyer’s account of what it meant to handle films—as the program
companies did—as “footage basis releases,” and also that we keep in mind
that for the film producers linked to these companies, the selling price per
reel of film would be the same regardless of the cost of production. Dyer
defined “negative cost” as the sum of the costs involved in producing the
negative, e.g. the cost of film stock, actors’ salaries, other salaries, travel
expenses, and so forth.14 “Footage price” denoted a specified price per foot
of film that the manufacturer would be paid by the distributor. The footage
price could vary, depending on the type of film, the age of the film, or other
factors that were worked out in detail in each specific agreement. To handle
a film on “footage basis” was the practice of paying the manufacturer in
accordance with the agreed footage price, and according to Dyer, up until the
point of his testifying in November 1913, practically all of General Film’s
releases had been handled in this way:
All the pictures that I can recall that have been handled by the General
Film Company have been on a footage basis, except that for a short
period, a year or more ago, it acquired certain multiple reel subjects,
by paying the negative cost of the manufacturers, and I know in one or
two instances extra payments have been made to the manufactures
over and above the footage price.15
42
Another exception that Dyer could recall was From the Manger to the Cross
(Kalem, 1912), a film that was handled by General Film but sold to various
states rights distributors.16
Drawing on the above notions, Dyer outlined a basic formula for calculating the film manufacturer’s profits within the limits of the footage based
system, according to which the price per foot multiplied by the length of the
film and the number of prints sold equaled the revenue, and the revenue minus the cost of producing the film equaled the profit.17 This meant that the
manufacturer’s financial gain was directly determined by how many prints
he/she could sell, but also that within the footage based system and assuming
a normal selling volume, a film production that crept above a certain negative cost could never be made profitable. Dyer’s estimate was that a film that
cost $2 per negative foot could be made profitable, but one of a negative cost
per foot of $2.50 could not; the crucial point of breakeven was somewhere in
between.18
The reason why padding might have been encouraged within these economic parameters is that such a practice provided an opportunity for producers to benefit from decreasing marginal costs. For example, detailing a particular set involves costs for planning, set design, actual construction, salaries to the construction workers, and so on, but several of these are one-off
costs, which means that the total cost is more or less the same regardless of
the length of the film. Furthermore, the marginal cost of using the same set
for the second, third or fourth reel of a film is likely to be much lower than
the marginal cost of building a brand new set. If the same is true for a range
of other costs (for example, hiring a new director, casting a film, acquiring
the rights to a certain story, etc.) it is easy to see why in many cases, it would
have cost less to produce one two-reel film instead of two one-reelers. In
other words, since a decreasing marginal cost per foot of film meant that the
average cost per foot of film also decreased with the increasing length of the
film, the longer the film, the lower the average cost. Hence, producing
longer and longer films subsequently released within the parameters of the
footage based system can be seen as a way of pushing the cost of production
farther and farther below Dyer’s crucial somewhere-between-$2.00-and$2.50 point, thus increasing the profit margins.
William Selig, in mid-1914, still a firm believer in a variety model structured around the single-reel film, seems to have been on to something similar, although not spelled out in precisely these terms. According to Selig, the
reason why manufacturers had begun dabbling in longer lengths in the first
place was that the cost of production was rising, causing production companies to find new ways to make money. The strategy not to make anything
into one reel if it could be padded into two or three presented one such option.19 If we trust a somewhat megalomaniac and rambling eleven-page letter
to Selig from film director Rollin S. Sturgeon (who had apparently just been
axed by the Vitagraph Co.), similar temptations remained in the later era of
43
full service feature programs. Sturgeon launched a severe critique of the
“program standard feature” and claimed that production companies were
prone to “cheat,” passing on inferior features after first winning over the
public with one or perhaps two “first-class hits.”20
A more obvious and forceful solution was to find ways and means to handle longer and more costly films outside of the “footage based release” system in order to sell at higher prices. Hypothetically, this would offer producers not only a chance to cover mounting production costs, but also an opportunity to expand profit margins well beyond the relatively small advances
that padded footage based releases represented. To be sure, a transformation
on the level of distribution was one of the most dramatic effects of the multireel feature, as an alternative and more open market for feature films began
to prosper parallel to program distribution. The two methods most closely
associated with the distribution of early features were road shows and the
states rights system,21 but as Michael Quinn demonstrates in his dissertation
on early feature film distribution, special branches for feature film distribution were soon set up within the program companies (such as the General
Film Company’s branch for “special releases”). Moreover, as a response to
new problems that methods such as road showing and states rights distribution in turn presented the industry with, feature film distribution was eventually somewhat stabilized along the lines of a sort of program feature distribution. The formation of Paramount and the development of this company’s
distinctive distribution strategy can be seen as the crucial case in point.22 In
the meantime, however, and before such stabilization would occur, the feature brought on a bonanza in the field of distribution. Low entry barriers and
promising prospects of making a quick buck seems to have attracted newcomers, some of which handled only a film or two before cashing in and
getting out. Indicative of this, and as was duly noted at the time, “page after
page” of the trade papers were “devoted to the exploitation of the feature
film.” 23 Further evidence can be extracted from the USA v. MPPC hearings.
For instance, in December 1913, Harry Schwalbe, branch manager for General Film in Philadelphia, testified that in addition to two feature film exchanges, the Interstate Film Company and the Federal Feature Film Company, that handled the feature output of Universal and Mutual, there were
between twenty and twenty-two other feature exchanges in his area, about
half of which Schwalbe could name at the time.24
What becomes increasingly clear is that it is key to be able to distinguish
between “program features” on the one hand and “special features” on the
other. Undeniably, both propelled the development toward longer and longer
films, but should be kept analytically apart to avoid inconsistencies and confusion. At any rate, the distinction points to two major contemporary ideas of
how to industrially accommodate the multi-reel feature film: (a) within program cinema, or (b) within an “open market” model. The latter was embraced by key figures at the leading trade papers, among them the editor of
44
Motion Picture News: “I have advocated many times within the past few
months the open market and the survival of the fittest.”25 Stephen Bush at
Moving Picture World repeatedly contended that individual exhibitors as
well as the industry as a whole would be better off if the feature were handled on an open market: “The greater the freedom of choice to the exhibitor
the better for the progress of the entire industry.”26 The main thrust of the
pro-open market argument was that if exhibitors could decide for themselves
what feature films to book, instead of having program companies supply
them with a program made-up of features put out by a restricted group of
manufacturers, the general quality of films would improve and exhibitors
would not run as great a risk to have inferior features inflicted upon them.
Nonetheless, as Box Office Attractions’ general manager Winifred R. Sheehan pointed out, the present tendency was toward combination and attempts
at a regular service of feature films.27 From the perspective of companies
that spearheaded feature program distribution, they were doing exhibitors a
favor. As Paramount’s W.W. Hodkinson saw it, Paramount had much
brighter prospects of securing the quality of films than the isolated exhibitor
had. In addition, the exhibitors that signed up for the program could benefit
directly from the elaborate publicity efforts that Paramount launched centrally.28
If hopes and attempts for full feature services were modeled on the established industrial structure that we have labeled program cinema, the open
market represented an ideal as far away as possible from present conditions.
Reality was, of course, more complex, encompassing (a) elements of an
open or at least opening market; (b), different versions of feature production
and distribution modeled on practices of the “old” program companies; and
(c), various forms of integration of features within the “old” program companies, either as parts of the regular program or as offered through special
feature services.29 What is revealing about the debates over the “open market” is that whether commentators supported it or advocated some other
commercial structure, they shared the assumption that the problem to be
solved was the mushrooming of low-quality feature films. An observer in
Motion Picture Magazine (the pioneering fan magazine originally known as
Motion Picture Story Magazine) complained that features of “poor quality”
were flooding the market.30 Louis Reeves Harrison of Moving Picture World
argued that the tendency to turn every story into a multi-reeler caused overproduction, monotony and a decrease in attendance.31 In Reel Life (Mutual’s
in-house publication), the London correspondent concurred: “The public has
been somewhat sickened of the long film, on account of the many extraordinarily bad specimens which have been placed before them under the
misnomer of ‘features’.”32 Motion Picture News usually nurtured very favorable attitudes toward the multi-reel feature, but the editor of the “Advertising
the Picture” section had already, in October 1913, insisted that it was time to
“put on the brakes.”33 Interestingly, just as the notion of “padding” was
45
originally applied to the single-reel film, the overproduction charge was first
directed against the one-reel market and was singled out as a cause of the
advent of multi-reel features in the first place: “It stands to reason that a
reckless demand for pictures means over-production along lines of poor
quality,” as a Motion Picture News editorial proclaimed.34 In an interview
published in the same trade journal, Charles Pathé explained how this situation stimulated the emergence of longer and better films: “The spectator has
grown tired and disgusted; and foreseeing the dangerous rut into which the
business has been tending, a number of producers have introduced films with
a number of reels, big subjects and sensational effects—in other words, the
‘feature’ of to-day.”35 Stephen Bush sketched a similar trajectory in terms of
how the “inane and dreary commonplace of the single reel” and the monotonous overproduction of “time-table releases” funneled the inevitable and
enduring strive for artistic progress into experiments with a new and longer
format.36 By contrasting the feature to the formulaic uniformity of the one
reeler, accounts such as these defined the former with reference to its potential for differentiation, artistically and/or commercially.37 However, it was
also recognized that there was an imminent risk that the success of good
feature films would lead to—and indeed had already led to—an avalanche of
inferior imitations or imposters, as it were. This would reproduce the uniformity that the feature was supposed to help escape from: “The remedy [for
the problem of overproduction of dreary single reels] is—good features and
more of them. Poor features will only defeat the end they are meant to attain,” cautioned one Motion Picture News editorial.38 Correspondingly, Stephen Bush suggested that many manufacturers of multiple-reel features
“merely makes the sausage longer and bigger, but the greatest problem of the
single reel—its monotony—remains.”39 Some of the exhibitors that gave
testimony in the USA v. MPPC hearings in late 1913 had detected similar
tendencies at the level of exhibition. George Cohen, owner of several movie
theaters in small towns across New York State, claimed that his patrons “got
so accustomed to these special features that they took them as a matter of
course,” and that putting on a feature film was, therefore, no longer an “inducement” that might bring in some extra business.40 For New Jersey exhibitor Abraham Greenburg, the fact that he attained multi-reel features
through his regular program service made them decidedly less special:
“They were not special features to me,” he concluded.41
A more abstract formulation of the problem addressed here states that differences and standards are not as much fixated attributes to objects but
changing outcomes of dynamic processes of differentiation and standardization.42 As Janet Staiger points out, standardization can be seen as a dual
process that involves a “move to uniformity to allow mass production, and a
move to attain a norm of excellence.”43 By 1914, the feature was not strictly
standardized in any of these respects,44 but the returning concerns about
“overproduction” and “longer sausages” indicate that the burgeoning multi46
reel field was increasingly perceived as a result of mimicking rather than a
strive for sharpened difference and uniqueness. In turn, the approximation of
standards called for new methods to differentiate the product. At a discursive
level, one response to this was the labeling of films as “real,” “ordinary,” or
“inferior” features. And, to finally return to a point raised a few pages earlier, to distinguish between feature films whose added length was justified
by the nature of the story and films that were “padded” in order to meet the
escalating demand for multi-reel films.
In spite of plentiful suggestions of what distinguished a “real feature,” the
discussion did not arrive at a clear consensus. Abe Warner argued that “the
true feature has ‘punch.’ It expresses originality. It teems with exciting
situations. It overawes spectators with its massiveness. It embodies the unusual, the spectacular, and the thrilling incidents that lift it above the ordinary single-reel production.” 45 Lewis Selznick, at this point vice-president of
the World Film Corporation (a feature distribution combine also involved in
production), equated the “real feature” with the non-padded: “A feature in
order to take well must be a real feature—every foot of film must help tell
the story of the plot effectively.”46 Production and distribution companies
responded to these discussions and issued advertisements that were meant to
assure that their feature output was the real deal: General Film promised to
never handle a film just because its producer termed it a “feature”; instead
they would eliminate any feature lacking the proper “punch” and thus “concentrate the quality of eight into the weekly production of four.”47 In addition to the advertisements that marketed the monthly output of “The Big V,”
the Vitagraph Bulletin of Life Portrayals for February 1914 quoted an exhibitor (real or invented) in Archbald, Pennsylvania who stated that the Vitagraph Saturday multiple release was the “one feature of the week that we
can absolutely depend upon to be a real feature.”48
The advertisement for General Film signals that attempts at defining the
“real feature” converged with terminological debates over the meaning of
the term “feature.” Two concomitant ideas dominated this discussion: (a)
that length did not necessarily make a film a “feature” film; and (b) that
since each multi-reel film was nonetheless marketed as a “feature;” the term
was losing its weight. Renowned exhibitor Samuel L. “Roxy” Rothapfel
acknowledged that “feature” had come to designate a film of greater length,
which was why he did not like the term. According to Roxy, any element of
a high-class program (including, for instance, music or the “method of presentation”) was potentially a feature: “Quality is the only real feature in my
eyes.”49 Charles O. Baumann, vice president of the New York Motion Picture Corporation, declared that “features are feature, whether they are in one,
two, three, or six reels.”50 Louis Reeves Harrison offered a comparative perspective and concluded that in no other art is a work termed a “feature” because of its mere proportions.51 Stephen Bush’s version of the argument
acknowledged that multiple reels did not make a film a feature by default,
47
but also that the term should be reserved for films longer than one reel:
“There is a sharp line of demarcation between the feature and the mere multiple-reel. Every feature is a multiple-reel but not every multiple-reel is a
feature.”52 Fears that the term would be devalued had already been articulated in July 1913 by the New York Dramatic Mirror’s “Film Man”: “Features are supposed to be works of merit, but unfortunately the output often
falls far short of the significance of the word, and unless producers are on
their guard it may become meaningless.”53 Later the same year, a commentator in Motion Picture News agreed: “The word ‘feature’ and the phrase
‘big feature’ have been used often of late and thereby have lost strength.”54
A Motography editorial, also dated 1913, offered a brief genealogy of the
term, suggesting that a few years back, a “feature” was an exceptional onereel film. Unfortunately, due to the questionable labeling carried out by press
agents and publicity men, every reel became a “feature” and thereby “feature” came to equal “subject.”55 An analogous course of events can be connected to the perceived devaluation of the “feature” term as applied to multireel films. A contemporary term for this was “puffing,” identified by Stephen Bush as one of the two “great evils” besetting the feature market towards the end of 1914 (the other was padding).56 Frank E. Woods, formerly
head of the New York Dramatic Mirror’s motion picture department, at this
point heading the scenario department for the Reliance and Majestic companies and later widely recognized as D. W. Griffith’s co-writer of The Birth of
a Nation (adapted from Thomas F. Dixon’s novel and stage play The Clansman), spoke more plainly of a practice according to which each and every
feature was marketed as the “greatest thing ever”.57 In one of the leading fan
magazines, “Junius” expressed his discontent with “those much-advertised
‘special features’ that make a big noise and accomplish but little.”58 In hindsight, while also commentating on the present situation as he knew it, director Rollin S. Sturgeon accused producers of having “cheated and lied” to
exhibitors by “advertising that a lot of junk was a masterpiece.”59 Ironically,
there were occasions when film companies deemed it necessary to disparage
their competitors’ alleged propensity for “puffing” by calling attention to it
by more advertising. For instance, an advertisement for General Film announcing that their claim for offering superior features was not just “an advertising boast.”60 Perhaps this too can be fitted into the scheme according to
which an initially successful differentiation causes an emulation of the same
practices, in turn necessitating novel strategies for differentiation.
If most attempts to assign meaning to the term “feature” that have been
cited so far seek to point out the “real feature’s” intrinsic qualities (the
“punch” if you will), another type of definition took the “punch” as a given
and, instead, pointed to the feature’s effects and functions. Offering a case in
point, Frank Dyer implied that what ultimately distinguished a feature was
that it was of “sufficient interest to permit the theatre to raise its price of
admission.”61 Since Dyer himself headed the leading program company, he
48
would not have been likely to agree, but from the premise that a special price
was in fact what made a feature special, others went on to conclude that the
feature film and the “regular program” were incompatible. We have seen
how a New Jersey exhibitor outlined this argument. In August 1913, a representative of the newly formed Exclusive Supply Corporation (handling the
output of Itala, Great Northern, Gaumont, and Solax among others) sharpened the tone by accusing the regular programs of trying to kill off the “real
feature”: “The regular program combination attempted to make features and
began to offer these on ‘regular service’ without extra charge, in an effort to
exterminate the real feature.”62 Situated in the opposite corner, one might
have argued instead that the program companies were merely responding to
a disruption of the equilibrium of the film industry. To see this clearly however, we need to digress slightly to provide some background and some general characteristics of the industrial structure at this point. By 1911, an oligopolistic structure divided the film market between two distributing combinations: General Film and the Motion Picture Distributing and Sales Co.
Each of these two combines distributed the output of a specific set of production companies. Due to internal conflicts, the Sales Co. split, as Harry
Aitken departed to set up Mutual, which would buy exchanges, and The
Film Supply Company of America, which would distribute films produced
by a number of producers who had up until then been associated with the
Sales Co. Seven production companies remained with the Sales Co., but four
of these (New York Motion Picture Corp., Imp, Powers, and Rex) formed
Universal, initially conceived as a trade organization. Universal soon transformed into a distribution combine, however, which in effect put an end to
the Sales Co. In late 1912, the ties between Mutual and the Film Supply Co.
were cut, and Mutual assumed control of the output of Reliance, Majestic,
Thanhouser, American, Key-Bee, Broncho, and Keystone. Around the same
time, the New York Motion Picture Corp. left Universal and joined the Mutual alliance. By the end of 1912, General Film served about 60% of the
country’s exhibitors, whereas Mutual, Universal and the Film Supply Co.
shared the remainder.63
By 1914, the Film Supply Co. was no longer active, leaving three dominating combines, or “programs” as they were often called: General Film,
Mutual and Universal. Via regional exchanges, the “programs” supplied
exhibitors with weekly programs of films according to specific rules of spatial as well as temporal zoning. These rules were meant to prevent detrimental and unnecessary competition, for instance, by guaranteeing that two
movie houses in the same neighborhood supplied by the same program company would not show the same films on the same day. Rental prices were set
in accordance with two parameters: length and age of the film. This meant
that there was a fixed price per foot of film, but the fixed price would vary
depending on the level of run. The films offered by the regular programs
were predominantly one-reelers, although from the second part of 1913 on49
wards, an increasing number of two- and even three-reelers made their way
into the regular programs. Another fundamental element of the programcinema model was that the varied program of primarily single reels would be
changed on a daily basis.64
In Moving Picture World, Stephen Bush characterized the situation prevailing in 1914 as a “constant battle between the regular program and the
irregular feature.”65 As we have already discussed, this struggle involved
questions of whether to reconfigure the film industry to fit a new central
commodity or whether to integrate the new format with as mild and few
industrial consequences as possible. From the point of view of the regular
program companies, however, the pressing issue was whether the oligopolistic structure could be upheld, or whether the oligopolistic equilibrium had
been terminally torpedoed rather than merely disrupted. In hindsight, and
knowing that within a few years, the multi-reel feature film would reach an
unrivaled position as the film industry’s central commodity, it is perhaps too
easy to single out the signs of this shift. For instance, already by July 1914, it
was acknowledged that the three regular program companies had to share the
market with at least four major feature distributors (Warner’s Features,
Paramount, World Film Corporation, and William Fox’s Box Office Attractions).66 Nonetheless, tapping the discursive level, we find that if faced with
a choice between features or programs, a remarkable number of commentators replied: “Both.” This finding is at odds with a type of historiography
that frames the breakthrough of the feature in terms of a struggle between
adamant support of the longer format and conservative denunciation of it.
Accordingly, Eileen Bowser’s debunking of the mythical tug-of-war between progressive independent forces and the inert Trust was duly welcome,
but the fact that Bowser more than anything else relocates the struggle to a
slightly different arena where a new set of combatants face off still tends to
cloud some of the historical complexity.67 One could argue that this results
from either the harboring of an implicit predisposition to view historical
change as the result of conflict, and/or the presupposition of an inevitable
triumph for the feature format. Both, in fact, equally questionable postures.
A more generous (and proximate) interpretation would be that the quite
spectacular outbursts of antipathy toward the multi-reel feature that occasionally surface in the trade papers that anyone studying the period is bound
to rely on are easy to overvalue. An often-cited example is Universal president Carl Laemmle’s prediction in July 1914 of the “doom of long features.”68 Richard Koszarski points out that Laemmle kept up his resistance to
the feature well into 1917, perhaps longer than anyone else in a similar position in the film business.69 Edison’s Horace G. Plimpton penned an article
that was published in the same July 1914 issue of Moving Picture World that
Laemmle’s prophesy appeared in, and Plimpton too asserted that the feature
was “doomed.”70 Laemmle and Plimpton both represented the “old” program
companies, which makes their disapproving stance understandable. That
50
Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn) told Motion Picture News in July 1914 that
“[f]eatures will cease to exist” is perhaps more startling.71
These comments represented the fringes of the discourse, as did a Motion
Picture News editorial from October 1913 announcing that the short film, i.e.
“half-reels and one-reels,” were “doomed.”72 A vast majority of commentators, instead, recognized advantages as well as drawbacks to both the short
and the long format, and that both formats found popularity among audiences.73 Artistically speaking, many pundits acknowledged the potential of
the multi-reel feature, basically subscribing to our opening aphorism: “Art
should not be measured by feet.” On the other hand, the torrent of run-ofthe-mill replicas and the “programization” of the multi-reeler was perceived
to lead to the same inartistic monotony that was associated with single-reel
cinema. The last did not really speak in favor of the short film format, but
the alleged failures of program distributors (feature and regular) to offer a
satisfying full feature service, not to mention the assortment of downright
“cheap” and “unclean” features that also found ways into the market, caused
some to believe that if exhibitors were faced with the choice, they would feel
compelled to stick to the regular program of one-reelers after all.74
Figure 1. Majestic warns prospective feature film buyers of “cheap” and “unclean”
features. Reel Life 4, no. 2 (March 28, 1914).
51
A more compelling reason for why the single-reel retained endorsement
from all around in spite of its alleged artistic shortcomings was that it metonymically represented stability, progress, and uplift. Aside from trying to
prove that the non-licensed programs and feature firms such as Famous
Players and Warner’s Features guaranteed healthy competition, the backbone
of the MPPC’s defense in the anti-trust case that began in 1912 was geared
to convince the court that the Trust, and the single-reel standard that it had
been instrumental in establishing, had been a prerequisite for the unprecedented success that the film industry had experienced over the past few
years.75 Legally, the defense was apparently not successful, as the court announced a decision in favor of the petitioner on October 1, 1915,76 but many
nonetheless agreed that the Trust’s business practices had been necessary in
order to straighten out an industry in disarray. A Motography editorial
claimed that the court too had admitted that a “firm hand” had been needed
to navigate the industry—which however was taken by the court to further
substantiate that the aim of the Patents Company et al. was to achieve an
unlawful control of the industry—and concluded that the Trust “has served
its purpose, and we believe a useful one.”77
At the discursive level, support for the single-reel standard came most
clearly into view through a series of variations on the theme that the single
reel was the “backbone” of the industry.78 “[T]he single reel is STILL the
backbone of the business,” an exhibitor “with some experience” told the
Lubin Bulletin as late as September 1915.79 Adding to the gallery of synonymous tropes that had been built up at this time, John J. Coleman (employed by the Gene Gauntier Feature Players) claimed that it was conclusively proven that single reels were the “foundations stones of profitable
exhibiting.”80 Motography’s “Goat Man” suggested that the “thousand-foot
reel is the bread and butter of the industry.”81 Horace Plimpton argued that
the “relatively short subject” constituted the “very essence of the motion
picture.”82 William Selig’s version identified the single reel as the “keystone
of the motion picture industry.”83 As indicated, champions of the singlereeler were numerous and diverse, further corroborating the notion that there
was more to such sentiments than the self-interested protection of an oligopolistic market.
As even the staunchest proponents of feature film predominance could
not imagine a film culture completely bereft of shorter films and the compilation of such films in the form of variety programs, and vice versa, many
commentators were looking for models that allowed for the peaceful coexistence of different formats. The success of one format would not come at
the expense or the extinction of another; instead, the issue would be resolved
by gradation and classification. In a metaphor typical of the time, Stephen
Bush described the different formats not as rivals, but as branches on a unified “Tree of Kinematography”: “I hope that nothing in this article will be
construed as a plea either against the single reel or against the charm of vari52
ety. Different theaters will have different audiences. … There will be a
healthy growth in every part of the great Tree of Kinematography and the
little branches will be as much part of the tree as the larger ones.”84 Returning again to the same metaphor, Bush in a later article stated that “[t]he
movies is like a tree, roots deep down, and branches high in the air.”85 The
mobilization of the organic growth metaphor to illustrate social and historical change is not surprising, given the frequency with which this rhetorical
strategy was deployed in a number of areas.86 This included early survey
film histories; consider, for instance, the abundance of organic metaphors in
Terry Ramsaye’s A Million and One Nights.87
Several models of gradation had been in sway before the metaphorical
“Tree of Kinematography” appeared, each one offering its own scheme of
how the type of theater, type of film, type of audience, and level of admission price interacted to form multiple grades or classes. Also mobilizing a
biological metaphor, Frank E. Woods (at this point, in 1913, still heading the
Mirror’s motion picture department) gave full credit to Lee Dougherty of the
Biograph Company for having suggested five or six years previously that
“quite clearly at least three distinct divisions,” including five-cent houses,
ten- to twenty-cent houses and more expensive theaters for the big features,
would be the result of “natural evolution.”88 Five months previously, William Fox claimed that there already existed four different types of theaters
with four levels of admission prices: Five-cent houses (or “nickelettes” as
Fox called them), picture theaters charging ten cents or more, combined film
and vaudeville houses charging ten to fifty cents, and finally, the more expensive vaudeville venues (with prices ranging from 25 cents up to a dollar)
offering a reel or two of motion pictures between live acts.89 Other gradation
schemes were more clearly predicated on genre. A case in point is Sigmund
Lubin’s prediction that “before long we shall have houses devoted to different lines. … Some will show comedy, some melodrama, some farce, some
spectacular, though we shall always have variety houses with a mixture of
them all.”90 Occasionally, similar genre-based taxonomies somewhat confusingly included the feature film as a genre in itself.91 John J. Coleman offered an alternative approach, putting forth a two-graded scale according to
which the form of the program was contingent on the seating capacity:
Theaters seating more than a thousand patrons should offer a show of a single-reel comedy, a short two-reel drama and a three-reel drama, interspersed
with high-class music. For theatres with less seating capacity, a program
consisting of one- and two-reel subjects with appropriate music was suitable,
Coleman argued.92 Evidently, Coleman hereby presupposed the future demise of films longer than three reels.
Stephen Bush’s models of gradation varied slightly over time as to the
specific details, but one of the more elaborated ones proposed three classes
of theaters: (a) the “first class picture house,” offering good projection, large
seating capacity, the highest levels of comfort and safety, and top-of-the-line
53
plus-four-reel feature films supplied from outside of the “time-table system”;
(b) a type of theater similar to the first class but offering shorter programs
made up of a combination of shorter feature films and single-reelers; and (c)
a more modest theater offering a short but varied program of one-reelers.93
Bush’s World colleague Epes Winthrop Sargent proposed a somewhat more
crude distinction between the “locality house” and the “feature house,” although he added a sub-division according to which different types of feature
houses would show different types of feature films (“sensational,” “classical,” and so on).94
A general trait of the various gradation models was that admission price
was assumed to be a function of the type of film shown and/or the convenience and sumptuousness of the venue. Occasionally, as in the case of Biograph’s Harry Marvin, the importance of films was downplayed for the
benefit of the “accommodations.” Marvin argued that one could catch the
same picture show at a five, ten or fifty cent houses, but that the conveniences of new or newly revamped theaters were vastly superior to the old
Nickel houses, which was, in effect, what people were coughing up extra to
enjoy. In Marvin’s own words:
Theatre managers have been warranted in spending large sums of
money in equipping very fine theatres, to which they are compelled to
ask a higher price of admission, and they produce there an exhibition
which is attractive to well-to-do people, and is freely patronized by
them, and where they pay a price of admission considerably more than
the original five cent price.95
As implied by Marvin, high-priced theaters catered primarily for “well-to-do
people” of the higher classes. Or so it was perceived, as such people were
the only ones imagined to be both able and willing to spend more than a
nickel or dime for motion picture entertainment. Hence, and following the
discourse on gradation to its logical conclusion, if gradation of films and
venues or both determined the gradation of prices, gradation of prices in turn
determined the gradation of audiences. Linked specifically to the multi-reel
feature, the pervasive belief around 1914 was that just as Marvin’s highclass “accommodations” catered to the higher social classes, so did the highclass feature program. William Selig’s version of this idea stated that the
“worth-while photo-drama” of one and a half hours or even two and a half
hours length would be screened in special theaters, appealing “only to those
who have the leisure and inclination to view photo-plays of great length.”96
Stephen Bush was more explicit as to what type of patrons would be so inclined, arguing that a new type of feature film exhibitor catered to the “refined and cultured portions of the American public.”97 Conversely, the varied
program of short films was perceived to appeal primarily to the lower
classes. A Reel Life editorial suggested that the feature would never draw
large crowds in “tenement districts,” whereas the “Broadway Crowd” was
54
much more likely to enjoy the dramatic “food for thought” that high quality
features provided.98 “Tenement” audience was, of course, a euphemism for
“poor,” indicating that to verbalize the imagined feature audience’s “other”
was a delicate matter. Some, however, were more blunt, such as the anonymous manufacturer who was quoted by Moving Picture World saying that
since the poor would always be with us, there would always be an audience
for the small-time picture house.99
Regardless of how potential delicacies with regard to audience characteristics were tackled, it was at any rate widely held that the potential to attract
a new and higher class of patronage was among the utmost merits of the
feature film. Jesse Lasky asserted that within a remarkably short period of
time, the feature had “accomplished what the one-reel subjects failed to attain in 15 years, viz. attracting the classes.”100 Similar formulations
abounded: “The features have brought to the box offices people we could not
reach with small subjects,” one manufacturer claimed.101 “[T]he big feature
has done more to increase the high-class patronage of the motion picture
theatre than any other single agency,” declared William L. Sherry, renowned
feature film exchange man form New York.102 Or, in the words of Emanuel
Mandelbaum, president of the World Special Film Corp. and “film idealist,”
according to the Mirror: “The feature film is capable of wonderful things.
Our greatest field of patronage is yet untouched. We are every day reaching
more and more people who have in the past never thought of motion pictures, except with disdain.”103
The discourse on gradation was distinctly flavored by the “Tree of Kinematography” idea, and the imagined tree was envisioned as high-grown
enough to accommodate all sanctionable expressions and elements of motion
picture culture: variety programs as well as multi-reel features, comedy as
well as drama, small as well as large theaters. Nonetheless, as Michael
Quinn points out, the gradation discourse can also be seen as evidence of a
clash between fundamentally irreconcilable models of cinema.104 Something
akin to this was hinted at in some contemporary accounts too, such as the
“Film Man’s” comment that special features, or “screen drama,” should be
reserved for legitimate theaters, and handled by theatrical men who could
reach the theater-going public without “diverting the steps of audiences on
their way to the five and ten cent film theaters.”105 Granted, the situation was
irreconcilable to the extent that a new and longer format could not be directly inserted into the modes of distribution and exhibition that had been
chiseled out to suit the short variety format. The standard of a usual daily
program change is a good case in point: Let us first acknowledge that the
rental price for a feature film would normally be considerably higher than a
comparable chunk of the regular program of short films. “With the advent of
longer and longer films, exchanging began charging higher and higher
prices. Now they charge about $50 per day for a five or six reel feature. …
With posters the feature will cost me $55 or $60 per day,” as one exhibitor
55
explained it.106 Toward the end of 1913, Chester W. Sawin, the branch manager of General Film in Washington D.C., stated that a feature service from
either Famous Players or Warner’s Features would cost the exhibitor between $20 and $25 per day, depending on the type of feature.107 Such figures
might, however, only pertain to these feature film distributors specifically,
and moreover be subject to many local variations, as prices might have differed between the D.C. and Baltimore areas that Sawin covered and, for
instance, New York City or the rural south. Another branch manager for
General Film, Ike van Ronkel, who handled one of the Chicago offices, provided different and more detailed figures concerning Famous Players’ prices.
According to van Ronkel, Famous charged $50 per day for a “Famous Star
Film,” $32 for a “second grade” feature, and $20 for an “ordinary” feature.108
Some Famous Players officials would probably not have been too happy
about van Ronkel’s terminology—in the company’s own terms, a “Famous
Star Film” was a “Great Star Feature” and what van Ronkel referred to as
“second grade” and “ordinary” features was “Junior Star Features” and
“Stock Star Features” respectively—but van Ronkel’s figures did reflect the
gradation of features that characterized the Famous Players plan. 109 More
importantly, in comparison to the $20 to $50 that it would cost an exhibitor
(in Chicago anyway) to book a feature for just one night, General Film’s
regular program for a full week cost only $45.110 All in all, then, even though
rental prices for features varied depending on a range of factors,111 the
sources suggest that in 1914, a normal rental price for a feature spanned
from $25 to $50 per day, prices that apparently could ensure the exhibitor
offering short films for the whole week. 112 Given the high rental prices of
feature films, sticking to a policy of a daily program change was hardly an
option. To make a feature profitable, it seemed much more advisable to build
business over a protracted run, not least by aid of clever marketing. Unfortunately, this posed a severe problem for many exhibitors, including those
operating downtown houses as well as those managing a neighborhood
theater. Many of the former catered to a transient trade that preferred to drop
in for a few reels during their lunch hour, between shopping stops, or while
waiting for a train, a mode of spectatorship that made features a hard sell.
The problem for many of the latter was that small seating capacity prompted
them to fill and empty the house more times a day than a long multi-reel
feature film would allow for. It was also commonly argued that shifting from
a varied program to features involved an economic risk; while the damage
caused by one mediocre single-reel subject could be offset by the merits of
the next one on the program, one abysmal feature film would ruin the whole
show.113 As Stephen Bush put it: “Poor clothes look worse on large men.”114
We should not underestimate the significance of these problems, but neither should we take it to substantiate that only the large and lavish motion
picture theaters that sprang up around this time were the only venues in
which multi-reel features could and would be exhibited. This was clearly not
56
the case. A look at the testimony provided by a number of exhibitors and
exchange men in the USA v. MPPC hearings indicates as much.115 “As far as
your observation goes, the usual theatre exhibits specials?” exhibitor William Brandt was asked, replying that “[m]ost theatres” did.116 Samuel H.
Shirley, branch manager of General Film in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was
asked: “What size houses do these feature people put their features in, small
or large ones?”, and replied: “All houses, wherever they can get them.”117 A
nearly identical exchange transpired when William C. Brandon, General
Film’s branch manager in Atlanta, Georgia was put on the stand: “Q. In what
class of theaters, as a rule, are these special feature companies putting in
their service? A. All classes.”118 The series of national “trade reviews” that
Motion Picture News conducted from 1914 and a few years onward point in
the same direction with regard to the general impact of the multi-reel feature
and its presence in large as well as small theaters.119 The second of these
reviews were published on October 31, 1914 and reported that of the all in
all twenty-seven cities/exchange centers throughout the U.S. that were included in the survey, the “demand for features” was “strong” in eleven,
“growing” in four, “strong and growing” in one, “overwhelming” in another,
and “very marked” or “marked” in two. From only one exchange center—Des Moines, Iowa—was it reported that programs were preferred. Another question explicitly concerned the success rate of feature programs “at
small houses,” which in itself is evidence of a strong presence of features in
small theaters. If we believe the results, features were “successful” in small
theaters in ten of the twenty-seven regions/cities, “popular” in three, “business pullers” in one, and “generally good” in another one. Two reports stated
that feature business in small houses was “unsatisfactory.” Other negative
statements included “frequently unprofitable,” “not markedly popular,” and
“too costly to be successful.”120
Whether small-time exhibitors were able to make profitable business in
the slightly longer, medium and long runs by using multi-reel feature films
is, however, another issue. Recent research suggests that this was frequently
not the case. Ben Singer has examined, in some detail, the difficulties facing
small-time exhibitors, demonstrating how few were viable options to survive.121 In more general terms, and following Michael Quinn, we might propose that the breakthrough of features represented a shift from one variety
program model of cinema to the feature model of cinema, a shift that made
the mode of exhibition characteristic of small-time exhibitors obsolete.122
Tapping the early discourses on the multi-reel feature yields further clues to
the asymmetrical circumstances pertaining to small-time and major exhibitors respectively. Apropos the high rental price of feature films, one exhibitor present at the International Motion Picture Association’s 1914 convention concluded that “[s]omeone with a large seating capacity can handle it,
but the small man can’t.”123 An anonymous exhibitor operating somewhere
in the Central West elaborated on the same topic: “That other house is three
57
times as big as mine. It seats a little more than twelve hundred. The manager
can afford to book all the big features, because his box-office will stand the
rentals. A day’s booking, at the price he pays, would take every nickel and
dime of my gross receipts for the day.”124 “Bill,” an exhibitor running a
neighborhood movie theater with a seating capacity of 450, wrote to the
World and complained that a feature would cost him $40 for two nights or
$25 per night, and to cover such costs, he would have to fill, empty and refill
the house several times per day. The problem was that his particular audience (most likely residents of the neighborhood) would typically catch the
show sometime between supper and bedtime, and “Bill” thus saw little or no
opportunity to attract crowds the whole day through.125 People with a generally skeptical attitude toward features, such as Horace Plimpton and John
Coleman, conjured that stories such as these did not refer to isolated incidents, but rather provided evidence that the feature format was at odds with
the needs of the “average” exhibitor and reflected the preferences of the “average” patron.126 Motography’s “Goat Man” summarized this stance with
explicit clarity:
For the rank and file of exhibitors I believe in short length film subjects. I have repeatedly expressed myself on this subject. There is a
place for the long lengths, but they do not find favor in the average
motion picture theatre. The great supporting revenue of the film industry comes from the average theatres-the average exhibitors.127
Whether this actually represented the “rank and file” is hard to tell, but it is
clear that the multi-reel feature did not meet with much favor among the
exhibitors present at the International Motion Picture Association’s 1914
convention. Motography reported that “[t]here was a great deal of argument
over the subject of multiple and single reels” and that “[t]he majority of exhibitors present favored the single or two-reel film as against the longer feature for steady, every-day use.” The Association’s own “Report of Grievance
Point 4” exclaimed “[t]hat we are emphatically opposed to crowding out of
single reels them with multiple reel subpects [sic] which further has taken
the former merit out of single reels.”128 As an editorial in the same issue of
Motography noted, the problem for these exhibitors was not only the severe
cost of renting features, but also the diminishing quality of the regular service; the resolution that the Association sent out to manufacturers consequently encouraged the recipients to “confine their energies and resources to
… regular service at regular prices and refrain from inflicting upon their
customers large multiple reels at extra cost.”129
The response from feature advocates to such recalcitrance was that exhibitors had every opportunity to build a successful and profitable feature
film business by means of a combination of higher admission prices and
clever advertising. As a Motography editorial suggested, features gave ex-
58
hibitors “a chance to make more noise, do more pretentious advertising, and
attract bigger crowds.”130 This brings us back to the point that the daily
change as a standard element of the dominant mode of exhibition simply was
not compatible with the feature format. Or, at least it was not economically
rational: “[I]t seems positively foolhardy to put on a three, four, five or six
reel feature for a single day, and then cast it aside to make room for another
feature,” a New York feature exchange man argued.131 The issue of a daily
change also had ramifications for the USA v. MPPC case, since the less frequent change of program encouraged by the feature format casts doubts upon
what it actually meant to supply an exhibitor with a full service. The exchange between the defense’s attorney and J.A. Schubert, branch manager of
General Film in Buffalo, New York, is telling: “Q. But the Warner Company
is able to supply a complete service to a theatre that makes only a change of
three times per week; that is correct, is it? A. Yes. Q. And the character of
the service supplied by them is such as to not make it desirable to change
oftener than that, isn’t it? A. Yes, in order to get the advertising out of their
features.”132 Meanwhile, house organs and trade papers (these publications
too sometimes resembling mouthpieces for the companies that paid for advertising space) began to fill up with cautionary tales of overly parsimonious
exhibitors and inspiring stories of successful feature exhibition. The former
items demonstrated how reluctance to spend enough money on marketing
caused exhibitors to fail to attract the extra patronage that would otherwise
have maximized profits, whereas the latter set positive examples for other
exhibitors to follow.133 Special attention given to the successful exhibition of
feature films in small motion picture houses was, arguably, in response to
the widespread idea that small-time exhibitors were the real losers of the
feature game. V-L-S-E’s Walter W. Irving recounted the story of a 275-seat
theater in the town of Navasota, Texas (pop. 3,000), which had booked the
V-L-S-E feature Graustark (Essanay, 1915), raised the admission price to
20–25 cents, and advertised the attraction in the local newspaper. According
to Irving, the strategy proved an immediate and colossal success: the theater
totaled $275 in one day, which was remarkable for such a small venue.
Irving concluded that “[t]his case indicates that the problem of offsetting the
handicap of limited seating capacity, may be solved by the simple combination of strong features, proper advertising and increased admission prices.”134
In Troy, New York, a 280-seat movie theater supposedly made a net profit of
$280 in one day, thanks to a strong feature, a higher than usual admission
price and the maneuver of letting a band parade the streets for ten minutes,
announcing the attraction.135
Compared to the discussions of marketing strategies, the level of admission prices was a more complex issue. From the outlook of film producers
and various proponents of the uplifting of film cultural standards, the logic
was simple enough: there was a price for artistic progress (for instance, on
the form of rising star and other salaries, expensive rights for literary and
59
dramatic source material, construction of increasingly extravagant sets and
the spectacular but equally costly demolition of the same sets, and so on).
This meant that exchanges had to pay the manufacturers enough to cover the
negative cost, that exhibitors had to pay higher rental prices, and that patrons
had to pay higher admission prices. Several major trade papers launched
more or less consistent and persistent campaigns in support of higher admission prices around 1914136 which, however, did not mean that this was not a
contested issue. In April 1914, New York Dramatic Mirror’s “Film Man”
identified two main camps in the debate: one argued that costly features warranted “better” prices, and the other maintained that motion pictures would
always be a ten-cent amusement, and that higher prices would scare patrons
away.137 It should be stressed that the “ten-cent amusement” label was not
necessarily meant to have negative connotations. On the contrary, it was
argued that a low admission price was one of the very cornerstones that had
built the success of motion pictures, primarily because it enabled cinema to
become the first and only art form to cater to the masses. According to Robert Grau, a prominent advocate of this line of reasoning, the enduring vitality
of the five- and ten-cent house was a case in point. Grau also suggested that
low prices explained why motion picture entertainment was prospering while
the legitimate theater was facing increasingly difficult times. Cinema was
beginning to attract the middle-class, and while low admission prices at the
movie theater also encouraged the masses to keep dropping in, the legitimate
theater had failed to attract new patrons.138
A few months later, Grau nonetheless suggested that what truly made the
premiere of The Birth of a Nation mark a historical occasion was the fact
that people were actually paying $2 to see a “picture play.”139 The appearance of such so-called “$2 films” did have a symbolic value, and assigned a
monetary measure to cinema’s cultural upward mobility by framing the trajectory from storefront amusement to high-class entertainment in terms of a
shift from nickel to dollar prices. The Birth of a Nation was obviously the $2
film par excellence of the period, and possibly the inspirational source for
Harry Aitken to announce in July 1915 that he was leaving the presidency of
Mutual to work with the Triangle plan, the explicit aim of which was to offer
“$2 motion picture programs of film spectacles and comedies directed by
these well known producers [i.e. D. W. Griffith, Thomas Ince and Mack
Sennett].”140 A year earlier, Aitken had predicted cinema’s future as fewer
but better films, fewer releases and thus fewer changes of bill, fewer theaters
but better ones, fewer patrons but at “better” prices, and a general uplifting
of standards. We may think of Aitken’s $2 plan as the attempt to realize his
own predictions and hopes for a highbrow film culture.141 Interestingly, Adolph Zukor, himself a key player with regards to cultural legitimization and
the attracting of a new and supposedly higher-class audience for the movies,
took issue with Aitken over the notion of $2 films: “I believe thoroughly in
the so-called $2 picture but I do not believe in charging $2 for the privilege
60
of seeing them.” Elaborating along those lines, Zukor argued that a film was
a $2 film when its “intrinsic value”—measured by the quality of the stars,
the quality of the plays (upon which the film was based) and the “manner” in
which they are handled or directed—made it worth paying such an amount
to see it, but instead of serving these films to the classes at $2 prices it was
the duty of the producer to present them to the “masses” for as low an admission price as possible. The main reason for this was that, according to
Zukor, the profits that financed the great features were gathered by the nickels and dimes of the masses, and to charge $2 would, therefore, be to desert
the public “whose patronage and support the motion picture producer owes
his very existence.”142
The notion of “Broadway prices” represented less of a fringe phenomenon
but carried a symbolic value similar to that of the “$2 film.” In Reel Life, one
commentator demanded that the press should re-evaluate the status of motion pictures, since at this point (April 1914) about one fifth of the theaters
on Broadway offered “photoplay programs,” and people were apparently
willing to pay “Broadway prices” (i.e. $1) for these shows.143 As implied, the
notion of Broadway prices was linked to the increasingly frequent exhibition
of motion pictures in legitimate theaters, and such inroads into higher cultural realms were most spectacularly manifested by the motion pictures’
invasion of Broadway theaters. The opening of up-scale motion pictures
theaters in the Broadway theater district—most crucially the Vitagraph
Theatre (which opened in February 1914 in the former Criterion Theatre at
Broadway and 44th Street), the Strand Theatre (which opened in April 1914
at Broadway and 47th) and the flagship theater that George Kleine was
erecting on 42nd Street—was seen as equally compelling evidence of film’s
cultural ascendancy.144 In this manner, movies were in the process of “picturizing Broadway.”145
Discussions of “Broadway prices” and “$2 films” may appear to have
been of minor relevance beyond the specific metropolitan conditions that
they primarily applied to, but local and more rural film cultures were influenced in more indirect ways.146 In any event, as we have seen, the campaign
for higher admission prices was not limited to Longacre, not least because
the agenda of linking higher prices to the uplift of artistic and industrial
standards was also fulfilled by pointing to the abject opposite of the “$2
film” and “Broadway prices,” viz. the offering of too long a show at too low
a price. This problem was deemed especially acute if multi-reel feature films
of high merit were inserted into such a “cheapening” exhibition context. The
group at Moving Picture World included the pundits most vehemently outraged at exhibitors who engaged in these detrimental practices: “Once more
we have to point out the execrable folly of giving a long show for five
cents,” an October 1914 editorial bellowed.147 “It ought to be intimated to
him [the exhibitor] that no exchange can rent first-class features to a man
who will cheapen them. If the man wants to ruin himself … that is his own
61
business, but the cheapening of a high-class feature is another affair. It hurts
the prestige of the producer to have it figure on a ten-reel show for a
nickel.”148 The ringleader of the tormentors, Stephen Bush, likened the “irresponsible” ten-reels-for-a-nickel exhibitors to “vandals,” and called upon
manufacturers to forbid the showing of high-class features at “Nickel style
venues,” and to send out inspectors to secure that no “vandalism of their
high-class property occurs.”149 Correspondingly, W.C. Merrill, manager of
Warner’s Features in Minneapolis even threatened (jokingly, one must assume) to bring a libel suit against any exhibitor putting on one of his features
for a measly five cents: “It is defamation of the character of the productions
to put them on public exhibition for five cents,” Merrill argued.150 Feature
distributor William Sherry also joined in, exclaiming that “I cannot say too
strongly that the most formidable obstacle to the proper growth of this business today IS THE MAN WHO GIVES TOO MUCH FOR THE
MONEY.”151 This view aligned with that of the editors of Motion Picture
News who labeled such forms of competition “unwise.”152
The reason why competition by a combination of large size and small
price was deemed “unwise” or even “disastrous” was double. On the one
hand, as in the above accounts, meritorious features were “cheapened.” On
the other hand, in trying to expand program length without excessive additional cost at the exchange, many exhibitors were likely to give in to the
temptation of booking cheap but inferior multi-reel features. With regard to
the latter concern, some argued that the exhibitor as well as the industry as a
whole would be much better off by letting variety compensate for the lack of
reel length. Predictably, it was not primarily the feature-friendly observers
who prescribed this remedy, but rather the “old” program companies.153 A
commentator in Reel Life warned the readers to “Beware of the faked feature!” and offered the following advice:
Variety will more than compensate for the lack of reel length. If his
competitor is filling his house by means of multiple reel subjects, he,
instead of trying to fake a cheap imitation of these, will wisely specialize in the opposite attraction—shorter plays of exceptional quality.
In the long run, there is no better drawing card.154
Universal’s founder and president, Carl Laemmle’s version of the same argument was more flamboyantly phrased. Laemmle argued that the “so-called
‘feature’ ha[d] fallen of its own weight,” and that the surefire solution was to
shift to the Universal program, or, as he preferred to call it, “The Scientifically Balanced Program.” To Laemmle, adding a multi-reel feature to the
show was akin to injecting the program with “dope.” As “dope” was to the
human body, the feature was to the program: an artificial stimulant of everdecreasing potency, the only certain long-term effect of which was to drug
the exhibitor’s business to the point that it became “dopey.”155
62
Nonetheless, an increasing number of exhibitors regarded multi-reel features as an increasingly vital part of the show. Louis Rosenbluh, representing
William Fox’s Greater New York Film Rental Co., testified that the demand
among exhibitors for so-called “specials” was “[e]xceptionally large.”156
Statements from numerous exhibitors pointed in the same direction:157 William F. Kertscher, proprietor of two theaters with less than 300 seats in
Brooklyn and one open-air venue admitted that “special features” were a
“very important” part of his show: “Q. Is it one of the things which particularly helps you to draw your customers? A. It does.”158 Cross-examination of
Adolph Bauernfreund, operating two small picture houses in the Bronx,
yielded the following exchange: “Q. Are special features an important part
of the program which you give in your theatres? A. I think they are the most
important part.”159 Harry Marsey, running the Happy Hour Theatre (seating
capacity, 340) in Buffalo, New York did not like features but had found it
necessary to make them available to his patrons: “They want to see features
or productions produced in more than one reel. It is a case where everybody
is doing it, and we had to do it too. I, personally, do not favor it. Q. But you
find it necessary to show them? A. Exactly.”160 Why it might have been necessary was hinted at by Joseph P. Morgan, manager of the Princess Theatre
in Washington, D.C., who was asked to specify why features were an important part of his program: “Really, I couldn’t tell you; the people, perhaps,
like it.”161 Admitted, these are only a few instances (although far from the
only ones that appear in the records of the USA v. MPPC hearings), and they
do not account well for possible regional or local variations.162 The point is,
however, not to verify a tendency that was obviously there (the feature format’s rise to dominance a few years later offers an ultimate piece of evidence of its presence); instead, the depositions of various exhibitors offer
indications as to why exhibitors acted as they did rather than as Carl Laemmle told them to. In this regard, the intimation is straightforward enough:
market logics tended to trump discursive and similar outside pressures. In
the words of Matthew Hansen, in control of three picture theaters with less
than 500 seats in Yonkers, New Jersey, when asked why features were important to his business: “[F]or the simple reason that up to three weeks ago
… we were playing for a five-cent admission to the General Film program of
four reels, and I decided to put in an out-side feature each day and advance
the admission to ten cents, and my business has just doubled.”163 Later on, in
1914, an anonymous manufacturer argued that the multi-reel surge was not
as much a creation of producers “as it was the result of demand on the part
of exhibitors and their patrons,” and Stephen Bush made the case that the
success of the early European features had already demonstrated that American audiences were both ready for multi-reel features and “quite willing to
pay the price.”164
Regardless of whether an increasing supply of features was merely a response to the demand of patrons, or whether supply somehow created and
63
fostered demand,165 the latter assertion did not refute the notion that exhibitors were prone to adhere to market logics rather than discursive pressure.
Neither did the theoretically more plausible, but ultimately disproved claims,
that the novelty value of features had worn off, that the demand for such
films was in decline, and that one-reelers would once again lead the demand.166 This certainly did not mean that all exhibitors were as fortunate as
Mr. Hansen professed to be. As we have seen, many small-time exhibitors
faced ruinous economic conditions brought about by the feature, but this
further strengthens the hypothesis that a full-scale shift of the demand curve
was taking place. Otherwise it would have been a viable option for exhibitors who, due to small seating capacity or other reasons, had difficulty
meeting the demand for multi-reel features in an economically successful
manner, to simply stick to the mixed program of one-reelers, without fear of
going bankrupt. In light of this, the opposition to features voiced by exhibitors and their organizations seems to have been less about control issues,
conservatism or artistic concerns than about fears of the obsolescence and
creative destruction that a structural change of the film market would unleash.
It is important to recognize that the escalating demand for multi-reel features was not only, or even primarily, referable to the influx of new audience
groups. The feature might have attracted patrons previously indifferent or
even unsympathetic to movies, but the new audience as well as the old was
reasonably flexible in consumer preferences and behavior. This is why
warnings such as General Film’s that booking a “bad feature” meant “Killing
Off the Motion Picture Fans,” had a hyperbolical ring to them.167
Figure 2. Killing off motion picture fans? Advertisement for General Film, MPW
19, no. 2 (January 10, 1914).
64
Decidedly less rigid than the audience conceptions that this and similar
claims were predicated on, real audiences seemed willing to learn, adjust and
try out new modes of spectatorship, without being irrevocably repulsed by
the occasional disappointing experience at the movie theater. Many audience
gradations suffered from the same rigidity. The failure to accommodate for
changes in audience tastes, in particular the potentially homogenizing elements of such change, is arguably what led commentators to outline gradation schemes of the kind we came across earlier in the first place. As to the
changing modes of spectatorship, one commentator suggested in February
1914 that “[m]ost picture audiences are now getting away from that idea that
pictures were a form of entertainment to be taken on the fly.” This meant
that the expectations of “haste” that the single- and split-reel stimulated was
supplanted by expectations of settling down in the chair, staying until the
film was over, and paying “more attention to the picture and plot as developed on the screen.”168 A cherished way to characterize the mode of exhibition that corresponded to this new mode of spectatorship employed the trope
of “an evening’s entertainment.” General Film’s Frank Dyer did not use
those exact words, but nonetheless admitted in November 1913 that the
practice according to which “a performance is entirely devoted to the …
exhibition of a single play” was “the form of entertainment … apparently
developing in this country.”169 Numerous other accounts around the same
time more explicitly stated that the multi-reel feature film was meant to furnish a whole evening’s entertainment.170 In later historiography, the “evening’s entertainment” modes of exhibition and spectatorship are sometimes
seen as emblematic of the early feature era (most conspicuously demonstrated by the entitling of Richard Koszarski’s volume in the History of the
American Cinema series), but as Koszarski convincingly shows, the “evening’s entertainment” programs of the earliest feature era normally consisted
of a variety of multi-reel features and single- and split-reel films.171
Original versions of the “evening’s entertainment” trope set up at least an
implicit link between new modes of spectatorship and new modes of filmic
representation: the expectation to sit back and focus on the picture and plot
until the film was over was perceived to arise because the style and storytelling of the feature demanded added spectatorial attention. More recently,
Miriam Hansen has elaborated on this issue, linking spectatorial immersion
to the “de-realization” of theater space and the gradual consolidation of the
classical Hollywood style.172 The multi-reel feature format is, of course, not
equivalent to the classical style; the narrativizing of cinema had begun long
before the advent of the feature, as had the development of various devices
employed to fulfill the narrative and stylistic norms of classical cinema.
Nonetheless, as Kristin Thompson argues, the multi-reel film was instrumental in the “crystallization” of classical traits, by relieving the pressure of
extreme condensation and by facilitating a focus on a variety of cinematic
techniques.173 If the multi-reel feature thus harbored a plethora of narrative
65
and stylistic options, we should also take into account the possibility that
ambitions to tell stories in different, novel and more complex ways in itself
propelled a development leading to the breakthrough of the feature. This
possibility was rarely but nonetheless recognized by contemporary observers. When Louis Rosenbluh attempted to explain why longer films had begun to appear around 1911, he suggested that films consisting of more than
one reel “to a subject” were “required by more detail as the manufacturers
started in to explain the pictures with less announcements, and they wanted
the actions to explain the pictures, and the subject was longer than one reel
could explain it, they made two reels, of one subject, and then three reels of
the one subject.”174 Fan magazine writer Raymond L. Schrock made a similar connection, arguing that the longer format allowed for “complete stories
[to] be enjoyed to their depths.”175
These discussions hark back to a topic that we have touched upon earlier,
viz. that the feature was sometimes perceived as an answer to calls for artistic uplift and progress. A Motography editorial published in April 1913 welcomed the development on the grounds that features solved the problem of
how to make “important photoplays.” This particular model of “important”
cinema was heavily reliant on theatrical ideals, as indicated by the dictum
that the achieving of higher film artistic goals would demand an extra wide
film and larger screens (forty-two feet to be exact) to accommodate “a legitimate stageful of players.”176 A Motion Picture News comment regarding
the recent film versions of Tess D’Urbervilles (Famous Players, 1913), The
Betrothed (Ambrosio, 1913) and Rob Roy (Eclair American, 1913) also
spoke of “important” films, but highlighted film’s interrelation to literature
rather than theater: “These picture-plays may be justly characterized as important in the sense that they are all three founded on classic fiction. Furthermore, they furnish food for thought as to whether the pictureplay is not
more closely allied to literature than the speaking drama.”177 In either case,
the benchmark of film artistic “importance” had to be derived by means of
comparison with other media/art forms, which may easily be construed as
evidence in support of the often-voiced idea that the film medium latched
onto the more prestigious arts in order to boost its own cultural legitimacy.178
On the one hand, intermedial borrowing of various sorts was often integral to
a multi-reel film’s achieving of commercial success and earning of critical
acclaim. A striking example is the Famous Players Film Company and the
recurrent lauding of this firm.179 On the other hand, the feature format also
seems to have breathed new life into the debates over what were the unique
characteristics of film art. Accordingly, the feature format did not send the
film medium cruising down an intermedial one-way street, picking up the
cachet of other media and art forms at every corner. Rather, a negotiation
ensued of how to best strike a balance between appropriation from other arts
to gain cultural clout and the fencing in of cinema’s unique artistic domain.
66
This oscillatory movement framed the debates over several concrete issues
connected to the feature.
A key area of conflict concerned the source material for narrative multireel features. Should these films be based on well-known plays, novels, stories, songs, poems, operas, and so on, or should they be based on original
scenarios? And what about “big” writers? Did feature films benefit from the
input of famous authors, or did people trained specifically to write for the
screen generate better scenarios?
All of the earliest American multi-reel feature productions were adaptations of well-known theatrical or literary works. Janet Staiger has argued that
this extensive practice of adaptation was a major economic cause for the
diffusion of longer films, and that the adaptation of classics had served to
justify breaking the one-reel rule in the first place.180 The tendency persisted,
and by 1914, there were still very few multi-reel feature films based on
original scenarios. Due to the perceived success of adaptations, not least in
attracting the middle-class to cinema, it was widely assumed that the future
feature would continue along the trodden path. Charles Pathé was certain
that the trend was “toward the adaptations of books and plays by celebrated
authors,” and went on to say that “[s]uch adaptations have already been
made—very fine ones. These photoplays have brought to the picture makers
a very large class of people, who previously had little interest in the motion
pictures.”181 Others argued that many adaptations were far from fine. Leslie
T. Peacocke, during his tenure as editor of Photoplay’s scenario writing department, repeatedly deemed novels and plays unsuitable source material for
features, on the grounds that adaptation of such material often resulted in
padding.182 Louis Reeves Harrison presented a similar argument. In the adaptation process, he argued, the exclusion of dialogue and the simultaneous
pressure to enlarge and extend often resulted in something similar to the
“stretching of a rubber band,” i.e. in padding.183 His views were somewhat
conflicted, however, or perhaps just changed over time. Harrison envisioned
the emergence of even bigger and better features in the future—framed as a
shift from the five-reel “photodrama” to the more Gesamtkunstwerk like tenreel “photoperas”—and these films would be based on plays and novels.
Problematically though, this shift would take time, since already finding
suitable material for the five-reel photodramas was becoming increasingly
difficult.184 Some took the latter concern to an extreme conclusion. Robert
Grau predicted that soon enough, the stock of books and plays to adapt
would be exhausted, but to him, this was a welcome course of events. Original feature film scenarios, revolving around subjects and themes of “life
today” would bring the motion picture closer to fulfilling its destiny of becoming an art on its own merits.185 Frank Woods also argued that copyrighted books and plays would give way to original screenplays.186 Vitagraph’s John Stuart Blackton did not anticipate the end of adaptation, but
nonetheless insisted that “there is a need for big original features, specially
67
written for pictorial presentation.”187 Edwin Thanhouser’s version of the
argument was more radical: He agreed with Blackton that there was a call
for scenarios written specifically for the screen, and with Woods that such
original material would crowd out adaptations, but added that this would
transform the present cultural hierarchies in favor of the motion picture:
I feel that the development of the future of the motion picture calls for
purely original matter, strong scenarios written for the motion picture
and with only the motion picture presentation in view. … The future
means the development of a new field of writers for the making of
feature films. This will force in turn, just what I mentioned before, the
bringing of the stage to the motion picture for material.188
The views of who would occupy this “new field” of feature film scenario
writing differed. Blackton assumed that trained writers presently engaged in
other forms of writing would recognize scenario writing as a potential goldmine and venture into the business.189 Likewise, Frank Woods believed that
fiction authors “with a creative mind” would soon discover that there was
money to be made by writing for the screen.190 Robert Grau also identified
scenario writing as a potentially prosperous field of work, even implying that
the original scenarists of the future would be akin to stars, but claimed that
these new stars would be people who had never written a play.191 This suggests that Grau disregarded, or pretended to disregard, the added marketing
value that a famous author could bring to a feature production.192 As an advertisement for Imar, the Servitor (Majestic, 1914) spelled out, a real feature
demanded a “big author” and popular actors.193 Grau’s idea was also at odds
with an artistic argument for why trained authors should enter the field. Leslie Peacocke’s version of this stated that “big writers” would succeed in
movies because they had “the fertility of idea, the understanding of what
people like and the skill of situation construction.”194 A poignant response
was formulated by Oliver Morosco in early 1916:
The solid bedrock foundation of the successful photodrama of tomorrow will be the scenario or play itself. [Scenario writers will become]
world-famous for the depth, power, sincerity and compelling truth of
their photoplays. But they will be specialists; they will not do pictures
on Thursdays and Saturdays, and literary and theatrical work the rest
of the week. And this same comment applies to actors.195
Somewhat ironically, Morosco, himself of theatrical background and his
own plays the frequent subject of filmic adaptation, relied on the film-is-aunique-art argument more lucidly than most: “Speaking the universal language, it [cinema] is the greatest instrument of popular suggestion that has
ever been devised. … [S]cenarios from novels, plays and short stories, however famous, are quite insufficient. … [T]he photoplay has arrived as an art,
and it demands original treatment.”196
68
Even more crucial to the marketability of the early feature than the “big”
author was the theatrical star. As a Famous Players’ pitch letter to presumptive states rights distributors of Queen Elisabeth read: “Queen Elisabeth
without Sarah Bernhardt would be an attraction of great merit, with Sarah
Bernhardt, we know that you would say ‘here is a feature that will make
money’.”197 Nevertheless, Morosco was not alone to express doubts about
the filmic uses of stage actors, and the lack of a full focus on motion picture
work was only one cause for such doubts. These arguments basically stated,
rather bluntly, that actors from live theater could not make the transition to
motion picture acting: “[N]ot one in ten of these great people of the spoken
drama have been satisfactory in their work in pictures,” E. K. Lincoln of the
Photoplay Production Company claimed. A predilection for exaggerated
gestures was one cause for this, a lack of knowledge of the processes of
filmmaking another, according to Lincoln.198 Another commentator explained the “artistic failures” of many multi-reelers that employed “speaking
stars” with reference to these actors “superior attitude,” rendering them unable or unwilling to take directions from the filmmakers.199 The discourse on
theatrical stars was similar to that on original scenarios versus adaptations in
that in both cases, the criticism of theatrical influences was rooted in a firm
belief that film was a unique art in its own right, and should be developed
along lines that refined the film medium’s unique traits. It was slightly different in that whereas original scripts for multi-reel feature films were all but
unheard of, “movie stars,” or “picture personalities” as the fan magazines
often dubbed them, had been around for years, gradually moving to the absolute forefront of film culture.200 The latter fact gave weight to Robert
Grau’s suggestion in May 1914 that with a few exceptions, “regular” film
stars would be equally successful drawing cards as the ones already famous
from the stage.201
The migratory streams from theater to film included not only actors, but
also a range of other people and personnel. When this resulted in highprofile combinations between the most prominent theatrical magnates (e.g.
Belasco, the Frohman brothers, Klaw & Erlanger, Schubert, Liebler, etc.)
and the most renowned film companies, the meeting of the two media was
lauded.202 On a more general level, feelings seemed more mixed. Yet again,
theater functioned simultaneously as the touchstone against which all film
artistic progress and uplift was judged, and as the “other” in relation to
which cinema’s artistic and cultural identity was set off. Stephen Bush’s
description of the feature film’s triumphant breaking of culture-hierarchical
barriers was typical in many respects: “Now the big theaters began to open
their doors to the hitherto doubted and despised picture, and now the most
important men in the theatrical world began to realize that a new art had
come into being and that they must live and progress with it and utilize the
opportunities it held out.”203 As much as Bush took these symbolically
charged events as confirmation of cinema’s elevated status, a latent grudge
69
against the theatrical world was implied. Frank E. Woods made this much
more explicit, labeling the now film-interested and film-invested theatrical
men as opportunistic and hypocritical. To add insult to injury, he also accused the purported “elevators” of film of inflicting on the motion picture a
theatrical, bombastic style, not least when it came to acting, that was downright laughable.204 Such lowering of cinematic standards was not exclusively
accountable to theatrical influences. The wider problem, according to
Woods, was that the feature field had been flooded by “outsiders,” who were
guilty of a “ruthless slaughter” of fine material due to their inexperience with
the camera.205 Oftentimes, these “outsiders” were referred to as the “feature
men,” rumored to callously exploit the feature market economically without
the slightest regard for the film medium’s hard-won repute and craft. Names
were not named, but the Motion Picture Exhibitors’ League nominated “the
so-called feature film men” and the exhibitors who showed their films the
“leeches of the industry.”206 In New York, some feature men formed an association for the protection against other feature men, or more specifically,
“the unreliable film men, ‘pirates’ and ‘dupers’ especially.”207 Motion Picture News talked about staging and acting that had not been tolerated on
stage for at least ten to fifteen years, and the damage done: “It is the upstarts,
the ‘hole-in-the-wall,’ shoestring class of motion picture merchants who are
degrading the whole industry by peddling second-hand wares and theatrical
misfits of this kind, and endeavoring to palm them off upon the people.”208
The New York Dramatic Mirror added the “foreign film” to the list of culprits: “The irresponsible ‘feature’ is at present one of the most pernicious
evils with which the motion picture has to deal. The foreign film, with its
antecedents unknown, or the domestic picture made overnight, are doing
more to blur the reputation of the motion picture than many of its obvious
enemies.”209
The hazards of theatrical bombast seemed to pale in comparison. Even
more so as the theatrical world could at least contribute with patently successful methods of marketing, distribution and exhibition.210 Apparently,
modeling film industrial practices on the theater were much more accepted
within these areas than within that of production. In the words of the Mirror’s “Film Man”: “We have reached the day of the big subject handled in a
big way; and in the very nature of things business methods found satisfactory in theatrical enterprises are being adopted, with a few necessary revisions, by motion-picture magnets.”211 Elaborating along the same lines,
Frank Dyer argued that the distribution of special features and theatrical road
showing were “strictly analogous”: “With the more important pictures, …
which seem to be destined to greater use in the future, … the booking is precisely the same as the booking of a regular dramatic performance, dates being arranged in advance, and advertised by the theatres exactly as they might
advertise a regular road show.”212 There were also feature film distributors
and exhibitors who explicitly admitted to an adherence to theatrical molds.
70
When H. J. Streyckmans left Mutual in August 1913 to venture into the feature film business, he pledged an allegiance to theatrical practices, promising
to handle The Last Days of Pompeii (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii; Ambrosio,
1913) “as though it were Sarah Bernhardt in the flesh.”213 Incidentally,
Bernhardt did not appear in this film, but seems to have been used by
Streyckmans as shorthand for the type of famous-players-in-famous-plays
ideal of feature cinema that he endorsed. A corresponding example in the
level of exhibition surfaced in the report that “[t]he Willis Wood [in Kansas
City] as a motion picture house is being operated exactly as was the Willis
Wood when flesh-and-blood actors trod its stage.” Consequently, this theater
would show feature films and nothing else; offer printed programs; have
uniformed ushers show the patrons to their seats; employ an orchestra to
play during the intermission; and advertise the feature film in exactly the
same way as a theatrical offering would have been advertised.214
The discourses on scenarios, adaptations, theatrical stars, and other theatrical influences demonstrates the multifarious character of the feature film’s
connection to intermedial issues. There were economic aspects, revolving
around marketability and the attraction of new audiences. There were practical concerns, revolving around how to distribute and exhibit multi-reel feature films with the best commercial and artistic results. There were prototheoretical deliberations over what set the film medium apart from other art
forms and what aligned it to them. Transferred to prescriptive aesthetics, the
pivotal issue was whether to base feature films on works in other media, to
proceed without “filtration” through other media, or to allow for both.215 All
of the above debates were integral to the ongoing re-negotiation of cinema’s
cultural position and cachet, as determined by film culture’s internal dynamics as well as its place within a hierarchal cultural order. With regard to
the latter, everyone was not content to acknowledge that the multi-reel feature film had brought cinema up to a par with theater, but had to make a case
for cinema’s cultural supremacy:
Books, as well as plays, must bow to motion pictures, and it is the
‘feature’ that makes the photodrama supreme.
As long as the picture producer was tied down to a definite number
of feet in which to tell his story, the perfection of his art was impossible. Like the producer of stage-drama whose story must be told between an 8.15 overture and an 11.10 curtain, the creator of an oldstyle single-reel picture has to sacrifice plot, dramatic values and character drawings in order to keep within the limits of film footage. As
the theatrical producer is compelled to mutilate a perfectly good play
in order that it may run only the number of hours set down by custom
as most desirable, so the director of ordinary length photoplays is not
only hampered in his work during the staging of the play, but is forced
frequently to completely ruin—from an artistic standpoint—what
would have been a masterpiece of photodrama production if allowed
to run its natural length.
71
…
Now the ‘feature’ makes possible the perfect picture. Every scene
is allowed to run its correct length, dramatic values are carefully
weighed and the action timed to a nicety, so that powerful climaxes
are the rule, rather than the exception, and the drama ends with the
story completed and the audience satisfied.216
Or, as our Indiana exhibitor present at the International Motion Picture Association’s second annual convention in June 1914 proclaimed: “Art should
not be measured by feet.”
72
Part II
The Case of Philadelphia
73
Chapter 2
Philadelphia in the Early Twentieth Century:
Selected Frames
The fact that an industrial metropolis such as Philadelphia around the turn of
the last century was a unit composed of several hundred shops, mills, houses,
neighborhoods, and so on, each being an important element for at least some
Philadelphians, presents a challenge to anyone wishing to perform an historical analysis of the city.1 One simply cannot reach into every single nook
and cranny of the metropolis. The same applies to specific aspects of city
life, including the one immediately relevant to our purposes: movie-going
and local film culture. Paraphrasing, we might say that Philadelphia film
culture was a unit composed of thousands of movie-goers and thousands of
reels of film shown at hundreds of venues, the film experience of each and
every movie-goer being of some importance at least to him or her, and the
existence of each and every film exhibition venue being an important element to some Philadelphians.2 The area of movie-going and film culture is
addressed in the following chapters by case studies revolving around specific
questions, by the offering of contextualizing surveys that span longer periods
of time and wider topics, and by the analysis of the expression of film culture in different forms of public discourse. All of this is carried out without
hoping to obtain what is unobtainable, i.e. a definitive and exhaustive account. With regard to the city as a whole, however, the task would obviously
be all the more daunting, but luckily, that is for urban historians rather than
for cinema scholars to deal with. Nonetheless, a local film history of Philadelphia totally bereft of connections to other elements of urban life and its
history would be both boring and aloof. Three strategies come to mind. The
first one, and perhaps the most rewarding, is realized by the “filtering” of
film historical cases and questions through any number of elements relating
to city life. For instance, when discussing the location of movie theaters and
other venues where film was exhibited in Philadelphia, I have tried to connect this to demographic aspects, to the urban organization of different
neighborhoods, to the division of urban functions between these neighborhoods, to the industrial characteristics of the city and to the system of mass
transport. Two other strategies can be seen as opposite but complementary.
74
One involves the fastidious examination of small sections of the city, for
instance, using various atlases and fire insurance maps to unravel exactly
what activities, institutions and buildings (shops, factories, schools, hospitals, banks, residential property, and so on) were situated in the same block
or neighborhood as a movie theater of particular significance. For my purposes, however, I have found this approach likely to be either too comprehensive or too atomistic. It would be painstaking and time-consuming beyond all reasonable proportion to undertake on a scale of a city of Philadelphia’s size, and if applied to just one or a few blocks, of limited value if the
whole city is our concern. The opposite approach, i.e. the presentation of
some broader trends and facets of city life and urban organization that might
be relevant for a better understanding of the local film culture, therefore,
seems more rewarding.
Figure 3. Three panoramic views of Philadelphia in 1913. (Panoramic Photographs
Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division.)
Basic Urban Organization: Core and Ring/Center City
and Suburbs
Philadelphia’s Market Street is sometimes called a corridor of commerce and
transport, and the section that runs through the Center City constitutes the
hub of Philadelphia’s commerce and business activities. Initially, Market
Street and the Center City as a whole hosted commercial as well as residential property, but by the early twentieth century, downtown had nearly
75
ceased to be a residential area. Instead, the Center City was a place where
people came for work, shopping and entertainment.
This implies that people lived mainly outside the Center City, either just
outside of downtown, or in suburbs farther away from the city’s core. The
belts in closest proximity to downtown were generally poor, including some
slum-like areas. As to suburban Philadelphia, the earliest inhabitants of more
distant neighborhoods such as Germantown and Chestnut Hill were people
affluent enough to afford expensive estates and costly transportation, but as
lines of transportation were extended, more land was made accessible to
increasingly mixed groups of people.3
Extended and expanded systems of mass transportation provided a fundamental requirement for the processes of suburbanization, but also for the
Center City culture of commerce and leisure to thrive. In this respect, it is
easy to recognize how various districts and neighborhoods should be approached as linked units within the same urban network rather than as discrete entities.
Figure 4. Market Street, west from 11th, between 1900 and 1910 (Detroit Publishing
Company Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division).
As we will discover, the movie theaters and other film-exhibition venues
located in the downtown area and the activities that transpired here occupied
76
a central position not only geographically, but film culturally too. On the
other hand, considering the comparatively even distribution of venues across
the city, it would not be accurate to suggest that film culture was a quintessential downtown phenomenon or that downtown in this regard was ultimately defined by its fostering of a film culture. More adequately, the Center
City was defined by the specific combination of services, functions and institutions to be found here, to which movies and other entertainment businesses were integral. If one had to identify one particular emblem of downtown Philadelphia, a better candidate would be the department store, as this
institution can be seen as a most tactile manifestation of a range of economic, social, technological and cultural trends that “helped usher in an age
of mass production and mass consumption,” as one scholar puts it.4 The most
renowned among several such manifestations scattered along Market Street
was Wanamaker’s Department Store, at a site still dedicated to shopping (the
Wanamaker Building today hosts the Philadelphia branch of Macy’s) although arguably serving slightly different functions in the face of the development of decentralized shopping malls.
Transportation
Expanding systems of mass transportation carried a great potential for
changes of basic urban arrangement. As one urban historian has argued,
developments in transportation and communications (involving new railways
and the like, but also the use of telephones) allowed people to live outside
the immediate proximity of the workplace.5 This also changed the basis for
segregation where clustering of particular workgroups near the workplace
was supplanted by segregation and clustering by way of income and ethnicity.6
The Market Street Subway Line facilitated travel between the Center City
and West Philadelphia. A two-mile stretch running from 15th Street to the
Schuylkill opened in 1907, and by 1908, the section east of City Hall to the
Delaware River was completed. At the western final stop, the subway was
connected to the Market Street Elevated Train running to 69th Street in West
Philadelphia.7 Over the years following the opening of the Market Street
subway, trackage expanded further as three additional elevated lines, including the Frankford El, and two new subway lines, including the Broad
Street Line, were built. Aside from this, an elaborate streetcar network was
already in place. By 1900 every major street in inner city Philadelphia carried an electric streetcar line.8
Thus, improved transportations facilitated access to the Center City for
shopping and work, which stimulated the clustering of stores, hotels, offices
and restaurants around City Hall.9 Simultaneously, better connections be77
tween downtown and the suburbs, new railways routes and the construction
of the Parkway and other large thoroughfares offered escape routes for those
inclined to seek relief from congestion and other possible evils of city life.
Whether the rapidly increasing number of automobile users signal that more
and more people were looking for a way out is best left unsaid, but in any
event, automobile ownership went from below 500 in 1905 to over 100,000
by 1918.10
Figure 5. The Elevated Railway Station at Thirty-Sixth Street, Philadelphia, PA,
between 1900 and 1915 (Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division).
Demographics
According to the 1910 census, Philadelphia’s total population was 1,549,008
persons. This represented an increase in population of almost 20% since the
1900 census and an increase of about 48% compared to the total population
of 1,046,964 persons in 1890.11 Of the 1,549,008 residents, 879,363 (about
56.5%) were labeled as belonging to “foreign white stock,” which included
“white” residents either themselves or with at least one parent born outside
the United States.12 This “stock” was further sub-divided by nationality,
disclosing that the most common nationalities in Philadelphia at this time
were the Irish (248,538 or approximately 16% of the total population), Germans (185,392 or about 12%), Russians (138,160 or 9%), the English
(85,470 or 5.5%) and Italians (76,734 or 5%).13 The remainder of the population consisted of 584,008 Philadelphians (37,7%) that were “native white
78
with native parentage,” a black population of 84,459 (5.5%), and a small
group of 1,178 that included Asian-Americans and “all other.”14
Industry, Economy, Workforce
In the early 1900s, Philadelphia was still known as the “workshop of the
world,” signifying the magnitude and diversity of its industry. Iron and steel
was a major industry, but the biggest business was the textile industry. In
1904, 19% of the city’s manufacturers were textile plants, and employed
about 35% of the city’s workers.15 The wharf, second only to that of New
York, was another important business.16 Banking also prospered in Philadelphia, as did food manufacturing and printing and publishing.17 Philadelphia’s
industrial diversity had tempered the recessions of the 1870s and the 1890s,18
but toward the 1910s, although the city ranked third industrially with regard
to wage earning and production value, the growth rate was beginning to decline as a result of the relocation of some mass production industries.19
The occupation statistics in the 1910 census provides some hints about
composition of the Philadelphia workforce.20 All in all, 711,169 people were
counted as being part of the working population, of which 510,871 were men
and 200,298 were women. Nearly half the workers were occupied in “manufacturing and mechanical industries.” A portion of the men worked in iron
and steel, but various textile industries were the most common field of work.
The largest single female occupation was “sewer or sewing machine operator,” a profession that occupied 14,471 women. Women were also represented to a high degree within the category of “professional services,” most
notably as teachers and nurses, and dominated the category “domestic and
personal service.” Over 50,000 people found their livelihood within the
transportation sector, most of whom were men, except for a considerable
number of female telephone operators. More than a 100,000 Philadelphians
(about 86,000 men and 17,000 women) worked within “trade,” primarily as
salesmen and store clerks. Another significant group of professions were the
“clerical occupations,” employing about 42,000 men and 20,000 women, the
latter including quite a number of female bookkeepers, stenographers and
typists.
Politics
Politically, Philadelphia had gained infamy as being “corrupt and contented,” as it was stated in the title of Lincoln Steffens’s classic muck-raking
79
exposé of the Republican political “machine” who ran Philadelphia and the
state of Pennsylvania.21 Steffens’s rendering of how U.S. Senator Matthew
Quay was the true boss and kingmaker of political life in Philadelphia took
as a starting point the notion that Philadelphia was probably just as corrupt
as any other comparable American city, but that the fact that the corruption
had gone so far (and was so deeply rooted that no one no longer seemed to
care about it), made the city unique. Hence, not just “corrupt,” but also
“contented.”
The corruption factor of Steffens’s equation implied the widespread practice of crookedly awarding government contracts, a spoils system unmatched
by local administrations elsewhere, and electoral gerrymandering and fraud
on a massive scale. Since the Democratic Party was all but eradicated in the
state and rumors had it that the few Democrats around were simply bought
off by the machine, such activities rarely faced serious opposition.22
There were, however, a series of progressivist/reformer/independent initiatives, including the formation of the City Party to counter Is Durham’s
corrupt Philadelphia administration and of the Lincoln Party to battle the
awesome power of the state Republican machine led by U.S. Senator Boies
Penrose. The formation of both these parties was brought about by a massive
outbreak of public outcry following the so-called “Gas War” of 1905.23 In
1910, the Keystone Party was formed which, after the unsuccessful launch of
an independent candidate in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, managed to
get Rudolph Blankenburg, long-standing reformer and anti-machine contender, elected mayor of Philadelphia in 1911.24 The Blankenburg administration put an end to some of the corrupt practices of Philadelphia politics,
such as the dubious selling of municipal contracts to party bosses, and introduced a “sound business basis” of governing that was planned and executed
by “experts” rather than by party machine bosses.25 Clearly, such policies
were in line with broader progressivist sentiments of the period, at least in
one sense of “progressivism,” arguably a much more elastic and debatable
term for us than it might have been for the historical actors themselves.26 Of
more direct consequence to Philadelphia film culture, Blankenburg also appointed George D. Porter head of the Department of Public Safety, an official who many times acted as spokesperson concerning regulations of the
city’s motion picture theaters.
Cultural Decline?
The “contented” trope of Lincoln Steffens’s influential article stuck, not least
thanks to fervent reiterations and reformulations of it by, for instance, Henry
James in 1906, by local resident and observer Owen Wister, and in a
Harper’s Magazine article published in 1916.27 These and other characteri80
zations of Philadelphians as essentially conservative, dull and content was
also connected to a perceived loss of cultural vitality in the first decades of
the twentieth century, especially if compared to the halcyon days of the preceding century.28 Granted, Philadelphia saw a crisis for the theater in the
early and mid-teens, and something similar within the field of opera as
well.29 On the other hand, co-existent with these predominantly high-brow
forms of culture, popular culture—movies, dancing, drinking, sports,
etc.—seems to have prospered.
Figure 6. Philadelphia’s favorite pastime? Crowds gather at rooftops on N. 20th
Street to catch a glimpse of a 1914 World Series game at Shibe Park. The Philadelphia Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics) won the World Series in 1910, 1911 and
1913, but lost to the Boston Braves in the 1914 series. (George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division.)
81
Chapter 3
Film Culture in Philadelphia, 1895–1914:
Selected Flashbacks
Early Exhibition: Venues and Contexts
Moving picture programs were usually presented within the larger context of
a vaudeville program.1 Looking at the two venues where moving pictures
were a standard part of the program—Keith’s Bijou on 8th Street above
Race Street and the Ninth and Arch Dime Museum—we find that anything
and everything from musical sketches to fortune telling horses were offered
in conjunction with the pictures.2 Also, the shows at both of these venues
were continuous, and especially the Ninth and Arch Dime Museum catered
to the transient patron: “Come When You Want, Remain as Long as You
Please,” as one advertisement put it.3 Although conditions of moving picture
exhibition in Philadelphia (as elsewhere) would change and vary greatly
over the following fifteen to twenty years, the concepts of variety, continuous shows, and a transient audience would remain crucial until the breakthrough of the feature film.
Then again, already in 1897, a competing model of film exhibition appeared, first with the Veriscope prizefight pictures, and then when the first
passion play pictures arrived in Philadelphia. The pictures in question were
the Horitz Passion Play, photographed and exhibited by Walter W. Freeman,
accompanied by a lecture by Professor Ernest Lacy.4 The presentation was
promoted in the Philadelphia newspapers as the Austrian Ober-Ammergau
Passion Play, possibly to capitalize on the commercial reputation of various
theatrical versions—especially John L. Stoddard’s “illustrated travelogue,”
first presented in 1880 under the title Austrian Ober-Ammergau Passion
Play—that had appeared over the preceding two decades.5 The Horitz Passion Play stayed in Philadelphia for three weeks, the first week at the Academy of Music (on Broad and Locust) and the following two at the Horticultural Hall (on Broad and Spruce streets). At the Academy of Music, the pro82
Figure 7. Advertisement for Keith’s Bijou, Inquirer, June 13, 1897; advertisement
for the Ninth and Arch Dime Museum, Inquirer, November 14, 1897; and advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, November 21, 1897.
gram premiered on November 22. Six evening performances and four matinees (Wednesday-Saturday) were offered at prices ranging from 25¢ for the
cheapest amphitheater seats to $1 for the best reserved seats.6 As Charles
Musser has noted, the program included projected slides and moving pictures, accompanied by a lecture, music and “sacred hymns.”7 The program
ran for a total of two hours and patrons were prompted to be seated at 8.15
83
for the evening show and at 3 for the matinee,8 elements that both signal
similarities to a feature cinema mode of exhibition and its difference from
the continuous variety-show mode that was dominant at the time. This mode
of exhibition and, more significantly, the venue itself, provided the first
“high-brow” context for the screening of motion pictures in Philadelphia.
The Horitz Passion Play seems to have been the first picture to merit
something akin to film criticism in the newspaper press.9 Compared to the
long-established theatrical criticism, the earliest film reviews were somewhat
one-dimensional in their emphasis on pictorial realism and authenticity, but
still signal a slight deepening of the nascent relationship between film and
the press. Additional legitimacy was attained when the production received
the support and “very high indorsement from many prominent clergy in this
city, who look upon it as an exhibition of absorbing profound interest devoutly presented and religiously instructive.”10 By this time, public interest
in the presentation was still growing, but due to the start of the opera season
it was impossible to retain it at the Academy of Music. As a result, Freeman
and Lacy moved the exhibition over to Horticultural Hall.11
The influx of prizefight films, or boxing pictures, in 1899 is another phenomenon that signals a significant confluence of local and national tendencies.12 Boxing pictures had already appeared in late 1897 at the Auditorium,
where Veriscope prizefight pictures (most likely the Corbett-Fitzsimmons
Fight [1897]) were shown in November 1897.13 A second wave began with
the exhibition of the McCoy-Sharkey fight in moving pictures, or, more precisely, Lubin’s reenactment, employing stand-ins for the boxers, of this ten
round bout (Re-enactment of Sharkey-McCoy Fight [1899]),14 at the Ninth
and Arch in February 1899. These pictures were proclaimed to be the “finest
moving pictures ever taken,” primarily on account of their reaching new
levels of “clear” and “distinct” realistic representation. This highpoint of
realism was linked to the physicality of the pugilists, as the pictures managed
to capture and display “[e]ven the play of the muscles,” facial expressions,
and so on.15 In September, the same venue offered the Jeffries-Fitzsimmons
fight—another Lubin reenactment (Reproduction of the Fitzsimmons-Jeffries
Fight [1899]),16 this one of the fight that earned Jeffries the heavyweight
championship belt. In November, manager Bradenburgh of Ninth and Arch
made public that they would show the Sharkey-Jeffries fight at Coney Island—“agreeable news to those who revel in pugilistic affairs,” the Inquirer
noted. A month later, manager Gilmore of the Auditorium announced that he
had secured the “only real pictures” of the same fight.17 The latter presumably referred to American Mutoscope and Biograph’s authentic footage from
the contest (Jeffries-Sharkey Contest [1899]), whereas Ninth and Arch presented Lubin’s reenactment (Reproduction of the Jeffries and Sharkey Fight
[1899]).18 The Biograph version was the subject of two big write-ups in the
Inquirer. These articles highlighted the length of the film (supposedly seven
and a quarter miles of film had been used), the cost and the number of lights
84
utilized (“enough to light a big city”), but also the vivid pictures of the
cheering audience and of Sharkey’s bleeding eye in the 10th round.19 So
popular were the pictures of the fight, that when the management of the
Auditorium saw how people flocked to the theater, they cancelled a previous
engagement with a theatrical troupe to be able to retain the pictures for another week.20 Also, and more notable, this was seemingly a result of these
pictures’ ability to attract all classes of people, not least women:
[M]en high in social and political circles as well as those interested in
art and politics have been conspicuous in the audiences from the first
and all have been unstinting in their praise of the excellence of the Biograph’s work. Ladies, too, have been very largely in evidence, many
of them coming in the evening and large numbers to the matinees.21
Toward the end of the next summer, in August 1900, the convergence of
boxing, motion pictures and the newspaper press reached its Philadelphian
climax in the form of two events organized by the Inquirer. Similar in form,
different only in scale, both events centered around a particular boxing
match taking place in New York: In the first case the Fitzsimmons-Sharkey
fight at Coney Island on August 24 and in the second case the CorbettMcCoy fight at Madison Square Garden on August 30. The idea was to invite Philadelphians to gather outside the Inquirer’s office building on Market
Street and 11th to bring them the fastest reports and results from the fight,
while at the same time offering the crowds entertainment in the form of
movies and music. Reports came in from New York via telegraph and telephone and were relayed to the crowds via megaphones. The program of
moving pictures was projected from the Inquirer building upon a wall on a
building on the opposite side of Market Street. The musical entertainment
featured a “full military band.”22 The Inquirer’s coverage of the paper’s own
fight night events naturally boasted about the thousands and thousands of
people that turned up, supposedly filling several blocks of Market Street and
some cross-streets too, and about the swiftness of the reporting. Considerable space was also devoted to describing the moving picture program.
Above all, the length and the great variety of the program were praised. For
the August 24 event, “Lubin and his famous cineograph were contracted
for,” and 5,000 feet of film, including subjects ranging from local views and
other actualities to Lubin’s 1900 Sapho scenes and (of course) boxing pictures, were thrown upon the Market Street building façade.23 According to
the Inquirer, this was the longest and most varied moving picture show ever
shown in Philadelphia, but they nevertheless managed to more than double
the film entertainments for next week’s fight night:
Through the cineograph were passed 12,000 feet of film containing
moving pictures of almost everything under the sun. Parades, dances,
fires, trains, comic scenes that convulsed the throng with laughter,
85
runaways, acrobatic performances, everything. … No such exhibition
of moving pictures was ever given before in this country or any other,
and to have witnessed it by payment of an admission fee would have
probably cost at least $1 per seat.24
In November the same year, a similar display took place on election night,
albeit that rivaling presidential candidates had now replaced the prizefighters. Also, the Biograph was substituted for Lubin’s machinery and the
picture program had expanded to 15,000 feet of film. To convey a sense of
the immense variety of this monster bill, the Inquirer opted to print a list of
the subjects, however, only a partial one, as the reporter stressed. Fifty-six
subjects, covering the typical variety of early cinema’s popular genres, were
listed.25
Putting live news reporting and movies on the streets in precisely these
ways had been pioneered by the Chicago Tribune in Chicago and the New
York Herald as well as William Randolph Hearst’s New York Evening Journal in New York City in 1896 in connection with the presidential election of
that year.26 These were promotional stunts, i.e. they represented a novel
strategy to boost sales. Typical of the mutually beneficial tie-ins that would
become much more pronounced later on, motion pictures were used for this
purpose but also gained a promotional boost themselves. But early public
displays of motion pictures are also interesting in their potential to renegotiate public space. As Dan Streible remarks in his analysis of the Inquirer’s
two prizefight events, they were indicative of “the motion picture’s ability to
(temporarily) break down gender and class boundaries within the public
sphere.”27 If we, in addition, are inclined to read the events as displays of
modernity that corroborate a link between movies and modernity, the implication was a spatial reorientation with slightly different overtones. On one
level, the mobilizing of communication technologies—moving pictures and
the telegraph—worked to transcend the limitations of space.28 On another
level, the invasion of actual public space of the city also transcended the
newspaper’s normal spatial assignment of constructing the modern city as
imaginary space on a daily basis.
The Inquirer spectacles of 1900 were neither the first nor last instances of
moving picture exhibition outside “ordinary” venues such as vaudeville
houses and theaters. In February 1899, the Chinese New Year festivities
taking place in Philadelphia’s Chinatown (the hub of the celebrations was
located at the Chinese mission on Race Street between 9th and 10th) featured the projection of moving pictures on a building wall on Race Street.29
Other examples, not of wall projections but outside “ordinary” exhibition,
included cineograph war pictures in the “Edison Building” in Woodside
Park, an amusement park located adjacent to the Fairmount Park in West
Philadelphia, a moving picture show at the Master Builders’ Exchange’s new
year party in 1898 as well as at the Fellowship Club’s Christmas Dinner of
86
1899, and the arranging of evening film entertainment for the YMCA’s Association Course in January 1900.30 More relevant with regards to the overall
entertainment geography of Philadelphia was perhaps the introduction of
special moving picture exhibitions at department stores in the city center.
The Gimbel Brothers Department Store on Market Street between 8th and
9th became the first when they started showing moving pictures of Pope Leo
XIII in a special gallery on the fourth floor of the East Building of the department store. The views were marketed as “the most wonderful moving
pictures ever obtained,” and the Gimbel Brothers also used to their advantage that they fully abided the pope’s own wishes concerning the exhibition.
Supposedly, the pontifical command stated that the pictures were only to be
shown outside regular playhouses and at a non-profit basis, and while most
had opted to abide by the first decree, the Gimbel Brothers claimed to be the
first to offer the pictures free of charge.31 Four daily shows were presented,
each lasting about half an hour and accompanied by “appropriate vocal music.”32 The Inquirer did not (or pretended not) to notice the Gimbels’s nonprofit pretense most likely concealed hopes for higher profits due to an extra
influx of potential shoppers, and lauded the management’s selfless and generous gift to Philadelphians. More than other elements, the pictures’ power
as a form of traveling machine fascinated the commentator, who likened the
viewing experience to “transport[ing] oneself” to Rome. Enthusiastically
he/she declared that what even kings and diplomats had not been allowed to
experience was now available to Gimbels visitors free of charge.33 Aside
from the Gimbels example, I have not been able to find any other reports of
department store exhibition in Philadelphia before 1902, when the Lit Brothers Department Store and the Marks Brothers Department Store both presented free exhibitions of moving pictures, but that does not discount that
film exhibition in one form or another occurred from time to time during this
period in any of the city’s many department stores. Later, department store
film exhibitions resembled the ones arranged by the Gimbels’s in several
respects. For instance, the film program presented at the Lit Brothers Department Store (located in the block demarcated by Market and Filbert
streets to the south and north and by 7th and 8th streets to the east and west)
was free of charge and mostly featured actualities, in particular views of
famous people such as President and Mrs. Roosevelt. The advertising, asserting that “[t]hese are pronounced the best moving pictures ever taken and
displayed” also echoed the Gimbels.34 The Marks Brothers Department Store
(situated on Arch Street and 8th) opted for a slightly broader spectrum of
amusements, including not only moving pictures, but also songs performed
by Ed. K. Cassidy illustrated by stereopticon views and, at least for some of
the afternoon shows, a segment that involved “[m]ystifying appearance of
articles and animals from apparently vacant space.”35
87
Figure 8. Gimbel Brothers Store, Philadelphia, PA, between 1900 and 1910 (Detroit
Publishing Company Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and
Prints Division); and advertisement for Gimbel Brothers, Inquirer, April 2, 1900.
The great variety of exhibition contexts for moving pictures during the earliest years, ranging from private parties, parks, building façades, department
stores to vaudeville houses and upscale venues such as the Academy of Music, can be thought of as a process of dissemination, according to which the
medium of moving pictures steadily heightened its presence in the cityscape,
and in the city’s cultural geography. In an article allegedly spurred by the
great interest in moving pictures that the Inquirer’s on-the-wall film exhibition on election night November 6 had stimulated, the author argued that this
form of entertainment had come a long way: “Moving pictures have gotten
to be quite the rage. No entertainment of any size is complete without them.
They long ago entered the field of the vaudeville stage to remain. Now the
moving picture is everywhere.”36 This suggests that during the first years,
moving pictures were a much more widespread form of entertainment in
Philadelphia than the newspaper discourse evidences. Admittedly, permanent venues for the exhibition of moving pictures had not yet come into existence, but an audience that could form the necessary base for such venues
was building up.
Regulatory Issues
The appearance of permanent venues for the exhibition of motion pictures
coincided with a series of regulatory issues becoming more and more pressing. In fact, the establishment of permanent movie theaters seems to have
been more or less a prerequisite for these issues to make their way onto the
agenda. The regulatory discourses in Philadelphia included some familiar
88
core elements—fires, crime, health issues, religion, children, women, race,
taxation—all of which were increasingly subsumed under the overarching
banner of “censorship.” It would be to digress too far from the topic to offer
a comprehensive account of how these regulatory concerns played out in
Philadelphia, but being a core element of local film culture, a brief assessment is nonetheless required.
Often making first page news, giving off sparks that ignited regulatory
initiatives, a perpetual stream of reports of movie theater fires filled the
Philadelphia newspapers from around 1907 and over the next couple of
years.37 These items were accompanied by accounts of regulatory steps taken
in other cities and the occasional lauding of a local venue that had taken
commendable measures of theater safety.38 Governor Edwin Stuart’s signed
Pennsylvania’s “first comprehensive fire and panic act” on May 3, 190939
which seems to have trumped or made similar initiatives previously taken on
the municipal level unnecessary. The fire law of 1909 has been seen as a
more or less direct legislative response to two catastrophic fires occurring in
early 1908: the Boyertown Opera House fire on January 13, 1908, when a
lantern slide projector ignited, causing a fire that killed 170 of the patrons
that were crammed into a second-floor auditorium, and the Imperial Underwear Factory fire that took place only four days later and killed four young
women, two of whom had jumped to their deaths trying to escape the
flames.40 The fire law regulated the safety of moving picture projection
booths, and also set standards for (among other things) lighting, curtains, fire
extinguishers, aisles, marked exits and doors (which had to open outward
and remain unlocked).41
Just as reports of movie theater fires became a mainstay in the papers, so
did stories about how motion pictures inspired crime.42 As if the alleged
problem that some films inspired criminal behavior was not enough, it was
sometimes reported that young people had stolen in order to get money to
see these dangerous pictures. For instance, a 16-year old boy in Camden
broke into a house, stealing $16 dollars that he subsequently spent on a
moving picture binge in Philadelphia.43 Over the next couple of years, various commentators would again and again identify “movies”—either understood as films, theaters or both—as crime breeders.44 The most outspoken
advocate of the “movies are crime breeders” claim in the Philadelphia area at
this time was Robert J. McKenty, Warden of the Eastern State Penitentiary,
the famous prison located on Philadelphia’s Fairmount Avenue between 21st
and 22nd streets.45 When the Warden addressed a YMCA meeting held in
the City Hall of Haddon Heights, New Jersey in November 1913, he reiterated the well-known claim that the public exhibition of films depicting
crime, including instructive passages on how to steal, crack open safes, and
so on, teach people how to become criminals.46 An Inquirer editorial of February 1914 supported and elaborated upon McKenty’s argument: “Wonderful is the power for evil that the ‘movies’ contain. The demoralizing exhibi89
tions of crime—the making of crime attractive—fasten their poisoned fangs
upon the weak-minded and easily influenced.”47 The Inquirer’s call for censorship was directed at motion pictures specifically and did not grow out of a
general pro-censorship stance. On the contrary, the paper argued that censorship had “never met with great favor” in the Untied States, and reasonably
so. Film was different though, due to a combination of a low admission
price, enormous popularity among a wide public and, most importantly, a
very large number of children patronizing the movie theaters.48 Without exception, the editorials cited balanced the condemning of alleged crime
breeding pictures and picture theaters with expressions of an unwavering
belief in the educational and uplifting value and power of moving pictures.
In fact, the Inquirer seldom relinquished an opportunity to argue that movies
were good “at the foundation” and offered “boundless educational possibilities.”49 Shortly, and in the words of another editorial, the movies were considered both a “blessing and a curse.”50
A discourse similar to that on film as crime breeders identified the moving picture theater as a breeding ground for contagious, possibly lifethreatening diseases. And just as the discourses on film and crime oscillated
between notions of “schools of crime” and “moving picture university,” as
Jan Olsson puts it with regard to the Los Angeles context,51 this discourse
too conflated alleged health risks with how film could be mobilized for
medical and other educational purposes.52 On occasion, health issues were
part of a wider social analysis along progressive lines, as in a 1914 Inquirer
item reporting from a conference on child labor. The article specifically addressed the alarming consequences of long hours for young men and women
working at the mills (especially the many “mill girls”), quoting a physician
who argued that the ten-hour working day was stretching their “moral fibre,”
turning them into easy prey for suggestive and dangerous forms of amusements. Even worse, the alleged moral degeneration came with severe health
risks:
They [i.e. the mill girls] get in the habit of gulping down their lunches
to hurry out in the streets and to the “movies” for recreation. Their
moral fibre is unstrung. They are open to all sorts of infection, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis.
They have an abnormal craving for sensational recreations.53
Images of young women, worn-out from hard labor and defenselessly
roaming the city streets in search of the most sensational and thrilling forms
of amusements, may offer more insight into conflicted attitudes toward the
“New Woman” than into actual conditions of female patronage. The sporadic comments on film culture appearing in the Inquirer’s section for female interest provide further cases in point, for instance, an item from July
1914 in which it was argued that it was a mother’s duty to “balance” their
90
daughters, turning minds all too “careless of books and crazy over the movies, over dress and attention from boys” into more “serious” matters.54 Another trope toyed with the idea that excessive film consumption could result
in the patron having to suffer a condition akin to addiction—to movies.
Shelley Stamp argues that the best expression of such troubled forms of
cinephilia was the caricature of the “movie-struck girl,” diagnosed with
maladies such as “filmitis” and “serialitis.”55 Corroborating Stamp’s analysis, the Philadelphia cases of movie addiction that I have come across do
revolve around female spectators, here too apparently perceived of as being
of a more susceptible nature than their male counterparts. In 1912, it was
reported that a Philadelphia man had filed a suit for divorce on account of
his wife being addicted to movies. According to the suit, she left home for
the movies around 2 p.m. every day, returned late at night exhausted, slept
until noon, after which she got up to get dressed and ready for another day at
the picture show, while gravely disregarding her household (and conjugal)
duties. Luckily, the couple managed to resolve their dispute after the wife
had sworn to “quit” the movies, and for all we know, lived happily ever after.56 Another case involved a man appearing before a Philadelphia magistrate facing charges of having physically assaulted his wife for spending too
much time at the movies. The man justified his actions on the grounds that
his wife went to the movies four times per week, preventing her from providing him with supper at the appropriate time of the evening equally often.
According to his line of defense, one night per week should suffice to see all
the films one needs to. Magistrate Pennock, however, refused to acknowledge that it was within his legal and moral authority to decide how often it
was appropriate for a woman to visit the moving picture theater.57
Perceived “problems” regarding women’s patronage also spawned a segregation plan hatched by George D. Porter, Director of the Department of
Public Safety and Superintendent of Police Robinson.58 Porter suggested that
many “unescorted” women had been the objects of flirtation “under the
cover of the darkness” and that the best solution was to simply segregate
women from men.59 It appears that it was not part of the plan to turn it into
legislative reality; instead, patrolling police lieutenants were to enforce it
directly, targeting individual exhibitors. How well this strategy played out is
unclear, but it would be highly surprising if no exhibitor and/or other person
so inclined did not raise questions of how these methods of enforcement
complied to the rule of law. In any event, it seems that movie theaters in
general did not heed Porter’s advice on segregation, as he turned up again in
March 1914, now arguing that some kind of legislative measure would soon
be taken in order to “thwart Lotharios.”60 There is nothing to suggest that
such rules or regulations ever came about in Philadelphia.
Another area of regulation and debate concerned motion picture shows on
Sundays and the relation between the movies and the church.61 As the Pennsylvania State laws regulating business and other activities on Sundays (so91
called “blue laws”) prohibited almost everything and anything aside from
churchgoing, and as these blue laws seems to have had wide public support,
offering moving picture shows on Sundays in Philadelphia does not seem to
have been seriously considered at this time.62 There was, nonetheless, one
attempt made to defy the Sunday closing law resulting in a $10 fine each for
the theaters involved.63 The only form of Sunday screenings that seems to
have been accepted were the private screenings for exhibitors held at the
Regent Theatre in 1914.64
From Nickel Theater to the Legitimate Stage: Diverse
Exhibition Contexts, Parallel Film Cultures
Nickelodeon theaters began appearing in Philadelphia in 1905. Some claim
that the first one was opened and managed by Jules Mastbaum on the Southeast corner of Market and 8th Street,65 but judging from other evidence, it
appears this nickelodeon was financed by Harry Davis, the entrepreneur who
had opened the “original” Nickelodeon in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1905
and soon went on to export the idea to other cities.66 In any event, several
nickel theaters opened in Philadelphia in late 1905 and early 1906, and as the
mushrooming continued, by 1908 there were about two hundred nickel
theaters in the city.67
Irvin R. Glazer suggests that by 1910, moving pictures “had outgrown
their nickelodeon status” and were regularly included on most vaudeville
bills.68 Although it is correct that an increasing number of vaudeville theaters
(and other venues other than the nickelodeons) were showing moving pictures at that time, Glazer’s assertion is historiographically somewhat misleading. First of all, vaudeville was a context for the exhibition of film all
along, and secondly, even as film made inroads beyond the cultural and actual domains of the nickelodeon in the early and mid-teens, this did not mean
the immediate disappearance of the nickel theaters. Pace Glazer, let us
imagine parallel rather than linearly succeeding film cultures as characteristic of Philadelphia at this time, while at the same time acknowledging that
newspaper discourse, our resource here, is conspicuously silent with regards
to nickelodeon film culture. This bias implies that although newspapers are
ideal sources of studying (and indeed in themselves crucial evidence of)
film’s cultural repositioning, we should be cautious not to overemphasize the
force, speed and linearity of the relocation.
On January 20, 1908, the Inquirer reported that a new moving picture
theater, the Lyric Theatre, would open that same day. The Lyric was located
in the old offices of the Carolina National Bank, and in addition to the continuous program of the “latest and best” films, the management offered il92
lustrated songs performed by renowned New Zealand soprano Mme. Rose
Ivy.69 In March the same year, traveling exhibitor Edwin J. Hadley, “always
welcomed by Philadelphians,” offered moving pictures, mainly actuality and
travelogs such as “In the Land of Fierce Zulus” and “Uncle Sam’s Greatest
Fleet of Warships,” in Association Hall on S. 15th street and Chestnut.70 In
May, the “Call Boy” recommended the moving picture show at Forepaugh’s
Theatre, a legitimate/repertory theater on N. 8th street that had decided to
initiate a summer season film policy.71 As demonstrated by these three examples, for moving picture exhibition to warrant the press coverage some
form of special feature had to be offered. In the case of the Lyric, the out of
the ordinary locale as well as the music were such features and in the case of
the Edwin J. Hadley show, both the choice of venue (a lecture hall in which
films were not normally exhibited), and the showing of feature pictures
made it a special event. The attractions of Forepaugh’s, at least for the “Call
Boy,” was the unusually comfortable seats: “An advantage of seeing pictures
here is that everybody gets a comfortable seat, though the price of admission
is no higher, and, too, the house is always in inviting condition.”72
In 1908, then, we have so far encountered four quite distinct types of
contexts for film exhibition: the nickelodeon theater, the larger and slightly
more lavish movie theater, possibly including additional non-filmic entertainment (à la the Lyric), the lecture hall, and the legitimate theater. Another
form of entertainment, increasingly popular from this point on it seems, was
the “combination house,” i.e. a venue offering a combination of vaudeville
and moving pictures. As we have seen, vaudeville was one of the “original”
contexts for film exhibition in Philadelphia, and the combination house of
the late 1900s and the early 1910s can be regarded as a more institutionalized form of this amusement cocktail. An early example to receive some
attention was the New Liberty Theatre on Columbia Avenue near Broad (in
the Temple University area in the northern parts of the city). The projection
of this theater in early 1909 (it was completed and opened in 1910) was noticed by the press, at least to some extent, because the man behind it was J.
Fred Zimmerman, theater tycoon, and member of the Theatrical Syndicate.
In collaboration with Samuel F. Nixon-Nirdlinger, Zimmerman owned
and/or operated a number of theaters in Philadelphia as well as in New York,
Atlantic City, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.73 The write-up of the New
Liberty Theatre highlighted a number of attractive attributes that distinguished it from run-of-the-mill nickelodeons, including the seating capacity
(over a thousand), safety (the theater had many exits and could therefore be
emptied quickly in case of emergency), and the comfortable amenities (e.g.
new and comfortable seats and several restrooms).74 When the New Liberty
opened in 1910, it was the newest but far from the only house of its type.
The William Penn Theatre (seating over 3,000) on Lancaster Avenue in
West Philadelphia had opened in 1909 and was singled out by the “Call
Boy” as one of the best among the “better class theatres offering moving
93
pictures as part of their program.”75 Another house recommended for its
vaudeville and moving pictures show was the Grand Opera House at Broad
and Montgomery (also in the Temple University area, only a block away
from the New Liberty).76 The Grand Opera House had opened in 1888 as the
home stage of the National Opera Company but already had changed policy
in 1892, thereby ending Philadelphia’s brief phase of having two opera
houses. In 1913, the Nixon chain took over the house and it became known
as the Nixon Grand, one of the major vaudeville houses in the city and just
as the William Penn Theatre could seat over 3,000 people.77 The Nixon’s, or
rather the firm of Nixon and Zimmerman whose Philadelphia operations
were ran by Samuel Nixon-Nirdlinger’s son Fred G. Nixon-Nirdlinger, also
opened the Nixon Theatre on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in 1910. This
house, too, was singled out by the “Call Boy” who, after having mistaken it
for “one of those ‘Movies’—as the small boy chooses to call the picture
show shops”—had discovered that the Nixon Theatre’s offering of highclass vaudeville and moving pictures were among the best in the city.78
Parallel to this, moving pictures were becoming an increasingly common
feature at the legitimate theaters, primarily because many theaters opted to
prolong the season by shifting to a film policy during the summer. The
theater season ended in May, and instead of closing until September, managers of legitimate theaters saw an opportunity to maintain a profitable business throughout the summer months. As we have seen, Forepaugh’s put on a
moving picture show already in 1908. In the summer of 1910, the Garrick, a
legitimate theater on 1330 Chestnut Street, did the same, offering a program
of Kinemacolor pictures.79 In May 1911, the “Call Boy” reported that the
theaters were in the process of closing for the season, but that many would
“re-open later with travel pictures and movies.”80 A year later, he observed
the same trend and outlined its seemingly obvious rationale: “It seems to be
quite the thing to try and stretch the season for a few weeks by introducing
this style of entertainment. The cost is small, the returns—if the pictures are
good—large; therefore the incentive is obvious.”81 Later on in the same
month, the “Call Boy” once again took notice of the increasingly popular
combination of film and vaudeville, referring to the successful East coast
enterprises of Loew and Fox (and emulations thereof in Philadelphia and
elsewhere) and baffled by the rapid success of this form of entertainment
while nevertheless arguing that a decade or so from now, the “craze” might
be over.82 In any event, at this point in 1912, the “Call Boy” at least seems to
have been proven right about an earlier prediction of his: “The moving picture shows are multiplying rapidly, and these latter are not of the cheap
store-room variety. Many of the newer ones are in theatres formerly devoted
to the uplift of the drama, or at least in giving regular dramatic entertainment.”83
94
Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia: From the First
Wave to the Vice Film Vogue
The trend toward increasingly differentiated and varied contexts of film exhibition in Philadelphia, allowing for the exhibition of moving pictures in a
range of more upscale venues, was well underway before the era of feature
cinema. This did not mean that it was of no importance whatsoever which
films or types of film that were shown at different venues; the Kinemacolor
shows at the Garrick in 1910 is a case in point and, to be sure, the combination house shows as well as the legitimate theaters’ summer film programs
habitually boasted that only the “best,” “latest” and “first-run” films were
offered. From 1912, however, the offering of film at venues other than the
regular nickel theaters to an increasing degree came to mean the offering of
not just any films, but films that were special in some respect. This also
marks the moment when a “feature film” trope similar to the one we are used
to begins to appear:
Just at present we are being regaled with unusual offerings in motion
pictures at several of our leading theatres. From the Fires of Hades to
the frozen North, and from the wilds of the African veldt and jungle to
the multicolored magnificence of Oriental pageant in India. It would
seem that in the line of motion pictures the world’s greatest ‘feature
films’ are now focused on Philadelphia. Each is unique in its way of
interest and each has its own field of instructive and educational appeal. They represent the latest and most remarkable developments of
the motion photographic arts.84
The citation gives clues to three films that all appeared in Philadelphia about
the same time in 1912, and all represent a first wave of “feature”-oriented
film exhibition in Philadelphia. The “Fires of Hades” referred to Dante’s
Inferno (L’Inferno; Milano Film, 1911), which made its Philadelphia premiere at the Opera House (i.e. the Metropolitan Opera House on Broad and
Poplar) on May 13, 1912 and was said to mark the coming of a “new epoch
in moving pictures.”85 One of the first films to receive something akin to a
review in the Philadelphia press, it was lauded for its “absolute loyalty” to
the literary source, the filmmakers’ offering a production “in proper sequence in accord with the poet’s original plans.”86 It was also highlighted
that an explanatory lecture by Mr. Alexander Parke and an especially composed musical score for the occasion accompanied the pictures. “[T]he wilds
of the African veldt” corresponded to Paul J. Rainey’s African Hunt, a film
appearing under slightly different names or, as in the case of the Inquirer
article from May 1912, under no name at all, but instead as “pictures taken
by the Paul J. Rainey expedition to equatorial Africa.”87 African Hunt was
shown at the Walnut Street Theatre, one of Philadelphia’s oldest legitimate
95
theaters (it opened in 1809), located on Walnut Street and 9th, and seating
about 1,500 people.88 When the film was about to begin its second week of
screenings on May 13, 1912, the Inquirer in a meta-spectatorial passage
commented that “[t]he hum of running comment, the tense exclamation of
‘there he is’ as some wild animal is brought to bay, the laughter at many
comical incidents, and the spontaneous applause from all over the house, as
well as the delighted comment of the spectators as they pass out, all go to
prove that this is an entertainment novel in its import and wide in its appeal.”89 Finally, then, the “multicolored magnificence of Oriental pageant”
most likely referred to the two-hour show of various Kinemacolor pictures
that were “delighting large audiences” at the Forrest Theatre.90 The Forrest,
too, was a legitimate theater, located on Broad Street and Sansom, with a
seating capacity of about 1,800 and the venue where The Birth of a Nation
would eventually have its Philadelphia premiere.91 Add to this that Camille
(La Dame aux camellias; Film d’Art, 1911), featuring Sarah Bernhardt in the
title role would appear at another legitimate theater—The Lyric Theatre on
Broad and Cherry Streets—a few weeks later.92
If Philadelphia, as other American cities, saw a first wave of feature film
exhibition in May 1912, this wave included several of the typical trends of
early feature cinema: an Italian import of spectacular dimensions, an expedition film and a star vehicle based on famous literary source material. Moreover, two competing, albeit at this point unarticulated models of feature film
distribution were represented: Kinemacolor pictures put out by the
MPPC/General Film Company and within the parameters of the Trust’s
model of “program cinema” on the one hand (or rather as a part of the
Trust’s efforts to reconcile program and feature cinema),93 and the more
loosely controlled states rights’ distribution system on the other hand. With
regards to genre as well as to method of distribution, then, a certain diversity
was characteristic of this first wave, in turn reflecting a notion of “feature
film” that took into account not only film length, but any element that might
signal exceptional quality. The most common denominator seems to have
been that most of these early features were shown at legitimate theaters in
the Center City, but as we have seen, film exhibition in legitimate theaters
did not begin with the advent of the feature film, and as we will see, this
would be far from the only exhibition context for features over the next couple of years to come. Besides, although the venues were similar, the methods
of presentation varied; some films were accompanied by a lecture while
others were not, the music varied, and so on.
Kinemacolor pictures proved popular in 1913 too, appearing first at the
William Penn (where “Edison synchronized film,” i.e. the Kinetophone, was
also shown) in March, and a few months later at the Forrest Theatre, where
the feature Kinemacolor pictures were shown in conjunction with educationals, comedies and travel films, as well as fashion films that were supposedly
“making a hit with women patrons.”94 Around the same time, in June and
96
July of 1913, the Metropolitan Opera House offered what was labeled “feature photo-plays.”95 The feature film policy at the Metropolitan seems to
have been almost exclusively built upon the drawing power of two particular
stars: John Bunny (famous “funny fellow” starring in a series of Vitagraph
one- and two-reel comedies) and Gilbert M. Anderson (i.e. Broncho Billy,
“famous film star” of a series of “thrilling” Western pictures).96 The Keystone Theatre, a 1,884-seat vaudeville theater on Lehigh Avenue in North
Philadelphia, also included moving pictures as part of their program. This
particular summer, it was announced that “[f]eature films close the bills, and
will prove especially attractive to film fans,” although unfortunately without
further specification.97
In terms of individual films, Quo Vadis? stands out as the unparalleled hit
of 1913. This film premiered at the Garrick Theatre on May 12 and remained
for a record-breaking fourteen-week run. The seemingly never-ending run
became in itself one of the elements attracting the most publicity (and one
deliberately used to attract such attention). For instance, the hundredth performance was “celebrated” with the giving of souvenirs to the patrons.98 A
bit later on, when Quo Vadis? was about to enter its eleventh “triumphant”
week at the Garrick, it was estimated that more than 170,000 had seen it, and
when it in fact did enter this week, the Inquirer noted that “full houses were
the rule.”99 After the twelfth week of engagement, a previously made theatrical booking was supposed to have necessitated the discontinuance of the
Quo Vadis?, but due to an “avalanche of requests that this photo-spectacle
should remain here longer,” the management of the Garrick cancelled the
play.100 The film was retained, and an advertisement on August 3 could boast
that the 200,000 patrons mark had been surpassed.101 Extreme run times and
previously unheard of box office returns was not a Philadelphia phenomenon
exclusively. On the contrary, the trades noted that Quo Vadis? was breaking
records all around, not least importantly in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Brooklyn, usually considered “one week runs.”102
Figure 9. Advertisement for the Garrick Theatre, Inquirer, August 3, 1913.
97
For the time, and compared to the standard variety program cinema, the
length of the film was of extreme proportions. One reviewer argued that the
film did not tire the spectator, in spite of its eight reels, which suggests that
although the length may have been perceived as something of a risk, the
film’s superior quality offset any such hazard.103 Another aspect of the exhibition of Quo Vadis? that separated it from the standard forms of moving
picture exhibition was the admission price. Instead of the usual nickel or
dime at the neighborhood theater, the Garrick charged 25¢ or 50¢ (depending on the type of seat) for this feature film. Also, seats were reserved in
advance and the show would commence at specified times, this, too, indicative of a different mode of exhibition.104
Critically, Quo Vadis? was praised in the Philadelphia press to a point
where, as one commentator put it, all superlatives had been exhausted. This
is evidence that new, more elaborate and more powerful marketing strategies
were set in motion to promote early feature films such as Quo Vadis? and
that such an apparatus clearly influenced the press coverage, but we must
acknowledge that signs of an, if not wholly independent, then at least increasingly detailed form of film criticism were emerging. In the case of Quo
Vadis? the realistic yet spectacular sets won repeated acclaim, as did the
subtle acting and the way in which spectacular and subtle elements were
blended with great artistic success.105 It was also stressed that the musical
score preformed on the Garrick’s grand organ greatly added to the attraction.106 More interestingly, perhaps, individual scenes and the use of specific
cinematic devices were discussed to an extent very rarely seen before. In
particular, the use of the “cut back” and “bust pictures” were singled out as
signals toward new artistic heights.107 One commentator examined the arena
scenes in the film to show how the “cut back” was used as a device to build
suspense:
By a method known as the cut-back the action is shown to shift
quickly from the sanded floor of the amphitheatre to the circle of
boxes. Just as we are becoming vastly interested in the fate of the
white-clad maiden, our vision is jerked to the tier of seats from which
the Romans are either applauding or showing resentment at the doom
of the slave. Then our eyes focus again on the girl menaced by the enraged animal, and by this device the tensity of the situation is emphasized and our attention kept at a high point.108
Such suspense-building editing was said to be only one of the film’s many
merits, albeit perhaps the best example to demonstrate how far film art had
developed. Moreover, and most significant, the anonymous commentator
presented this as a shift away from a theatrical style and toward a more selfcontained cinematic style: “The imaginative director no longer limits himself
to a narrow circle of action; talented men such as those of the Cines Company have broken away from the trammels of the legitimate stage, and their
98
productions now present an almost unlimited range of vision.”109 This may
be compared to the criticism of Dante’s Inferno from the previous year
which, as we have seen, was based on the principle of maximized fidelity to
the literary source. Admitted, at least in the Philadelphia press, Quo Vadis?
was not discussed in relation to Sienkiewicz’s novel or any play versions
thereof; hypothetically, such a discussion might, of course, have been conducted along similar lines as in the Dante case. Nonetheless, we could argue
that the “reviewing” of the two respective films provides evidence of two
distinct approaches to the issue of film style and story construction: one that
highlighted links and relations between film and other arts and media, and
one that singled out the seemingly specific cinematic elements. In fact, it
seems the tension created between these two approaches is characteristic of
the period to the extent that it was a response to a major problem at this
point, viz. how and what to appropriate from other arts and media while at
the same time managing to establish and promote film as an independent art
form.
As discussed by several scholars, such tensions, as well as general uncertainties as to what cinema was supposed to “be,” were also reflected in the
search of a proper name for the film medium, its products and its places of
exhibition. Two well-known manifestations of this from our period of interest are the controversies concerning the word “movies” and the coining of
the term “photoplay.”110 To little surprise then, as the Philadelphia press
disseminated ideas of how the film medium had reached new artistic heights,
a number of new tropes to better describe these films and their cultural status
also appeared. Quo Vadis? is an instructive case in point, as it was referred
to as a “photodrama,” an “achievement in motion photography,” a “masterpiece of motography,” a highpoint in the “silent art” and a “spectacular picture play.”111 “Photodrama” was the most frequently recurring term, which is
perhaps a little ironic considering how the commentator, quoted in the
above, argued that this particular film managed to break free from the
“trammels” of the legitimate drama.
Figure 10. “The Question Is Now Settled,” Photoplay 7, no. 5 (April 1915).
99
The presentation of feature films as a full evening’s entertainment with
suitable musical accompaniment became increasingly common toward the
end of 1913, as did the conversion of some movie theaters to a featureoriented film policy. At the Park Theatre on Ridge Avenue and 33rd (just
east of Fairmount Park) in November 26, the six-reeler Sapho (Majestic,
1913) was the opening feature. The Inquirer described the 1,400-seat theater
as “beautifully decorated and equipped,” and the seven-piece orchestra that
would accompany the pictures earned special mention.112 In December, the
Liberty Theatre, a vaudeville house on Columbia Avenue near Broad (in the
Temple University area in North Philadelphia), announced that “[p]hotoplays in conjunction with first run films” would be given here. The first
week’s show included multi-reel features such as Homer’s Odyssey (Milano,
1911) and His Neighbor’s Wife (Famous Players, 1913).113 The same week
in December also saw the first introduction of a “monster bill” at the Metropolitan Opera House. Although not termed as such at this point, this “monster bill” idea was based on a combination of a feature-oriented moving picture policy with a daily program change: “The new lessees [The Philadelphia
Central Amusement Company] believe not only in special featuring, but in
continued freshness, and the reels will be changed from day to day.”114 The
management promised to secure “sets of photodramas” famous throughout
the world, such as Quo Vadis? and The Last Days of Pompeii, but more generally “such photo-plays as have never before been seen in the Quaker
City.”115 Among the features that were presented for the first week were
Fedora (Aquila Films, 1913), an adaptation in five reels of a French play,
Kalem’s two-reel version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Kalem, 1913), The Rogues
of Paris (Solax, 1913), a four-reel drama directed by Alice Guy and In the
Midst of the Jungle (Selig, 1913), starring Hobart Bosworth.116
The new management of the Metropolitan also announced that “as early
as Christmas week a surprise has been secured which … has been nothing
less than a sensation in seven cities.”117 The surprise film was Traffic in
Souls (Universal, 1913), which had its first Philadelphia showing at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 22, 1913, and was retained for six consecutive weeks. Another “vice film,” The Inside of the White Slave Traffic
(Moral Feature Film Co., 1913), premiered at the Liberty Theatre on the
same day as Traffic in Souls. The Inside stayed at the Liberty for four weeks,
after which it moved first to the New Broadway Theatre in the Center City
district where it played an additional three weeks, and then to the Olympia
where the Sociological Fund of the Medical Review of Reviews arranged
additional screenings, some of which were for women only.
In Philadelphia, as elsewhere, the controversial character of these socalled white-slave pictures caused heated debates.118 For supporters of the
films, a crucial issue was to pick up prominent people’s endorsement of the
pictures, as certification of the films’ educational and moral weight. Accordingly, when Traffic in Souls was about to begin its third week at the
100
Metropolitan in early January 1914, the Record assured that it had been “indorsed by leading social workers throughout Philadelphia.”119 Further:
One of the highest indorsements comes from Mary Gilette, of the
Court Aid Committee, who also does considerable work among
women and young girls in the City Night Court. Miss Gilette says that
‘Traffic in Souls’ conveys a wonderful lesson in morals, and her hope
is that every woman in the city will take advantage of an opportunity
to see the films displayed.120
For anyone still unconvinced, the Record also reputed that Roy Smith
Wallace of the State Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children endorsed the film.121 Unsurprisingly, the marketing material, too, listed people
who had come out in favor of the pictures and at times with approving quotations.122 Aligned with the Record in this matter, the Inquirer’s amusement
section issued repeated claims that the white slave films pointed to a “high
moral lesson,” offered a “highly moral and impressive lesson,” that these
were “wholesome” pictures with “nothing offensive” to them, that they appealed to the “better side of humanity,” and so on.123 More endorsement
from “prominent” people surfaced, especially in relation to The Inside of the
White Slave Traffic, a film the Inquirer (echoing the promotional discourse)
claimed had “received more unsolicited indorsements than any other film
ever before exhibited in this country.”124 In a brief “review” of the same
film, it was argued that it would “do much towards stamping out the nefarious traffic,” but a similar “review” of Traffic in Souls from two weeks earlier
had gone even further, suggesting that by the public exhibition of the pictures, thousands of souls would be saved.125 Such commentary notwithstanding, the Inquirer was not completely bereft of critical commentary on
the matter. On February 14, an excerpt from Collier’s Weekly appeared under the title “Concerning Filth,” just below the Editorial Comment column,
arguing that no one could seriously defend these films on aesthetic grounds
and that their alleged educational value was a sham.126 This should not lead
us to conclude that the views on vice films of the drama department and the
editorial board were at odds with each other, especially since the Collier’s
article argued that it was “disgraceful” that people left it to pictures to educate (when parents primarily and school secondarily should perform this
task), a position seemingly at odds with the Inquirer’s long-standing lauding
of the educational value of moving pictures. In contrast to the Record and
the Inquirer, the Evening Bulletin launched frequent attacks against what
was viewed as a “parading of vice problems” put out by “pen opportunists
who write novels, melodramas and ‘movie’ scenarios.”127 The Bulletin also
lashed out and poked fun at what they perceived as the hypocrisy of “reformers,” i.e. the various “prominent” people who endorsed the vice pictures. A cartoon published on January 24, 1914 depicted an “extraordinary
citizen” managing to convince the police to stop the activities at a tango
101
dance hall while at the same time instructing the police to stop any “ordinary
citizen” from interfering with the showing of white slavery films, on account
of the pictures’ educational value.128 The same cartoonist, apparently in the
know when it came to contemporary film culture, alluded to the vogue for
vice films as well as the vogue for increasingly long multi-reel films, in his
depiction of the trials and tribulations that subway commuters faced on a
daily basis: “The White Strap Slave: A 365 Reel Sensation” and “Traffic in
Straps: A Thrilling Seatless Reel,” were two of his title suggestions for
“Subway Movies” (see figure 12).129
As the multi-reel feature film was gradually moving toward the center of
Philadelphia’s cultural attention, the growth in the field of moving picture
theaters continued in 1913. To an increasing extent, moving pictures were
becoming big business. When the reviews of activities in real estate reported
on the purchasing of various sites for building movie theaters, these were not
store-front affairs but projects that involved costs well over $100,000.130
Figure 11. “Can You Beat It?” Bulletin, January 24, 1914.
102
The Inquirer’s “Call Boy” argued that the field was growing as never before,
noting that managers of established theaters ventured into their own movie
theater businesses and that more and more “family style” vaudeville theaters
were converting to exclusive moving picture policies.131 An August 1913
Inquirer editorial commented upon the developments, pointing out that the
moving picture form of entertainment had taken an “irresistible hold” upon
people:
What some persons thought might prove to be a fleeting fad is growing to amazing proportions. In the beginnings these shows were located chiefly in the centre of the city. Now no neighborhood counts itself complete unless it has its moving picture entertainment. The patrons include all classes of society and all ages of men and women and
children.132
Figure 12. “Why Not?” Bulletin, February 17, 1914.
103
The geographical spreading of motion pictures was, however, not wholly
uncomplicated, and especially the projection and building of new picture
theaters stirred up some controversy and even regulatory measurements. A
bill presented to the State Senate on June 11, 1913, proposed a ban on the
erecting of movie theaters, and alterations of existing structures with the
same aim, within a proximity of five hundred feet from “schools, hospitals
and other public or semi-public institutions” if written consent had not been
received.133 The bill was passed, but amended the next day so that it could
not be interpreted to apply to existing theaters which were located within the
five hundred feet perimeter.134 There were signs of some public support for
such legislation, as protests were launched against the building and/or opening of movie theaters in Philadelphia on several occasions around this time.
One case related directly to the issue of proximity to schools involved a
movie theater planned to be built on 1714 Susquehanna Avenue in North
Philadelphia. When the plans were made official, parents of children attending Claghorn School reacted strongly. A mass meeting was arranged at
the school, resulting in over five hundred people signing a resolution that
demanded that the Education Board purchase the site upon which the theater
was to be built. Otherwise, the signatories vowed to raise the money themselves, convinced that a moving picture theater located so close to school
would “interfere greatly” with the pupils’ development.135 Unfortunately, I
have been unable to find any evidence of how the situation was resolved;
perhaps the statewide five-hundred-feet-proximity bill signed a few months
later foiled the builders’ plans before they could even begin to be realized.
Another case receiving extensive attention in the press involved a projected theater on the Southeast corner of Broad and Thompson. In early
March 1913, it was announced that “North Broad Street is to have a most
ornate film theatre,” as the real estate firm Kahn & Greenburg had purchased
the site for this purpose (it was tentatively named The Strand).136 Soon hereafter, Louis Burk, a manufacturer who owned property adjacent to the
building site, filed a suit for an injunction against Kahn & Greenburg, arguing that the neighborhood was a purely residential area and that the crowds
that a theater would attract would create a nuisance for the residents, ruining
all chances of any peace and quiet.137 Burk found support among the residents, several of which appeared in court to testify in favor of the injunction
Burk had filed for.138 Apparently, Burk won Judge Barratt’s support too, but
at this point, Thomas M. Dougherty, who had the leasing contract with Kahn
& Greenburg for the actual running of the theater, stepped in to make an
appeal.139 Dougherty managed to convince Judge Sulzberger to overrule the
injunction, causing Burk to again file for an “exception” but to no avail, and
in January 1914, it was again announced that a movie theater would be
erected on the Southeast corner of Broad and Thompson.140 This did, however, not prevent Kahn & Greenburg being brought before a judge again in
July 1914, as once again an injunction had been sought against a projected
104
movie theater, this one on Broad Street near Susquehanna Avenue (in North
Philadelphia, close to Temple University). Actually there were two suits
filed, one by a resident named Adolph Mark regarding a projected theater on
2207 N. Broad Street and one by a Dr. John A. Boger regarding a projected
theater on 2209 N. Broad Street, but it is safe to assume that both pertained
to the same Kahn & Greenburg project.141 The Inquirer framed the case as
being of principal significance, arguing that the decision would legally establish whether the operation of a moving picture theater was to be regarded
as an “offensive occupation” (Mark and/or Boger had apparently suggested
precisely that this was the case). The judge ruled in favor of Kahn & Greenburg, on principal grounds to the extent that he acknowledged that crowds of
people on a sidewalk should not be regarded as a nuisance per definition. For
all relevant purposes, however, it was a pragmatic decision, allowing the
theater to be built on the condition that certain arrangements were made with
regard to sound insulation.142
Mapping the projection of picture theaters around this time, ca.
1913–1914, reveals the expansive force of the moving picture business and
how the invasion of geographical as well as the cultural territories of Philadelphia intensified. Judging by the discursive level, it is obvious that the
economic expansion regularly clashed with individual interests as well as
with communal concerns regarding the “effects” of the still relatively new
form of entertainment. On the other hand, there were also voices that gave
vent to ideas of how an expansion of the film industry was beneficial to the
city as a whole:
The activity that has prevailed in the field [of moving pictures] shows
no abatement but rather gains added impetus as time goes on. The result is most beneficial to real estate. Owners are enabled to dispose of
holdings in residential neighborhoods at a fair profit. Investors to
whom the construction of dwellings had once appealed assert that the
film theatre is a surer and more lucrative venture.143
For a long time, a cultural dividing line regarding film between Philadelphia’s center and periphery had been apparent. While Center City film culture had found its place within an existing amusement and commercial geography concentrated on Market Street, neighborhood film cultures, pivoted on
the mushrooming of nickelodeon-style venues, were tailored to fit the social
and cultural patterns of daily life in small and primarily residential communities. Now, with the conversion of large vaudeville theaters into movie
houses, the increasing integration of moving pictures on the bills of legitimate and other types of theaters around town and the construction of new,
larger and more lavish film theaters not only in the Center City, center/periphery relations were renegotiated. Tentatively, this process can be
described as a double movement that involved cultural centering but geographical diffusion. Film culture as discursive formation was built around a
105
core of non-nickelodeon venues and commodities that were marketable as
well as reviewable—“features” in a very inclusive sense of the word—while
simultaneously, this particular form of film culture was geographically
pressing outwards from its Market Street base. This play between centrifugal
and centripetal forces may also be seen as part of a broader struggle to make
cinema a part of dominant culture.
Film and Theater
As we have seen, moving pictures had been shown in legitimate theaters
such as the Chestnut Street Theatre as early as 1897, and from 1908, film’s
gradual invasion of theaters began to escalate. At the initial stage, film could
enter the legitimate theaters by filling the vacant summer slots, seemingly of
mutual benefit for film and theater. Soon enough, however, as the moving
picture industry continued to grow exponentially while the theater was perceived to face increasingly hard times, the relation between the two was
frequently described as conflicting, or outright competitive. In March 1910,
the Inquirer’s “Call Boy” column cited theater magnate Marc Klaw, who
had remarked that production costs in the theatrical field had more than doubled over the past five years. As Klaw saw it, this could not be compensated
for by raised admission prices, but only by increased patronage. Although
not generally pointing his finger at the movies (at least not explicitly), he
added that moving pictures had contributed to “driving out the old melodramatic show,” since these shows “depend largely on the appeal to the eye for
their success and the moving pictures can do the thing cheaper and just as
effectively.”144 A slightly more elaborated analysis of the crisis of melodrama appeared in May 1910, according to which the increase in movie
shows had probably had “some effect,” but above all, producers of melodrama had themselves to blame as they had been offering an increasingly
inferior repertoire over the past couple of years. Moreover, as far as cinema
was a threat to melodrama, it was mainly by competing for a specific segment of the audience, viz. the so-called “Gallery Gods,” a notion that had
come to signify a shift in the perception of the gallery audience, traditionally
perceived to consist of plebeian and “rowdy” groups, but at this point associated with the mostly middle-class and mostly female “earnest devotees of
drama” who were unable to afford orchestra seats.145 “Call Boy” addressed
the issue of the “Gallery God” audience146 again in late 1911, allegedly apropos a letter from a troubled theater manager who lamented the “Gallery
God’s” exodus from the theater. For “Call Boy,” however, the explanation
could not be any simpler: the price for a gallery seat was plainly too high in
comparison to the admission price at the movies. To be specific, the “Gallery
God” used to pay at the most 25¢ for the play, and enjoy it critically. Then,
106
as of late and coinciding with the increase of moving picture shows, the
price had doubled. Since movie theaters could offer a show at an even lower
price than the gallery used to cost, people predictably flocked to the movies,
and had soon grown used to and content with their new entertainment of
choice. Consequently, the “Call Boy’s” advice to the complaining manager
was simply to lower the price of the gallery seats.147 At this point, if the admission price was the bottom line, it were theatrical attractions at “popular
prices” that were perceived to have been hit the hardest by the success of
movies. As one theater manager put it to the “Call Boy”: “No sir, you can
take it from me that the popular-priced attractions have been badly jolted by
the movies, and I predict that for a couple of seasons we will have nothing
but picture shows for the masses and good dramatic and musical attractions
for the classes.”148 Fears of such polarization and reduction of diversity in
Philadelphia’s amusement field seem exaggerated, but indicate that moving
pictures were not deemed a serious threat to the “high-class” legitimate
theater, a position underpinned by nearly all-pervading ideas in the early
1910s about the constitution of audiences for film and theater—“masses”
and “classes” respectively. Before the blurring of such ironclad boundaries
started to escalate (not least with the advent of the multi-reel feature film),
the legitimate theater was in a sense untouchable. Accordingly, when “Call
Boy” discussed the effects of the moving picture show, or cited troubled
theater managers, he could allow himself to come out in favor of the movies,
arguing that to the extent that theatrical businesses were hurt by the movies,
it was because their offerings were either inferior or too expensive. As a
matter of fact, “Call Boy’s” embracing stance toward moving pictures (at
least of those he perceived as the better class of pictures) went so far as to
suggest that movies could actually be of benefit to the theater, as this form of
entertainment, especially if combined with high-class vaudeville, was “educating a class of future play-goers,” some of which would never get in touch
with the theater were it not for the small price.149 As already suggested, admission price was the bottom line, which sometimes triggered the developing of theories that sounded as more petulant than well grounded. For instance, one theater manager claimed that, paradoxically, the low admission
price at the moving picture show was to blame for the rising costs of living.
As a family would now have several nights per week out on the town (compared to the perhaps monthly visit to the theater), the breadwinner had to
provide all family members with all the more new clothes and “decorations”
suitable for these occasions. Hence, movies were making life expensive, the
argument went. “Call Boy” quite wisely failed to see how this could have the
slightest to do with increasing food costs, a factor much more likely to effect
a family’s cost of living.150
Toward the end of 1912, at least the Inquirer began to notice an increasing interest in moving pictures from the high end of the theatrical business.
In November, “Call Boy” remarked that several of “our prominent managers
107
are delving deeper into this style of entertainment [i.e. moving pictures],”
evoking the names of Charles and Daniel Frohman as cases in point. In contrast to many later discussions on the film/theater relationship, the focus was
now on how film could be integrated into theatrical performance, for instance, as an innovative device offering greater potential for scenery
changes. This did not mean that the critic failed to see how the burgeoning
interest from the theatrical side might contribute to elevating the cultural
status of film: “Strikes me that this is a step towards encouraging the movies,
whereas a majority of managers have said all kinds of unkind things about
them in the past few years, declaring that they hurt the business of the theatres, especially in the galleries.151 By July 1913, the intermedial perspectives were reversing, shifting its attention from how to make theatrical use of
film to the growing vested theatrical interest in the very production of moving pictures (and soon enough, the other branches of the film industry too).
“Call Boy’s” summer temp, an anonymous staff correspondent reporting
from Atlantic City during the summer months, after stating that the “moving
picture craze is at its height,” suggested that the scorn for movies that many
theater managers had shown over the years was now tempered by the sight
of how much money could be (and had been) made in this field: “It is only a
few years ago that some of the big producing managers prophesied that the
‘movies’ would soon be a thing of the past. Now these same men are forming companies to produce plays in the film.”152
Although these are clear indications of how cinema was in cultural transformation, its repute possibly in ascendance, we should bear in mind that in
many camps, traditional hierarchies remained as solid as ever. Reportedly,
and speaking of the migratory movements of actors between film and theater
in 1915, renowned theater manager Edward Franklin Albee (adoptive grandfather of the perhaps more famous Edward F. Albee III, playwright and
author of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), argued that famous players
should be forced to choose between the stage and the movies, since the appearance of a theatrical star’s name in front of every five and ten cent movie
house in the country “cheapened” the star, lessened his/her appeal to the $2
audience and all in all threatened to “demoralize” the industry.153 The editorialist on his/her part, with due respect to Mr. Albee’s point, found it difficult
to see how film could seriously rival the legitimate stage, and prognosticated
that most likely, cinema and theater would prosper side by side. That much
said, it remained difficult to settle the issue of cinema’s future cultural position:
The truth of the matter is that the moving picture business has not yet
reached its permanent position in the world of amusements. Its novelty has carried it to unprecedented success, but it is still in the speculative stage. … That it will eventually assume its rightful place cannot
be doubted. Just what that place will be cannot be successfully pre-
108
dicted at this time. The one thing certain is that it will continue to furnish pleasure to the masses. Aside from that it is difficult to imagine it
as a successful rival of the legitimate drama.
The more reasonable theory is that both will continue in their respective fields without trespassing upon that of the other. In the meantime
the movies are in a transient stage, puzzling the managers, the actors
and the public alike.154
109
Chapter 4
Film Culture in Philadelphia in 1914: Selected
Cases
The following section offers description and analysis of a wide range of
cases and events that all relate to film culture in Philadelphia around 1914.
The individual cases are not linked to each other according to explicit directions or a singular and over-arching historical argument, but are nonetheless
meant to produce a framing in the sense that the resulting panoramic image
of Philadelphia’s film culture will stretch beyond the mere sum of each individual frame.
Exhibition: Some Basic Data on Movie Theaters and
Other Venues for Film Exhibition
In 1908, a couple of years into the nickelodeon boom, there were about two
hundred nickel theaters in Philadelphia.1 Evidence gathered for the hearings
in the USA v. MPPC case offer somewhat more detailed figures for the period spanning late 1910 to mid-1913, according to which there were 181
movie theaters in Philadelphia in October 1910 (of which 118 were licensed
and 63 non-licensed), 179 in January 1911 (103 licensed and 76 nonlicensed), 159 in July 1911 (78 plus 81), 187 I December 1911 (102 plus 85),
166 in July 1912 (87 plus 79) and 209 in July 1913 (87 plus 122).2 When
Harry Schwalbe, branch manager of General Film in Philadelphia, was
cross-examined in December 1913, he ascertained that last time he checked
there were a total of 218 film-exhibiting theaters in the city.3 When under
direct examination on the part of the defense, Schwalbe had also elaborated
on the types and size of venues, suggesting that when he began as branch
manager a couple of years ago, most movie theaters were of the “store show
room” type, but that there were practically none of those left. Schwalbe estimated that the average seating capacity back then was about two hundred
seats, whereas nowadays no one would venture into the business running a
house seating less than five hundred.4
110
Schwalbe was correct in assuming that an era of larger picture theaters
was dawning, but too quick to dismiss entirely the existence of the good old
storefront show. As we will come back to in some detail, at least 76 of the
total of 254 venues that I have found to have exhibited moving pictures at
one point or another in 1914 were of the nickelodeon type, a majority with a
seating capacity of only about three hundred. The rest of the 254 venues
consisted of “regular” movie theaters, vaudeville houses where films were
shown as a regular part of the program, legitimate theaters occasionally or
permanently shifting to film policies, concert halls such as the Academy of
Music, and a range of other temporary sites (parks, airdomes, lecture halls).
Many of the largest and most prestigious venues were located in the Center
City, thereby making up a disproportionally large share of the city’s total
seating capacity, although West, Lower North and South Philadelphia each
hosted more venues than the downtown area.
1914 saw the opening of a number of new movie theaters and numerous
proposals for the building of new ones. The trend of converting vaudeville
houses and other venues previously devoted to other amusements into picture houses continued. The other side of the coin involved the closing of
many primarily small picture theaters around town, but this remains an assumption more than a substantiated fact since the newspapers rarely reported
on the failures and bankruptcies of theater managers, especially not those
concerning small-time neighborhood exhibitors. New venues to receive attention in the press were the Stanley Theatre and the Globe in the Center
City. Both were additions to the burgeoning Mastbaum movie theater empire, The Stanley being the flagship theater. In West Philadelphia, the
Apollo, Marcus Loew’s Knickerbocker Theatre and the Locust (renowned
for its massive $15,000 Kimball organ) all opened their doors in 1914. Occasionally, the newspapers also reported on the appearance of new theaters in
more peripherally located areas, including the opening of the Dixie in Manayunk and the Belvedere in Chestnut Hill (the latter area an affluent neighborhood in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, the former a not so affluent
neighborhood also located in the northwestern part of the city).5
The trade papers reported on plans for at least thirty-six new moving picture theaters during the year, twelve of them scattered across West Philadelphia, most in reasonable proximity of an expanding commercial and entertainment area with the intersection of Market Street and 52nd as its hub. Ten
picture theaters were to be built in North Philadelphia (including the Lower
as well as the Upper North), six in Center City, four in or near Kensington (a
Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood), one in Germantown, one in Manayunk and one in South Philadelphia. The thirty-sixth theater I have not been
able to map.6
Meanwhile, a growing number of legitimate as well as vaudeville theaters
began offering moving pictures on a regular basis. The Liberty Theatre in
North Philadelphia shifted to a full-time film policy in May 1914, perhaps
111
encouraged by a long and successful run of The Inside of the White Slave
Traffic in late 1913 and early 1914.7 The Ruby Theatre on Market Street was
converted and geared up for film exhibition in June, and the Chestnut Street
Opera House shifted fully to film in October, only two examples, but nevertheless illustrating how vastly different kinds of venues adopted films.8 In
addition, many of the large vaudeville houses that did not already program
moving pictures started doing so. In August, B. F. Keith’s and Nixon’s
Grand (two leading houses) as well as the Broadway, the Allegheny, the
Keystone and the William Penn Theatre were all screening films in combination with live acts.9
At the level of exhibition, cinema was thus still expanding across Philadelphia in 1914. To grasp the significance in terms of changes of the geography of urban amusement and cultural transformation in general, more detailed analysis is required, an endeavor we will return to.
Distribution: An Eldorado for Feature Exchange Men
When the General Film Company was formed in 1910, four exchanges in
Philadelphia handled the product of the ten licensed film manufacturers.
General Film acquired three of these, while the proprietor of the fourth,
Lewis M. Swaab, refused to sell.10 Swaab’s license was swiftly cancelled,
his exchange on Spruce Street and 4th was ransacked for film, and his reels
confiscated—including the ones he claimed full ownership of. In March
1914, more than three years after these incidents, a jury ruled in favor of
Swaab and awarded him $20,424 in damages, to be paid by the Vitagraph
Company, one of the companies that had taken action against Swaab.11
From a different point of view, General Film represented a much-needed
stabilizing force on a market running wild. Guarantees of a steady and reliable supply of one-reel programs combined with a zoning and clearing system that helped prevent detrimental competition between theaters and exchanges offered conditions for a prosperous future for the industry. Robert
Etris, manager of 23rd street branch of General Film in Philadelphia (the
former Lubin Film Service Exchange), claimed that in 1909 and 1910, the
cut-throat competition between exchanges in the city had reached a point
where it was no longer possible to make a profit. The situation was greatly
alleviated by the Trust’s remodeling of the industry.12
General Film’s main competition in Philadelphia was two independent
suppliers of full-service programs: Mutual and Universal.13 The stability of
the situation became unsettled, however, as the region saw a mushrooming
of independent feature-film exchanges in 1913. The New York Dramatic
Mirror described Eastern Pennsylvania as an “Eldorado for feature exchange
men,” and counted the number of feature film exchanges to twenty-eight in
112
Philadelphia alone.14 The Mirror and Motion Picture News must have shared
the same source, as only three days later, the News used the exact same
words: “Eastern Pennsylvania must surely be the Eldorado for feature exchange men.”15 Etris too testified to the growing presence of independent
feature film exchanges and the increasing difficulty of keeping track of the
new ones that kept appearing:
They are beginning to be quite an item to be considered. They seem to
be cutting more and more into our business, as special features, which
are used, of course, cut off that number of reels from our customer’s
program, and we are expected to make a corresponding reduction in
his price.
[Question:] There are a great many of those special feature companies located here, are there not?
[Etris’s answer:] Quite a number. I have not attempted to figure
how many. There seem to be new ones coming right along.16
Harry Schwalbe, the other General Film branch manager in Philadelphia,
appeared as a witness for the defense in the USA v. MPPC hearings, and
provided a more detailed account of the competition he faced in late 1913.
First off, the Interstate Film Company handled the Universal output as well
as Gaumont Features and Ambrosio Features. The Continental Film Exchange offered the Mutual program, and Continental also had a Mutualcontrolled feature branch called the Federal Feature Film Company. In addition, Schwalbe claimed that there were about twenty to twenty-two feature
film exchanges, of which he could name only the principal ones: Warner’s
Feature Film Company, Famous Players, Electric Theatre Supply Co., Attractive Feature Film Co., Prince Features, United Features, Monarch Feature Film Exchange, G. W. Beadenburg Film Exchange and Empire Film
Exchange.17 By March 1914, World’s Special Film Corporation had also
established itself as a leading distributor of feature film in Philadelphia.18 On
August 22, it was announced that Box Office Attractions would open a
Philadelphia branch.19 What really riveted attention around the same time,
however, was the formation of Paramount. An article in the Philadelphia
Inquirer argued that few had yet grasped the significance of this event, in
terms of a stabilization of the feature film market and the standardization of
the industry as a whole.20 Stanley Mastbaum proudly announced that he had
managed to secure the Paramount supply (costing $250,000) to be shown at
the Stanley Theatre beginning August 31.21 Another prominent Philadelphia
theater manager, Fred Nixon-Nirdlinger followed suit and secured the exclusive Germantown rights of the Paramount program, making its debut at the
Colonial Theatre on September 3.22 On October 24, as Paramount was expanding, a new Philadelphia branch opened on Vine Street, near General
Film’s offices on 1308 Vine.23
113
Production: From Expansion to Conflagration
Philadelphia was not, or ever had been, and was never to be a major center
for film production in the United States. It did, however, serve as a home
base for Sigmund Lubin and his Lubin Film Manufacturing Company.
Clearly, Lubin was a major producer, although in hindsight we can see how
by 1914 the company was in decline, soon to vanish altogether from the film
world.
A plausible hypothesis for explaining the decline and fall of Lubin was
that Lubin made a strategic blunder by liquidating his interests in exhibition
and distribution in order to concentrate all resources on the production and
processing of film. A crucial shift seems to have occurred in 1908 and 1909,
when Lubin sold several theaters as well as exchanges for the benefit of the
construction of a large studio in the Northern/Northwestern parts of Philadelphia.24 When the studio, called Lubinville, opened for operation in 1910 it
was second only to the Vitagraph studio in Brooklyn with respect to size.25
Nonetheless, it was soon pushing maximum capacity, prompting Lubin in
1912 to venture into the construction of a new behemoth studio that came to
be known as “Betzwood the Great,” erected on the grounds of the 364-acre
Betzwood estate located 20 miles northwest of the city, just across the
Schuylkill river.26 Aside from functioning as a new and additional studio for
the production of Lubin films (Lubin also had studios in Jacksonville and
Los Angeles at this point), it was supposedly the largest processing plant in
the world. When the new Betzwood plant opened in 1914, Lubin’s total potential output measured 6 million feet per week.27
Stephen Bush of Moving Picture World visited Betzwood in 1914 and
was proud to declare that the “greatest plant for the perfect production of
motion pictures” was now located in the United States.28 A crowning
achievement, perhaps, but as I have suggested, this might not have amounted
to much if we consider that its prerequisite was a full retreat from distribution and exhibition, i.e. the branches to which control of the film industry
was increasingly relocated.
A more spectacular contribution to the imminent downfall of the Lubin
Company was the disastrous explosion and fire at Lubinville in June 1914
which destroyed the film storage vault. The damage was estimated at between half a million and a million dollars, and although the trade press (and
Lubin too) primarily mourned the loss of an historical and educational treasure trove, several unreleased films were also destroyed. This must have
meant a severe financial blow to the company, although there was to be “no
interruption of business.”29
114
Exhibition: Price and Length of the Show
If we are to believe Moving Picture World, Philadelphia was still one of the
“persistent ‘nickel-towns’” in the country in 1914. For the editorial boards of
the World as well as Motion Picture News, both at this point almost obsessively promoting an increase of admission prices, any initiative to move
away from “cheapening prices” was highly commendable. Accordingly,
exhibitors belonging to the Philadelphia branch of the Motion Picture Exhibitors’ League were duly praised when they agreed to strive for raising
admission prices on Saturdays to 10¢.30
The price issue was part of a wider discussion that also included questions
concerning program length and makeup, and as reported a couple of months
earlier before the idea of a Saturday price rise was proposed, the Philadelphia Exhibitors’ League recommended 5¢ for four reels and 10¢ for up to
eight reels.31 The extent to which theaters actually adopted such standards
and recommendations remains unclear in the absence of sources offering
detailed information about small nickel or neighborhood movie theaters. The
World’s Philadelphia reports disclose that the Apollo in West Philadelphia
raised the price of reserved seats to ten cents in June (other seats remained at
a nickel).32 The Regent Theatre on Market Street just west of City Hall
charged 10¢, but that was for a rather elaborate feature program.33 Moving in
the opposite direction recommended by the Exhibitors’ League, the Coliseum in West Philadelphia lowered the admission price in December on
account of an alleged economic downturn.34
Delving into newspaper press discourse and advertising does not lessen
the problem of assessing the pricing strategies among small neighborhood
theaters, but offers some figures regarding the venues that advertised.
Among a group of venues that can be categorized as movie theaters (i.e.
venues offering film exclusively or almost exclusively, but in a larger and
more lavish league than the average nickelodeon), the show rarely cost more
than 25¢. The New Broadway Theatre on Broad and Race streets35 charged
25¢ across the house for a feature film program, as did the Liberty, although
the latter on occasion (as for the screening of Antony and Cleopatra [Marcantonio e Cleopatra; Cines, 1913]) admitted children for the lower price of
15¢.36 The Palace and the Victoria differentiated between the reserved section and the rest of the house, typically charging 20¢ for the former and 10¢
for the latter.37 The Olympia went further with regards to price distinctions,
differentiating first between the matinee and evening show, setting the general admission price for the matinee to 10¢, and then among different seats
for the evening show, charging either 10¢ or 15¢ for open seats, and 25¢ for
the reserved section.38 When the Stanley opened in April, the management
initially attempted charging a higher price than most film theaters, setting the
matinee ticket price to 25¢ and the evening show price to 25¢ or 50¢.39 Al115
ready for the second week, however, the Stanley opted to adjust to a price
level matching that of most other motion picture theaters, and hence settled
for ticket prices of 10¢, 15¢ or 25¢, and “no higher,” as an advertisement
announced.40 The Metropolitan Opera House displayed a different approach.
This downtown venue made a selling point from a low admission price, a
business policy associated with the nickel theater rather than with the feature
oriented larger downtown theater. Before initiating a fully-fledged film policy, the Metropolitan charged the customary 25¢, with some tickets going at
15¢, for a multi-reel feature film program, but after the policy shift, the main
idea was to program as long a movie show as possible for as low a price as
possible, in this case a dime.41
The legitimate theaters and concert halls whose policies included periodical stints of showing moving pictures on a regular basis, and theaters offering at least an occasional feature film during 1914, also differentiated prices
depending on time of day and type of seat, but with a margin for charging
slightly higher prices. These were generally more lavish than “regular”
movie theaters—even compared to the larger downtown houses—and could
offer seats attractive enough to warrant a higher price. It might also have
been the case that these venues attracted an audience accustomed to paying a
higher price for their entertainment, and who, therefore, had no qualms about
paying as much as 50¢ for a show. The summer film offerings at the Garrick
and the Forrest adhered to similar price scales. Matinee tickets to the Forrest
were 25¢, and the evening show cost either 25¢ or 50¢, depending on the
type of seat.42 The Garrick, too, charged 25¢ for the matinee, but allowed
children for 15¢, and had three price levels for the evening program: 25¢,
35¢ and 50¢.43 When Adelphi offered a religious spectacle advertised as
“Pathe Freres [sic] … Photo Production of The Life of Our Saviour” (i.e. La
Vie et la passion de Jésus Christ [reissued in the U.S. as Life of Our Savior,
Pathé, 1903]), they specified prices as follows: 50¢ for orchestra seats, 25¢
for balcony seats and 15¢ for the “family circle.”44 Sometimes, the admission price varied depending on what film or type of program was on offer.
For instance, the Chestnut Street Opera House charged patrons 10¢, 15¢ or
25¢ for the matinee and 10¢, 25¢ or 50¢ for the evening showing of Cabiria
(Itala, 1914) in September, but only 10¢, 15¢ or 25¢ for all screenings of
Ireland, a Nation (Walter MacNamara, USA, 1914) in October.45 From November 1 to the end of the year, a period dominated by the seven-week run
of The Spoilers, the same venue divided the day into two segments, one running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during which tickets were either at 10¢ or 15¢,
and the other running from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with tickets at 10¢, 15¢ or
25¢.46 After the four-week Cabiria run at the Chestnut Street Opera House,
the film ran for two weeks at the Academy of Music, at prices of 10¢, 15¢ or
25¢ for the matinee and 10¢, 15¢, 25, or 50¢ for the evening tickets (i.e.
prices similar to that of the former venue).47 After this, Cabiria had a third
run at the Palace Theatre, “Positively [for the] First Time At Our Prices,” as
116
the ad boasted.48 Admission was 10¢ for open seats and 20¢ for the reserved
section, which demonstrates how the temporal “zoning” in the form of first,
second, third, and later runs influenced price setting.
Finally, a number of houses combined vaudeville and moving pictures. It
is hard to judge from the advertising exactly how the balance between film
and live entertainment was struck, which means that although we can get an
idea of the prices charged by combination houses, it remains unclear exactly
what they billed. Bearing this in mind, we may first note that the most common practice seems to have been to divide the day into two different segments: the matinee and the evening, the latter usually containing two shows,
e.g. one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. Two different prices were normally
charged for each segment, most commonly 5¢ and 10¢ for the matinee and
10¢ and 20¢ in the evening. The Alhambra (on 12th and Morris in South
Philadelphia), B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre (located in the northeastern
parts of the city), The Empress Theatre (in Manayunk), the Fairmount (on
26th and Girard in the Lower North district), and the Keystone (also in
Lower North Philadelphia) all adhered to this policy, the Alhambra however
only up until the change of management in September after which all matinee seats came at 10 cents.49 Very similarly, the Cross Keys Theatre (on
Market Street below 60th, in West Philadelphia) offered all seats for the
matinee at 10¢ whereas each of the two nightly shows cost 10¢, 15¢, or 20¢
to attend.50 Meanwhile, Nixon’s Grand, Lower North Philadelphia’s largest
and leading vaudeville house advertised “3,000 seats at 10¢” for their 2.15
matinee, and “3,000 seats at 10¢ and 20¢” for the two nightly shows.51 The
William Penn, West Philadelphia’s largest vaudeville and picture house, and
the Frankford (in the Frankford area), both opted for the same price-setting
plan.52 The Girard Avenue Theatre in Lower North Philadelphia, another
venue that offered a matinee and two evening shows, charged 5¢ or 10¢ for
the matinee and 5¢, 10¢, or 15¢ for the two other shows.53 Another variation
on the main theme, but at generally lower prices, can be found at Hart’s
Theatre (in Kensington, a northeastern Philadelphia area), which charged a
universal 5¢ for the matinee and 5¢ or 10¢ for the evening shows.54 A few
venues did not differentiate between matinee and evening prices, such as the
New Dixie Theatre in Manayunk where the price was always 10¢.55 Marcus
Loew’s Knickerbocker Theatre first announced that any show would cost
10¢, 15¢ or 25¢, but soon switched to charging a universal 10¢ for the afternoon shows.56 B. F. Keith’s Theatre on Chestnut Street and 12th, and according to Irvin Glazer Philadelphia’s first “million dollar theatre,” were the
most expensive to visit for vaudeville and pictures; the matinee at 2 p.m. was
25¢ and 50¢ and the evening show at 8 p.m. cost between 25¢ and $1.57
To summarize: the price the film-entertainment-seeking Philadelphian
would pay for a show depended on a number of factors—type of film, type
of venue, location of the venue, and what type of program the moving pictures were part of all mattered. Generally, multi-reel feature films com117
manded a higher admission price than the regular neighborhood theater fare,
if we take at face value the World’s labeling of Philadelphia as a “nickel
town.” However, as many screenings of feature films, including prestigious
and successful ones such as Cabiria or The Spoilers, could be attended as
cheaply as 10¢, the price gap was certainly not as great as one might have
assumed. Thus, to frame the breakthrough of feature films as causing a distinct film-cultural rift between lavish moving picture palaces using multi-reel
feature films to cater to a $2 audience on the one hand, and residual nickel
theaters sticking to the variety format on the other hand, would therefore be
misleading.
Exhibition: The Significance of Music
After a visit to the recently-opened Stanley Theatre, the Inquirer’s “Call
Boy” was deeply impressed with the musical accompaniment:
The value of music as an adjunct of the photo-drama, or “silent play,”
has heretofore not been thoroughly realized or incorporated in the
plans of the picture houses. The oversight has been more than made
good at the new Stanley Theatre … where an orchestra of 25 pieces is
in constant attendance. They … have mastered the art of making their
music synchronize perfectly with whatever picture may happen to be
being produced, so that the story is told in music almost as intelligibly
as if words were being spoken by the figures which move across the
screen.
The music rendered runs the entire gamut of human emotion, even
as do the photo-drama reproductions … It is impossible to fully describe in cold and unsympathetic type the clever musical interpretations which the orchestra wrings from their instruments and fit to the
various pictures.58
Whether this particular orchestra brought film music to new levels or if it
was merely a case of the critic not having given the issue too much thought
until this point is, of course, hard to tell. Irrespective of this, we should acknowledge that musical accompaniment to moving pictures had been neither
overlooked by theater managers nor absent in the critical discourse. On the
contrary, music was habitually used as a selling point by managers and a
favorable review of a movie show rarely passed without an approving comment about the music.
In Philadelphia, two musical solutions—the orchestra and the organ—were particularly popular, but to be sure, a much wider range of practices and approaches to film music, and sound in general, were put into play
inside as well as outside movie theaters around town.59 Granted, as we know
from Rick Altman’s research, there were moves to standardize sound prac118
tices, which included the development of simultaneously more elaborate and
more streamlined ways of using music as a device for filmic storytelling.60
However, these processes were only in an initial stage in 1914, and it safest
to assume that diversity was still the keynote, or, at any rate greater than the
paper press discourse implies.
Judging from the theaters discussed in the press, orchestras seem to have
been less common than organ accompaniment, presumably for practical and
economical reasons, but the orchestras of some venues, such as the newlyopened Apollo in West Philadelphia and the Dreamland Theatre on Market
Street, received much attention.61 As to organs, the trade press did its best to
keep track of the purchase and installation of increasingly large and expensive apparatus. By February, the Family Theatre on Market and 13th boasted
a $5,000 Wurlitzer organ (later in the year it was reported that the same
venue had installed an equally expensive “Wurlitzer Unit Orchestra”); in
March, Oscar Stiefel, renowned exhibitor and theater owner (the new Rialto
Theatre being the latest addition to his holdings), followed suit and acquired
a Wurlitzer; at the Regent Theatre, supposedly the most lavish movie theater
on Market Street west of City Hall (but East of the Schuylkill), the “mammoth organ” was a notable feature; in August, the new theater being built on
Chestnut Street and 16th was equipped with a Kimball organ; the Locust
Theatre in West Philadelphia had an organ of the same brand, an instrument
that allegedly had cost the owners $15,000, while the organ at the Liberty
Theatre was described as simply “expensive.”62
As a rule houses received favorable comments in the press for the musical
elements of the show, however, often without much detail.63 One exception
that stands out is an otherwise appreciative review of Pathé’s old Life of Our
Savior, but in which the critic complained about “some very rambling and
undefined organ selections” that did not contribute to create “much melodic
atmosphere.” In addition, the reviewer complained about the “wholly unnecessary and sepulchral lecture” that accompanied the pictures.64
As often was the case in 1914 when it came to film exhibition practices,
the Stanley Theatre attracted special attention. When the Stanley opened in
April, a twenty-five-piece orchestra consisting of members from the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Harry W. Meyer provided the music.65 In addition, plans for employing a specially invited solo singer for each
show was mentioned, but aside from Lina Abarbanell’s appearance at the
premiere shows, there is no further evidence that these plans were carried
out.66 In any event, the music at the Stanley Theatre was recurrently lauded
for its high quality over the next few weeks.67 In June, a Hastings organ was
installed and put to use, but not at the expense of the orchestra it seems, as
the press persisted in praising Stanley’s musical offerings, now including
both “a great organ and a splendid orchestra.”68
A few feature film presentations came with exceptional music. In the case
of Cabiria at the Chestnut Street Opera House, the size of the orchestra and
119
singing chorus was increased—forty musicians and thirty singers were deployed—and a musical score composed especially for this film was performed.69 On the subject of this particular score, Martin Marks has shown
that there were two composers involved. Supposedly, the composer initially
engaged for the job, Ildebrando Pizzetti, could only muster the elevenminute part of the score known as Sinfonia del Fuoco (Symphony of the
Fire), whereas the rest of the score was composed by Pizzetti’s apprentice,
Manlio Mazza.70 Amusingly, the Inquirer’s reviewer, misled or confused by
promotional material or just sloppy with his research, managed to amalgamate the two into one “Mazetti.” To make matters even worse, the reviewer
suggested that the spurious Mazetti was something of a musical genius, “regarded in musical circles as the compeer of Verdi and Wagner.” Heaping
further accolade, he/she concluded that this was “the first time in the history
of the art that music has been associated with the picture in a masterly
form.”71 When Cabiria moved on to The Academy of Music, there was no
mention of the special score, but it was still emphasized that “[a] feature will
be music on the organ, and there will be the customary music by the symphonic orchestra, the singing by the fine choral body and the same superior
projection of the film [as compared to the Chestnut Street Opera House
screenings].”72
Coinciding with Cabiria’s move to the Academy, another film, different
in its appeal but also accompanied by an original score, premiered at the
Stanley: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (The Oz Film Manufacturing Company,
1914). The score was composed by Louis F. Gottschalk and performed by
the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the Stanley screenings, supposedly
to much appreciation.73
Commissioning an original score was, of course, only one way to secure
that the pictures received “appropriate” musical accompaniment, but in most
cases this was neither feasible nor deemed necessary. For the screenings of
Ireland, a Nation, a patriotically-charged dramatization of Irish history, the
problem was solved by a cavalcade of well-known Irish music and the employment of singers well-versed in this musical style and tradition.74 Aside
from approving comments about the realistic settings/locale on display (large
portions of the film had allegedly been shot on location in Ireland), it seems
that the “good music” and the “capable singers” were the strongest and most
appreciated feature of the screenings. Otherwise, the film garnered unusually
little favor with Philadelphian critics, objecting to the cast’s “overindulgence in heroics” and a form of “ultra-melodramatic gesticulation” that
“narrowly escapes turning the picture into a farce.”75
120
Exhibition: A Note on Racial Issues
Leaping ahead to August 1915, and the Philadelphia premiere of The Birth of
a Nation,76 at least one trade paper would have its readers believe that any
fears of a racial divide in the city of brotherly love were unfounded and displaced by the unanimous salutations to the film as the greatest picture drama
ever made, once it actually began to unfold upon the Forrest Theatre’s
screen. Special to the World by Philadelphia News Service, it was reported
that a number of policemen and private detectives had been employed to
counteract any disruptive demonstrations, all in vain, however, as “extreme
and continued” applause had largely been the audience’s response. Moreover, the reporter was “pleased to note” that the “negroes scattered in the
audience” had been among the most fervent applauders present.77
Arguably, and according to one historian, Philadelphia did not see a reprise of the race riots that had occurred in the nineteenth century, or the kind
of severe racial clashes that plagued cities like St. Louis, Chicago and
Washington, D.C. in the progressive era, but that did not mean that the city
was without racial tensions.78 Neither did it mean that no protests were
launched against The Birth of a Nation. In fact, there were attempts to stop
the film before the premiere as well as during its Philadelphia run. As mentioned, Director of Public Safety Porter intended to stop the screening, but
was overruled by higher legal authority.79
Before Birth, however, it seems that the newspaper discourses in Philadelphia were largely silent with regard to issues of race and cinema, although
one particular incident from March 1914 might be of interest to our framing
of Philadelphia film culture. On Friday night of the March 13, Madeline
Davies, 21 years old and “colored,” had entered a movie theater on 19th
street and Columbia Avenue (most likely the Ideal Theatre in North Philadelphia). When the usher tried to force her into taking a seat in the back of
the theater, Davies protested vehemently which led to her subsequent arrest
on the grounds of “causing a disturbance.” After a hearing held the next day
at the nearby police station on 19th and Oxford streets, magistrate Morris
ruled that any seat not reserved could rightfully be claimed by any patron. In
the words of the newspaper headline, “seats in ‘movies’ [were] open,” a rule
apparently applicable to patrons of all races.80
The Davies incident was a discursive breach in a veil of ignorance with
regard to racial aspects of movie-going and film culture in Philadelphia.
There is a conspicuous lack of discursive reflection on racial issues, but the
Davies case makes one suspect that Jim Crow practices might have been
more common than we can show. A similar case in the Los Angeles context
reveals how racial segregation in that city’s picture theaters—not formalized
but seemingly sanctioned by the ruling in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, legalizing the doctrine of “separate but equal”—was a “daily insult for Afri121
can-Americans and other others.”81 Whether “unofficial” racial segregation
was as pronounced in Philadelphia as in Los Angeles we do not know for
certain, but we can speculate that Davies was neither the first nor last African-American patron to have been ushered to the back of a Philadelphia
movie house.
Exhibition: Movies in Convention Hall
One of the more idiosyncratic experiments involving motion picture exhibition was the attempt to establish the new Convention Hall on Broad Street
and Allegheny Avenue in North Philadelphia as a summer evening resort,
offering filmic as well as other forms of entertainment.82
On May 23, it was announced that the Bureau of City Property had made
arrangements with an amusement company for the leasing of Convention
Hall. The rental term was set to five months and the nightly rental fee to be
paid to the city was $100. At this point, the Inquirer referred to the project as
a “conversion” of the hall into a moving picture theater, and noticed that the
company had agreed to “restore the building to its original character when
leaving.”83 The following day, an article appeared, in which the plans were
laid out in further detail. With regard to the filmic entertainment, the ambition was to offer only the type of “pleasing and picturesque features that
make the more ambitious moving picture theatres in Europe so pleasant to
visit.” It was also clarified that movies were to be only one part of a more
diverse program of amusements. First of all, a “big light refreshments restaurant” would be made room for, the large film screen still being in full view
from each dining table. Moreover, a “large promenade” would be constructed close enough to the screen to allow simultaneous film viewing and
taking a stroll. Finally, “fine band and orchestra concerts” would be in progress from 7 to 9 every night:
Thus it is intended that the patron of the new movie may enjoy the
privileges of or the restaurant or promenade and listen to fine music
and watch the pictures at the same time.84
It was also stressed that this was a novelty in the field of film exhibition,
never before attempted on American soil, but in European cities where such
institutions already existed, their establishing had “created a new phase of
social life.”85
An astonishing aspect of the Convention Hall project was the immense
seating capacity of the venue. Two completely different figures were mentioned: the Inquirer claimed that there would be seats for almost 20,000 people, whereas a later Moving Picture World report gives the more moderate
122
but nonetheless quite remarkable figure of 12,000.86 As mentioned, the
leaseholder was supposed to pay $100 per night, and according to the World
item it would cost about $6 per hour to light the house.87 Given the fact that
the management planned to charge a nickel for a seat (including access to the
other amenities),88 one has to assume that they counted on filling a considerable number of the thousands of seats available every night—a four-hour
show would need 2,600 patrons just to cover the cost of rent and electricity.
This was, of course, prior to the depression era breakthrough of popcorn as
the movie-theater snack of choice,89 but there were equivalents in the form
of predicted sales of snacks and beverages in the “light refreshment restaurant,” a variable possibly taken into account in the economic calculations.
I have been unable to find any further mention of the project, and hence
no evidence to support that the project was ever realized. Hence, it seems
likely that Philadelphians never had the opportunity of experiencing this
particular fusion of eating, walking, music, and movies.
Assorted Events: Extra-Theatrical Exhibition, Political,
Social, and Cinematic Activism, and Other Mergers of
Film Culture and City Life
We have seen how the great variety of venues available for film exhibition,
which in addition to different types of theaters included churches, parks,
department stores, street facades, private gatherings and so on, expanded the
urban geography of motion pictures well beyond the realms of the theater
site. This was not strictly a geographical issue, but a sign of film culture’s
deepening integration into the fabric and everyday life of the city and its
citizens. Arguably, the most significant development in this respect was the
increasingly tight relations between cinema and the newspaper press. Following Paul S. Moore, the press can be taken to have functioned as a “menu
of urban possibility,” structuring a legible version of the activity of “going
out,” and of city life in general.90 Construed as such, we may also with Jan
Olsson regard newspapers as a litmus test of cultural transformation, a coordinate system for the positioning of film culture and its disparate elements in
relation to the categories of the residual, the emergent, and the dominant.91
On a smaller scale, there were a number of particular events and activities
that deepened the involvement of film culture in everyday life as well as the
publicly-monitored social life of Philadelphians.
One contribution to Philadelphia social life was the organizing of balls
and banquets by various local film trade associations. The Philadelphia
branch of the Motion Picture Exhibitors’ League held a ball on February 20
in Horticultural Hall. Preceding the event, it was reported that two of the
123
three boxes available at the venue had been bought by General Film and
Universal, whereas Mutual and an “unnamed bidder” were competing for the
third. All of the three companies had promised to bring some of their stars,
and Lubin as well as Vitagraph would also “fill their quotas.”92 This was the
second annual ball arranged by the Exhibitors’ League, and the third one
took place later the same year, on December 8, once again in Horticultural
Hall on Broad and Locust. This time, an alleged 1,000 people attended, including notable film stars as Clara Kimball Young, Francis X. Bushman and
many others, as well as captains of industry such as Lubin, Lewis J. Selznick
and Carl Laemmle. A highpoint (aside from “Pop” Lubin’s performance of a
“remarkable one-step”) seems to have been the auction of a portrait in oil of
Clara Kimball Young, donated by Selznick and the object of “furious bidding.” A bidding pool made up of Lubin, Laemmle and local film exhibition
pioneer Mark Dintenfass eventually won out over Abe Einstein of the Stanley Company. During the auction, Miss Young herself stood alongside the
painting and when the bidding ended, she was “showered in money” that
was (alongside with the bidding pool’s $60) donated to the Red Cross. Anecdotes aside, Moving Picture World framed the event as a kind of social
and cultural triumph for the film people who had been in the game ever since
the time when movies were “ridiculed all around.”93
Another series of events that added to the infusion of film culture and industry into the fabric of the city’s social life was the formation in August
1914 of the Reel Fellows of Philadelphia, a social club for people involved
in the local film business.94 First priority was given to organizing an excursion to Atlantic City, an event that seems to have taken place sometime in
late August, before the club had held their first official meeting. A special
train was chartered to transport the motion picture men to the coastal resort
where dinner, dancing, and other activities of leisure awaited.95 Meetings
were initially held at Jay Emanuel’s Ridge Avenue Theatre, the first one
taking place on August 30. A board was elected with Eugene L. Perry (manager of the Stanley Theatre) as president, other members of the executive
board including Lubin, Stanley Mastbaum, William Fox and Lewis Swaab.
Judging from the meeting, the main objective for the club at that point seems
to have been to offer its members Sunday entertainment, and for this purpose
a prioritized item was the establishing of a permanent clubhouse in which to
hold meetings as well as meet and entertain more informally.96 The next
event was organized on September 13, and the local press reported that about
three hundred members and friends attended the function, which “consisted
of music, song and some motion pictures,” the latter including a film depicting the fraternal fellows enjoying themselves in Atlantic City during the
aforementioned August excursion.97 On the same occasion, Stanley Mastbaum presented the club with a significant check, adding to the funds for a
clubhouse.98 Reel Life reported from a Reel Fellow banquet at the Ridge
Avenue Theatre in September. This item might refer to the same event as the
124
one just described, but there was no mention of a screening of the club’s
home movies. Reel Life, the Mutual house organ, instead chose to emphasize
that the big hit had been the screening of The Property Man (Keystone,
1914), starring Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett.99 Another report from one
of the Fellow’s Ridge Avenue Theatre gatherings (this item, too, possibly
referring to the same event) put larger emphasis on food and drinks: aside
from sketches and interesting pictures, “[r]efreshments in ample quality were
supplied.”100
The Ridge Avenue Theatre had also been the platform and exhibition site
for an event organized by groups within the American suffrage movement.
Apparently, Jay Emanuel leased the theater for a special matinee screening
on January 22 of What 80 Million Women Want (Unique Film Co., 1913).101
This film (originally titled 80 Million Women Want—?, alluding to a suffrage book titled What 80,000,000 Women Want) was produced on the initiative of the Women’s Political Union (formerly the Equality League of
Self-Supporting Women, a suffrage organization particularly targeting
working-class women), and featured appearances by Equality League founder Harriet Stanton Blatch as well as the famous British suffragette leader
Emmeline Pankhurst. Although suffrage was a much-debated issue in Philadelphia, I have not found evidence indicating that the presentation of 80
Million at the Ridge Theatre stirred much controversy. One possible explanation might be the particular mode of address and narrative of this film. As
one scholar argues, the melodramatic mixture of politics and romance was
carried out in a way that rendered the suffrage cause non-threatening in the
film, and the general upholding rather than attacking of prevalent social
norms possibly contributed to the film being well received by critics.102
Moreover, this was a period of great commercial interest in the suffrage
movement,103 and 80 Million was but one in a wave of suffrage films ranging
from propagandistic melodrama to comedic parody. Whether the screening
at the Ridge Avenue Theatre fared commercially well we do not know; if it
did, proceeds were supposedly donated to the Suffrage Party.104
Figure 13. Advertisement for the Unique Film Co., MP News 8, no. 19 (November
15, 1913).
125
There were also less politically involved associations and clubs that welcomed and integrated film as entertainment and edification for their members. For instance, on March 25, the Columbia Photographic Society of
Philadelphia presented Frederic Poole’s motion pictures of the Panama Canal, praised in the press for their “realistic portrayal.”105 As we have seen,
the travel lecture accompanied by moving pictures had long been a mainstay
genre in Philadelphian film culture, and Philadelphia resident Frederic
Poole—“World-Wide Traveler, Lecturer, Interpreter of the Oriental Drama
and Field Officer for the U.S. Army A. F. F. Educational Corps, France,” as
a promotional pamphlet for a series of post-WWI lectures by Poole presented him106—had offered lectures with moving pictures as early as 1899,
as part of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.107 Poole’s appearance for these New Year festivities is not surprising considering that Poole, by that time, was in the midst of building a reputation as an English-American lecturer-globetrotter with the orient as his
foremost area of expertise.108
If travel film and lecturing was a format with large cultural cachet, less
exotic forms of educational films, including industrial film, were a harder
sell. Or, as exchange manager Harry Schwalbe laconically put it when, in
late 1913, asked whether there was much demand for educational pictures in
Philadelphia at the present time: “None whatever.”109 Be that as it may,
hardcore educational genres such as industrial film found at least a small
audience among associations and groups with a special interest for one topic
or another. A case in point is an educational screening at the Music Fund
Hall on April 15, 1914, orchestrated by the Boot and Shoemakers Association of Philadelphia, the main attraction of the show supposedly being the indepth filmic depiction of shoe making.110
Aside from events linked to clubs, special interest groups, specific films
or types of film, an occasion arose for movie theaters to participate in the
struggle for an improved urban environment in the form of “clean-up week.”
According to the August 1914 issue of The American Political Science Review, the idea of a clean-up week had been realized in a number of American
cities three years earlier, and since then, the “movement ha[d] spread all over
the country,” and it was stated that municipalities in thirty states were to
“conduct sanitary campaigns against dirt and disease.”111 The article went on
to suggest how Philadelphia had managed to achieve a more successful campaign:
As a prelude to clean-up week in Philadelphia over two thousand
street cleaners and their equipment marched in parade. The campaign
has been far more successful this year in Philadelphia than ever before, and the credit for this large measure of attainment is given by the
chief of the bureau of highways to the larger amount of advertising.112
126
More specifically, as recalled in the April 1915 issue of The American City,
“[t]housands of placards, bulletins, billboards, streamers, circulars, and
newspaper announcements—not to mention friendly reminders from religious leaders during their Sunday sermons—promoted the city’s second annual Clean-Up Week, which was held April 20–25, 1914,” and which supposedly resulted in the “removing [of] more than 135,000 cubic yards of
garbage from the city.113 Presumably, friendly reminders were issued by
ushers at the local movie theaters too, since, although details of the exact
forms of participation are murky, it was reported that movie theaters had
taken part in the Philadelphia clean-up week “to much favorable comment.”114 Remembering how a perception of nickel theaters as polluted and
unclean locales lingered on to some extent, theaters might have wanted to
reverse the perspectives by contributing to the increased cleanliness of the
city milieu. Or, this is at any rate how the obsessive promoters of film cultural uplift at Moving Picture World might have wanted to frame it.
Another act of campaigning was carried out by the involvement of moving picture theaters in the “Swat the Fly” campaign, an important amalgamation of cinematic and social activism that appeared in many places
throughout the US.115 In Philadelphia, Health Officer Dr. Charles P. Henry
issued invitations to theaters, encouraging them to participate in the campaign, preferably by handing out free tickets to any child who had managed
to swat a predetermined number of carriers of the dreaded fly pest.116 The
extent to which theaters participated, however, or whether there were
screenings of Charles Urban’s The Fly Pest (1909) or similar films remains
unclear.
A deepening integration of motion pictures into the fabric of city life, and
cinema’s status as the cultural form most in tune with the notion of a mass
market, stimulated a growing need (or perceived need) to understand cinema
from a sociological or generally scientific perspective. This type of “scientistic” outlook was a trademark of the progressivist sentiment typical of the
period.117 The most comprehensive early study of the possible influence of
movies on American youth were the so-called Payne Fund Studies, “Motion
Picture and Youth,” published in eight volumes between 1933 and 1935 and
analyzed in a book by Garth Jowett, Ian Charles Jarvie and Kathryn H.
Fuller.118 It would be surprising, however, if there had not been earlier attempts to survey the movies’ effects on its audience, not least considering
the burgeoning trend of doing social surveys of various sorts—as evident by
the Russell Sage Foundation’s publication, in 1915, of a comprehensive bibliography of social surveys undertaken in the United States and Canada in
recent years—including recreation surveys from twenty-three cities including Cincinnati, San Diego, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee,
Providence, Scranton, and San Francisco.119 Philadelphia was not listed
among the cities but as far as the bibliography tells, a series of surveys on
housing in Philadelphia had been performed, but none on commercial or
127
recreational. Newspaper sources indicate that there at least were plans for a
survey intended to specifically investigate the movie-going habits of highschool students in Philadelphia and the effects of movies on these young
men and women. The survey was initiated by the Social Workers Club of
Philadelphia (formed in 1905 and consisting of members from various social
organizations across the city)120 who announced that they would soon issue
questionnaires to the city’s high-school students. The questions proposed to
be included covered various aspects of the movie-going experience: “Which
do you like best, a play, vaudeville show or moving picture show? Why do
you prefer the one named most appreciated? How often have you been to the
‘movies’ in the past month? Do you like serious, instructive, comic or sensational films best? Why do you go to motion picture shows? Do ‘movies’
hurt your eyes? Which part of the theatre do you find the best from which to
view the pictures?”121 Already these sample questions offer some intriguing
hints about the Club’s framing of the topic, including a somewhat bizarre
genre categorization and the familiar notion that film viewing might involve
medical risks.
Lamentably, I have not found any further mention of the planned survey
in the press, but Motion Picture News presented a brief summary of the results on March 28. Provided that the reporter’s interpretation of the results
was accurate, the Social Workers Club awarded Philadelphia motion picture
theaters “what is practically a clean bill of health” based on the survey. Virtually nothing of an objectionable nature had been discovered, although a
small number of films portrayed crime in a manner “calculated to excite
unduly the thoughts and minds of children.”122 It remains unclear what was
gathered from the replies from young moviegoers’ regarding their habits and
experiences of motion picture entertainment.
Films and Formats: The Serial
Rob King observes that the serial film “enjoyed a terrific boom in popularity” in 1914.123 In Philadelphia, the first installment of The Adventures of
Kathlyn, penned by Harold MacGrath, produced in serial film form (thirteen
episodes) by the Selig Polyscope Company and starring Kathlyn Williams as
the serial heroine, appeared in the Philadelphia Record on January 4,
1914.124 A new two-reel episode was to be screened every other week at
selected theaters, but strangely, there was no mention either here or in the
amusement advertising section of exactly which venues.
I have not found evidence of any additional serial-newspaper tie-ins in
Philadelphia until the very end of 1914, but to be sure, in between that moment and the debut of The Adventures of Kathlyn, there were other serials
showing at theaters around town. The Stanley Theatre offered the se128
rial/newsreel/promotional/advertising film hybrid, Our Mutual Girl (Reliance, 1914–1915), most likely for several weeks, although I have only found
traces of the screening of the second installment.125 When the Metropolitan
Opera House introduced their movie monster bill, two serials were soon
mainstays of the program; The Trey o’ Hearts (Universal, 1914) and The
Million Dollar Mystery (Thanhouser, 1914).126 According to the World’s
Philadelphia correspondent, The Trey o’ Hearts was making a particularly
big hit, and by October, a Germantown movie house called the Cayuga had
booked it to be shown every Thursday.127 At the newly opened Marcus
Loew’s Knickerbocker in West Philadelphia, the latest Thanhouser serial,
Zudora (1914–1915), premiered on November 30.128 When the Lincoln
Theatre in South Philadelphia opened in December, The Trey o’ Hearts and
The Million Dollar Mystery were the opening pictures.129 These examples
are probably only the tip of the iceberg.
As this year of the serial came to an end in Philadelphia, the Inquirer
published the first chapter of “The Exploits of Elaine: A Detective Novel
and Motion Picture Drama.”130 The Exploits of Elaine (Pathé-American,
1914) was written by Arthur B. Reeve and starred Pearl White, who had, of
course, also been the star of Pathé’s first serial, The Perils of Pauline (PathéAmerican, 1914). Whether the latter was shown at Philadelphia theaters in
1914 or not, I have not been able to verify, but most likely it was. The fact
that Dumont Minstrels satirized it in a spoof performance titled “The Pearls
of Pauline; or, The Queen of the Movies” in September is clear evidence of
this, and also of the serial film’s impact on popular culture at this time.131
Films and Formats: Travel Views and Traveling
Exhibitors
The exhibition of non-fiction motion picture footage shot both in far off,
exotic places and nearer to home had long been an appreciated form of film
entertainment in Philadelphia. In 1910, a reformulation of an article that had
appeared in the February issue of Popular Mechanics listed and lauded the
many potential educational uses of film, suggesting that the primary example
would be the travel view accompanied by an explanatory lecture, as this
enabled a form of virtual traveling that would otherwise have cost hundreds
of dollars.132
129
Figure 14. Advertisement for Universal, MP News 10, no. 2 July 18, 1914.
Already in 1899, Burton Holmes’ pictures of and lectures on Fez and other
destinations had proven an audience magnet to the Academy of Music.133 In
1914, the Academy was still a reliable outlet for showmen offering travel
views. The very same Burton Holmes returned here regularly during 1914,
presenting shows on Panama as well as China in January and showing footage from the war-torn European countries in November as well as most of
December.134 Equally regularly billed at the Academy of Music were the
“Newman Travel Talks,” addressing London, Paris and Rome in January and
Florence and Venice in February.135 A third lecturer was Dwight Elmendorf,
who occupied the Academy for much of February and March, offering lectures on, for instance, India and Egypt.136
Lyman Howe, arguably the original impresario of the art of integrating
travel lectures and motion pictures, targeted the summer trade, presenting his
shows at the Garrick Theatre. His “Building of the Panama Canal” (this
130
show also included pictures from Yellowstone, the Paris Zoo, railroad rides,
and other attractions) ran for two successful weeks in June. 137 In August,
something promoted as the “Lyman H. Howe Travel Festival” was put on for
three weeks, during which Howe’s “picture excursions” eventually led the
audience all the way to Sweden and “that traveler’s paradise, Trollhattan
Falls.”138
Lyman Howe was based in the small town of Wilkes-Barre, PA, Burton
Holmes in Chicago, and Elmendorf in New York, but Philadelphia also
turned out a homegrown world traveler and lecturer: Hugh O’Donnell.
O’Donnell had worked for a number of Eastern and Midwest daily newspapers and was business manager of the Philadelphia Press (a local newspaper), but resigned in 1913 for a trip around the world and to consecutively
join the travel lecture circuit.139 His Philadelphia performances in 1914,
marketed as “O’Donnellogs,” took place at Witherspoon Hall and covered
Panama (of course), Egypt, Palestine, Athens, Damascus and other places.140
Films and Formats: Local Views and Newsreels
B. F. Keith’s Theatre on Chestnut Street, a leading vaudeville house, was the
only venue that advertised their screening of newsreels with some consistency throughout 1914. At the start of the year and at least up until March,
Keith’s offered Pathé newsreels, promoted first as “First Run Pathé Motion
Pictures of World’s Current Events” and by mid-March simply as the “Pathé
Weekly.”141 In May, a shift to local non-fiction pictures occurred, although it
is possible that the Pathé weekly or some other similar newsreel was also
kept on the program. An advertisement from May 10 included “Current Local Events on Film” as an attraction, and advertisements appearing over the
next couple of months specified this to “H. B. B. Motion Pictures of Current
Local Events.”142
The “H. B. B.” in H. B. B. Motion Picture Company was short for Harvey, Benn and Beitler, who had formed the company in early 1914 with the
intention of producing industrial film and films of local current events.143
Judging by an advertisement for the “H. B. B. Weekly” on April 25, this
local newsreel was produced in collaboration with the Public Ledger and to
be shown exclusively at B. F. Keith’s.144 Among the selling points, actuality
and immediacy were highlighted, but even more so the possibility of seeing
oneself appear on the screen.145
When the Stanley Theatre opened in April, the management offered another but seemingly similar local newsreel—The Stanley Town Topics—in
conjunction with the feature films and the occasional live entertainment:
131
The program will also include the Stanley Town Topics, a unique motion picture offering. Specially engaged camera artists, circulating
about the city, will from day to day snap scenes and incidents in busy
localities and twenty-four hours later they will be produced on the
Stanley stage. All unwittingly the visitor is likely to see him or her
movements of the previous day depicted. There will be but the one
presentation of these pictures and, after the showing, the original films
will be destroyed.146
The Stanley Town Topics does not seem to have been mentioned by that
name again in the Philadelphia newspapers, but it is likely that the Stanley
kept offering local actualities at least for some time, before being swept by
the next vogue in non-fiction film: pictures from the war in Europe. In early
August, by the time the war had really started to escalate toward the levels of
a global military conflict, B. F. Keith’s began billing “Hearst-Selig Motion
Pictures of Thrilling War Scenes,” and this venue would rely on the HearstSelig newsreel for the remainder of the year.147 The Metropolitan Opera
House, where the management, after introducing their film policy in August,
tried to integrate just about any type of film and format, screened at least a
few installments of the Universal Weekly War News before switching to the
Pathé Weekly on September 8.148 Although not apparent judging from the
newspaper advertising, at least one trace indicates that the Stanley Theatre
too was offering war pictures (unclear of what brand) during the fall.149
Almost at the end of 1914, the Chestnut Street Opera House, normally a
venue for the exhibition of big prestige features, advertised the screening of
“Motion Pictures of the European War.”150 Most likely, this referred to the
Hearst-Selig film of the ruins of the Belgian city of Louvain; the advertisement made clear that the pictures had been obtained by the Chicago Tribune
under contract with the Belgian government, moreover stressing the authenticity of the pictures, and the Hearst-Selig Louvain film was one of relatively
few at this point to use authentic war footage.151 In any event, this shows
how non-fiction film at least occasionally could move out of the comparatively obscure domains of the newsreel shown in conjunction with (and in
the shadows of) the main features to receive advertising, attention and an
exhibition context almost on par with the high-profile, multi-reel feature
films. Under such fortunate circumstances, and given the educational merits
potentially ascribed to news-oriented film, we should perhaps not be surprised to find favorable comments. Take, for instance, the Bulletin reporter
who visited the Chestnut Street Opera House in late December who, astounded by the prospects of being able to enjoy the comfort of a decent and
well-ventilated theater while Antwerp was being blown to smithereens before ones eyes, could only conclude that these pictures were probably the
best possible argument for world-wide peace.152
132
Films and Formats: Dance Pictures
Browse through the amusement section of any given Sunday morning issue
of the Inquirer in 1914 and chances are that at least a couple of the advertisements have something to do with dance. A quick look at the Sunday advertisements on five randomly-chosen dates shows that the February 8 paper
included advertisements for Joseph Cole and Gertrude Denahy in a Series of
the Latest Dancing Creations Including the Argentine Tango and the Arthur
and Grace Terry Dancing Exhibition at the William Penn; Bert Baker and
the Bon-Ton Girls with Babe La Tour including the Barbary Coast Tango
Dances and the Special Friday Night Big Tango Dancing Contest at the Casino (a burlesque house on Walnut Street above 8th); Tango Night Every
Thursday at B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre; Kolb and Harland in Dances of
All Ages at the Broadway Theatre (on Broad and Snyder); Tango Night
Every Thursday with Personal Direction of Professor H. D. Wagner at
Nixon’s Grand; Tango Dancing Contest Friday Night at the Trocadero (on
10th and Arch); Thursday Tango Dancing at the Fairmount; the upcoming
opening of the Keystone Theatre as a “Dance Hall De Luxe”; and Tango
Dancing Contest at the Gayety.153 The April 26 issue reveals that the Frankford and the Gayety arranged tango dancing contests on Thursday nights,
whereas the Casino and the Trocadero held theirs on Friday nights. The New
Kaufman’s Theatre (formerly Hart’s Theatre, located on Frankford and Norris) opted for a waltzing contest. The coming week also featured appearances
of several dancers, including minor acts such as the “Famous Hula Hula
Dancer Toots Paka” at the Allegheny and “Gaby Pomponi” in the Passion
Dance at the Gayety, but also the brightest shining dancing stars of the period, Vernon and Irene Castle, who were to perform at the Academy of Music.154 On July 21, B. F. Keith’s promoted Col. Diamond and Mme. De
L’Ware’s presentation of “all the dances of the present vogue.” There were
also advertisements for four dancing schools, including “The School for
Sane Dancing” and “Professor Dick’s Dancing Academy.”155 The week following August 23, one could catch the “lively dancing duo” of Kennedy and
Kramer at B. F. Keith’s Allegheny or Chas. E. Taylor’s Tango Girls at the
Trocadero, or enroll in one of the dancing classes that were also advertised.156 By October 11, the number of dancing schools that advertised had
increased to six. Also, this Sunday issue advertised the “Moscognys Down to
Minute Dances” performance at the Nixon on 52nd and Market, Friday night
tango contests at the Casino and “Modern Society Dance Contest” at Marcus
Loew’s Knickerbocker every night of the week, with “beautiful silver cups”
offered to all participants. To top it off, the Knickerbocker had also booked
Billy Stewart and Beatrice Dakin, “the Castles’ only rivals in latest society
steps,” to perform.157
133
According to the recent year-by-year overview of themes and variations
in American cinema in the 1910s (edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer),
the cultural breakthrough of dance, for instance, manifested by the various
dance “crazes” and the upward cultural mobility of amusements such as
burlesque, signifies the shift from a hierarchical cultural order to a commercial consumer-oriented mass culture that occurred around this time.158 On the
level of popular culture, this meant an emphasis on “stimulation and fun”
rather than “Protestant morals.” On the level of the dance floor, this translated into increasing degrees of physical contact between the sexes, in turn
indicative of the modernization of American society in terms of social trends
and lifestyle.159
In the above account, the great popularity of Irene and Vernon Castle is
singled out as being of particular relevance. As we have seen, the Castles
performed at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia in late April, but in addition to this live event, the couple showed off their steps to Philadelphians
throughout the year by means of moving pictures. When these instructive
pictures, accompanied by music suitable for the dances, played at the William Penn in February, a Record reporter claimed that they were almost as
beneficial as a real dance lesson, although one had to be attentive and although it helped to have some experience of tango in advance.160 After their
live performance at the Academy of Music in April, dance pictures starring
the Castles were shown at the Stanley in May, at the Forrest for much of late
July and early August, and at the Metropolitan in late August.161
Of the many filmic representation of the “tango craze” that were released
in 1914, I have only found evidence of one being exhibited: The Tangled
Tangoists (Vitagraph, 1914), a one-reeler depicting John Bunny and Flora
Finch taking tango lessons. This film was exhibited at the Metropolitan Opera House the week commencing April 27, shown in conjunction with the
theatrical melodrama The Great Diamond Robbery (this was prior to the
Metropolitan’s switching to an all-movie policy).162 Most likely, several
other similar films were also shown over the year, perhaps at theaters that
offered combinations of vaudeville and motion pictures but rarely promoted
the films by title.
134
Figure 15. “Mrs. Vernon Castle,” Photoplay 5, no. 5 (April 1914).
Censorship: The John Barleycorn Controversy
John Barleycorn (Bosworth, 1914) was the fourth film produced by Hobart
Bosworth Productions, and the third based on a Jack London novel. The
novel as well as the film reflected London’s own experiences of alcohol
abuse and sure enough, the theme of alcoholism made the film a controversial one. The day before the film was to have its Philadelphia premiere at the
Garrick Theatre, the Inquirer declared that “[s]ince motion pictures and
plays became the favorite diversion of a vast majority of the American people … no offering has caused so much discussion as this film.” This discussion was not strictly limited to or even primarily addressing the issue of
whether it was right or wrong to censor the film. Rather, the controversy
135
concerning the film was linked to the ongoing debates on prohibition.
Seemingly, combined interests of the liquor-producing industry had offered
Bosworth Inc. $25,000 to postpone the film’s premiere until six states that
all had upcoming referendums on prohibition had completed voting. Bosworth turned down the offer, but Pennsylvania censor Louis J. Breitinger
stepped in to try to delay the premiere, which in turn caused controversy
over the chief censor’s own connections to a number of breweries and his
services as legal representative for various liquor interests—Motion Picture
News dubbed Breitinger the “Liquor Attorney.” 163 The accusations did not
prevent Breitinger from threatening to stop the exhibition of John Barleycorn in Philadelphia, but the management of the Garrick opted to put the
censor to the test, and premiered the film on August 3 as planned. This act of
defiance was hailed as a triumph for the anti-censorship movement by Stephen Bush at the World. Bush stressed that the screening had attracted Philadelphia’s most prominent people belonging to the “highest class,” but also
that there was a particularly “American” quality to the patrons and their resistance to the misguided state censors.164 He also repeated a claim that had
already been made in a World editorial from the week before commenting on
the “follies” of Philadelphia censorship (of which the actions directed at
Barleycorn was the latest example), namely that it was a good thing that the
Philadelphia newspaper press took such a firm stand against censorship.165
Looking back upon the events that led up to the swearing in of a state
censor in 1914, while also taking a closer look on how the Philadelphia
newspapers positioned themselves vis-à-vis the issue of censorship, we find
that the stance of the press cannot be as unambiguously summarized as Bush
purported.
On January 20, 1914, Governor Tener in Harrisburg formally appointed J.
Louis Breitinger “chief moving picture censor” and Mrs. E. C. Niver “assistant censor,” and the new censors were sworn in on January 29.166 The Pennsylvania Board of Censorship had been instigated in 1911, but it was not
until Breitinger and Niver took office that a board that has been described by
a later historian as “among the most reactionary in the land” and “fanatical”167 could commence its work. In between the appointing and the swearing in, the Philadelphia Record published an item in which Breitinger elaborated on his plans: with regards to films, everything “immoral,” including
everything showing “actual criminality, death or horror must be eliminated.”
According to Breitinger, this was necessary as the movies’ effects on “the
morals of children” were so great, and as children were “often inspired by
the films to commit crimes or acts of immorality,” and for the same reasons,
Breitinger also expressed a wish to regulate the time during which children
would be allowed to attend moving picture theaters. The Record, somewhat
skeptical of the plans, referred to them as “radical” and “drastic,” and (perhaps tongue in cheek) announced that if they were carried out to the letter
they were to “rob movies of all their thrills.”168 To reduce potential losses for
136
exhibitors, films presently on view as well as pictures already arranged for at
the exchange would be allowed to be shown, causing the Record (again with
at least some humor) to predict that before the final date was set, “manufacturers will hurry to completion the films which will give Philadelphia its
final shock before its conversion into an ultra-moral motion-picture community.”169
The Inquirer expressed support for the general idea of moving picture
censorship on the grounds that the medium had enormous possibilities, for
evil purposes as well as for good. Censorship was a welcome contribution to
a process of raising standards that was already underway but could be
strengthened and hastened by:
a real censorship of some sort, which should lay hold upon one of the
most important amusements of the country, and keep it going in the
right direction. In a few years it seems certain that moving pictures
will assume an educational and cultural status which is now only
dreamed of. They can be made of vast assistance in imparting information as well as giving passing amusement.170
As it happened, it would be a considerable time before any new rules came
into play. Protests against the State censors had been launched immediately
upon Breitinger and Niver took office, and some of the protesters would
eventually have the courts test the proposed rules of State censorship.171 In
the face of ongoing protestations, the Board made public their rules for “morality” and “decency” on April 26, 1914. The rules aspired to “clean entertainment” and thus to bar anything “which would tend to debase or inflame
the mind to improper adventures or false standards of conduct.” This involved the elimination of all depiction of crime that was not necessary to a
“well-told story,” anything sacrilegious, and “sex plays” were barred altogether. Bars, drinking and drunkenness was deemed to have a place in some
stories, for instance as a device to “add local color.” Prolonged love scenes
were accepted provided that they were treated “sympathetically,” “truthfully” and “artistically.” Indecent costumes and/or exposure, however, was
deemed as completely unacceptable, as were images of women drinking
and/or smoking, on the grounds that moving pictures should not depict a
good woman engaging in what would be considered bad behavior on her part
in real society. Finally, all pictures to be exhibited had to bear the inscription
“Approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Censors.”172
Exactly what was singled out as elements of immorality or indecency,
under what circumstances and why is more of parenthetical interest. The real
bone of contention concerned the rule that each and every film had to be
approved by the censors before exhibition. As the date of inception drew
near, a Bulletin editorial made an appeal for “fair play for the movies,” arguing that although most would agree that some kind of censorship was indeed called for, exhibitors as well as audiences were unfairly struck by the
137
new rules. This was mainly because it would be impossible for the censors to
inspect and approve enough films to satisfy a single day’s demand.173 Many
adversaries of state censorship had already taken aim at the alleged practical
impediment, viz. that two people (Breitinger and Niver) alone would never
have enough time to examine and approve all of the reels of film that answered to the demands of exhibitors. In the January Record article on the
censor’s plans for the future, the author estimated that Mr. Breitinger admitted that he would not have time to view all of the films needed, and argued
that he would have to rely on manufacturers to help in “rooting out all evils,”
but as he believed that most manufacturers themselves advocated censorship,
they would happily comply.174 The impossibility argument popped up again
and again over the next couple of months. In February, the Evening Bulletin
reported that “motion picture representatives” had met in Philadelphia’s
Parkway Building to form the Moving Picture Protective Association, which
seems to have had as its main objective to test in court the constitutionality
of state censorship. At the inaugural meeting, State Senator Joseph H.
Thompson of Pittsburgh, and “one of the leaders of the organized protest,
declared that two censors appointed by Governor Tener to pass judgment
upon the films exhibited in the state could not possibly exercise the supervision required by them.”175 The Philadelphia section of the Moving Picture
Exhibitors’ League also came out against state censorship, and announced
that they were currently in touch with a lawyer to investigate the legal options available.176
Nonetheless, the rules became effective on June 1 and theaters were given
until the June 15 to fully comply, but it is unclear if the rules were actually
enforced at this point. On June 3, two Mutual exchanges (the Buffalo and
Pennsylvania branches) and the Interstate Film Company, the Overbrook
Theatre and Pittsburgh Photoplay Company, filed a suit claiming that the
Board was unconstitutional, that the $2.50 fee that the censors charged for
each submitted negative as well as positive prints was arbitrary and exorbitant (the plaintiffs claimed that the annual revenue of the fees would amount
to about $88,000 whereas only about $15,000 was needed to pay for the two
censors’ salaries and other expenses), and finally, that it was physically impossible for the censors to examine enough films to meet exhibitors’ demand.177 In Congdon’s Moving Picture World Philadelphia report published
on June 20, 1914, the last point was elaborated upon once again. According
to the correspondent, the Pennsylvania State Board of Censors had managed
to examine one hundred and ten reels in four days, but taking into account
that there were two hundred movie theaters in Philadelphia alone at this
point and that each of these theaters exhibited, on average, four reels of films
per day, it was no question that the censors’ slow examination rate would
cause many small theaters to go out of business.178 The apparent weakness of
this argument was, of course, its numerical inaccuracy. Different copies of
the same film would be used at different venues on the same day, and some
138
films within the total daily supply would already have been inspected by the
Board, meaning that Congdon’s numbers did not add up. Exhibitors, nevertheless, fearing bankruptcy due to the Board’s inspections, did not have to
worry for long as the rule that each reel exhibited must bear the Board’s
stamp was almost immediately suspended—at least for the time being—due
to “practical difficulties.”179
As noted above, the Philadelphia branch of the Exhibitors’ League had
declared their opposition to state censorship in March, and at the annual
convention in July, the Pennsylvania section followed suit.180 On November
30, they reconvened in Philadelphia. The major items on the agenda was the
state censorship law and proposed changes in the building code, both equally
offensive to the exhibitors.181 At the meeting, republican U.S. Senator Boies
Penrose (representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate from 1897 to 1921)
offered his support to the exhibitors’ cause, both with regard to state censorship and the building code.182 At this point, the suit filed by the two Mutual
exchanges et al had already been settled in favor of the censors. The decision
established that the law was not unconstitutional and that the powers exercised by the Board of Censors was within the scope of their legislative
authority, and, accordingly, the law was upheld.183 This did not settle the
matter ultimately, however, and it was not until April 1915, after making
additional rounds in the Harrisburg legislative machinery, that an amended
bill was presented by a State Senate committee.184 The bill was presented as
a compromise that would satisfy both sides; the plaintiffs had to abandon the
idea of doing away with state censorship altogether, but, on the other hand,
the censors’ powers were somewhat reduced, the inspection fee was lowered
from $2.50 to $1, and the penalty fee for violation of the law was cut in half
(from $50–$100 to $25–$50).185
Clearly, the issue of censorship stirred considerable controversy—it was
arguably the hot topic of 1914 in Philadelphia film culture—but the controversy did not break down to the binary scheme at the base of Bush’s claim
that Philadelphia newspapers were standing firm against censorship. The
Inquirer did not favor censorship in general, but deemed censorship of
moving pictures necessary. The Bulletin argued that while some kind of
moving picture censorship was definitely called for, the specific form of
state censorship proposed was not satisfactory. The Record, too, highlighted
practical problems. Moreover, regardless of the basic attitude to various
forms of censorship, a specific case might be a wholly different matter. With
regard to John Barleycorn, the film received support from even the most
censorship-friendly newspaper—in that respect, Bush was on target. The
Inquirer labeled the film a “stronger” and more “graphic sermon” than most
ever preached from the pulpit, and “pictorially and emphatically true to
life.”186 It was also reported that audiences were invited to express their approval or disapproval by casting a ballot in the lobby in conjunction with the
screening. Supposedly, a majority approved, and most of these were not only
139
“pleased” but “highly edified” by the film drama in question. More than
animated at this point, the article’s anonymous author went on to claim that
“‘John Barleycorn’ will save more souls than half the clergymen in Philadelphia.”187 Similar pieces, referring to the film as a “temperance sermon in
pictures” but also praising the many “elaborate” and “realistic” as well as
striking use of “locale,” appeared during the second week of exhibition, after
which the film moved on to the next city according to its road-show schedule.188
Features, Marketing, and Picture Personalities: The
Significance of Mary Pickford and Jack London in
Philadelphia in 1914
A defining trait of the multi-reel feature film was its potential for differentiation. Any individual feature film could be promoted as a unique work of
art with its own particular merits and characteristics, as opposed to the
anonymous one-reelers that constituted the variety program at most movie
theaters. With regards to the case of Philadelphia, as long as the appearance
of a feature film was a rare treat, it was a relatively straightforward task to
get such a film to stand out. Often, an emphasis on spectacular size by various measures (such as feet of film/number of reels, cost in dollars to produce, or number of extras employed) would suffice. As multi-reel feature
films became increasingly common, however, and beginning to find outlets
not only in a few prestige downtown theaters but in a range of venues across
the city, it became increasingly difficult to promote a film as “The Greatest
One Ever Produced.” New promotional strategies had to evolve.
Although size remained as a marker of differentiation that could be employed in advertising and other forms of promotion, two other markers came
to dominate as 1914 progressed: stars and writers. Or, if one prefers, the
crucial markers were “personality” and “name recognition,” most commonly
as related to movie stars and writers as stars. At least two different frameworks might be important to bear in mind with regards to this: on the one
hand, the historical emergence of “picture personalities,” perhaps most
clearly manifested by the appearance of fan magazines and eventually a fanoriented discourse in the newspaper press as explored in book length by
Richard De Cordova; and on the other hand, as a negotiation between forces
of differentiation and standardization in the vein of Janet Staiger’s analysis
of the early history of the feature film.189
In Philadelphia, the movie star par excellance in 1914 was Mary
Pickford, and among authors who provided story material for the new multireel feature films, although not arising to the same heights as Mary Pickford,
140
Jack London at least came to perform similar film industrial and cultural
functions. In late December 1912, a propos Pickford’s appearance as Juliet
in a theatrical staging of A Good Little Devil at the Broad Theatre, the Inquirer’s “Call Boy” took time to recapitulate her career in movies in a rare
devotion of space to a movie star in a column that otherwise hardly ever
discussed individual film actors. Then again, since Pickford was still working occasionally in theater at this point, “Call Boy” could refer to her film
career as “silent training,” thus keeping the cultural hierarchies intact. This
did not mean that “Call Boy” downplayed the possible artistic clout of film
altogether; on the contrary, he linked Pickford’s career in particular to the
artistically progressive forces within the industry. By this account, Pickford
had worked for Belasco some years ago when she had caught the attention of
a film producer, “one who was at the time seeking to make the film plays
real vehicles for the expression of dramatic emotion, and not merely ephemeral farces and far-fetched melodrama” (presumably this refers to Griffith
and his work for the Biograph Company). “Call Boy” outlined Pickford’s
role in the emerging star system, erroneously claiming that her rise to massive popularity as a film actor made her known as the “nameless ‘Biograph
Girl’.” Perhaps more interestingly, “Call Boy” also made the metaspectatorial observation that the presence of Pickford’s husband (i.e. Owen
Moore) and her little brother (also an actor, or “gifted portrayer of juvenile
characters”) in the audience at the Broad Theatre caused as much or more
fuss than the play itself.190 This can be taken to indicate a burgeoning interest
in movie stars, even among theatrical audiences.
In April 1914, an excerpt from the April issue of American Magazine
published in the Inquirer reintroduced Mary Pickford to Philadelphians as
the “Maude Adams of the Movies” (alluding to the perhaps most popular
stage actress of recent years). Although this article discussed her roles in
theater as well as film, it was now asserted that movies were “closest to her
heart.”191 The framing of Pickford as a movie star first and foremost can
perhaps be taken as indicative of a film culture in transition, and does at any
rate contrast to the more hierarchically-informed views of “Call Boy” from
one-and-a-half years earlier. Interestingly, there was a rumor that Maude
Adams would appear before the camera in a Famous Players production to
be presented “in photo drama on the stage of the new Stanley Theatre” (apparently Frank Dyer was not the only one to imagine the screen as a vertical
stage.)192 In the brief “footlight flash” that helped spread this rumor, perspectives had been reversed in that Maude Adams was referred to as “Mary
Pickford of the American Stage.”193 The rumored production, or any other
film appearance by Maude Adams for that matter, was never to be.
Around the same time, in April and May, a slew of Pickford pictures hit
Philadelphia. Or, more accurately, she was increasingly used as a selling
point in advertising, increasingly brought into light by the press, and her
films increasingly used as a draw by theaters. Caprice (Famous Players,
141
1913), starring Pickford and Owen Moore, screened at the Fairmount in
April was well received, as was Hearts Adrift (Famous Players, 1914) and A
Good Little Devil (Famous Players, 1914), both also presented at the
Fairmount in the following month.194 All of her films were put out by the
Famous Players Film Company and shown at the same venue. This raises the
suspicion that the Fairmount had signed up for some version of the Famous
Players Feature Program (that had been initiated on September 1, 1913), but
the venue’s newspaper advertising and other sources are too sketchy to tell
with certainty. However, the advertising that is available reveals that the
Fairmount’s Famous Players offerings were interspersed with other feature
films, such as The Drug Terror (Lubin, 1914) and The Stranglers of Paris
(Motion Drama Co., 1913), as well as a range of other entertainments, including tango-dancing contests, amateur nights, and vaudeville sketches, all
of which indicates that the Fairmount was not committed to the Famous
Players Feature Program. At any rate, the matrix of comparatively stable
elements, including a predictable output of feature films from a specific production company or combination of manufacturers, a fixed venue for the
exhibition of these films, and a reliably popular star around which to build
the marketing (that the Fairmount at least indicated the possibility of in April
and May) marks something of a watershed in multi-reel feature film exhibition in Philadelphia. As we will see in more detail shortly, up until this point,
the dominant model for feature film exhibition was oriented toward long
runs of high-profile, large, spectacular films, often presented at prestige
theaters normally not showing moving pictures on a regular basis. As the
number of feature films exhibited multiplied rapidly, as run times grew
shorter, and as a wider range of venues began to offer such films, from approximately May 1914, new and competing models emerged. Thereby a first
phase of stability was supplanted by a period of flux and experimentation.
As far as the feature exhibition at the Fairmount can be perceived as one
such experimental model, it seems to point the way to a second phase of
relative stability that would be established when the specific combination of
feature and program cinema spearheaded by Famous Players and Paramount
eventually came to dominate.195
For Mary Pickford, the first wave culminated with the launching of a
“Mary Pickford and Famous Player Week,” commencing on June 22, 1914
at the Stanley Theatre, and hailed as an historical event: “There are few
achievements in the history of photoplay management that can compare with
the bookings for the Stanley Theatre … during what is termed Mary
Pickford and Famous Players Week. … Such prominent producers as David
Belasco, Daniel Frohman and Jesse Lasky are identified with the project.”196
The week’s shows included new runs of A Good Little Devil and Hearts
Adrift, and screenings of Tess of the Storm County (Famous Players, 1914)
and The Bishop’s Carriage (Famous Players, 1913), all featuring “the prime
favorite of the moving picture world.”197
142
From August to October, Pickford received continual high exposure in the
press, and her films—including Love’s Refrain (Imp/Universal, 1914), The
Eagle’s Mate (Famous Players, 1914), Such a Little Queen (Famous Players,
1914), Caprice and Behind the Scenes (Famous Players, 1914)—was exhibited at the Stanley, the Fairmount and Nixon’s Colonial Theatre, whose
manager Fred Nixon-Nirdlinger had secured the Germantown rights to the
Paramount output.198 The Metropolitan Opera House, unable to secure any of
her more recent multi-reel features, but seemingly anxious to capitalize on
the Pickford trend, habitually seasoned their weekly “monster bill” with at
least one or two of the star’s old one-reelers, e.g. All on Account of the Milk
(Biograph, 1910), Burglar M.D. (a.k.a. At a Quarter of Two, Imp, 1911), A
Rich Revenge (Biograph, 1910), The Twisted Trail (Biograph, 1910),
Muggsy’s First Sweetheart (advertised as Maggie’s First Sweetheart, Biograph, 1910), Second Sight (advertised as The Second Light, Imp, 1911), In
the Season of Buds (Biograph, 1910), Ramona (Biograph, 1910), An Arcadian Maid (Biograph, 1910) and The Thread of Destiny (Biograph, 1910).199
Whether these were perceived as pleasurable reruns of one-reel classics or as
hopelessly outdated and inferior compared to the Famous Player produce, we
do not know.
A grande finale to Pickford’s rise to unequalled film fame in Philadelphia
in 1914 came in the form of a personal visit to the city on October 29, invited by Stanley Mastbaum. Already during his Atlantic City summer stint,
the “Call Boy” had been struck by the “remarkable vogue of Mary Pickford
in the movies” and had “marveled at the hold this young actress had upon
the people.” The latest, even more “emphatic display” of her popularity, was
the excitement caused by Pickford’s arrival in the city. Apparently, Pickford
had been the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Mastbaum and attended by
several “well-known persons.” Following dinner, the party was to occupy a
special box at the Stanley Theatre to enjoy the evening’s program of film
entertainment. Before dinner ended, they were notified that “the throng
about the theatre was of such proportions that it would be impossible to accommodate more than a small portion of the people clamoring for admission.” The police had to be employed to enable the party’s entrance to the
theater, and while as many as four thousands fans were admitted, it was
claimed that as many more were turned away:
And it was all because of the extreme popularity of “The Good Little
Devil,” as Miss. Pickford was known in a play in which she acted before she became a film star. I have no doubt that managers of picture
houses will be anxious to have her as their guest quite frequently if her
presence has the same good effect on the box office.200
The Pickford visit hullabaloo can also be seen as characteristic of Stanley
Mastbaum’s promotional skills and ability to create a buzz about his com-
143
pany’s chain of theaters, especially the Stanley Theatre. Another case in
point is a banquet that Mastbaum arranged and hosted on September 23,
which was attended by notables such as Daniel Frohman and Adolph Zukor
and caused the Inquirer’s “Call Boy” to exclaim that Mastbaum was a “most
genial fellow” (we will get back to the framing of Mastbaum as a local film
theater tycoon later on).201 This time, Mastbaum activated a Jack London
theme, presumably to attach an air or cultural cachet and depth to the event.
The front page of the invitational program folder suggested that the gathering was to be thought of as a:
Banquet by
JACK LONDON
(by proxy)
of
BOSWORTH
of Los Angeles
to Philadelphia Newspaper Men and
Their Associates
in the Green Room of the Hotel Adelphia
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1914
Moreover, all dishes on the menu were creatively named in order to allude to
London, the Bosworth Company (i.e. the producing company that held the
film rights to most of Jack London’s books)202 or Paramount (distributor of
the Bosworth output). Accordingly, guests would down a few “‘Barleycorn’
Cocktails Cape Cod” before digging into the “Celery Olives au ‘Sea Wolf’,”
the “‘Martin Eden’ Puree,” the “Potatoes ‘Paramount’,” the hearts of romaine with “‘London’ Dressing,” the “‘Bosworth’ Neapolitan Parfait,” the
“Assorted Cakes ‘Odyssey’,” and so on.203 The banquet served the official
purpose of bringing people in the amusement field and the newspaper press
closer together, which explains why the front page of the program cited
above catered explicitly to “newspaper men.” Considering how we have
been consistently returning to how deepening relations between film and
press were instrumental in the renegotiation of cinema’s role, it seems fair to
suggest that this wooing of the newspaper press may be construed as further
evidence of Mastbaum’s above average responsiveness to current film cul144
tural trends. What actual effects a banquet might have had with regards to
these concerns is unclear, although “Call Boy” claimed that “[t]he event was
one of the pleasantest that has been given in this city and will do much to
engender a better understanding between the various branches of the profession represented.” Moving Picture World’s Philadelphia correspondent reported that a closer relationship between press and film industry had been
“strongly advocated.”204 We may also note that one of the attendees and
speakers was J. Louis Breitinger, the Chief State Censor, whose appearance
at a banquet “tendered by Jack London (by proxy)” might have surprised
some, considering the John Barleycorn controversies of August. Unfortunately, there are no records or reports of what Breitinger’s speech entailed.
Jack London’s name and signature was a valuable commodity on many
levels, as evident not least by the sequences of images of Jack London himself posing before the camera that introduced Bosworth’s filmic adaptations
of his novels (although there was, of course, a legal context that called for a
marker of approval and authenticity in the form of the author’s image and
signature), but also by the appropriation of his name for the sake of events
such as Mastbaum’s Jack London banquet.205 Then again, this was a twoway street since, as Marsha Orgeron has pointed out, cinema in exchange
offered London both a new and potentially profitable economy for his images and, equally important, an arena for self-fashioning and re-definition of
his authorship.206 The ardent praise that predictably accompanied each
screening of a Jack London film in Philadelphia in 1914—especially true
with regards to the various showings of The Sea Wolf (Bosworth, 1913), but
also, although to lesser extent with regards to Martin Eden (Bosworth, 1914)
and An Odyssey of the North (Bosworth, 1914)207—should be read against
this background of a wider circulation of London’s name in the image economy that worked for the benefit of author and film industry alike.
Intermedial Reconfigurations I: A Little Theatrical War
Tom Gunning has argued that filmic adaptation of literary works did not
exist during cinema’s first decade; films were unauthored commodities, unacknowledged by copyright laws as individualized works of art.208 Consequently, if films were not to be considered as dramatic or narrative works,
they could hardly be regarded as “adaptations” of such work in other media,
and equally hardly be “adapted” themselves. This did not preclude an intense
struggle to protect ownership, necessitated by the widespread practice of
film piracy (or “duping”), often discussed by later historians (e.g. André
Gaudreault and Charles Musser) with reference to two infamous cases: Edison’s lawsuit against Lubin’s duping of Edison films and Edison’s remake of
145
Biograph’s Personal (1904) (retitled How A French Nobleman Got a Wife
Through the “New York Herald” Personal Column).209
However, as Gunning points out, it was not until the 1909 decision in the
lawsuit against the Kalem Company for their film version of Ben Hur (1907)
that the possibility of copyright violation by a film of a work in another medium was acknowledged.210 The Ben Hur precedent, establishing that film
production companies had to secure film rights to copyrighted source material, seemed to have brought an end to most of the copyright infringement
that had been perpetrated within the film industry up until this point. By
1914, as significant factions within the theatrical world had substituted an
economic (and possibly artistic) interest in the film business for previouslyheld defensive or downright condescending attitudes, systematic cooperation between film production companies and theatrical firms was the
unmistakable trend. In June 1913, it was announced that Biograph had struck
a deal with Klaw and Erlanger for the film rights to a number of the firm’s
plays. Just prior to this, Vitagraph and the Liebler Company had agreed upon
a similar arrangement.211 Lubin tried to seal the deal for theatrical producer
Henry W. Savage’s plays, but the negotiations dragged on for six months
and in the end, Savage signed with Famous Players instead.212 Famous Players also made deals with David Belasco as well as with the Frohman brothers
(Charles and Daniel), and adding to this the announcement of forthcoming
Lasky-Belasco Pictures produced by the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Co. in
October 1914 (moreover, Lasky already co-operated with Liebler at this
point), an advertisement appearing in October could proudly boast that the
Paramount output was produced by companies associated with nearly all of
the great theatrical producers.213
Such alliances for the mutual benefit of both cinema and theater did not
preclude accusations of plagiarism and copyright infringement, and Philadelphia experienced two such incidents in 1914. The first case, and the one
that I will address here,214 was spurred by the New Broadway Theatre’s
screening of a film advertised as “‘Victims of Sin’ OR Damaged Goods.”215
This film is identified in the copyright records held at the Library of Congress as A Victim of Sin (production year 1913, production company and
director undetermined, released by the Bell Film Exchange) has been briefly
discussed by Eric Schaefer in an article on sex hygiene films and the emergence of exploitation films after the First World War.216 According to Schaefer, and as indicated by the advertising of it as “OR Damaged Goods,” A
Victim of Sin was a film version of Eugene Brieux’s play Damaged Goods
(Les Aviaries), in fact nearly identical in its structure to the theatrical prototype upon which it was based.217 Damaged Goods was the first theatrical
play performed in the Unites States to directly and openly address the issue
of venereal disease, syphilis in particular, and A Victim of Sin replicated the
play’s narrative of a young medical student who contracts venereal disease
and passes it on first to his wife (the marriage occurs after the contraction of
146
the disease but before it is treated properly) and, when the couple eventually
have a baby, to the unfortunate child who finds itself “suffering the sins of
his Father, but soon after birth … relieved by the merciful hand of Death.”218
Arguably not by mere coincidence, the screening of A Victim of Sin at the
New Broadway Theatre in Philadelphia coincided with the performance of
the theatrical version of Damaged Goods at the Garrick Theatre, starring
Richard Bennett, who had also been cast for the leading role in the original
New York City staging of the play in 1913.219 It was also “representatives of
Richard Bennett” who served notice to the management of the Broadway
that “the film now being shown at Broad and Race Streets, is an infringement of copyright law,” and that he was consequently “demanding that it be
withdrawn under penalty of civil damages,” seemingly to no avail:
The film people declined to comply and have placed a lot of damaged
dry goods in front of the theatre to show that the pictures are different.
Mr. Bennett, it is understood, will today seek to enjoin further showing of the pictures and a mild theatrical war is breaking out.220
The traces of a copyright controversy over A Victim of Sin seem to end here.
I have been unable to find any follow-up items on the alleged “mild theatrical war.” Schaefer addresses the film merely in passing, and does not mention any allegations of copyright infringement directed against it, and scholars including Kevin Brownlow, Annette Kuhn, Frank Thompson and Kay
Sloan, who have all given attention to Damaged Goods (American Film
Manufacturing Co., 1914) as well as to other and later film versions fail to
mention A Victim of Sin.221 Therefore, at this point, we can only speculate
whether Bennett carried out the threat of a lawsuit and if such action, or any
other circumstances, prevented further presentations of the film. Perhaps it
was simply over-shadowed by the 1914 film version previously mentioned,
produced by American and starring Richard Bennett (clearly the individual
most closely associated with the Damaged Goods project), and eventually
lost and all but forgotten.
Neither are there any indications that A Victim of Sin caused any particular stir due to the potentially incendiary themes of venereal disease and
prostitution. Then again, although its reputation seems to have preceded the
play’s Philadelphia premiere at the Garrick, the controversy that Damaged
Goods actually did raise here seems to have had more to do with its shortcomings as a theatrical play: “Its demerits are structural looseness and repetitive phraseology,” as one reviewer put it. “Parts of it are very tiresome.”222 The same reviewer also seemed discouraged by the didactic, “statistical exposition” of the subject matter, therefore doubted its edificatory
effects: “Granting the basic sincerity of ‘Damaged Goods,’ there seems little
probability that the public consciousness can be goaded into a realization of
death and disfiguration through this disease by means of a stage representa147
tion.”223 “Call Boy” argued that the play should be judged by its dramatic
merits rather than be regarded as an “essay in pathological construction.”
With regards to the latter, he had nothing to say—“I am not seeking to unshackle the Nation from chains of sexual vice,” he dryly stated—and with
regards to the former, he identified as the greatest problem an overly didactic
stance that eclipsed efforts to accomplish the more important goals of creating dramatic tension, clarity, and interest:
My prime objection to such theatrical ventures is that they frequently
breed in their associates a ‘holy’ attitude of being prophets in the wilderness. They surround their productions with an air of death-bed intensity; they get speakers to groan ecclesiastically about the wages of
sin [the Philadelphia premiere had been introduced by a well-known
clergyman who lauded the play’s prophylactic value], and they prattle
on their programs about the cast as ‘co-workers.’ [Newspaper advertisements for the play did in fact refer to the play being performed by
‘Richard Bennet and Co-Workers’] For this unhumorous pomposity I
have no sympathy. If a star wishes to retain my respect he must keep
to his own sphere and not invade that of the revivalist.224
The lack of controversy over the play’s bringing of detailed discussions of
venereal disease to the stage seems to comply with Katie N. Johnson’s reevaluation of Damaged Goods within the context of sexual discourse in Progressive Era America.225 The critical reception of the play as well as theater
historians’ later analyses was based on the notion that this particular play
broke the “conspiracy of silence” on VD and prostitution, but according to
Johnson, this route is misleading. Its addressing of a sexual subject matter
latched onto an ongoing public debate on such topics rather than opening up
new ones, and the play’s affirmation of the sanctity of marriage and of the
importance of sexual hygiene fell clearly in line with dominant morals,
Johnson argues. As one 1913 commentator phrased it: there was “much ado
about a bogus taboo.”226
Intermedial Reconfigurations II: Film and Theater
From the historical survey of film culture in Philadelphia before 1914, we
already know that by the premiere of Quo Vadis?, a discourse focusing on
certain media-specific qualities of cinema was in place. Generally, these new
perspectives acted as stimuli to a re-orientation of how various intermedial
constellations were thought of and conceptualized. Concerning the relation
between film and theater, we may think of intermedial re-orientation in
terms of added complexity. If theater and drama until this point had primarily been regarded as a source for film to tap for story material, prêt-à-porter
148
interpretative frames and cultural esteem, there was now also a notion of
how film art could and should develop beyond the “trammels” of the legitimate stage.
Granted, in most cases of film reviews in the Philadelphia press in 1914,
the habitual references to the literary or theatrical source of films came without further problematization of the relation between source and film, thereby
mainly fulfilling the “traditional” purposes just mentioned. Toward the end
of the year, however, more complex comparisons between film and stage
versions grew increasingly common, some of these even arguing for the
superiority of a certain film to its source. For instance, the screening of Edwin Porter’s film version of Tess of the Storm Country at the Stanley Theatre
in August (the film also had a second run at the Palace Theatre in late November) and the almost simultaneous performance of a stage version of Tess
at the American Theatre (a theater on Franklin and Girard Avenue in North
Philadelphia hosting what was supposedly Philadelphia’s only stock company for this season) prompted the Inquirer’s “Call Boy” to compare the
two.227 With favorable things to highlight with regards to both versions and
not coming out in favor of either, he did identify the principal difference in
that the film managed to pay great attention to detail while the play left
“much to the imagination.” Devoting most of the comparison to the cast,
“Call Boy” suggested that it was “more difficult for the actors to get the
‘punch’ across than it is for the movie players,” nonetheless maintaining that
at least some of the actors of the American stock company fared equally well
as their film counterparts.228 The attention-to-detail argument was repeated
in a brief review of The Typhoon (New York Motion Picture Corp.,
1914)—a spy drama starring Sessue Hayakawa, directed by Reginald
Barker, released by Paramount and based on a play written by Melchior
Lengyel—following the film’s presentation at the Stanley on November 3:
“There is more detail to the version than in the acted one, with correspondingly great interest.”229 Another review appearing the same day offered a
more elaborated comparison between the stage and film versions of The
Littlest Rebel (Photoplay Productions, 1914):
Philadelphians have already seen “The Littlest Rebel” in the dramatic
form and the play by Edward Peples [sic; the playwright’s name was
Edward Peple] proved itself a potent attraction. Yesterday, however,
they were afforded the opportunity of seeing how well the motion
picture field amplifies the scope of the dramatic work through the
presentation of a six-reel version of the drama at the Chestnut Street
Opera House. …
… The actors employed in the film version are adequate in every
respect and opportunity is afforded for the presentation of many
scenes which the limitations of the theatre made impossible, thus rendering the story clearer and more easily followed.230
149
Joining the Inquirer’s commentator in insisting upon the specific capacity of
the film medium to add to dramatic quality, a North American reviewer argued that the film took on a new effectiveness in comparison to the stage
version. In particular, the use of the “switchback” was set forth as a device
that enabled a more exciting kind of storytelling than was possible on
stage.231 By Christmas, an Evening Bulletin reporter noted that while there
were no legitimate offerings of a holiday character to be seen, “the films of
‘Cinderella’” (i.e. Cinderella [Famous Players, 1914]) at the Stanley gave a
“Christmas flavor.” After issuing the customary words of praise to Mary
Pickford and Owen Moore, the reviewer went on to suggest that the necessary transformations for a fairy tale such as Cinderella was beautifully
achieved in this film, without the “mechanical clumsiness” of the theatrical
stage.232
150
Chapter 5
Multi-Reel Feature Film Exhibition in
Philadelphia in 1914
A standard historiographical version of American “transitional” cinema
frames the period as an intersection of at least three parallel lines of historical change: (1) the rising dominance of the feature film at the expense of the
variety format of one-reel subjects; (2) the demise of the nickelodeon and the
advent of the picture palace era; and (3) ongoing attempts to cater to a potential middle-class audience. According to this account, either the feature
film format “demanded” special theaters and a special audience, or the inclination to “woo” the middle class and lure those prospective patrons into the
movie theaters demanded a special format (the multi-reel feature film) and
special venues (picture palaces).1 The element of style could also be inserted
into the equation, for instance, by considering the codification of a classical
narrative cinema as yet another outcome of middle-class “wooing.”2
The above description is somewhat caricatural, and, of course, we would
not want to completely discount the explanatory force of the interrelation of
industrial, formal and cultural elements. Nonetheless, a tendency to oversimplify historical events and processes inherent in the standard version is
evident.3 For instance, and as we have seen, the shift in program standards
from the varied program of one-reelers to exhibition strategies structured
around feature films seems to have been much more gradual and more complex than previously thought. The metaphor of parallel systems also pertains
to the motion picture theater buildings—it was not as if all nickelodeons
were suddenly replaced by lavish picture palaces. More typically, motion
pictures in the early and mid-1910s were exhibited in a number of diverse
venues, ranging from parks, churches and concert halls to various forms of
permanent movie theaters, including small neighborhood store-front theaters
and Broadway-style “picture palaces.”4
In spite of this, elements of the standard version holds sway, especially
the all too tight linking of multi-reel feature films to “picture palaces.” Ben
Singer and Charlie Keil provides the most recent example, by suggesting
that: “Feature films and picture palaces were mutually enabling and dependent, bound together like the two strands of a double helix. One could not
151
exist without the other.”5 This is reminiscent of Lary May’s account from
almost thirty years earlier, minus the explicit connections that May made to
audience composition and the project of uplift: “Theater owners thus [in
order to attract a more “affluent” audience] did everything possible to raise
movies above their disreputable origins. … As a result, between 1908 and
1914, as films went from shorts to photoplays, nickelodeons changed from
store fronts to more sumptuous buildings.”6 The general historiographical
problem could be, as Robert Allen remarks (although not directly apropos
the accounts cited here), a reliance in early cinema scholarship on the catchall term “nickelodeon” that has tended to obscure the diversity of early film
exhibition and of the ways in which movies became a part of the social experience.7 The same goes for the term “picture palace.”
This leaves room for a pursuit of historiographical complexity and nuance, which is arguably the objective to which a turn to the local can contribute the most. Here I draw the opposite conclusion to Charlie Keil, who
has expressed his doubts about the use-value of looking at “transitional-era
exhibition or audiences” for the purpose of “forging a portrait of broad-based
changes.” Keil’s doubts arise from the “many variables at play” and the “vagaries of exhibition practice,” a problem only “amplified by the wide range
of theater types that emerged during this period.”8 My guiding hypothesis is,
instead, that local film history (in this case investigating feature film exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914) harbors the potential of redefining what we
thought to be accurate and true about events on the macro level, i.e. to better
grasp precisely the “broad-based” changes Keil alludes to. On the other
hand, the basis of such potential rethinking spells thick descriptions of film
culture on the micro level. Hence, many of the initial questions that I explore
in the following are directed toward film exhibition in Philadelphia in a very
particular and concrete manner: Where were motion picture theaters located?
How many were there? In what different types of venues were motion pictures exhibited in Philadelphia? What did these venues look like and what
was their seating capacity? Which films were shown in the various venues?
Under which circumstances, i.e. in what immediate context, were the films
exhibited?
The various strategies of film exhibition in Philadelphia did not develop
in a social, cultural, and economic vacuum. Therefore, the following case
study inevitably addresses the broader and much more complex issue of
cinema’s roles and functions within a specific cultural geography. To summarize: mapping multi-reel feature film exhibition in Philadelphia is about
presenting (to borrow a phrase from J. A. Lindstrom) “an urban geography
of moving picture theaters,” but also about locating cinema within a broader
cultural space.9
152
Number of Venues and a Rough Categorization
It verges on the impossible to conclude with certainty how many movie
theaters were operational in Philadelphia at any given moment in 1914, or
more accurately, in how many venues of varying kinds moving pictures were
exhibited at any given moment. The ephemeral operational span of many
venues as well as the decentralization of film exhibition (i.e. the fact that
film could have been exhibited almost anywhere, from churches, clubs and
open-air parks to vaudeville houses, concert halls and “regular” movie theaters) underwrites this uncertainty principle. Based on the sources available,
however, I would suggest that at least 254 known venues were exhibiting
moving pictures at one point or another during 1914, although it is important
to remember that not all of these 254 venues were simultaneously operational at any given time.10
For those venues included in Irvin R. Glazer’s survey of Philadelphia
theaters, Glazer offers a rough categorization, according to which theaters
exhibiting film fell under either of the following categories: (a) Motion Picture Theaters; (b) Motion Picture Theaters including Stage Shows; and (c)
Nickelodeons. Unfortunately, Glazer appears to take these categories more
or less for granted, and never really sets out to define them and their borders,
probably because his interest is mainly architectural. The boundaries between categories in many cases collapse when one starts gathering more
comprehensive information on specific venues. Even a brief glance through
the newspapers of 1914 reveals that moving pictures were, in fact, exhibited
in many places not included in (a), (b) and (c) above. Thus, the value of this
particular categorization seems limited.11 Nonetheless, a rough categorization may be useful when charting the locations of venues, since this might
offer insights into the allotment of different types of venues over different
types of neighborhood.
Seating Capacity of Different Types of Venues
Of the 254 venues I have found evidence, Glazer classifies 142 as motion
picture theaters. The typical seating capacity of this type of venue, judging
from the 111 of which we have information, was somewhere in the range of
500–1,000 seats (averaging approximately 650 seats), although the largest
theater, the Olympia, seated as many as 4,000 and the smallest one, the Elite,
only 247.12
Twenty-three identified venues exhibiting film are classified as motion
picture theaters including stage shows. The seating capacity of these theaters
is typically greater than that of the “plain” motion picture theaters (of course,
153
seating capacity might have been one of the criteria of the categorization).
Information regarding seating capacity is available for all of these 23 picture- and stage-show theaters, and from this we can determine that the average capacity was approximately 1,625 seats, the full span ranging from 600
(the Colonial) to 3,230 (the William Penn Theatre). As previously mentioned, if we trust Glazer we could assume that these venues more regularly
featured stage shows, but we have to remember that some kind of live entertainment was also offered at many of the “regular” motion picture theaters.
Keeping in mind the relative vagueness of Glazer’s categories, we can
establish that a total of 76 nickelodeons were operational in Philadelphia in
1914—not all year and not all simultaneously, as many of these places ran
either only sporadically or closed down for good during the year. There is
data on seating capacity for only seven of the nickelodeons: three of these
seated 300 each, and the remaining four seated 248, 400, 494 and 500 respectively. We should perhaps not deduce too much from these numbers, but
it is likely that these venues were generally of the storefront kind and had a
relatively modest seating capacity.
My own research based on the Philadelphia newspapers reveals that motion pictures were exhibited in other types of venues than the ones described
above. First of all, at least two venues categorized by Glazer as concert
hall/opera house/lecture hall screened film in 1914 on a fairly regular basis:
the Academy of Music (seating capacity 2,938) and the Metropolitan Opera
House (seating capacity 3,482).
I also found evidence of four legitimate theaters that either presented motion pictures on occasional basis or shifted to a total movie policy at some
point during the year: the Adelphi (seating capacity 1,341), the Chestnut
Street Opera House (seating capacity 1,656), the Forrest (seating capacity
1,820) and the Garrick (seating capacity 1,561).
One house, that according to my findings screened film comedies on a
regular basis (probably in conjunction with vaudeville-like stage entertainment), is classified by Glazer as a motion picture theater including stage
shows and concert hall/opera house/lecture hall: Nixon’s Grand (seating
capacity 3,085).
Only one of the venues exhibiting film that I found traces of in the newspaper discourse was labeled by Glazer as a vaudeville show: B. F. Keith’s,
with a seating capacity of 2,273. The conclusion to draw is not that only one
vaudeville house screened film or that vaudeville entertainment was not offered at houses not labeled as vaudeville houses, rather as another indication
of the bluntness of the categories.
In the Glazer taxonomy, some old theaters that offered vaudeville-type
programs before vaudeville proper came into existence were called variety
houses. Two such theaters, Hart’s Family Theatre (formerly known as the
Palm Theatre, seating capacity 1,902) and the People’s Theatre (seating ca154
pacity 1,932) implemented movie policies at one point or another during
1914.
Finally, I have found evidence of two venues exhibiting film that do not
appear in any of the Glazer books, simply because neither of them were
theaters. One is the Point Breeze Park, a park in which movies were exhibited at least once during the summer of 1914 as part of a varied program of
summer entertainment. The other is the Witherspoon Hall, a lecture hall in
which Hugh O’Donnell’s travelogs had a four-week run in late March and
early April.
Location of Motion Picture Venues
A problematic aspect of mapping the urban geography of motion pictures in
Philadelphia is that there is no real consensus of which specific neighborhoods make up the city and exactly how individual neighborhoods should be
demarcated. Furthermore, larger neighborhoods are typically made up of
several smaller ones, and it is far from self-evident what the adequate size to
handle analytically is. For instance, should North Philadelphia be divided
into Lower and Upper North? Taking it one step further, should Lower North
be divided into Spring Garden, Fairmount, Temple University Area, and so
on?
For my purposes, I decided to map the distribution of motion picture
theaters throughout Philadelphia’s twelve planning districts, or planning
analysis sections as they are referred to in the Philadelphia City Planning
Commission’s guide to various Philadelphia boundaries.13 Aware that this
particular way of zoning the city might not have been fully relevant in 1914,
working with rather large units should reduce the risk of suggesting geographical sub-divisions that might not have existed in 1914. The twelve districts that I have worked with, following the Philadelphia Planning Commission’s division, are Center City, South Philadelphia, Southwest Philadelphia,
West Philadelphia, Lower North Philadelphia, Upper North Philadelphia,
Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond,
Roxborough/Manayunk,
Germantown/Chestnut Hill, Olney/Oak Lane, Near Northeast Philadelphia
and Far Northeast Philadelphia. To settle where the borders between different neighborhoods should be drawn between and within the larger units of
the planning districts, I have relied on various maps in the Commission’s
aforementioned guide to Philadelphia boundaries, including maps that clarify
the geographical relations between wards, smaller neighborhoods, and the
planning sections. A complementary source is the list of Philadelphia neighborhoods that is compiled in Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens’ Manual,
published by the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1995.14
155
Figure 16. Ward Map, City of Philadelphia, 1914 (Bureau of Surveys & Design,
Dept. of Streets, Philadelphia, 1914).
156
The Center City
The Center City of Philadelphia is bounded by South Street to the south,
Vine Street to the north and by the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers to the
west and east respectively. This area corresponds to what was once the
“original” city of Philadelphia. Center City was (and still is) a business district centered around Market Street, a street that cuts through Philadelphia
from west to east, thus making a dividing line between north and south of
downtown, and of the city as a whole.
People came here primarily to work, shop, and—more important to this
study—to be entertained. Around the time of the 1910 census, only about
89,000 people (about 6% of the city’s total population) resided in Center
City, and a majority of these residents lived in close proximity to South
Philadelphia in wards five and seven or near Vine Street in ward ten, practically on the border of Lower North Philadelphia.15
According to Sam Bass Warner Jr., downtown life was structured around
three basic activities/institutions: (1) Offices; (2) Services (including lawyers, brokers, PR men, stores, restaurants, and so on) that catered to the offices and the rest of the downtown clientele; and (3) Department stores,
clothing stores, theaters, large restaurants, and the like. A defining trait of
the third category of activities was that they all catered primarily to mass
audiences, which explains the necessity to locate these activities in the limited downtown space, or more accurately, at the hub of the transportation
system. 16 With regard to cinema, however, this observation should not be
taken at face value. Film had been perceived of and framed as a medium for
the masses right from the start, but until the final dominance of feature cinema around 1916–1917, furnishing film entertainment to the masses had
largely been a localized affair, built up around small-time exhibitors catering
to local and specific audiences. Even after this point, and as we have already
addressed, the ideal spectator of American cinema was never fully universal.
Hence, a mass audience in Warner’s sense, consisting of an anonymous assembly of ideal consumers, is of limited bearing here, and does not confirm
that Center City film culture was predicated on entirely different practices
compared to film culture in more peripheral parts of town.
Of the 254 motion picture venues included in this study (i.e. of those in
operation at one point or another in the city in 1914), 29 were located in the
Center City area. This figure alone does not seem to define downtown as the
principal entertainment district of Philadelphia, but if we analyze what types
of venues were located there, their programming strategies and advertising
materials, a different picture begins to emerge. First of all, compared to the
relatively small number of theaters located there, the seating capacity was
un-proportionally large—about 16% according to my estimate.17 In other
words, there might have been fewer venues, but they were big. Secondly, all
157
four legitimate theaters that shifted to film exhibition at some time during
1914 were located downtown. As these theaters were generally outlets for
prestige feature films and/or equally high-class motion pictures, the relative
significance of film culture in the Center City entertainment district increases further. Of the 32 venues that I traced by aid of newspaper discourse
and advertisements, 11 were located in the downtown area, which further
underpins this notion.
In concert with other downtown institutions (department stores, large
restaurants, hotels, and so on), Center City film theaters catered to a mass
audience, the members of which were primarily defined with respect to their
roles as consumers. A prerequisite for this was a functioning system of mass
transportation. However, considering the practices of film culture thriving in
other parts of town at this point, we should not include cinema as such in
Warner’s category of activities that depended fully on being located in the
central area of the city. Also, the small strip of nickelodeon theaters on the
Center City section of N. 8th street reveals residual elements of a once
dominant film culture—one not necessarily dependent upon its central geographical location—persisting even within the parameters of Center City.
South Philadelphia
Of the venues exhibiting film at some time in 1914, 51 were located in South
Philadelphia. This amounts to approximately 20% of the venues, but since
these theaters to large extent consisted of storefront nickelodeons and comparatively small neighborhood movie theaters clustered around certain busy
streets and intersections, the total seating capacity in South Philadelphia was
not much higher than in Center City.18
A look at the 1910 census reveals that just over 336,000 people, or approximately 21.5% of the city’s population, resided in South Philadelphia.19
Demographically, the district is perhaps most well known for its significant
Italian-American population. Ward two in particular (bounded by Christian
and Wharton streets to the North and South respectively, and by the Delaware River and Broad Street to the East and West)—still home of the famous
Italian Market on 9th street—harbored a large Italian population. Over a
quarter of the city’s Italian-American population resided here and nearly half
of the ward’s total population was of Italian descent.20 South Philadelphia
was also the home of a considerable portion of Philadelphia’s AfricanAmerican population, who dominated ward thirty (located between South
Street and Washington Avenue just East of the Schuylkill) and the southern
parts of ward seven (just north of ward thirty).21 A significant Russian
population inhabited the river wards located along the Delaware. The largest
clusters of Russian-Americans were found in ward one (just south of the
predominantly Italian ward two), ward thirty-nine (the geographically large
158
south-eastern ward of South Philadelphia), ward two and ward four (the river
ward just below South Street). Measured in terms of share of the various
wards’ total population, Russian-Americans dominated ward one (50% of
the ward’s population), ward five (45%; really a part of Center City, but with
a population clustering to the vicinities of South Street, i.e. the border-line to
South Philadelphia) and ward four (about 37.5%).22 Although the IrishAmerican population were more evenly scattered around the city than for
instance Italians and Russians, the South Philadelphia ward thirty-six23 harbored the largest single Irish group (almost 9% of the total Irish-American
population lived here, making up about 28% of the ward’s total population).24
The demographic diversity of South Philadelphia can, perhaps, be seen as
a result of the fact that the harbor was located here and that South Philadelphia thus, in the words of Sam Bass Warner Jr., became a “refuge for newcomers.”25 According to Warner Jr., South Philadelphia was an entry port for
sailors, immigrants and the poor. Supposedly, the newcomers constituted a
market for gambling, prostitution and speakeasies, businesses that mushroomed here. Neighborhoods were small and generally poor; most of the
city’s ghettos and slums were located in South Philadelphia. Moreover, as
South Philadelphia is a peninsula, there were no commuters from other parts
of town passing through the area. Generally, and in comparison to the travel
habits of residents in other parts of the city, there was less travel from South
Philadelphia to Center City.26
The combination of poverty, isolation (geographic and other), and small,
ethnically-clustered neighborhoods helps explain the area’s low-profile position in local film culture. South Philadelphia was all but bereft of large
picture houses and the newspaper press discourse discloses little about what
went on below South Street. Arguably, the prospects of attracting patrons
from other parts of town looked bleaker here than elsewhere due to geographical and social causes. This might have effectively hampered attempts
to establish the kinds of high-end entertainment outlets that were located in
Center City and other parts of town that did not suffer the same debilitating
conditions as the South. Also, the role of the small, ethnically-specific
neighborhood as the basic unit of urban and social organization might have
favored an exhibition model based on principles that are commonly associated with the nickelodeon era.
Lower North Philadelphia
With equal proximity to Center City, but on the other side of Market Street,
we find the district of Lower North Philadelphia, bounded by Vine Street to
the South, Lehigh Avenue to the North, the Schuylkill to the West and Front
Street and Frankford Avenue to the East. Fifty-three venues were located in
159
the Lower North, and analogous to the case of South Philadelphia, many of
these were nickelodeons or small neighborhood theaters. Compared to the
South, there were, however, two notable differences: (1) Lower North Philadelphia boasted some relatively high-profile venues, including Nixon’s
Grand and the Liberty (both located within the same North Broad Street
block), and the Metropolitan Opera House (also on Broad Street); and (2)
there was a more frequent presence of Lower North venues in the newspaper
discourse—two sides of the same coin.
It may or may not have been the case that such differences were due to
the differing demographics of North and South respectively. In the Lower
North district, there were considerable communities of “old” immigrants of
German-Americans as well as “new” Russian and Polish immigrants. The
German population was mostly based in the area above Poplar Street, for
instance, in wards twenty-nine, sixteen, nineteen and seventeen, all of which
hosted a German-American population of about 20%-25%.27 Closer to Center City, a notable Russian population dominated ward eleven (yet another
river ward dominated by Russian-Americans, who made up 35% of the
ward’s residents), the adjacent ward twelve (almost 35% Russian) and ward
thirteen (about 30% Russian), all of which were bounded by Poplar to the
North and Vine to the South, together covering the area from the Delaware
River to 10th street.28 As one historian has pointed out, Russian and Polish
Jews were among the fastest-growing immigrant groups in Philadelphia (increasing from 100,000 to 200,000 between 1905 and 1918), and although
many of these newcomers first settled in South Philadelphia—as indicated
by the Russian dominance of the South city river wards—many eventually
moved on to enclaves in Lower North Philadelphia. This caused the emergence of new North Philadelphia commercial and social hubs (e.g. in the
intersection of Marshall and Poplar) catering to these specific immigrant
groups.29 The fourteenth ward, just west of Lower North’s Russian and Polish district, was home to a relatively large African-American population, as
was ward forty-seven (to the northwest of ward fourteen), whereas ward
fifteen (directly west of the fourteenth ward and stretching all the way to the
Schuylkill) was dominated by the Irish, who made up almost 25% of the
people living here.30
Mapping Lower North venues exhibiting film reveals that although theaters were scattered over large parts of the district, a great majority were located above Poplar (only six known venues were located south of this thoroughfare). The Temple University area saw some concentration of theaters,
including the Broad Street block (between Montgomery and Cecil B.
Moore/Columbia Avenue) that hosted not only the two large venues previously mentioned but also a “regular” movie theater and a nickelodeon. Several venues were scattered along the main thoroughfares such as Girard
Avenue, Ridge Avenue, and Germantown Avenue.
160
West Philadelphia
Another district with a large number of motion picture houses of various
kinds was West Philadelphia, i.e. the area west of the Schuylkill River and
north of Baltimore Avenue. All in all, 35 venues exhibiting film operated
here over the course of 1914. Compared to the geographical distribution of
theaters in South and Lower North Philadelphia, the clustering of venues
seems to have been more pronounced in West Philadelphia. The clearest
example of this is the intersection of Market Street and 52nd and its immediate vicinity. Market Street between 51st and 53rd hosted four theaters, including the large Nixon, two smaller nickelodeons and one “regular” motion
picture theater. An additional four motion picture houses were located along
the 52nd street stretch between Arch and Locust. The Belmont neighborhood
also featured an area with a high density of theaters; two prominent movie
houses including stage shows, the William Penn and the Leader Theatre,
were located on a short a section of Lancaster Avenue running through the
neighborhood, alongside two additional picture theaters. The intersections of
Market and 40th (where Marcus Loew’s Knickerbocker Theatre opened in
1914) and Market and 60th also saw some clustering, although not as dense
as that of Market and 52nd.
West Philadelphia was sometimes described as a “bedroom town,” i.e. as
an area of suburban homes where people commuting to work and shop returned for rest and quiet residency.31 The formation of distinct entertainment
centers, as manifested by the clustering of movie theaters, indicates that this
might not be a fully accurate characterization of the district. First of all, we
should note that West Philadelphia was growing and developing fast. This
was marked by the 1907 opening of the Market Street Subway Line and its
subsequent connection to the West Philadelphia Market Street Elevated
train, which greatly facilitated traveling between the West and Center City.32
Similarly, initiatives to promote highway construction as well as the widening of existing streets and boulevards improved and strengthened the links
between city core and suburban periphery.33 This stimulated population
growth in districts outside Center City, and most notably, westward migration. According to one historian, it was estimated that 25% of Philadelphia’s
population lived west of the Schuylkill by 1912.34 This figure seems somewhat exaggerated, however, judging by a comparison between the population data of the 1910 census and the 1920 census. The population of West
Philadelphia had indeed grown over the decade by approximately 36%, but
as most other districts were growing too, West Philadelphia’s share of the
total population only showed an increase from about 13.5% in 1910 to about
15.5% in 1920.35 Similar figures for Southwest Philadelphia illustrate a
population growth rate of just over 88%, or measured as the district’s share
of the total population a shift from 2.5% to 4.5%. Considering that about
161
20% of Philadelphia’s inhabitants lived in the West and Southwest parts of
the city in 1920, the estimate that a quarter already lived here by 1912 is
clearly hyperbolic.
Demographically, this mobility has been framed as a result of the crowding of “new immigrants and blacks” in the central and eastern parts of the
city, which supposedly, in turn, caused a move of increasingly affluent German and Irish families to the less congested northwestern neighborhoods of
Germantown and Chestnut Hill, but also to West Philadelphia.36 Especially
the Irish seem to have made the westward move, whereas German families
more frequently moved North and Northwest. A study of the 1910 census
confirms that the Irish-Americans were over-represented in wards forty-four
(about 18.5% Irish), twenty-four (about 16.5%) and twenty-seven (about
15.5%).37 The 1910 census also shows that there was an over-representation
of African-Americans in the twenty-seventh ward.38 There had been a fourfold increase in the African-American population in West Philadelphia between 1870 and 1900, and large parts of this group settled in the small streets
close to the wealthy homes where they found employment as servants.39
Against the background of these interrelated demographic shifts facilitated by expansions of the mass transportation system, it makes more sense
to consider West Philadelphia and Center City as interdependent elements of
one overarching urban arrangement than as separate entities. Moreover, the
assigning of different but complementary roles to each element, e.g. the
characterization of downtown as the center for work, shopping and entertainment and of West Philadelphia as a residential suburb seems largely to
be correct. However, as suggested earlier, the geographical spread of motion
picture theaters indicates that West Philadelphia was also developing its own
commercial and entertainment centers, although not on a par with that of
Center City. As a matter of fact, as much as improved systems of transportations between Center and West were instrumental in determining the basic
roles of the districts as business center and residential suburb respectively,
these improvements and the migratory flows that followed can be seen as
equally instrumental in creating the conditions of possibility for the emergence of urban functions other than mere residency in West Philadelphia.
The influx of a more affluent group of people might have provided a potential audience necessary for the establishing of large and relatively highprofile venues. That such a market was in place is evident by the fact that the
large West Philadelphia theaters advertised regularly in the newspaper press
and were included by the newspapers’ theater and entertainment critics.
162
Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond
In the century following the Civil War, various individuals and institutions
(including the Chamber of Commerce) did their best to promote Philadelphia
as the “Workshop of the World,” alluding to the diversity and scale of the
city’s manufacturing industries.40 Although not using this particular tagline,
the 1910 census volume on manufactures around the country seemed to concur: “Philadelphia, the largest and most important city in the state [of Pennsylvania], occupies a prominent position among the cities of the country as
regards the variety and magnitude of its manufacturing operations.”41 A substantial number of these industries were situated in north and northeast
Philadelphia, a part of the city that Sam Bass Warner Jr. has labeled a “giant
mill town.”42 For a long time, iron and steel was at the center of the manufacturing business, especially over the formative years of the railroad. The
Philadelphia firm of Baldwin Works is a case in point, managing to produce
three times as many locomotives than any other concern in the world. William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company earned a similar
position in the field of shipbuilding.43
These behemoth firms were not, however, located in the northeast district
now known as Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond (separated to the west
from Lower and Upper North Philadelphia by Frankford Avenue and Front
Street, and bounded to the northeast by Frankford Creek). Kensington still
had its share of iron and steel industries, especially Kensington Iron and
Steel Works, the largest firm producing bar iron, horseshoes, nails, and the
like.44 The dominant feature of the Kensington topography was the abundance of textile mills, the largest being John Bromley and Sons. A 1912
eyewitness report from the tower of the Bromley Mill on Lehigh Avenue (on
the border between Lower and Upper North Philadelphia) evocatively describes how mills and factories dominated the city’s landscape, not least the
northeastern parts:
From the tower of the Bromley Mill at Fourth and Lehigh Avenue
there is within the range of vision more textile mills than can be found
in any other city in the world. For miles in every direction is seen the
smoke of thousands of mills and factories. To the northeast one continuous line of factories extends through Frankford to Tacony, six
miles away. To the northwest through the smoke rising from the Mid
vale works at Nicetown the mills of Germantown are seen. To the
southwest is Baldwin’s and other foundries and mills of that section.
To the south are hat and leather factories and to the southeast is
Cramp’s Shipyard and the numberless industries clustered along the
river.45
Later historians characterized Kensington as a “textile enclave,” inhabited by
English emigrant weavers.46 Judging by the census, this population was pri163
marily found in the thirty-third ward Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond part
of which (the western part of this ward belongs to the Upper North planning
section and the eastern part to the Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond section)
included Northwest Kensington and Juniata Park. 12% of Philadelphia’s
English people lived here, comprising about 13.5% of the ward’s total
population.47 Aside from the English, a significant number of GermanAmericans lived in ward thirty-three, and Germans also constituted an overrepresented group in the forty-fifth ward, i.e. the far northeastern part of the
district, encompassing the neighborhoods now known as Richmond II, Port
Richmond II and Bridesburg, as well as in parts of ward twenty-five, the
section between Allegheny and Lehigh that today covers Richmond I and
Port Richmond I.48 The Irish, too, were slightly over-represented in ward
twenty-five, and particularly in ward thirty-one, southwest of ward twentyfive and now called New Kensington.49
According to Sam Bass Warner Jr., many of the people employed by the
various mills and factories of northern and northeastern Philadelphia took
residence in clusters, often near the working place. The Kensington textile
workers are of particular interest with regard to this, as they represented
practically the only group of skilled workers that still clustered; all other
sectors that still clustered were dominated by low-income, low-skill or unskilled workers.50 Sam Warner Jr. makes two additional claims concerning
the “mill town” population: (a) that social life thrived, as proven by the numerous and very active fraternities, churches and clubs that appeared in the
area; and (b), that the mill workers of the northeast and Kensington did not
use the transportation system to a great degree.51 Perhaps the social order
resulting from a traditional work group model of urban organization, as well
as the fact that the district harbored lots of skilled workers but few newcomers and poor, encouraged the formation of urban units that were selfcontained to a more than usual extent, and not as dependent on the constant
interaction with other entities of the metropolitan arteries—what Jane Jacobs
once called the “fluidity of use and choice”—that are necessary for the prospering of smaller neighborhoods in large metropolises.52
Mapping Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond venues exhibiting film shows
that there were no less than 30 venues located in the area. This might seem a
surprising number given the areas designation as a mill town, but if the
above characterization in terms of self-sufficiency and a flourishing social
life in general is accurate, then that might also explain the relatively high
number of movie theaters. It must also be clarified that theaters were in no
way evenly scattered throughout the district. On the contrary, large sections
(supposedly the most heavily industrialized ones) suffered a complete lack
of movie houses. The forty-fifth ward, for instance, the district’s most northeastern and least populated ward (encompassing Richmond II, Port Richmond II and Bridesburg) could boast only one theater (if one disregards from
the venues that were located along the avenues that delimited the area, i.e.
164
Kensington Avenue to the northwest and Allegheny Avenue to the southwest). Similarly, I have not found any evidence of theaters in Juniata Park
and Northwest Kensington. Instead, a belt of theaters, including three nickelodeons, two movie theaters, and two old variety houses that instigated film
policies during 1914, appeared along the border between new Kensington
and Lower North Philadelphia. Several venues were to be found along
Frankford Avenue. Four of these were located between Allegheny and Lehigh, i.e. within what is now the Richmond I neighborhood, and a fifth one,
B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre (frequently appearing in the newspaper
press advertising and entertainment sections) in the intersection of Frankford
and Allegheny, i.e. on the border between Richmond I and II. Kensington
Avenue was another thoroughfare with several venues, once again above all
on the strip between Allegheny and Lehigh. Closer to the Delaware River,
Port Richmond I also showed a relatively high concentration of theaters,
most of which were located along Richmond Avenue.
The Remaining Districts: Upper North Philadelphia,
Roxborough/Manayunk, Germantown/Chestnut Hill, Olney/Oak
Lane, Near Northeast Philadelphia, Far Northeast Philadelphia,
and Southwest Philadelphia
Upper North Philadelphia was the only planning district of the remaining
areas that boasted a double-digit number of venues exhibiting film. Eighteen
motion picture theaters, one picture theater including stage show, and four
nickelodeons were situated in the district (i.e. twenty-three venues), but as
far as I know, only one of these theaters—the Great Northern Theatre on
Broad Street and Erie Avenue—advertised in the press during 1914. Moreover, advertisements for the Great Northern appeared only for a very brief
period and for the promotion of one particular film, Smashing the Vice Trust
(Progress Film Company, 1914), which ran for a week here in late March.
Residents of Manayunk relied on three nickelodeons for their film entertainment. All were located practically next to each other on Main Street.
Toward the end of 1914, a more lavish motion picture theater also billing a
stage show, the Empress (later known as the Riviera Theatre), opened; this
venue was also located on Main Street. There were three additional nickelodeon-style theaters in other Roxborough/Manayunk neighborhoods: one in
Wissahickon, one in Central Roxborough, and one in Germany Hill.
The neighboring district to the east, Germantown/Chestnut Hill, was the
home of eight venues: one nickelodeon, one picture theater including a stage
show, and six motion picture theaters. Except for the nickel theater, all of the
venues were found on Germantown Avenue addresses. One, the Belvedere
Theatre, was located almost at the very end of Germantown Avenue, in the
165
distant Chestnut Hill neighborhood, whereas the remaining were located in
the southeastern parts of Germantown, where Germantown Avenue acted as
the division between the various smaller neighborhoods. The Germantown
movie theater with a stage show, Nixon’s Colonial, was a part of the NixonNirdlinger entertainment empire and was regularly advertised in the press.
East of Germantown/Chestnut Hill and north of Upper North Philadelphia
we find the Olney/Oak Lane planning district. There were three theaters
operational here in 1914, none of which we have much information, apart
from locations. One was located in Logan, one in Olney, and one in West
Oak Lane.
Northeast of the Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond district, there were
two geographically large but relatively sparsely populated districts: Near
Northeast and Far Northeast Philadelphia. I have not found any evidence of
movie theaters in the Far Northeast, but Near Northeast was home to six
venues. Three of these were found in Frankford (in the southern part of the
district, adjacent to Bridesburg and Richmond further to the south), and one,
the Frankford Theatre, was a motion picture theater including stage show
that advertised their offering of first-run Mutual movies during the first half
of 1914, after which they either ceased to exhibit films or stopped advertising them.
Finally, there were nine venues exhibiting film (four picture theaters and
five nickelodeons) in Southwest Philadelphia, of which there is scant information. A majority were located in Upper Southwest and Southwest
Schuylkill, i.e. directly below West Philadelphia, whereas the rest spread out
further southwest, along Woodland Avenue.
Multi-Reel Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia in
1914: A Chronological Overview
The main objective for a chronological survey of a brief but intense period is
an attempt to grasp the character of historical and cultural change as it happened. A chronological survey can provide tentative answers to a range of
questions that pertain to how various aspects of multi-reel feature film exhibition changed (or did not change) over the course of one year.
First of all, we get a picture of which venues and types of venues were
prone to adapt to feature film exhibition. We also examine what types of
features were screened at different venues, the immediate contexts of exhibition at different venues, and whether there are any discernible patterns of
change over the year. An aspect relating to this is the issue of run times; the
survey allows us to trace the average run times of specific films, venues and
points in time over the year. Throughout the survey, I try to interrelate these
166
and other concrete elements to generate possible models of feature film exhibition in Philadelphia. Two dominant models are proposed, without ambition to subsume all instantiations of feature exhibition under one or the
other—the three special case studies of particular venues further confirms
the elusiveness of any generalized model.
It is difficult not to frame the temporal unfolding of feature film exhibition metaphorically in terms of growth and expansion. This should, however,
not be mistaken for a metaphor of goal-driven progress, but perceived as a
fairly innocent solution for the need to address the multiplication over time
of feature films exhibited and of venues exhibiting such films.
January 1914
Over the course of January of 1914, Philadelphia audiences thirsty for entertainment were offered three different multi-reel feature films at three different venues around town (as far as can be identified): The Inside of the
White Slave Traffic ran for two weeks at the Liberty (seating capacity 1,635)
in the Lower North district, only to immediately re-appear for another run at
the New Broadway Theatre (seating capacity unknown) in the Center City
district.53 The Metropolitan Opera House in Lower North Philadelphia offered Traffic in Souls throughout the whole month.54 Those who returned to
the Liberty during the latter part of the month were presented with an Italian
spectacle brought back to the United States by George Kleine: Antony and
Cleopatra.55
Less than a year later, during November 1914 audiences had the opportunity to see thirty-five different multi-reel feature films, spanning several
genres at nine different venues. This is a clear indication that 1914 was a key
year in the early history of the multi-reel feature film. All the more need,
then, to attempt to capture the state of flux and the air of experimentation
that characterized feature film exhibition in Philadelphia at this time. As
already implied, this does not mean telling a story of how the feature-based
programs rapidly swept the city clean of other programming models, but
more accurately takes the form of a chronicle of competing models of feature film exhibition.
February 1914
In February 1914, the Liberty continued its policy of presenting spectacular
features to what the press perceived to be “attentive” audiences that “enjoyed
the presentation.”56 Antony and Cleopatra was carried over from the previous month and the next attraction was the return of Quo Vadis?, already
familiar to Philadelphia audiences as the smash hit of 1913. Quo Vadis? ran
167
for two weeks at the Liberty and was followed by Between Savage and Tiger
(Cines, 1914).57 In other words, at this point, the Liberty was an outlet for
Italian spectacle films imported and distributed by George Kleine. Actually,
Kleine’s name was regularly used in marketing. Quo Vadis?, for instance,
was advertised as “Mr. Kleine’s Marvelous Photo-Drama” in one advertisement, and Between Savage and Tiger was marketed as “George Kleine’s
Thrilling Photodrama.”58 Apparently, Kleine’s name was successfully used
as a quality stamp when promoting the films, indicating how Kleine had
managed to establish himself as a kind of importing/distributing master of
high-class film ceremonies.
I cannot confirm whether these Italian spectacles were screened in conjunction with other films or were accompanied by live entertainment at the
Liberty. What we do know is that these feature films had very long running
slots—often several weeks—compared to the frequent change of program
associated with the variety format. It is also notable that some of these films
were comparatively old but still seemed to have worked well commercially
and critically. For instance, the re-run of Quo Vadis? at the Liberty seems to
have been met by public demand. Apparently, in relation to the still rather
sparse output of American feature films, the Italian photo-spectacles held a
strong sway over audiences.
The fourth multi-reel feature film that was offered in February was The
Inside of the White Slave Traffic, which continued its run at the New Broadway a week into the month after which the film found another outlet at the
Olympia in South Philadelphia. The Olympia screenings of this film are
interesting in that they were organized by the Sociological Fund of the
Medical Review of Reviews which, in order to “meet public demand” as an
advertisement stated, rented the 4,000-seat Olympia Theatre and secured a
screening copy of this “much discussed and remarkable motion picture.”
Special screenings for women were also arranged.59
Figure 17. Advertisement for the Olympia Theatre, Inquirer, February 8, 1914.
168
March 1914
Between Savage and Tiger continued at the Liberty for the first week of
March.60 The sources are quiet on reporting what happened at this theater
until the beginning of May. Seemingly, the supply of Kleine imported Italian
features was exhausted and perhaps the Liberty now returned to whatever
policy was standard before the vice films and “photo-spectacles” had drawn
the management towards the exhibition of features.
Meanwhile, there was still an audience for The Inside of the White Slave
Traffic. B. F. Keith’s Allegheny (seating capacity 2,855) was the fourth and
last venue to screen this film in 1914, where it appeared as a “Special Added
Feature” in early March.61 It is possible that the theater’s location in what is
now the Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond district attracted a local audience
consisting of people who had been less inclined to make the journey downtown to see the film—as we have seen, residents in this district were generally less likely than other suburban Philadelphians to travel to Center City. In
general, vice films still held some sway in March, and one such film previously unseen in Philadelphia—Smashing the Vice Trust —opened at the
Great Northern Theatre (seating capacity of 1,048) on March 23 and most
likely remained for the week at least.62
Finally, the film Wild Animals at Large (production company and release
year undetermined) was heavily marketed in the press and ran for one week
at Nixon’s Colonial (seating capacity 2,552, located in Germantown in the
northwestern part of Philadelphia) and the following week at the Frankford
(seating capacity 1,595, located in what is now the Near Northeast district).63
Assuming that this film was part of the nature/animal/jungle/expedition cycle of films (fictional and/or non-fictional), which seems reasonable enough
considering that the film was repeatedly praised for the vivid and realistic
depiction of the “wild beasts,” this implies a third category of films that
could incite theaters to venture into feature film exhibition.
B.F. Keith’s Allegheny and Nixon’s Colonial both seem to have structured their shows mainly around vaudeville entertainment. Although it is
likely that houses such as these had moving pictures as a regular feature of
the program, only the occasional “extra added feature” was included in the
marketing material.
April 1914
Wild Animals at Large was exhibited at two other venues in April: the Keystone (seating capacity 1,884) and the Fairmount (seating capacity 1,243),
both located in the Lower North district, and both part of the J. Fred Zimmerman theater group.64 As to the Keystone, the screening of this film is the
169
only trace of film exhibition at this venue that I have encountered in the material. The Fairmount billed five to six different vaudeville acts every night
and changed its show every Monday and Thursday. Adding to the variety,
every night of the week came with some kind of feature, theme or extraadded attraction. For instance, Wednesday night was amateurs’ night,
Thursday featured tango dancing, and Fridays offered “professional surprises.”65 Motion pictures were screened every night, although it is not until
the screening of Wild Animals at Large that any specific film was mentioned
by title. The Fairmount policy of varied entertainment remained constant
until October, but for a brief period, beginning with the screening of Wild
Animals at Large, feature films were at the top of the bill and at the head of
the newspaper advertisements for this theater. As a result, we know that
Fairmount’s attraction for the week beginning April 20 was Mary Pickford
in Caprice, that The Drug Terror, “The Reigning Sensation” according to
the advertisement, topped the bill the following week, and that Mary
Pickford re-appeared, this time in Hearts Adrift, a week after that.66
The Drug Terror run at the Fairmount was the film’s second in Philadelphia, as it had premiered at the Victoria Theatre (seating capacity 987) on
9th Street and Market in Center City on April 6, 1914. This Lubin drama
was marketed as “The Greatest Motion Picture Ever Made”—probably the
most recurring tagline (in one version or another) for feature films during
1914. In addition, the advertisement stated that the film was “Presented in
Cooperation with Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt’s National Crusade Against the
Terrifying Cocaine and Drug Habits”.67 Advertisements for white slavery
and “vice films” habitually highlighted the instructive, educational and
moral value of these films, in order to discourage allegations of sensationalism. The Drug Terror ran for three weeks and until October was the only
feature marketed by the Victoria. Judging by the first advertisement for this
feature, the Victoria simultaneously offered the “Usual ‘Quality’ of Vaudeville.”68 This would indicate that the bulk of the regular program at the Victoria was made up of vaudeville acts, and that when an occasional feature
film topped the bill it was still presented in conjunction with vaudeville.
Special Case Study I: The Stanley Theatre
The opening of the Stanley Theatre, located on Market Street between 16th
and 17th in the Center City district, marked a crucial event in the history of
film exhibition in Philadelphia. After a sneak preview night for “prominent
people” on April 25, the 1,457-seat theater opened to the public on Monday
April 27. The policy declaration promised “the presentation of highest grade
of photoplays, none of which have ever been shown in Philadelphia”.69 The
premiere feature film was The Sea Wolf, a seven-reel picture based on Jack
London’s novel, and according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of “the
170
most remarkable photoplays in existence.”70 Judging by the advertisement
that announced the premiere program, The Sea Wolf was supported by
“Other Film Triumphs” and, as noted in the previous chapter, the “Stanley
Town Topics—Philadelphia as Pictured from Day to Day.”71
Stanley came close to being an all-movie house, but still some live entertainment was offered: during the first week “a prima donna of note,” Miss
Lina Abarbanell, sang and performed “an exposition of the modern society
dancing.”72 The element of song and dance may have been incorporated to
make fuller advantage of the twenty-five piece orchestra. The orchestra, and
Figure 18. An inverted relationship between promotional impact and advertisement
size? Advertisements for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, April 26, 1914 (left); May 3,
1914 (upper middle); May 10, 1914 (lower middle); May 17, 1914 (upper right);
August 30, 1914 (right, second from top); September 6, 1914 (right, third from top);
and September 20, 1914 (lower right).
171
the massive organ that was acquired in June, were instrumental to the Stanley’s appeal. Time and time again, the music that accompanied the program
of films at Stanley were praised, for instance, causing the Inquirer’s “Call
Boy” columnist to suggest that the value of music for films and its importance in evoking the “full range of emotions” was underrated.73
The management set out to establish the Stanley as a “Favorite Resort of
Discriminating People” by offering continuous (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) screenings of “Absolutely First Run and Most Exclusive Photo-Plays” in an environment of “luxury” and “comfort.” The advertisements promised an “Infinite Variety of Subjects,” a daily change of program, and that the subjects
would be “Produced Here as Rapidly as the Films Are Released.”74 The
standard program at the Stanley at this time consisted of eight reels: a fouror five-reel feature film, one or two one-reel comedies (a Keystone or a John
Bunny or similar), and one or two one- or two-reel films of some other genre
(a western, a drama, etc.).
For the first few months, the management of the Stanley seemed to try to
get films from any available supplier: Vitagraph productions and Mutual
releases dominated the program, but companies such as Pathé and Biograph/Klaw and Erlanger were also represented, as were new independent
production companies such as Bosworth and William A. Brady Pictures.
This mixture of feature film exhibition signals a lack of a regular and secure
system for the distribution of features that was still apparent in mid-1914.
The situation changed soon enough, and by August the Stanley exclusively
showed first-run Paramount films.
The strategy of daily changes at the Stanley collapsed almost immediately, either because there were not enough feature films available to show a
new one every day of the week, or certain films were held over for an extra
day or booked for a rerun simply because there remained an audience for
them—the advertisements occasionally claimed that a certain film reappeared “on request.”75 In light of what we know from a previous chapter
concerning the problems of combining feature film exhibition and daily program changes, we can see why a daily change of a program of the kind offered at the Stanley may neither have been economically rational nor practically possible to maintain.
Guided by the above, we can identify the cornerstones of the exhibition
model the Stanley Theatre represented. First of all, references to “discriminating people” signal an ambition to target an audience accustomed to enjoying entertainments of “higher class” to greater expense. This entailed: (a)
first-run “high-class” feature pictures (“not of the ‘movie’ kind,” as one reviewer put it, but “elaborately produced” adaptations of plays and novels);76
(b) a comfortable and convenient theater space;77 and (c) elaborate musical
accompaniment. Other elements of the Stanley model were rooted in the
nickelodeon tradition of film exhibition. For instance, the show was continuous and frequently featured local actualities, some live entertainment and
172
other elements that guaranteed the variety of the program. The model was
apparently a winning combination, as the Stanley Theatre was one of the
early ventures to put the owners, brothers Jules and Stanley Mastbaum, on
the path towards building one of the most successful chain of movie theaters
in the silent era.78
Irvin Glazer and Joseph Eckhardt both claim that Jules Mastbaum (the
older Mastbaum brother) had been managing Philadelphia’s first nickelodeon, located on the southeast corner of Market and 8th street, and Eckhardt
states that Jules Mastbaum had also been in charge of Sigmund Lubin’s seasonal Woodside Park movie theater in the summer of 1902.79 My own findings on the careers of the Mastbaums are sparse before 1913, when a number
of real estate deals involving the firm of Mastbaum Brothers & Fleischer
begin to receive notices in the real estate sections. At this point, the firm
seems to have acted primarily as brokers, arranging for leases and sales of
properties that included theater sites as well as other commercial properties,
such as stores and stables.80 Gradually, the Mastbaums’ involvement in the
movie theater business took on direct forms, and by March 1914, it was reported that Mastbaum Brothers & Fleischer had purchased four large movie
theaters previously owned by a syndicate controlled by Charles Kruger,
president of the Rapid Transit Company. The deal was brokered on behalf of
the Stanley Co., or, rather, the syndicate that owned the Stanley Co.81 I have
been unable to establish the exact circumstances of ownership pertaining to
the Stanley Co., but considering that it was named after the younger Mastbaum brother and that Stanley Mastbaum himself presided over the company, it seems safe to suggest that the Mastbaum brothers were in command
of the operation, with regard to ownership as well as to executive power.
According to an Inquirer article, the Stanley Company was already connected to eight Market Street theaters by the time of the purchase of the additional four, and moreover, at this point, the Stanley Theatre as well as the
Globe (on Market and Juniper) were under construction, soon to be completed and opened to the public. Thus, the Stanley Co. was a major player in
the Philadelphia entertainment business by early 1914, but it was the success
of the Stanley Theatre that really catapulted the company into the focus of
the public eye. Seemingly governed by prevalent ideals of heroes as historymakers and history as the biography of great men,82 linking the face and
figure of Stanley Mastbaum to the activities of the company as well as the
theater became integral to the construction of the projects as media events.
The Inquirer’s article on the celebrations of the Stanley Theatres first anniversary in April 1915 provides telling evidence:
173
Realized His Ideals
In the celebration of anniversary week at the Stanley Theatre this
week there looms up as a central figure Stanley V. Mastbaum, the local photo-play magnate, whose meteoric rise within the past year is
remarkable. The Stanley Theatre was his conception; to him was left
the carrying out of the project to its minutest detail, and it is his anniversary of success as much as it is that of the theatre itself.83
The coverage of the anniversary also presented Stanley Mastbaum with an
opportunity to express his own thoughts regarding the success of the Stanley
Theatre:
It is gratifying, of course, but it is no wise surprising. A photoplayhouse of the type and character of the Stanley was inevitable.
Motion picture development had reached a stage where there was absolute necessity for the proper housing of creations which represented
the outlay of thousands upon thousands of dollars on the part of the
film manufacturers for a single production. The day of old store
buildings converted into motion picture exhibition rooms had already
passed away, and been succeeded by small theatres of modest size and
appearance. It was not enough.
There was a growing sentiment in favor of the higher grade of
picture entertainment, entire dramas and comedies, and for the proper
enjoyment of these it was absolutely necessary that they be shown in a
modern and comfortable theatre, where an entire afternoon or evening
might be spent in enjoyment and comfort and at reasonable cost.
Hence the Stanley.84
Mastbaum’s version of the history of motion pictures as an unfolding of
inevitable progress comes as no surprise. Neither does his linking of artistic
progress to improvements of theater space, as we have seen similar ideas
about this nexus surface in historical sources as well as in later film historiographic accounts time and time again.
Recalling the earlier discussion of Stanley Mastbaum’s tribute banquet to
Jack London and the razzle-dazzle of his bringing Mary Pickford to Philadelphia in November 1914, we are by now familiar with Mastbaum’s flair
for attracting maximum media attention for his company, his theaters and
himself. Phrasing it in ad hominem terms, one could argue that Mastbaum
acted on the insight and conviction that the press could be exploited for promotional uses that went well beyond traditional forms of advertising. Indicative of this, the advertising for the Stanley Theatre and other Stanley Company venues was generally modest and not at all in proportion to Mastbaum’s overall media impact.
174
Figure 19. A birthday greeting from the Inquirer to Stanley Mastbaum. Inquirer,
April 1, 1915.
Realizing the key role of the newspaper press as well as the value of the
movie star as a pivotal element upon which newspapers could structure their
coverage of film culture, a Mastbaum promotional strategy was to invite a
certain movie star who was currently featured in the repertoire of one or
more of his theaters to come to Philadelphia to attend a dinner or banquet “in
honor” of himself or herself.85 The favored invitees were theater and film
critics and other people connected to the local newspapers. As we have seen,
Clara Kimball Young and Mary Pickford were two of Mastbaum’s notable
guests of honor in late 1914. Similar events followed in 1915, one inspired
by the Philadelphia screenings in November of The Sign of the Rose (a.k.a.
The Alien, New York Motion Picture Corp., 1915), based on a play by
George Beban, who also starred in the lead role in the film version directed
by Reginald Barker and Thomas Ince. The Inquirer’s “Call Boy” was one of
those present at the tribute dinner to Beban, and reported that:
Stanley Mastbaum was the instigator of the party and, in his usual
happy way, gave the guests a treat that will linger in memory. This
scheme of having picture stars get into closer communion with the
newspaper writers is a splendid one for various reasons, principal of
which is that it affords an opportunity of exchanging views and of becoming better acquainted. There was a flow of expert opinion which
was valuable to everyone present. … Mr. Mastbaum is one of very
few managers who believe in cementing a bond of friendship between
manager, player and critic by assembling them around a tempting table. It’s an idea that is bound to produce good results for all concerned, and the only wonder is that no one had thought of it before.86
175
Soon after, a similar event took place, this one featuring Clara Kimball
Young’s viewing of her performance in the 1915 film version of Trilby (Equitable Motion Pictures Corp., 1915) directed by Maurice Tourneur. As a
preview of the event made clear, the viewing would be preceded by “a dinner at the Bellevue-Stratford, tendered the star by Stanley V. Mastbaum, and
at which she will be given an opportunity to meet and become acquainted
with the dramatic editors of the local newspapers, some other stage folk and
a few personal friends of Mr. Mastbaum.”87 Further details about the event
and what was discussed are murky, but it was reported that upon arrival at
the theater where Trilby was shown, Miss Young briefly addressed the audience present, “stating how extremely pleased she was to be with them and
the great delight she took in her work.”88
Although perhaps not comparable to the glamorous presence of globally
acclaimed movie stars, at times the patronage of local prominent personalities could also present an opportunity to pull a successful publicity stunt.
One such event occurred on November 18. The Stanley Theatre had secured
a particularly interesting series of war pictures (unclear of what brand and
exact nature), and Stanley Mastbaum took the opportunity to invite Mayor
and Mrs. Blankenburg. Reportedly to great amazement and delight, the show
ended with a climactic surprise, as motion pictures of the Mayor leaving his
office earlier that day were projected.89
It was an often-repeated claim by the press that the Stanley Theatre was
forced on numerous occasions to turn away almost as many patrons as were
allowed in. Regardless of whether this was a fact or a publicity gimmick,
Mastbaum seems to have excelled in a promotional logic that used such stories of success as an argument to attract additional patrons. A negative sideeffect of running a successful movie theater was the practice of ticket scalping, but this, too, was turned into something of a publicity stunt. Trying to
off-set the risk that ushers and other employees at the Stanley Theatre would
succumb to the temptation of scalping tickets to Carmen (most likely the
Lasky version directed by Cecil B. DeMille, 1915), Stanley Mastbaum decided to raise the salaries of all employees on the condition that “under no
circumstances were they to become parties to any ticket scalping or vexatious mixing up of tickets.”90 Unsurprisingly, Mastbaum did not fail to inform the press of his actions and of the fact that “notwithstanding the big
crowds [of patrons coming to see Carmen] … there had not been a complaint
to him of any kind.”91
176
Figure 20. “’Carmen’ in Films Proves Popular, Inquirer, October 24, 1915.
Another promotional strategy at the Stanley Theatre was thematic programming. A case in point is the Dickens Week that began on June 2, 1914, featuring a series of film versions of Dickens’s novels, and allegedly received
with “marked relish” by audiences.92 A “Mary Pickford and Famous Players
Week” took place later, beginning June 22, with screenings of The Bishop’s
Carriage.93 A slightly different stunt came in the form of “request night.”
Request night presented the audience with an opportunity to choose their
favorites among the films that had been screened earlier during the week (or
earlier weeks), a treat that was labeled an “innovation in exhibition.”94
Stanley Mastbaum’s skills as a movie theater manager and promotional
virtuoso were cut short by his untimely death on March 7, 1918 at the age of
37. By this time, Mastbaum was living in New York City where he managed
the Broadway Theatre and the Stanley Theatre, but he died in his Philadelphia home. The New York Times obituary claimed that Mastbaum died of
blood poisoning, due to an attack of tonsillitis. Variety, with more of a sensational allure, suggested that Mastbaum had been “struck by a taxi” some
time ago, an event that had “contributed in a large measure to a nervous
breakdown which had kept him confined to his home for two months.”95
How exactly this had caused Mastbaum’s death is, however, somewhat unclear.
By the time of his death, Stanley Mastbaum was identified as “a leader in
the motion picture industry,” and his company as “one of the biggest picture
interests in the country.”96 The older brother, Jules, assumed presidency of
177
the Stanley Company and lived a further eight years to see the firm continue
to prosper. According to the New York Times obituary, the Stanley Company
was held to be the largest exclusive exhibition corporation in the world, but
then again, the obituary is plagued by a number of inaccuracies, for instance,
the assertion that the Stanley Company was formed by Jules Mastbaum in
memory of Stanley, and that Stanley had died thirteen years ago, i.e. in
1913.97 The New York Times as well as Variety described Jules Mastbaum as
a prominent member of the Philadelphia social elite, a generous donor to
charity, and a patron of the sports as well as the arts.98 A further indication of
the social position that Jules Mastbaum had reached is offered by the report
that about 20,000 mourners, including the mayors of Philadelphia, New
York, Atlantic City and Camden, gathered in front of Mastbaum’s Rittenhouse Square home on December 9 to pay their respects. It was reputed that
the City Council had adopted a “resolution of condolence” and adjourned out
of respect, and that the Philadelphia Stock Exchange suspended business for
one minute as a tribute to Mastbaum.99
Figure 21. Jules E. Mastbaum, date and place undetermined (George Grantham Bain
Collection, Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division).
178
May 1914
May saw something of a boom in the number of features exhibited in Philadelphia, primarily due to the policy of daily program change at the Stanley
Theatre. These frequent changes of program introduced Philadelphia to a
pattern of feature film exhibition based on a wider variety of features and
significantly lower average running times for each film. This pattern differed
considerably from the one that had dominated the earlier months of the year,
when a single feature would run for at least a week at the same theater, often
longer.
The difference between the two strategies can also be detected on the
level of marketing. The amount of advertising space and elaboration of the
advertisements that had been dedicated to the Italian “photo-spectacles” or
vice films that played for weeks at the beginning of the year would probably
not have been economically sound to invest in each of the four to six feature
films screened at the Stanley each week. The brief running times did not
allow for enough turnover for each film to cover the marketing costs—the
marginal cost of extensive advertising must have been well above the marginal revenue generated by such advertising. As a consequence, other marketing strategies had to be adopted. The solution came in the form of a stabilization and stream-lining of the marketing of features based primarily on:
(a) the marketing of the individual theater as a reliable outlet for special entertainments and as a compelling space in itself; (b) the marketing of film
stars rather than film titles; and (c) the extensive reliance on well-known
literary and theatrical material and the use of name recognition for marketing
purposes. If this represents a preliminary model of how marketing features
were standardized, a wide variety of more idiosyncratic publicity stunts was
also set in motion. As we have just seen, the activities of Stanley Mastbaum
epitomize that latter strategy.
The Stanley Theatre was not the only feature film venue in Philadelphia
in May. The Fairmount adhered to the regular showing of features, including
The Stranglers of Paris, a six-reel film that according to the advertisement
was seen for the “First Time in Philadelphia” when it opened on May 11.100
The subsequent week, Mary Pickford was once again the main attraction,
this time in A Good Little Devil.101 Last but not least, from the end of April
and a few weeks into May, the Metropolitan Opera House functioned as
Philadelphia’s first-run outlet for Vitagraph features. According to an advertisement from May 3, the Metropolitan offered the “First Local Presentation”
of A Million Bid (Vitagraph, 1914)—a film “Universally Acclaimed the
Greatest Ever Made”—and Goodness Gracious; or, The Movies as They
Shouldn’t Be (Vitagraph, 1914)—the “Funniest Laugh Producer in Filmdom.”102
179
June to mid-August 1914
On May 30, most legitimate theaters in Philadelphia closed for the season.
The summer break would last approximately until August 17 when many
theaters re-opened for the fall season (although some theaters would stay
closed until early September). Consequently, the amusement advertisement
section in the newspapers as well as journalistic coverage of the city’s entertainment life declined during the summer months. Evidence of feature
film exhibition are scarce.
A few things can be established in spite of the dull season. The Stanley
maintained its policy of a daily change of program structured around a fourto five-reel feature film. Advertisements for the Stanley surface irregularly
and are not informative during the summer season, but thanks to relatively
extensive press coverage we nonetheless have some idea of which films
were shown during the summer (except for a couple of weeks in early to
mid-July). One event worth mentioning is the mid-June screenings of Home,
Sweet Home (Reliance; Majestic, 1914), directed by D. W. Griffith. Griffith
only appeared in the margins of the advertisements and in the few comments
that the film received it was much more fervently underscored that the film
is based on the famous song that “reaches every human heart.”103
Figure 22. Advertisement for Home, Sweet Home, Reel Life 4, no. 13 (June 13,
1914).
180
In spite of the elaborate Mutual advertisement for this feature, in which
Griffith himself provide instructions as to the “correct” running time of each
reel (thirteen to sixteen minutes per reel except for the last one, which is to
be run slowly from the beginning of the allegorical part until the end),104
Griffith’s marketing of himself as the father of motion picture art had not
struck a great chord in Philadelphia.105
The absence of theatrical stock companies during the summer season presented an opportunity for feature films to enter the realms of the downtown
legitimate houses, hence the Forrest (seating capacity 1,820) and the Garrick
(seating capacity 1,561) presented feature films throughout the summer. The
Forrest had introduced motion pictures on the bill on May 11, when How
Wild Animals Live (production company undetermined; states rights distributed in the US in 1914 by Midgar Features), “The Greatest Educational and
Close-to-Nature Study the World Has ever Seen,” opened.106 The following
week featured Neptune’s Daughter (Universal, 1914). The film was a showcase for Annette Kellerman, who had made her name as a professional
swimmer and by performing a form of water ballet in a glass tank on the
vaudeville circuit. One commentator concluded that the film medium offered
much greater possibilities than the “small tank” of her vaudeville performances had ever done.107 Neptune’s Daughter ran successfully for three weeks
at the Forrest, earning appreciative comments concerning the enjoyable location footage shot in Bermuda and the effective foregrounding of Kellerman’s impressive physicality.108 The rest of the summer was dedicated to a
British version of East Lynne (Barker [UK], 1913) (“7,000 Feet of Perfect
Photography” and “Marking a New Era in Motion Pictures”), instructive
dance films featuring Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Castle and, finally, a war film
called The War of Wars (Ramo Films, 1914) (“6,000 feet of thrills”) that
premiered toward the end of August.109 There is no further evidence in the
press of film exhibition taking place at the Forrest later in the year.
The Garrick presented motion pictures on a regular basis from June 1 until the end of August/early September. For the bulk of these summer weeks,
the Garrick offered performances of Lyman H. Howe, who presented the
latest of his renowned travelogs here, illustrating the lectures by means of
motion pictures and other visual devices.110 Aside from this program, summer at the Garrick also involved the presentation of two feature films. The
first was Evangeline (Canadian Bioscope Company, 1914), an adaptation of
the Longfellow poem, shown for two weeks in early July and reported to
have “set a new record for mid-summer theatricals in this city.”111 The other
was John Barleycorn, drawing crowds to the Garrick for two weeks at the
beginning of August.112 The controversial impact of the exhibition of this
feature film in Philadelphia has already been addressed.
The feature film exhibition at the two legitimate theaters discussed here
basically adhered to the “old” strategy of a minimum of one week’s exhibition for a few “prestige” feature films. The elements of educational and in181
structive motion pictures were also more pronounced at these venues than
was the case, for instance, for a more or less fully-fledged movie house like
the Stanley.
Special Case Study II: The Metropolitan Opera House
After the brief period of screenings of primarily Vitagraph films in April and
May at the Metropolitan Opera House, it took a break from films before
returning with a vengeance to a full motion picture policy starting on August
10. The Metropolitan’s experimental programming, epitomized by the notion
of a “Monster Bill,” offers, perhaps, the most captivating Philadelphian case
of a theater attempting to fulfill the ideal of variety inherited from program
cinema while at the same time accommodating the push for longer films,
lavish presentations, and marketing strategies that we associate with feature
cinema.
A look at the Metropolitan’s program for the week commencing Monday,
August 31, gives an idea of the kind of variety the management set out to
offer: Monday’s and Tuesday’s main feature film was Home, Sweet Home
(the second run of this film in Philadelphia), which was hailed by the Inquirer as a “masterpiece” and “the sweetest story ever told,” arguably reprints of phrases picked up in the marketing material, considering that the
latter phrase also appeared in the advertisement for the Metropolitan on the
same page.113 Among films advertised for this week (marketed as “Picture
Fan Week”) we find Pathé Weekly war pictures on Tuesday, Pathé’s sixreeler The Stain (Pathé, 1914) on Wednesday, the serial The Trey o’ Hearts
on Wednesday, two episodes of another serial, The Million Dollar Mystery
and on Friday an assortment of Keystone comedies. Moreover, as the advertisement boasted, this represented merely a part of the program. Upon the
launching of the Metropolitan as a picture house in August 1914, it issued a
policy declaration of sorts that further elaborated on the programming policy. Generally, the program was to be of a varied and “lengthy” kind, primarily structured around stars from the legitimate stage who appear in “feature pictures.” The serial The Trey o’ Hearts was also highlighted as a special feature, but in spite of the promised orientation toward features and serials, variety was nonetheless the keynote, as the management promised a
daily new program comprised of “comedy, drama, melodrama, travel and
novelty in their highest form.”114 The notion of a “monster bill” appeared in
the very first advertisement to promote the new picture policy: “Most Varied
and Entertaining Program Ever Arranged. Comedy, Drama, Melodrama,
Travel, Novelty—All in One Monster Bill,” as the advertisement boldly
declared.115
182
Figure 23. Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 9,
1914.
In striking a balance between feature films and other elements, the ambition
was to offer one multi-reel feature film per day, enveloped in an additional
5,000 feet of film consisting of shorter subjects from different genres.116 In
this respect, the Metropolitan represents not as much a hybrid as a compound
model of film exhibition, as patrons got the multi-reel feature as well as a
varied program of one-reelers. Live entertainment seems to have been off the
table.
Aside from the specific programming, a vital aspect of the Metropolitan’s
monster bill model is signaled by the advertisements’ repetitive trumpeting
of a low admission price. Already the first motion picture stint had come
with a reduction in prices—when running the Vitagraph program in April
and May, the Metropolitan charged 10¢ or 15¢ for most seats and 25¢ for
box seats, a price scale that applied to the matinee (2–5 p.m.) as well as for
evening shows (7–11 p.m.). This may be compared to the universal 25¢ admission for Traffic in Souls previously that year, and to the Metropolitan’s
theatrical fare, for which prices ranged from 25¢ to $1.50. With the launching of the monster bill, the management went one step further by reducing
the admission price for all seats to 10¢. The advertisement appearing on
August 9 asked the readers to consider the implications: “Just think—A
$1.00 Show in the Most Beautiful Theatre in the City for a Little Dime.”117
This can be seen as a prolongation or elaboration of tropes already used to
promote the Vitagraph program in April and May, when potential patrons
had been asked to “Note Reduction in Prices” and that these films reached
Philadelphia “Direct From Their Record-Breaking Run on Broadway at $1 a
seat.”118 The marketing of the program as simultaneously cheap and expensive may seem contradictory, but we should simply regard it as an attempt to
convince patrons that they were getting a lot of bang for a fraction of a buck.
183
Recalling our discussion on the discourses on admission prices, this would
be in reasonable accord with some of the recommendations put forward in
the trade press. On the other hand, the emphasis gradually shifted to a linking of the admission price to the sheer length of the program. An advertisement appearing on August 23 argued that “The Best, Most Varied, Longest
Show, and All for a Thin Dime, is at the ‘MET’,” and by September 13, the
management went so far as to claim that the Metropolitan offered the
“LONGEST SHOW EVER GIVEN at ANY PRICE.”119 In contrast to the
value-for-money argument, competing by putting on a long show at the lowest possible price would most likely have been labeled a cheapening abomination.
Another feature of the Metropolitan model was the intense and insistent
marketing of venue as “The Most Beautiful Picture House of the World” or
“The Finest Picture Theatre in the World”.120 These and similar phrases mirrored the Stanley Theatre’s marketing, and the streamlining of feature film
marketing in general in their promotional spotlighting of improved theater
space.
Figure 24. Trying to capitalize on the Mary Pickford vogue. Advertisements for the
Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, September 6, 1914; and September 13, 1914.
184
The Metropolitan shared with the Stanley and many others a reliance on
movie stars as prime attractions. In the case of the Metropolitan, some of the
advertisements are particularly revealing; one advertisement spelled out the
names of several actors but not the titles of the films in which they would
appear, while another included both but used capitals for the actors’ names
and lowercase for the titles.121 In September, as the Metropolitan opted for
putting virtually all of its promotional eggs in the Mary Pickford basket, the
star’s name was sometimes blurted out in capital letters as many as three
times in one advertisement (see figure 24).122
In spite of reports that the Metropolitan’s motion picture policy was a
“tremendous hit” and a “guaranteed success,” and that patronage had increased daily since the policy’s inauguration,123 the experiment with movies
at the Metropolitan Opera House came to an abrupt end in early October. It
had began on August 10, and eight weeks (forty-eight working days), at least
twenty-eight multi-reel feature films, a dozen or more serial film episodes,
numerous Universal as well as Pathé newsreels and a variety of one- and
two-reelers later, it suddenly ceased. Exactly why remains somewhat unclear, but a sign of crisis can be traced to a report from Moving Picture
World’s Philadelphia correspondent appearing in the September 12 issue.
According to this, the owners of the Metropolitan Opera House had taken
their leaseholder, the Philadelphia Central Amusement Company, to court on
account of unpaid rent. Allegedly, the Central Amusement Company had not
paid rent since March, hereby accumulating a debt amounting to $25,000.
The proprietors sued for this amount, plus an additional $819.79 for an unsettled electricity bill.124 I have not been able to find any evidence in the
Philadelphia press to corroborate Congdon’s report or to elucidate what
might have happened in court. In spite of this unfortunate state of affairs,
there is enough to indicate that the Metropolitan’s movie policy was not
successful.
A tentative answer as to why this was the case can be attained by a sort of
non-formal proof by transposition in the form of a comparison to the Stanley
Theatre. Firstly, a trait that distinguished the two venues was the fact that the
Metropolitan rarely or perhaps never secured any first-run pictures. Most of
the multi-reel features that were shown here had already appeared at the
Stanley or some other venue, and many of the films offered to fulfill the
promises of total variety were quite old, e.g. the parade of Biograph onereelers that were screened on account of Mary Pickford being in them (the
titles of several of these films are enumerated in the section on Mary
Pickford in the previous chapter). Secondly, the management of the Metropolitan did not engage in any extraordinary promotional stunts or advanced
forms of medial self-staging. There were no social events, no inviting of
movie stars, no attracting of local celebrities to the venue. On the other hand,
and also in opposition to the Stanley approach, the advertisements were
relatively large and relatively high-pitched. Thirdly, the admission price was
185
lower at the Metropolitan. On the one hand, this can be taken to reflect lower
rental fees due to the late date of many films shown, and also a limit to what
was reasonable to charge patrons, a limit determined precisely by the age of
the films. In these respects, there is nothing to prove that a low admission
price in itself worked to the disadvantage of the Metropolitan. Still, in relation to the exceptional length of the program and the fidelity to the dogma of
daily change, it might not have been economically viable to charge 10¢ a
seat. A standard form of price segmentation or a generally higher price per
seat might have been needed to cover the costs of running the show.
As touched upon, there was also common ground in the form of the marketing of the theater space in itself and an emphasis on the movie star as the
prime draw. Moreover, multi-reel feature films were doubtless the core element of the program at the Metropolitan as well as at the Stanley, and both
venues presented shorter films in conjunction with the main features, although the Metropolitan more strongly accentuated the enveloping variety,
perhaps trying to compensate for the lack of first-run features. At any rate,
the components that made up the common ground were perhaps necessary
but apparently insufficient conditions for success, as one venue succeeded
and the other failed miserably. Then again, it might be the case that the Metropolitan’s “monster bill” experiment was not as much the cause of the economic fiasco as a sign of previous failures in running other forms of amusements at this venue. Recalling that the leaseholders owed a substantial debt,
it is not unlikely that they had reached the point where they would try anything that had the slightest chance of increasing revenue. This does not,
however, provide reason to write off the Metropolitan Opera House as a
dead end, or indicate that a comparison to the Stanley is not instructive. On
the contrary, the Metropolitan’s “monster bill” can be seen as exactly the
type of microcosm of cinema in the 1910s that stimulates our historical
imagination.
Late August and September 1914
This period was marked by the continuous coexistence and further development of the two principal strategies for feature film exhibition sketched
above.
Operating roughly within the parameters of the “old” feature film exhibition model, i.e. a minimum one-week long run of supposedly extra attractive
and spectacular features, the August 31 premiere of Cabiria at the Chestnut
Street Opera House in the downtown entertainment area of Philadelphia was
a significant event. This film ran successfully for four weeks followed by a
two-week run at the Academy of Music.125 The film returned in November
for a late run at the Palace (seating capacity 1,106), an old Lubin outlet on
186
Market Street in Center City that had ventured into the exhibition of various
features two weeks previously with a late run of The Sea Wolf.126
The seven-week run of Cabiria indicates that with the right marketing and
within the right context, a single feature film could keep a theater busy and
sold out for weeks. If we look at the marketing of Cabiria in the Philadelphia
press, a few important elements can be noticed: First of all, the emphasis on
the fact that this was “D’Annunzio’s Cabiria” was essential.127 Although
D’Annunzio had had little to do with the writing of the script for Cabiria
beyond allowing the use of his name,128 the mobilization of cultural capital
by attaching the author’s name to the film was a vital part of the marketing.
This applied not only to a photo-spectacle such as Cabiria but also to the
many Famous Players adaptations that flooded the Philadelphia market in
the latter part of the year. Secondly, the principal attraction of a film like
Cabiria was its sheer size and production set pieces. The first advertisement
claimed that Cabiria was a $250,000 production that had been staged in five
countries with a cast of 5,000.129 Next week, the public was encouraged to
“SEE: Terrific Battle in which 7,000 Soldiers Participate. Entire Fleet of
Ships Destroyed at Sea. Volcanic Eruption.”130 Cabiria was immediately
dubbed “The Greatest Photo Spectacle”—a slogan that appeared in most of
the advertisements. Both the Chestnut Street Opera House and the Academy
of Music also boasted musical accompaniment to the film: the former used
an “Orchestra of 40 and a Chorus of 30” whereas the Academy deployed a
“Symphony Orchestra—Grand Opera Chorus—Orchestra Organ” combo.131
Compensating for the lateness of the run and other factors that might have
been perceived as shortcomings in relation to the extravaganza of these
shows, The Palace instead emphasized that their screenings of Cabiria were
“Positively the First with Our Prices,” i.e. either 10¢ or 20¢, depending on
the type of seat.132
A novelty in movie-going behavior that can be seen as prompted by the
influx of feature films, and that in the Philadelphia case was more pronounced with the screening of Cabiria, was the issue of creating time slots
for the screenings and encouraging audiences to take their seats on time for
the feature film.133 When Cabiria was shown at the Chestnut Street Opera
House, the advertisement declared that “Patrons [are] Urged to Be Seated at
Rise of Curtain,” which occurred twice daily at the Chestnut: at 2.15 p.m. for
the matinee and at 8.15 p.m. for the evening show.134 Roughly around the
same time, the Metropolitan Opera House began to inform prospective patrons about the time-table for film screenings. For instance, the 1 p.m. matinee would commence with a “program of varied features” that went on until
2.40 p.m. when the “Big Feature” would follow, and finally, a supplementary program would carry the program to its end at 5 p.m.135
187
Figure 25. Publicity poster for the premiere of Cabiria at the Knickerbocker Theatre
in New York on June 1, 1914.
Whether these attempts to get motion picture patrons to plan ahead were
successful or not remains an open question, but we may conclude that such
requests directed at the audience were rare. Most venues seems to have settled somewhere in between a fully continuous program and a fully scheduled
one. Normally, a movie theater would divide the day of screenings into a
matinee slot and an evening slot and announce the starting time for each of
these, but apart from this, there were no indications of exactly when a specific film would be screened.
188
Figure 26. Advertisement for Cabiria at the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer,
September 6, 1914.
Other feature films shown in Philadelphia in September (i.e. save the ones
already mentioned as well as those shown at our case study theaters) included a late run of The Eagle’s Mate at Nixon’s Colonial in Germantown
and what seems to have been the Philadelphia premiere of The Dollar Mark
(William A. Brady Picture Plays, 1914) at the same theater.136 The New
Dixie Theatre in Manayunk also offered two feature films in September: The
Bishop’s Carriage, also a late run, and The Master Mind (Jesse L. Lasky
Feature Co., 1914).
Special Case Study III: The Chestnut Street Opera House
The success of Cabiria stimulated a complete shift to the exhibition of multireel feature films at the Chestnut Street Opera House in the fall of 1914. This
event can be seen as unfolding within the parameters of the “old” feature
exhibition model, but a closer look reveals that the Chestnut Street Opera
House’s film policy represented a reinvention of the “old” model rather than
a reproduction of it.
Following the Cabiria screenings, the management of the Chestnut Street
Opera House publicly recognized that the audience was “ready to welcome
high grade pictures.” Some essentials of the policy were also announced.
First of all, the Chestnut would not subscribe to any “‘service’ or weekly
output by the film factories,” but would seek, find and obtain only “the
greatest productions of the masters of motion picture art.” Furthermore, they
were among the few to explicitly admit to modeling the exhibition strategies
on those common in the theatrical field: “It is intended to give each production the sort of attention that would be given a theatrical company and each
189
presentation will be on its merits.” The premiere film, scheduled for the
week beginning on November 2, was to be The Littlest Rebel, followed the
next week by The Spoilers, reputedly “the most thrilling and wonderful
photo-spectacle yet made in this country.”137
In some respects, the offerings at the Chestnut Street Opera House (which
aside from the three films already mentioned also included a two-week run
of Ireland, a Nation just after the Cabiria stint) recalled the screenings of
Kleine-imported Italian features early in 1914. There was a clear emphasis
on spectacle and size, especially in the case of Cabiria (see above), and just
as had been the case with the Italian photo-spectacles as well as with the vice
films, the run time of a single feature was at least a full week.
In other respects, the accent was slightly but significantly different. Most
notably, the reliance on stars in the marketing of the films was as indispensable an element as for any other ambitious venue at this point, which had
not necessarily been the case in early 1914. This might have at least partly to
do with the relative anonymity of the foreign actors that appeared in the
Italian films of early 1914, but is also explained by a deepening of the increasingly star-oriented fan culture.
The Chestnut Street Opera House also distinguished itself from forerunners that had adhered to similar policies by stressing that the main feature
was supplemented by additional and shorter films. This is not to say that the
theaters where Quo Vadis?, Antony and Cleopatra and Between Savage and
Tiger had been shown did not offer shorter films in conjunction with the
features, but if they did, they failed to mention it in the advertising. In contrast, advertisements for the Chestnut’s screenings of The Littlest Rebel also
announced that “The Funniest of Comedy Pictures” would be a part of the
program.138 Similarly, advertisements for The Spoilers also promised “Brand
New Comedy Pictures Every Day,” and that the feature would be “preceded
by a daily change of first run pictures.”139 This is significant, as it yet again
demonstrates how frequent experimentation with hybrid or compound models of exhibition at this point defy the notion that there was a clear-cut
boundary between feature-oriented programs and traditional variety formats,
and that any given venue could easily be allocated into either of these two
camps. In the specific case of the Chestnut Street Opera House, the management apparently opted for trying to retain a successful multi-reel feature
film as long as possible in order to maximize the returns of it, while at the
same time accommodating for a daily change of shorter films within such a
feature-based program. With regards to the latter, the Chestnut was something of a cousin of the Metropolitan Opera House, and in fact on occasion
prone to draw attention to the length of the show—clearly à la the Metropolitan. As one advertisement put it: “Positively the Best and Longest Picture Show in Philadelphia.”140
Last but not least, there was an explicit focus on comedies as supplements
to the feature film. Within a wider discourse on the multi-reel feature film
190
and genre, the feature and the comedy were sometimes positioned at opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. Whereas the former was held to represent a
continual drive for the advancement of film art, the latter, especially the
films labeled as “slapstick,” were seen as a crude residue, deeply rooted in
cinema’s sideshow and circus beginnings—or so went the gist of one side of
what was often referred to in fan monthly Motion Picture Magazine as “the
comedy question.”141 Set against this background, the seemingly peaceful
co-habitation of prestige feature films and one-reel comedies on the Chestnut
Street Opera House’s bill shows how local practice sometimes ran counter to
discursive dicta.
Figure 27. Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November
15, 1914.
October to December 1914
The broad trends that have been sketched above continued in one way or
another during the last three months of 1914, some more augmented than
others. First of all, we can establish that as the fall turned into winter, a
greater number of features were screened at an ever increasing number of
venues and at fewer running days per feature film compared to the first half
of the year. In September, a total of twenty-two features had been exhibited
in Philadelphia and seven venues showed feature films regularly. In October
these figures were twenty-nine and eight, respectively, only to peak in November at thirty-six and nine, respectively. A slump in December (twentyfour features at six different venues) may perhaps be explained by the imminent holidays and the closing of some theaters.142
191
Figure 28. Wholesome genres according to Motion Picture Magazine. “The New
Era,” MPM 7, no. 2 (March 1914).
192
The increasing demand for feature films had to be satisfied by the supply
side of the business. Where did all of these films come from? Judging solely
by newspaper press advertising and press coverage, one may be led to believe that the feature market was all but totally dominated by Paramount’s
regular producers (i.e. Famous Players, Jesse L. Lasky and Hobart Bosworth), independent producers such as William A. Brady and various state
rights and road show appearances. However, taking into account even the
most limited knowledge we have from a macro point of view of the multireel feature film as a production trend, we must acknowledge that longer
films were produced not only by newcomers such as the ones just mentioned, but to a significant extent by manufacturers tied to the program companies too.143 As indicated by the testimony of John Collier, head of the National Board of Censorship, before the court handling the USA v. MPPC
case, independent producers were responsible for the lion’s share of feature
production in the United States. In January 1914, the censors inspected two
hundred and eighty-four reels put out by MPPC producers and five hundred
and seventeen independent reels, and Collier explained that the greater number of the latter was accounted for “by the fact that the independent group
includes the most of the feature and State Rights companies, which release
subjects of two, three, four, and five reels,”144 but as the year passed, the
situation changed. It, therefore, seems likely that features put out by the program companies are under-represented in the Philadelphia newspaper
sources. Of course, this highlights a blind spot in my approach, namely the
risk of overestimating certain companies’, persons’ and pictures’ historical
significance by reading discursive dominance as an indication of industrial
and/or cultural dominance. A first remedy would be the recognition that
discursive dominance was due not as much to some companies’ greater inclination to produce feature films as to differing approaches to the feature
field. This has been forcefully demonstrated by Michael Quinn’s comparison
of the Motion Picture Patents Company’s and Famous Players’ respective
feature film strategies.145 Secondly, we should, of course, gather as much
evidence as possible concerning where and when specific feature films were
exhibited. This does not alleviate the risk of biased sources, but thought of as
an accumulative effort, it eventually enables us to analyze the relation between macro trends within production and local trends within exhibition and
marketing with much greater precision than I have been able to achieve in
this section.
With this in mind, and as a showcase of the form such an endeavor can
take, I have summarized the data presently available on which production
companies and distributors set out to satisfy the demand for features in
Philadelphia for the last three months of the year. This quarter is of particular interest as it covers the quantitative explosion of the feature field. For
perspective, please recall how few multi-reel feature films were presented in
Philadelphia during each of the first two to three months of 1914, and then
193
consider the following figures for the period from October to December:
Seventy-six unique feature films appeared at different venues around town
during this quarter. As some of the films re-appeared for second, third or
even fourth runs (the ordinals in this case referring to whether the film had
been shown at other theaters prior to the screening in question), this
amounted to ninety-three bookings of feature films by various theaters.
Adding up the run time for each separate booking yields an estimated total
run time of features of 349 days.146 Hence, the average run time per feature
booking was about 3.75 days, but the value of this figure is rendered somewhat questionable by the great variance of the sample, ranging from the
many films that were screened only for one day to the longest-running picture, The Spoilers, which played at the Chestnut Street Opera House for
seven consecutive weeks (i.e. for 42 show days).
Keeping in mind but discounting the risk of biased sources, we can note
that among production companies, the Famous Players Film Company was
indisputably the most prolific supplier of feature films to Philadelphia audiences. Unlike, for instance, Des Moines, Iowa, where, as Richard Abel has
shown, the leader was Warner’s Features, but similar to other regions of the
country, in Philadelphia Famous Players dominated.147 Of the seventy-six
features (three of which are unidentified with regard to production company
and release year) we have evidence as having been shown during the last
quarter of 1914, seventeen were produced by Famous Players.148 Most of
these were screened at the Stanley Theatre, a venue that had signed up for
the Paramount program earlier in the year, whereas a few appeared for late
runs at the Palace (another theater controlled by the Mastbaum brothers) and
the William Penn Theatre in West Philadelphia. Which producer should be
ranked second to Famous Players depends on whether one uses the number
of unique features or the number of feature bookings as the decisive criterion. With regard to the former, Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Co. came second, managing to place seven features (resulting in eight bookings) on the
Philadelphia market from October to December, namely Where the Trail
Divides, The Virginian, The Man on the Box, Ready Money, The Rose of
Rancho, The Circus Man and The Ghost Breaker (all released in 1914). On
the other hand, the three William A. Brady Picture Plays features to appear
in Philadelphia during this period—The Gentleman from Mississippi, The
Man of the Hour and Mother (all released in 1914)—were booked by more
theaters, resulting in nine bookings. Moreover, the total run time of the three
Brady features amounted to thirty-five days, whereas the seven Lasky features ran for twenty-six days in total. One of the Brady films, The Man of the
Hour, had already been shown at the Stanley in May and then at the Metropolitan in August, but returned in October to appear at four different theaters: the Victoria in Center City, the Bluebird in Lower North Philadelphia,
the Fairmount, also in the Lower North district, and Nixon’s Colonial in
Germantown. A Gentleman from Mississippi and Mother were both shown at
194
the Nixon (in West Philadelphia) as well as at Nixon’s Colonial, indicating
how manager Fred G. Nixon-Nirdlinger apparently found it a viable strategy
to let the feature bookings tour his various venues. In both cases, Nixon’s
Colonial was his first-run option. As to the Lasky features, the Mastbaums
generally opted to premiere these films at the Stanley, but occasionally at
their Palace Theatre. The screenings of The Virginian and The Man on the
Box at the William Penn in October and November had both been preceded
by first runs of these Lasky features at the Stanley in September and August.
Another company hooked up to Paramount, Hobart Bosworth Productions,
released four films on the Philadelphia market during the quarter. The Sea
Wolf had been the premiere feature upon the opening of the Stanley Theatre
in April, and was brought back by the Mastbaums to the Palace Theatre in
October. A later Jack London adaptation, An Odyssey of the North, premiered at the William Penn in late October. The two remaining Bosworth
pictures of the year, The Country Mouse and False Colors, premiered at the
Stanley in November and December respectively. Two other reasonably
prolific agents in the feature field during this period were the New York
Motion Picture Corp. and Popular Plays and Players, three features of each
company reaching Philadelphia. Two New York Motion Picture features,
The Typhoon and The Bargain (both released in 1914), made their way to the
screen via Paramount, and predictably then, both films premiered at the
Stanley. The third one, The Wrath of the Gods, was one of two Mutual releases of feature films that I have found evidence of for the period OctoberDecember. Two Popular Plays and Players features, The Ragged Earl (coproduced with Lubin) and The Tigress (both released in 1914), were shown
at the Palace (perhaps as the Mastbaums’ budget alternative to the more lavish presentations of Paramount features at the Stanley). The third one, Michael Strogoff (Popular Plays and Players, 1914; co-produced with Lubin),
opened at the Victoria.
Aside from the companies discussed above, it is also worth mentioning
that there were seven production companies who had two feature films each
on the Philadelphia market during the three months under discussion and as
many as twenty-five companies with only one title during the same period.
All in all then, there were thirty-eight active producers, a few large with
conspicuous dominance in a sea of numerous small ones.
So far, we have ranked the feature producers almost exclusively with regards to their respective quantitative output, without acknowledging that this
might result in a skewed image. The reason for this is that some films were
so successful and ran for such long periods that although this might have
been the only feature a certain company released during the period, it dominated the scene to an extent which eclipsed most efforts by other producers.
The obvious case in point for the last quarter of the year is, of course, The
Spoilers, Selig’s only feature in the Philadelphia market, but unquestionably
the smash hit of November and December. Cabiria offers a similar example,
195
although the bulk of this film’s forty-two day run had already passed by
October.
One solution is to calculate the share of the total feature film run time that
each production company could claim. Such estimates still put Famous Players at the top of the list, whose films made claim to just over 22% of the total
run time, followed by Selig (about 12% of the total run time), Brady (ca.
10%), Lasky (ca. 7.5%), Itala, Bosworth and Popular Plays and Players (all
ca. 4%).
Several of the production companies discussed here were linked to specific distributors, either in the form of the “old” program companies (General Film, Mutual and Universal) or in the form of new feature combines
(e.g. Paramount or World Film Corp.). Others acted independently from
such firms, and put out their films by aid of local feature distributors, by
road showing, or on a states rights basis. Paramount handled the output of
five producers visible on Philadelphia screens in October-December; the
three Paramount regulars (Famous Players, Lasky and Bosworth), but also
two films produced by the New York Motion Picture Corporation and The
Patchwork Girl of Oz. World Film Corporation also acted as distributor for
five feature producers: William A. Brady Picture Plays, World Film’s own
production branch, Schubert Features, Charles E. Blaney Productions and
the California Motion Picture Corporation. Four companies active within the
feature field in Philadelphia during this period were tied to General Film: the
Biograph/Klaw and Erlanger brand, Vitagraph, Essanay and Lubin. Two
minor distributors, focusing exclusively on putting out films produced by the
various small independent feature producers were also relatively prolific in
this period; Box Office Attractions distributed films made by its own production branch, by White Star and by Balboa, whereas Alco Film handled
features by Popular Plays and Players, All Star Feature Film Corp. and B.A.
Rolfe Photoplayers Inc. Mutual as well as Universal were seemingly the
least active distributors within the feature field during this particular period.
Mutual handled one film by the New York Motion Picture Corp., The Wrath
of the Gods, and also The Escape (1914), jointly produced by Majestic and
the Griffith Company. As to Universal, I have only found evidence of one
film handled by this company, Imp’s Human Hearts (1914). The remaining
production companies, including four foreign producers and eleven small
independent feature firms, relied on local exchanges or road showing or state
rights strategies to put their films on the Philadelphia market.
To acquire more adequate estimates of the impact and significance of the
various distributors active in Philadelphia at this point, we may also try to
measure each distributor’s market share in terms of bookings and in terms of
run time. For instance, although Paramount and World Film handled the
output of five producers each, thirty-six of the altogether ninety-three bookings of feature films made by Philadelphia theaters during the quarter, i.e.
almost 39% of the bookings, involved Paramount films, whereas World Film
196
made deals for fourteen bookings, i.e. for about 15% of all feature film
bookings. If we think of the various independent producers (excluding foreign companies) not tied to any specific program distributor or feature combine as one group, this was the third largest agent on the market measured in
terms of shares of feature bookings. Thirteen feature film bookings, or about
14%, involved these producers. Grouping together the foreign producers in
the same manner, the corresponding figure is just over 5%. As to the three
program companies, General Film was the largest, responsible for eight of
the all in all ninety-three feature bookings, i.e. just over 8.5%. The meager
results of Universal and Mutual involved one and two feature bookings respectively. Alco and Box Office had deeper penetration, sealing deals for six
and five bookings respectively, thus securing about 6.5% and 5.5% of the
market measured in these terms.
Taking run time into account generates a slightly different image. Paramount is still the undisputedly largest distributor, responsible for 130 days of
feature film run time, i.e. more than 37% of the total run time for the period.
Sixty days of run time, or about 17%, consisted of screenings of various
features distributed independently of program companies or feature combines. World Film had the third largest market shared measured in run time,
amounting to 47 days, i.e. almost 13.5%. Assigning the fourth spot depends
on how to account for The Spoilers. Selig was, of course, linked to General
Film, but since this particular film was distributed on a states rights basis, it
cannot be included in General Film’s market share. On the other hand, it
does not seem wholly accurate to bunch together Selig/The Spoilers with
minor independent feature producers such as Kismet, Whitman Features,
Raymond L. Ditmars, Favorite Players, Hector Film, and so on. Consequently, the best solution seems to be to regard the distribution of Selig as a
special case and not include it in any of the other groups of distributors, and
as a result, the state rights company handling the Philadelphia release of The
Spoilers comes in fourth with regard to market share measured as run time
(amounting to 42 days of run time, or about 12%). The remainder of the run
time was allocated as follows: Foreign producers: 22 days/ca. 6.5%; Alco
Film: 19 days/ca. 5.5%; General Film: 12 days/ca. 3.5%; Mutual 9 days/ca.
2.5%; Box Office: 7 days/ca. 2%; and Universal: 1 day/ca. 0.5%.
Given precautions concerning fallacious equations of discursive imbalances with actual market conditions and structures, we should make some
conclusions about the figures above. First of all, the variety and multitude of
feature film offerings during the last quarter of 1914, as manifested by the
presence of at least thirty-eight different production companies and a range
of distributors, is in itself a remarkable indication of a breakthrough moment
of the feature during this particular year—in Philadelphia at any rate. Secondly, variety notwithstanding, the Paramount companies’ dominance and to
lesser extent other independent feature producers, such as the ones connected
to World Film, and the corresponding lagging behind of General Film, Mu197
tual and Universal is also a striking result. Granted, a number of the program
companies’ multi-reel feature films most definitely found their way to the
movie theaters as elements incorporated in the daily and weekly programs
that these distributors offered. If that was the case, it must also follow that
such program-incorporated features were practically never deemed worthy
of either newspaper advertising or critical coverage in the press, signaling a
lack of strategies for differentiation that is somewhat surprising in itself.
Related to the discussion on the feature market structure is the issue concerning in which specific theaters the feature films were shown. This can
also be approached in terms of a certain tension between variety and dominance. Thirteen different venues (as far as we know) exhibited multi-reel
features during the period October-December 1914, five of which were located in Center City, four in Lower North Philadelphia, two in West Philadelphia, and one each in Bridesburg/Kensington/Richmond and
Germantown, figures that represent a relatively high degree of geographical
variety and dispersion. On the other hand, a closer look reveals that since the
field was dominated by Paramount’s output, a disproportionate amount of
feature bookings as well as run time took place at the Mastbaum theaters,
primarily the Stanley, but also the Palace Theatre. Similarly, due to the Metropolitan Opera House’s desperate attempts to uphold a policy of a daily
program change, a disproportionate number of feature films were screened at
this particular venue.
The coverage of the last quarter of 1914 has been drawn from a slightly
different perspective than the preceding sections in our chronological overview. This is due to an ambition to grasp and display the specific character
of change within the feature field, by means of contrasting the multiplicity
and diversity of the latter part of the year with the relative simplicity of the
beginning of the year. This can also be seen as answering a call for supplementary tools for description and interpretation in the face of quantitative
leaps in the history of feature exhibition. Beyond the point where it is no
longer possible or particularly productive to describe in exact detail which
specific films were exhibited at specific venues and under which specific
circumstances, analytical description and interpretation necessarily takes on
other forms.
A Month by Month Summary
There is no self-evident way to summarize the chronological overview in a
manner that would neatly and accurately illustrate the changing character of
feature film exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914. A month by month table with
regard to the number of feature films exhibited, the number of bookings, the
number of venues and run time might at least put us on a path to a few concluding remarks.149
198
No. of Features Exhibited
No. of Philadelphia
Premieres
No. of Theatrical
Bookings of Features
No. of New Bookings
No. of Venues Exhibiting Features
No. of New Venues
Total Run Time (in
Days)
Average Run Time per
Booking (in Days)
Table 1. Feature Film Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914
January
3
3
4
4
3
3
60
15
February
5
3
6
4
3
1
42
7
March
5
3
6
5
6
5
32
5.3
April
6
4
8
7
6
4
49
6.1
May
19
16
24
21
5
1
87
3.6
June
17
14
17
16
2
0
31
1.8
July
9
8
9
9
2
1
24
2.7
August
31
22
32
31
5
1
59
1.8
September
22
12
23
20
7
3
84
3.7
October
29
20
33
30
10
2
123
3.7
November
36
28
38
38
9
2
126
3.3
December
24
17
27
24
6
0
100
3.7
Total:
N/A
150
N/A
209
N/A
23
817
N/A
Two of the films listed for January, Traffic in Souls and The Inside of the
White Slave Traffic, were carried over from 1913. It makes sense to count
them as premiere films as we would otherwise end up with a misleading
figure of how many unique feature films were actually shown in Philadelphia in 1914. The above figures, of course, represent what we know and not
the actual situation in its entirety. Thus, we know that at least 150 unique
multi-reel feature films were shown in Philadelphia during 1914, and that
each of these 150 films were shown at one or more of a total of 23 venues
that all exhibited at least one multi-reel feature film in 1914. Moreover, we
know that these 23 venues altogether made arrangements for at least 209
separate bookings of various feature films, but we may also safely assume
that all of these figures are underestimates.
As a consequence, it is perhaps more interesting to study columns as incremental series that might disclose patterns of change not necessarily requiring statistical exactitude to be discerned. For instance, the second col199
umn from the left shows how many feature films appeared in Philadelphia
each month that had not been seen in the city earlier in the year. The pattern
here seems quite straightforward. Up until April, the inflow of features was
steady and sparse, before a first quantitative leap occurred in May due to the
opening of the Stanley. The number of new features increased further toward
the end of the year.
Studying the proliferation of venues exhibiting features reveals that thirteen of the twenty-three venues had ventured into feature exhibition before
the end of April. This indicates that there was no immediate connection between an escalating number of films and the addition of new theaters venturing into feature exhibition. Instead, long run times allowed several theaters to exhibit the same feature film in a sequence of first, second, third and
even later runs. Obviously, a greater number of films was a necessary condition for the simultaneous exhibition of features at multiple venues. Hence, if
we look at the total number of theaters that were operational each month
rather than how many new venues that entered the field, activity was highest
in October and November.
Examined monthly, the total days of feature film run time increases in
May, hits the yearly low in June and July, and increases again to reach the
highest figures in the last three months of the year. The general increase in
run time over the year is, however, not correlated with the growing number
of feature films. Once again, long run times at the beginning of 1914 compensate for multitude and variety later on. Another measure for this is the
average run time, which was considerably higher from January to April
compared to the rest of the year. From May onwards, disregarding the summer season, the average run time was remarkably constant, seemingly
gravitating toward 3.7 days per theatrical booking of a feature film.
Some of the figures discussed in this section also lie at the basis of the
“models” of multi-reel feature film exhibition that I have been referring to
throughout the chronological overview. A first line of demarcation between
two general models relates to run time, one model being structured around
long run times (a week at a minimum) and the other around short run times
and frequent changes (sometimes as often as daily). The approach to marketing also differed. The long-running features of the first model were more
likely to be awarded advertising on a par with theatrical production, focusing
on elements specific and unique to a particular film, whereas advertising of
films exhibited within the parameters of the second model was more modest
and more predictable in its emphasis on stars and hypotexts (and, of course,
the authors of at least some such hypotexts).150 These differing approaches
are also connected to genre and the types of feature films that were exhibited
within each model or system. Whereas the earlier part of the year was dominated by long runs of, primarily, vice films and Italian spectacles (and the
occasional nature/jungle/expedition picture), the latter part of the year saw a
multitude of genres.
200
Although these two broad models productively frame the overall conditions of feature exhibition in Philadelphia in 1914, it is important to bear in
mind that the actual situation was too complex to be accounted for by subsuming each film and each venue under one of the two models. Arguably, it
would be difficult enough to find even one ideal theater that would fit any of
the models perfectly. The special case studies of three specific venues carried out above demonstrate this with adequate clarity by pointing to the wide
range of options, alternatives and possible combinations of strategies available to any given movie theater manager intent on offering multi-reel feature
films to Philadelphia audiences in 1914.
201
Part III
The Case of The Spoilers
202
Chapter 6
The Spoilers: The Anatomy of a Feature
Success
The Biography
Rex Ellingwood Beach was born in Atwood, Illinois on September 1, 1877.
The family moved to Tampa, Florida in the mid 1880s, and in 1891, Beach
enrolled in Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Before graduating,
Beach relocated to Chicago to study law at the Chicago College of Law,
while at the same time working as an assistant at his two brothers’ law firm
for about a year. He left for Klondike in 1897, attracted by the prospect of
striking Alaskan gold. Five years later, and after numerous trips between
Alaska and Illinois, Beach had not prospered as a gold miner. More important, Alaskan life had inspired Beach to start writing, while also providing a
great deal of experience for potential stories. Some of these early short stories and essays were published in McClure’s Magazine in 1904. The following year, Beach’s first long story—The Spoilers—was serialized in Everybody’s Magazine.1
The Novel
The Spoilers was published in book form by Harper and Brothers in late
1905. Harper’s actually published two impressions of the first edition, the
second one in 1906, which might explain why sources differ on whether the
book dates from 1905 or 1906 and why most reviews seem to have appeared
a few months into 1906.
203
Figure 29. Rex Beach in Stetson (George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of
Congress Photographs and Prints Division).
There is no comprehensive study of the critical reception of the book version
of The Spoilers, and it is, of course, not within the scope of this work to offer
one, but a first impression indicates that the response was mixed. No major
critic would have been likely to label the novel a literary masterpiece. Some,
however, found it a rather solid and entertaining piece of action and romance. Others considered the action-packed plot construction exaggerated
and unrealistic, and scorned Beach for an alleged lack of literary ambition.
The review published in the New York Times Review of Books on Saturday
April 14, 1906 was reasonably favorable, and concluded that “in a nutshell,”
The Spoilers was a “good story.” Still, there was “nothing subtle” about
Beach, and he was highly conventional in his morality as well as in his character depiction.2 Two months later, the New York Times Review of Books
presented a survey of enjoyable summer fiction and recommended The
Spoilers as such, albeit suggesting that it belonged to a group of novels that
204
“fails to provide anything transcendent in a literary sense, [but nonetheless]
offers something pretty good for almost any taste.”3
Perhaps not primarily provoked by reviews as the ones cited here, something still compelled the author to pen a letter to the New York Times Review
of Books to express puzzlement over what he perceived as confusing and
contradictory critical discourses on his debut novel. A bantering Beach recounted how two reviews in the same paper (appearing on different dates)
came to seemingly opposite conclusions; the first asserted that the story was
“extravagant, artificial and unreal,” the second that the book was of “unusual
interest without resorting to extravagance.” Apart from touting his own horn,
a main issue for Beach seems to have been to assign the public a specific
reading protocol, by assuring that The Spoilers was undeniably based on true
events. He had lived the story himself, there was ample evidence of its unfolding in the San Francisco courts, and so on.4 Beach’s letter in turn spurred
an array of responses from readers. The signature “H” suggested that as a
“writer of ‘best sellers’,” Beach should perhaps not take himself so seriously.
Also, it was amusing to “H” that Beach apparently subscribed to a clipping
service and acted as his own press agent.5 Another reader, one William
Bridge of Brooklyn, was instead “astonished at the immoral tone of Mr. Rex
E. Beach’s letter,” appalled by what he perceived as opportunistic attitudes
(he dubbed the novelist “Mr. Facing Both Ways”), and accused Beach of
being a writer “devoid of a sense of his high artistic calling and conscience.”6 A third reader, Florence Finch Kelly (journalist, writer, and one of
the “individualist anarchists” that contributed regularly to political periodical
Liberty)7 of New York, expressed more sympathy, although with a slightly
condescending tone, to Beach and his dilemma. Finch argued that the
author’s seemingly desperate desire for an “authoritative mark of its [the
novel’s] value,” his wish that the critics would somehow “reveal him to himself,” was destined to stay unfulfilled. However, this was principally because
in the end, Beach himself—and not the misguided critics who had made it
their foremost business to fruitlessly try to correct the author’s point of view
on life and literature—would be the one best fit to judge the value of his own
work.8
Commercially, The Spoilers was the eighth best selling book of 1906.9
The Play
Possibly encouraged and inspired by the novel’s success, Beach developed a
script for a stage version of The Spoilers in 1906 together with James
McArthur. By and large, the theatrical script followed the novel faithfully.
The story was divided into four acts, each with a specific heading—“The
Door of the Golden North,” “The Coming of the Law,” “A Northman’s
205
Love,” and “The Promise of Dreams”—but there were no major alterations
or additions made with regard to plot structure, theme or dramatis personae.10
An early staging (possibly the first) of The Spoilers was presented at the
New Theatre in Chicago, premiering November 5, 1906, reportedly bringing
forth “frequent applause from a large audience.”11 According to one account,
the New Theatre represented the first attempt in the United States to establish a subscription-endowed national theater aspiring to offer “art theatre”
outside the star system and unburdened by crass commercial constraints,
efforts that failed miserably as the venue was forced to close down in February 1907, merely a few months after the October 1906 opening.12 As a matter of fact, The Spoilers was the only profit-making production at the New
Theatre during its brief existence, possibly explained by the commercial
character of the play (atypical for the venue) and the events that preceded the
premiere. Supposedly, the theater’s artistic director Victor Mapes and Rex
Beach, who had been brought in to supervise the rehearsals, had clashed
with each other over the featuring of the “hammerlock” in one of the fight
scenes. Mapes demanded—in the name of art—that the “hammerlock” be
omitted, while Beach refused any tampering with his scenes. The Spoilers
was cancelled, replaced by another production, but soon reinstated in its
original form. Interest in the play escalated on account of the hammerlock
hullabaloo, and the play drew full houses for two weeks. Soon after the successful premiere and following generally favorable reviews, it was made
known that the whole hammerlock dispute had been a publicity stunt.13
Other presentations followed. Daniel Frohman’s production premiered at
the Academy of Music in Baltimore in January 1907, and although I have
not been able to verify whether they were carried out, younger brother
Charles Frohman had plans for a New York premiere later the same year.14
The Spooner Stock Company in Brooklyn staged the “drama of Alaskan
gold fields in four acts” the week commencing October 19, 1908.15 In 1909,
the play was presented at the Victory Theatre in San Jose, the same venue
where the film version would have its first San Jose screenings in September
1914.16 A 1912 staging of the play in Salt Lake City was launched within a
web of tie-ins. A contest asking readers to cast the play (by matching the list
of characters with the stock company actors) was arranged by the theater in
co-operation with the local newspaper the Salt Lake Telegram, which presented a perfect opportunity for the Telegram to simultaneously advertise
their forthcoming serialization of Rex Beach’s The Net.17 Salt Lake City
playgoers were offered a stage version of The Spoilers as late as April 1917,
at the Wilkes Theatre.18
206
The Deal
In an interview with Henry Albert Phillips in the May 1915 issue of the fan
monthly Motion Picture Magazine, Rex Beach looked back on his venturing
into film, claiming that around 1910, he had approached a “serious producer” with a proposition to write for motion pictures, but since the company
was fully dedicated to the output of “short stuff,” they had dismissed it as a
ridiculous idea. Later on, Beach was approached by another film producer
with an offer for all his existing work, and if we subscribe to Beach’s version, at this point the tables had turned, as Beach dismissed the offer. First of
all, he would not agree to sell all his work in bulk. Secondly, he was seeking
royalties rather than a one-off fee. An equally unsatisfactory offer was furnished by an independent producer before Selig intervened and presented a
deal meeting Beach’s demands. The Selig deal was strictly royalty based
(the exact details are however murky) and only involved the motion picture
rights to two stories—The Spoilers and The Ne’er Do Well. As Beach explained, he deemed it wise to await further developments, as prices could
only be expected to rise. Hence, he firmly recommended other writers not to
accept the first offer, and not to sell all their work lock, stock and barrel.19
Beach’s version might suggest that The Spoilers was the first filmic adaptation of his work or that he had not written for the movies before the Selig
deal, but that was not the case. The one-reeler Pardners (Edison, 1910), directed by Edwin S. Porter, was based on and borrowed its title from the collection of Beach’s first short stories published in 1904. Moreover, Beach was
credited with having written and/or having come up with the story for two
additional Edison one-reelers—The Kid from Klondike (1911) and The Mine
on the Yukon (1912), a Vitagraph one-reeler called The Barrier That Was
Burned (1912) and a Vitagraph two-reeler titled The Vengeance of Durand;
or, The Two Portraits (1913) before The Spoilers project was realized.
The Motion Picture Magazine interview indicates that Beach possessed a
certain astuteness when it came to the pecuniary aspects of his authorship. In
fact, a considerable part of the interview seems to have revolved around
issues of royalties and economic deal-making, and Beach did not fail to
mention that he had recently secured a lucrative contract with Hearst magazines and that he received significant income from first, second and third
rights to his books (all of which were at this point first published by Harper
and Brothers).20 There were other indications that Beach had been making
good for some time. In 1912, the Associated Newspapers paid Beach
$15,000 for the serialization of The Net in selected newspapers, and this
figure was apparently regarded as spectacular enough to be included in the
advertising for the serial.21 From a distance, then, one can get the impression
that Beach was in it for the money, but we should instead view Beach’s entrepreneurial skills within the context of a free enterprise system that
207
prompted authors and creators to, in the words of William Klein II, pull
themselves up by their own bootstraps.22 Klein II argues that this was accomplished to a large extent by the formation of various advocacy organizations (the Authors League of America, the Songwriters Guild of America,
the Screenwriters Guild, Mystery Writers of America, and so on) created for
the purpose of protecting and advancing the rights of creators and authors.
By the beginning of the twentieth century this development was in its embryonic stages. As a result, when Beach began his career, he was left to his
own devices to secure more money and better working conditions, which
might explain his emphasis on economics. We know that by 1919, Beach
was a member of a committee of dramatists organized within the framework
of the Authors League,23 and it seems likely that Beach had been a member
of the League (originally organized in 1912) for some time at that point. One
indication of this is the resemblance between Beach’s advice to authors in
the Motion Picture Magazine interview in May 1915 and a list of “Don’ts for
Authors” published in the League’s Bulletin a couple of years earlier:
Don’t give away your photo-play rights in selling a story for magazine
or book publication. Include them in a dramatic contract with some
clause similar to that governing stock rights.
Don’t sell them to first bidder.
Don’t sell them for cash if you can secure a continuing interest in the
film. It may be of value ten years hence.
…
Don’t turn your photo-play rights over to a stranger who offers to
adapt and handle your stories for one-half the proceeds.
Don’t forget that you probably sold “all rights” to your story when
you signed that receipt.
Don’t sell the producer a right which you don’t own and make him
buy it over again from the present owner. He won’t like it.24
Anne Morey has analyzed the discourse surrounding female scenarists (in
particular the gendering of the photoplaywright profession in relation to the
development of the scenario department) in the period from 1913 to 1923,
while also addressing the issue of “famous novelists trying to break into
writing for movies.”25 Morey suggests that the entry of literary talent in the
film business “clearly represents” a new possible means of product differentiation as well as an attempt to “redefine film as an art form and not merely a
popular entertainment.”26 By and large, this is a valid point, and one that
certainly reappears in many film historical accounts. In the case of Rex
208
Beach, it seems warranted to also account for the perception of Beach as a
writer of best sellers rather than as a purveyor of literary transcendence.
While this might not necessarily mean that Beach’s motion picture activities
completely failed to contribute to the cultural uplift of cinema, we should
nonetheless acknowledge that there is no apparent reason why those who
disapproved of Beach on account of an alleged lack of literary ambition
should consider his transition to film as a status booster for the latter. This
problem, I would argue, is not confined to the case of Beach. Instead, as
Lawrence W. Levine’s work on the complexities of cultural transformation
inspires us to consider, arbitrary and imprecise cultural categories, in turn
often a result of the fallacy to read the present into the past, frequently
threaten to lead us to flawed historical conclusions.27 In the case of Shakespeare and American audiences, Levine argues that for long periods of time,
Shakespeare was not something for the elite, but on the contrary, he “was
popular entertainment in nineteenth-century America.”28 It was not until later
on, from the latter part of the nineteenth century and onwards that Shakespeare, by a process of cultural transformation was gradually removed from
the realms of mass entertainment, or rather by which elements of farce,
entr’actes and afterpieces were removed from the contexts in which Shakespeare was presented.29 In general terms, Levine asserts that however difficult it might be to analyze the relationship between an object and its audience, an ahistorical and crude categorization of both is not the solution.30
I have been unable to disclose the figures involved in the deal struck between Selig and Beach, or the extent to which Beach was involved in various
phases of pre-production and production of the film version of The Spoilers.
We do know that Beach replied by letter to William Selig in June 1913, upon
request by someone at the Selig Polyscope Company (possibly Lanier
Bartlett, who was credited as the film’s scenarist), to clarify certain points in
the narrative. These issues, readily clarified by Beach in his letter to Selig,
concerned the detailed content of the papers brought to Nome by Helen
Chester, why she took the risk of transporting the papers and why it was
crucial the papers reached Nome within a certain time. Beach also expressed
that he was “glad to hear” that William Farnum had been engaged in the role
of Glenister, and asked Selig to advise him if he could assist in any way with
the scenario or anything else.31 In November 1913, Beach again wrote to
Selig, excited by rumors that the company “must have done wonderful
things” with the production, but anxious to hear how everything was proceeding, as he had not received a reply to his last letter. Also, Beach inquired
about the possibility of Selig sending him some stills from the production:
209
My dear Mr. Selig:
During the late summer I wrote you for information regarding the
Spoilers, but have received no reply. Will you kindly advise me what
your plans are as to date of release, etc. William Farnum is enthusiastic about the production and, judging from a few still pictures which
Mr. Pribyl sent me, I judge you must have done wonderful things.
I am deeply interested in this experiment and wonder if it will be possible to secure a set of the still pictures you took during the production. I would like to save these for comparison with the photographs
of the stage version, and will be glad to pay any costs of development,
etc.
With kindest regards and all the best wishes,
Sincerely yours,
Rex Beach32
The Production
Meanwhile, reports about the production of The Spoilers began to crop up in
the trade as well as newspaper press. Already on August 20, 1913, the New
York Dramatic Mirror had stated that the film was within a week of completion, and at this point, several motifs that would reappear in future coverage,
reviews and promotion were touched upon. One was the great expense of the
production due to the long script, stellar cast and elaborate settings. Another
revolved around the “realistic” manner in which director Colin Campbell
had visualized the story. A third focused on the cast, especially the fact that
the film featured the first appearance in movies by the renowned theatrical
actor William Farnum. All in all, the Mirror’s reporter had no doubt that The
Spoilers would turn out to be an “eight-reel masterpiece.”33 The Mirror also
made note of the relatively unusual fact that the “daily papers [were] following the many ‘big’ scenes with special write-ups.”34
Three such “write-ups” were published in the Los Angeles Times between
July and September 1913. The first one covered the scene depicting the “dynamitation of the Midas gold mine,” shot in San Fernando on July 17 (most
scenes were shot in Selig’s Edendale studios) under Col. Selig’s personal
supervision. Harry Carr, the LA Times reporter, described how four different
cameras were utilized to capture all angles of the explosions, and went on to
offer some general remarks about the production. Several comments concerned the impressive size and scope of the film; it would take several weeks
to produce, the cost resembling the value of the national bank; and that to
210
watch it would take a whole evening.35 Another item, appearing on August 6
discussed more general aspects of the production, for instance, how devices
such as “cut-backs” and “close-ups” were used to heighten tension and further the action. The same article shared the fascination with size previously
expressed by Harry Carr, assuring that The Spoilers was the “biggest film
ever made.”36 Bonnie Glessner’s article from September 9 followed similar
lines, reporting that “the first eight-reel photo drama to be produced in
America” was now complete. Glessner’s account stated that it had taken
eight weeks to shoot, had cost $10,000 and consisted of four hundred scenes,
all of which confirmed that this was the biggest Selig project ever undertaken. As to the results, Glessner could not recall having seen a film as clear
and realistic as The Spoilers, much thanks to the able work of “Collins [sic]
Campbell, the director.”37
The Film
Before discussing the historical reception of The Spoilers, it seems justified
to devote some time and space to a basic presentation of the film’s plot,
story, narration and style. This will hopefully animate the rest of the case
study, rendering its various arguments more readable and clear, but is also
necessary due to the fact that there has been no commercial release of the
film on VHS, Laserdisc or DVD, and I assume that most readers will not
have had either opportunity and/or inclination to view the film in a film archive, not least since it is only available in four film archives—the Library
of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, UCLA and the
Academy Film Archive.
Figure 30. The opening shot of the film introduces William Farnum in the role of
Glenister. The above framing is kept intact throughout the prolog sequence, during
which the main actors/characters are introduced, replacing one another sequentially
by means of dissolves (an editing device otherwise sparsely used in the film).
211
The Story
Glenister (played by William Farnum), co-owner of the Midas mine in
Nome, Alaska, leaves Nome to take some time off from working in the
mines. Prompted by his imminent departure, Glenister “breaks off with
Cherry Malotte,” (played by Kathlyn Williams) as an intertitle reveals. This
sets up one important premise for the film’s love story. Aside from the love
story (or, rather, love stories), the second major plotline revolves around a
conspiracy “to pillage Alaska,” by removing ownership and control of the
lucrative Alaskan gold mines from the hands of the miners and into the
hands of conspirators. The scheme is orchestrated by, and for the economic
benefit, of crooked Washington, D.C. politicians and corrupt legal representatives. Chief conspirator, and the film’s prime villain, is politician Alex
McNamara (played by Tom Santschi). To execute the plans, McNamara
relies on the loyalty of his co-conspirator, Stillman, who has been appointed
Judge of the first court in Nome.
For the plan to succeed, McNamara needs to get instructions to his man in
Nome, a questionable attorney that goes by the name of Struve (played by
W. H. Ryno), to “jump” the mines, i.e. to buy up all advance titles to the rich
mines, thereby claiming ownership of these mines when the law is instigated
in Nome. As Judge Stillman falls ill, Stillman’s niece, Helen Chester (played
by Bessie Eyton), is entrusted with the assignment. She is, however, not
aware of the content of the papers.
Unfortunately, there is an outbreak of smallpox onboard the ship Helen is
traveling on. Facing the prospect of quarantine, she is forced to jump ship.
Helen leaps into the water and swims toward the shore with pursuers close
behind. Nearing the shore, Helen’s distress is noticed by Glenister and his
partner who are running the Midas gold mine, an older miner called Dextry
(played by Frank M. Clark) who come to her aid. Greatly outnumbered, but
superior in pugilistic abilities, Glenister and Dextry defeat the pursuers.
They bring Helen to safety by letting her join them on the Santa Maria, a
ship on course to Nome.
The trip to Alaska allows for the development of a romantic interest in
Helen on the part of Glenister. Helen is not very responsive at this point, due
to his preference of a “lawless life” over one governed by civilized law. The
tension between civilized law versus the “lawless life” of the miners establishes a theme that informs the love story and the narrative.
His love for Helen and the simultaneous need to use every means possible
to protect the Midas mine from being looted by the Washington conspirators
entails a conundrum for Glenister and an overall point of narrative convergence. Several episodes taking place on the violent streets of Nome illustrate
the dilemma, but also help to suggest a growing dissonance within Helen
concerning her attitude toward Glenister.
212
Several scenes take place inside the Northern dance hall, with its risqué
offerings for the city’s many hedonists. The Northern also serves as the stage
for the reappearance of Cherry and the introduction of the Bronco Kid
(played by Wheeler Oakman). As we know, Cherry is Glenister’s old flame,
and her feelings for Glenister are intact. In his turn, the Bronco Kid is in love
with Cherry, and to complicate matters further, he discovers that Helen is his
long-lost sister. Both circumstances give rise to hatred and jealousy directed
at Glenister.
Figure 31. Interior of the Northern Dance Hall.
Meanwhile, the law arrives in Nome in the form of Judge Stillman and
McNamara, the latter who also makes sure to appoint a puppet marshal, so
that McNamara will be able to pull the strings regarding the day-by-day execution of the law. At this point, the “jumping” of the mines has already taken
place. By way of Judge Stillman’s fraudulent but legal blessing, McNamara
assumes ownership of the mines.
Glenister’s anxiety reaches new heights as a result of vowing to “never
fight again.” He does so for Helen’s sake, but as a consequence, he is severely limited in protecting his mine. An attempt to test the lawfulness of
McNamara’s overtaking of the Midas in a San Francisco court fails. Moreover, in order to attain “fighting funds,” Glenister and his partners Dextry and
Slap Jack (played by Jack McDonald) are compelled to rob their own mine.
213
Cunningly disguised and made-up in blackface, they succeed, but while on
the lookout, Glenister is spotted by Helen, who happens to be visiting the
mine invited by McNamara. While clearly distressed by catching Glenister
with both of his lawless hands deep in the cookie jar, Helen nonetheless assists in the robbery by pointing McNamara’s henchmen in the wrong direction and by instructing them to look for “three negroes.”
Unfortunately, however, the Bronco Kid gets wind of the theft and decides to put the heat on Glenister and his cohorts. Judge Stillman issues a
search warrant and McNamara (by proxy of the marshal) almost manages to
find the incriminating gold. Resolute action taken by Cherry, including
warning Glenister and company about the warrant, saves the day. The pattern of Cherry’s coming to Glenister’s rescue repeats itself several times.
This includes an intervention that prevents Glenister from suffering a disastrous gambling loss while on a drunken stupor. Toward the end of the film,
Cherry takes considerable risks to issue a series of warnings and share pieces
of crucial information that prove to be instrumental for a happy resolution to
the film.
As already indicated, McNamara has taken a romantic interest in Helen,
and initially, she is not totally unresponsive. Helen’s visit with McNamara to
the Midas mine, however, reveals a factor that complicates matters, viz. that
Struve the lawyer also has his mind set on Helen. The love story, similar to a
current daytime soap, now involves quadruple triangles: Glenister, Cherry
and Helen; Glenister, McNamara and Helen; McNamara, Struve and Helen;
and Glenister, the Bronco Kid and Cherry.
The relation between Helen and Struve proves crucial to the resolution of
the battle over the Midas mine, since Struve holds the documents that proves
the fraudulent nature of McNamara’s and Stillman’s scheme. Helen grows
progressively suspicious of McNamara’s doings, and decides to learn the
exact contents of the documents. Recognizing it as a way to possibly seduce
Helen, Struve claims that she will be allowed to see the documents if she
agrees to follow him to a distant roadhouse called the Sign of the Sled. She
agrees to do this, ending up in a perilous situation. Fortunately, the Bronco
Kid, informed of Helen’s predicament by Cherry (who thereby once again
proves to be the film’s key possessor and allocator of knowledge), arrives in
the nick of time to protect the honor of his little sister.
Meanwhile, Glenister (who eventually arrives at the Sign of the Sled, also
informed by Cherry) has orchestrated a massive demolition at the Midas to
prevent further looting. Back in Nome, an increasingly distraught McNamara
decides to remove any incriminating evidence from Struve’s safe, but
Glenister arrives to find McNamara in Struve’s office, and a climactic and
drawn-out fist-fight between the two follows. Glenister eventually gets the
upper hand—most crucially by his utilization of the “hammerlock”—but
before making good of his promise to kill McNamara with his bare hands,
214
Wheaton “returns victoriously” from the court in San Francisco and McNamara and Stillman are arrested.
The extent to which this resolves the film’s basic dilemma of law versus
gun is debatable. In any event, the heroes prosper and the villains are punished. The icing on the cake comes in the form of Helen’s revealing of the
documents, carried out in spite of serious doubts about further incriminating
her uncle. This final disclosure is important, not least as this removes the last
obstacle from a romantic union between Helen and Glenister. Appropriately,
then, the closing shot of the film depicts Helen and Glenister standing on the
Alaskan shoreline in each other’s arms.
The Narration
The construction of narrative time and space in The Spoilers is relatively
straightforward. The plot begins at the beginning of the story rather than in
media res, or, to be more precise, slightly before the story begins, in order to
set up a few premises that are crucial to the story. There are no flashbacks or
flashforwards used in the film, although there is, of course, the occasional
allusion to past events (such as Glenister’s somewhat puzzling remark that
“the law was considered [his] destiny”) conveyed by intertitles. Neither are
there any unorthodox repetitions of events, for instance, representations of
events as seen or experienced from different points of view. Temporal ellipses are typically made explicit to the viewer by means of intertitles designed
for this purpose (“Three weeks later, Wheaton returns,” “The next morning,”
“After their vacation,” and so on).
The only striking exception to the rule of a linear flow of temporally discrete events is cross cutting, most notably the setup of Helen’s tête-à-tête
with Struve at the Sign of the Sled as a race to the rescue sequence à la
Griffith (I refer here to the self-promotional entity known as “Griffith” and
not necessarily to the actual film director D. W. Griffith).
In the versions that I have viewed, a few ambiguities with regard to continuity occur, particularly in the sequence when Glenister seeks refuge (from
the raging storm as well as from his pursuers) at Cherry’s house. I am inclined to account such confusing passages to print damage and/or missing
parts.38
The story unfolds in relatively few locales that are not just visualized (i.e.
there is no story space left “un-plotted”) but also clearly identified by intertitles. Providing further spatial orientation, several scenes are set in each of
these locales (with one or two exceptions). In many of these cases, identical
cinematographic framings are used for different scenes taking place in the
same locale. In short, the film does much to facilitate spatial orientation,
which does not mean that “locale” is not an important element of The Spoilers. On the contrary, the contemporary reception of the film often praised
215
what was perceived to be simultaneously realistic yet spectacular settings
(e.g. the dance hall and the Nome streets).
Another common trope within the contemporary reception was that there
was never a dull moment in the film, i.e. that it was essentially an action
film. Admitted, the story moves forward largely through the visual depiction
of the actions taken by the various characters, but there is also an abundance
of intertitles to explicate and elucidate the action. If my count is accurate,
there are one hundred and sixty-four intertitles in the film, divided equally
between dialogue and explanatory intertitles. To compare, the full film (or
rather, the version that I have studied) consists of three hundred and ninetyeight shots, and a smaller number of scenes and sequences (naturally, as the
latter units are made up of several shots).39 The high number of intertitles
might be the result of a desire to follow the literary source as closely as possible, which seems to be less about tagging a literary “quality” onto the film
but more about a necessity to explain the relatively complex narrative (e.g.
the exact nature of the conspiracy or exactly how some characters interrelate
in the various love triangles).
As should be clear from the lengthy recapitulation of the film’s story, I
find the narrative to develop around one central dilemma, i.e. Glenister’s
desire for Helen, on the one hand, and the maintaining of his northern way of
life and character, on the other hand. The latter is manifested most obviously
by his possession of the Midas mine but also, and more abstractly, by his
virility. This sets up a narrative logic according to which the overcoming of
one obstacle immediately seems to create another. Taking one step forward
to win Helen’s heart involves taking one step back with regard to control of
the Midas, one step toward holding on to the Midas or regaining control of it
involves the risk of estranging Helen again (or further). Similar dilemmas
trouble other characters too, and occasionally, this narrative pattern finds
visual analogies in a series of replacements and slightly altered repetitions,
e.g. Glenister at the Midas/McNamara at the Midas, Helen at
Cherry’s/Glenister at Cherry’s, Cherry warns Glenister/Helen warns Glenister, and so on.
A more significant point is that the identification of a psychological dilemma at the core of the narrative takes as a prerequisite the notion that action as a rule originates from individual characters as causal agents. At least
in this sense, we may assume that the film is classical. As a consequence,
narration to large extent becomes a question of how to elucidate the characters’ psychological dispositions, their personality traits, their desires and
objects of desire. This brings us back to the function of intertitles, explanatory as well as dialog, and toward an explanation of their high frequency,
namely that the intertitles aid the psychological characterization so that we
may concentrate on what the characters are doing when they are onscreen.
This does not indicate that there is a lack of visual psychological characterization, but reviewers were correct to label The Spoilers as an action film. An
216
Figure 32. Helen and Glenister at the Midas/Helen and McNamara at the Midas.
Figure 33. Glenister hands Cherry a gun/Cherry hands Helen a gun.
Figure 34. Glenister at Cherry’s house/Helen at Cherry’s house.
Figure 35. Cherry rides to the rescue/Glenister rides to the rescue.
217
abundance of intertitles seems to have been a precondition for successful and
effective action.
As in many other films from the same period, letters, notes, eavesdropping and overhearing conversations all fulfill crucial narrative functions in
the ways that these devices are employed to channel information amongst
and between the characters and to the viewers. The common denominator of
the devices mentioned, and what endows them with narrative power, is their
reliability to cause asymmetrical allocations of knowledge. Examples in The
Spoilers are numerous, but the significance of the documents that Helen
brings to Nome is an obvious case in point. The character of Dextry proves
how far he is willing to go in order to listen in on McNamara and Judge
Stillman when he produces the tools to drill a hole in the roof of the building
where the villains confer. Overhearing conversations demonstrates double
powers as it sometimes (as when Cherry overhears Bronco Kid tipping-off
the marshal about the robbing of the mine) produces desirable effects, and
sometimes (as when Helen overhears Glenister say a degrading comment
about her onboard the Santa Maria on their way to Nome) results in the
creation of new obstacles. The ability to satisfy as well as to frustrate is not
unique to the motif of overhearing, and should perhaps be seen as a typical
feature of narration in general.
Figure 36. Overhearing.
The Style
The Spoilers by and large adheres to the narrative and stylistic model what
would later be termed classical Hollywood cinema. As the previous section
established, the plot’s construction of story time and story space poses few
challenges for the understanding of the unfolding events; the narrative logic
of cause and effect is governed primarily in accordance with the psychologically motivated actions of the characters; and there is no doubt that the film
has storytelling as its primary task. This would suggest that the film style in
The Spoilers is formally subservient to the film’s narrative operations.
Needless to say we are talking about film style as a comprehensive although
not necessarily fully cohesive system, which means that not every stylistic
218
element necessarily fulfills the overall formal function of the style as a
whole.
It is, however, important to call attention to moments of spectacle, not
least as these were used as major selling points by the film’s promoters and
picked up by critics and fans with much approval and admiration. The
demolition of the Midas is perhaps the most obvious example. This episode
answers to the narrative logic of cause and effect stemming from psychologically motivated actions of individual characters, but it is rendered in a
stylistically somewhat excessive manner. Disproportionate duration is one
key factor. The deployment of a mobile framing—the series of explosions is
captured by means of a panning shot moving from right to left and then back
again—in a film otherwise all but bereft of camera mobility also draws extra
stylistic attention to this particular episode. The thrill of witnessing the mine
being blown to pieces was conceived as a veritable attraction.
Figure 37. Blowing up the Midas Mine.
A similar argument can be applied to the scene depicting the final fist-fight
between Glenister and McNamara. The length of the scene accentuates the
spectacle of physical action and successfully caters to the pleasure and excitement we presumably get from watching the hero and villain battling it
out. Then again, it deserves to repeat that the moments of spectacle are rarely
pure, as they are closely connected to narrative functions. The fist-fight is
instructive in this respect, since the enjoyment of the scene arises from a
chain of narrative events that foster a desire to see the villain receive a welldeserved beating. Against this, we might submit that the hoped for outcome,
as long as it is guaranteed, does not motivate the exaggerated length of the
scene, but this seems to fall short if we assume that the climax reaches
greater intensity following a protracted foreplay.
Figure 38. The climactic fist-fight, including the “hammerlock” (far right).
Frequently, the editing produces the effect of an upbeat tempo to the film,
which seems appropriate given the emphasis on action and thrills. The action
219
sequences in particular are generally comprised of a rapid series of relatively
brief shots. Helen’s escape, a sequence often praised by contemporary reviewers for its exhilarating execution, is emblematic of this editing strategy.
The sequence lasting just under two minutes that brings Helen from the
small-pox infested Ohio to relative safety onboard the Santa Maria consists
of sixteen shots which are uninterrupted by intertitles. The impression of the
tempo is higher than the average shot length would indicate, which might be
due to the shots of Glenister and Dextry fighting off Helen’s pursuers. These
are longer compared to the rest of the shots in the sequence, but on the other
hand offer more mobility, action and visual excitement within the frame.
Typically then, relatively rapid editing works together with movement
within the frame to create an impression of high-paced action.
Somewhat in contrast, there are also numerous cases of deep staging. In
many of these cases, the full scene is made up of one autonomous shot, and
strategies of blocking and movement in depth are generously employed—making it hard to resist mentioning Ingeborg Holm (Svenska Biografteatern AB, 1913), since we are all familiar with how the makers of that
film excelled in this particular style. The scene early in The Spoilers that
depicts a doctor forbidding Judge Stillman to continue his journey to Nome
offers a straightforward example. The straight-on angle shot places Judge
Stillman in the foreground, seated and shown from his waist up. Behind
Stillman, slightly to the right, his wife is standing facing the doctor, who is
placed to the left of Stillman, also seated, but by a head higher than the
judge. Behind the trio we see a pair of open curtains that offers a view to the
hallway, and in the far background, we see a door. As the scene begins,
Stillman receives the bad news and some gesturing and arguing occurs. The
doctor rises to his feet, while Stillman’s wife simultaneously moves to the
left of the frame (still located behind the two men, in the middle ground of
the image) to get the doctor’s hat and cane. After issuing a last reprimand to
the judge, the doctor turns around and moves back to the middle ground,
now facing the wife and receiving his hat and cane. The judge remains
seated in the foreground as the other two figures move through the curtains
and towards the door in the background. The doctor steps outside and the
wife closes the door, after which she moves back toward the foreground and
Stillman who has now risen to his feet. The woman arrives in time to push
the sick man back into his chair and to convince him that must obey the
doctor’s orders. The scene ends with the sudden appearance of Helen from
behind the curtain hanging to the right in the middle ground of the frame. In
the Blackhawk version of the film, the scene lasts just over thirty seconds,
which is considerably shorter than similar examples of deep-staged scenes in
Ingeborg Holm. The difference in shot duration between the two films indicates that although the deep-staging device was employed in both, the overall outcome was nonetheless very dissimilar.
220
Other examples of deep-staged shots are offered by the many shots of the
interior of the Northern dance hall. As a rule, these set-ups place the narratively significant elements (characters, actions, objects) in the foreground,
while simultaneously adding layers of middle and background in the form of
people drinking at the bar, a crowd of people in front of the stage or on the
dance floor, and dancers performing on the stage in the background. Shots of
crowds on the Nome streets are similarly organized, although sometimes
without as clear a hierarchal ordering in depth.
Thus deep staging adds a more varied style to the film, but without being
carried out excessively or to spectacular effect. On a few occasions, there
seems to have occurred unintentional and inappropriate blocking, as in the
scene that takes place inside the Nome bank in which the banker is almost
completely blocked by the crowd of people although he is clearly at the
center of the action.
If we were to summarize how shots are generally framed, we would
probably suggest that a great majority of the images are shot either from
long, medium long or medium distance; that there are very few instances of
mobile framing; and that there is an almost consistent reliance on straight-on
angles. No rule without exceptions however. To begin with the issue of shot
scale; there are a number of close-ups. Most of these are predominantly economic in their nature in that they are motivated by the need to clarify the
narrative. For instance, a medium close-up of the back of Glenister’s head in
the scene where he is trying to get Helen out of the crossfire shows how the
bullets almost hit him, thereby demonstrating the gravity and danger of the
situation. A close-up that highlights Cherry’s facial expression when she
meets Glenister for the first time after both of them have returned to Nome
establishes that she is still infatuated with him. A medium close-up of
Glenister on the Nome streets is necessary for the audience to see that he
empties his gun of bullets. An alternative use of close-ups occurs at the moment when Glenister is about to lose the Midas mine over a rigged game of
Faro, in a series that features a close-up of Glenister staring intensely, followed by a medium close-up of an equally intensely staring Cherry, and
finally, a medium close-up of Bronco Kid staring back at Glenister.
Figure 39. Glenister risks the Midas in an intense game of Faro.
In this case, the close-ups seem to serve the primary purpose of bringing
about added tension, rather than to facilitate understanding of the narrative.
221
At times, the positioning of a character (or characters) in the extreme
foreground of a deep-staged composition produces a similar effect to the
close-up proper. For instance, the scene at the Midas mine featuring Helen,
McNamara and Struve involves three clearly discernable levels of depth, one
for each character. Struve is placed in the foreground, which allows us to
observe Struve ogling Helen as she moves off-screen to the lower left corner
of the frame. This produces a result similar to that of a close-up proper, a
function of certain deep-staged shots that helps make the abundance of medium and long shots less stylistically overwhelming.
Figure 40. Struve ogling Helen.
We have already discussed how the panning shot of the blasting of the Midas
may strike the viewer as conspicuously mobile compared to the rest of the
film. An equally blatant, but entirely different type of mobile framing is carried out in the shots of the interior of Glenister’s stateroom onboard the
Santa Maria. In these shots, the cameraman appears to be moving the camera
slightly but steadily back and forth to give the impression that the ship is at
sea and sailing along its course. Less imposing but still distinct are the panning shots in the climactic fist-fight sequence, as well as a panning shot of
Glenister and Helen walking along the sidewalk of the Nome main street.
Finally, on two occasions, the cameraman makes a barely discernable reframing (by means of panning); first when Glenister et al dismount their
horses just before robbing the mine, and later on in the film, during the
struggle between Helen and Struve at the Sign of the Sled. Aside from panning and tilting, another way to accomplish a mobile framing is, of course, to
mount the camera on a mobile object. This is used once in The Spoilers, viz.
the scene that depicts the miners traveling by train from Nome to the Midas
mine. For this shot, the camera is placed on top of the train behind the first
train car/locomotive. The placement allows us to see the miners in the front
car, which reduces the phantom-ride effect.
This is a high-angle shot and one of very few shots in the film that deviates from the norm of straight-on angle. Other exceptions would be some of
the mob scenes, for instance, the shot of the crowd of people that meet up on
the wharf to greet the arrival of the Santa Maria, and also the low-angle shot
of Glenister as he dismounts his horse outside the Sign of the Sled.
222
Figure 41. Miners on their way to the Midas.
The Chicago Sneak Premiere
The first presentation of The Spoilers took place at the Orchestra Hall in
Chicago before a specially invited audience. Some argued that this was the
“most distinguished” audience ever assembled for a film screening, consisting of the “most prominent” people in the business and in Chicago, such as
George Kleine, George Spoor, Chicago Mayor Carter T. Harrison, representatives of all the Chicago newspapers, and so on.40 Colonel Selig himself was
at home ill, but the “2,400 friends” of his that did attend the sneak preview
appreciated the show, several of them so much that they “flooded [Selig]
with appreciative letters.”41 The final version of the film, and the one presumably shown on this occasion, measured nine reels divided into three acts
and a prologue. For the Chicago Orchestra Hall screening, a local organist
named Robert Stronach supplied “proper music,” but looking forward to the
official premiere at the NYC Strand Theatre, the Mirror revealed that manager Rothapfel had engaged an orchestra “which will be fully rehearsed with
the film beforehand.”42
223
The New York City Strand Theatre Premiere
The Strand Theatre, located on Broadway and 47th street in New York City
and managed by Samuel “Roxy” Rothapfel, opened on Saturday April 11,
1914 to an invited audience. It seated about 3,500 patrons, which according
to some reports made it the largest house in the country devoted to motion
pictures,43 and caused others to label it the “largest and most elaborate moving picture house in New York.”44 The Spoilers was chosen as the premiere
feature film, an unquestionable triumph for the producers and a sign of prestige that could later be used to help propel the film toward further success,
commercially and critically. The Mirror’s report from the opening night
gives an idea of the immediate context in which the main feature film appeared. First of all, music was provided by means of a large organ but also
an orchestra of twenty seven. The program opened with the orchestra playing the national anthem while an Edison Star-Spangled Banner film was
projected on the screen. After a series of additional musical intros, which
included an illustrated song, more orchestral music and songs by the Strand
Quartet, an episode of Our Mutual Girl followed. A Keystone comedy ended
the first part of the show, and the second part was devoted to The Spoilers.45
The extensive coverage and comment awarded the opening of the Strand
Theatre is evidence of its unusual significance. In fact, it was almost immediately perceived as something of a watershed event in the history of motion
picture exhibition. One aspect of this was basically architectural, as indicated
by the New York Times remark that the vast seating capacity of the Strand
“marks the rapid growth from the rebuilt store moving picture theatres.”46
Another aspect, alluded to by many, among them Harry Ennis at the Clipper,
was the notion that a “million dollar playhouse” such as the Strand would
also attract a new (and implicitly, a more refined and wealthy) audience.47 It
seems fair to assume that the linking of the Strand to cinema’s upward cultural mobility rubbed off on the premiere feature film, and thereby influenced the critical reception of The Spoilers in a certain direction. On the
other hand, this was a two-way street. Actually, choosing The Spoilers as the
opening feature film might have been of greater significance than it first
appears, perhaps not to the Strand per se, but to the Strand as a marker of the
transformation of film culture that was connected to the breakthrough of the
multi-reel feature film. To see this more clearly, however, we need to take
into account a specific missing link, viz. the trope of Americanism. Consider, for instance, Harry Ennis’s framing of the Strand opening, according
to which The Spoilers had been chosen “not alone for its quality, but also to
be in keeping with the occasion—an American story by an American author,
produced in America for the premier of the greatest American photodrama
theatre, which was also built by Americans, with American capital.”48 In the
same issue, when commenting on The Spoilers screening at Orchestra Hall
224
in March, he made a similar remark: “A truly American subject, has been
carried out by American artists, under the direction of a wonderfully astute
American producer, and the results are altogether remarkable.”49 This may
appear as a somewhat frenzied ranting on the part of Ennis, but the recognition of “Americanism” as a key theme of The Spoilers would typify the critical discourse yet to be articulated, which should be considered against the
background that European feature films had dominated the feature field until
this point. Further down our two-way street then, the wider significance of
the event discussed in this section could be that a new, different and more
distinctly American accent was attached to the feature film’s gradual rise to
dominance and more generally to the processes of cultural transformation
that cinema was undergoing. As far as this goes, the opening of the Strand
and the official theatrical premiere of The Spoilers at this venue can be
branded as a signpost event, pointing out a direction in the history of the
feature that would reach a climax with The Birth of a Nation. Furthermore, it
signaled the diffusion of American film as the future version of global, and
globalized, cinema.
Figure 42. A page from the program leaflet from the opening of the Strand Theatre
(The Spoilers clipping file, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts).
225
The Reviews
Reviews of The Spoilers in the leading trade papers were generally favorable. James McQuade of Moving Picture World found it to be a “great
story,” well directed and full of action. He complimented Colin Campbell on
the selection and direction of actors and devoted considerable attention (and
appreciative comments) to the principal characters and the actors playing
them. A few of the more spectacular scenes were discussed in some detail, in
particular the scene featuring the fist-fight between Glenister and McNamara, but also the scenes from the dance hall and gambling den, and the
struggle between Helen Chester and Struve toward the end of the film. Thematically, McQuade mainly focused on the clash between Washington law
and the self-made law of the miners.50
Variety’s reviewer lauded the cast, complaining that only eight of the actors were “carded” (i.e. credited), as “there were others in the cast as essential and who did some great work.” He also praised the film’s realism and its
many thrills, paying tribute to both Colin Campbell and Rex Beach for these
achievements. In a conclusion of sorts, the review asserted that “[a]s a movie
production, it beats the book.”51
The New York Clipper review which appeared on April 25 was among the
most appreciative, concluding that “[i]n every respect ‘The Spoilers’ as a
photoplay is entitled to entrance in the ‘wonder class’.” For corroboration,
the reviewer offered observation and commentary concerning a variety of
the film’s assets. First of all, there was plenty of action throughout the nine
reels, and the story was “tense” and “gripping,” In terms of genre, the reviewer labeled the film “melodrama,” but was quick to notice that even as
such it was suspenseful, “highly interesting” and consistent. The cast was
praised, and said to be of “superlative ability.” The use of “well chosen scenic backgrounds,” the attention to detail in the directing, a “peculiar softness” to the photography and the “pleasing tints” were other features that
added to the quality. Because of the overall excellence of the film, the reviewer admitted to having a hard time singling out specific scenes, but one
that had “never been surpassed” was the fight scene between Glenister and
McNamara.52
The Spoilers on the Road
Although Selig was one of the production companies tied to the MPPC and
the General Film Company, The Spoilers was not released through General
Film’s regular or special feature service. Instead, it was distributed on the
basis of road showing and state rights. This meant that the film premiered in
226
different cities and parts of the country at different times. A major reason for
Selig to defect from the standard policies of the Trust (exactly how this was
negotiated is an interesting question, however, unfortunately uncommented
on in the sources I have accessed) must have been precisely the economic
rewards of prolonging the lifetime of the film. It is outside the scope of this
particular case study to track down the deals struck with various local and
regional distributors, but trade press sources and the study of the exhibition
and reception of the film in a number of places still generates an idea of its
distribution path throughout the United States.
As we already know, the first official theatrical presentation of The Spoilers took place on April 11, 1914 at the Strand Theatre in New York City,
where the film ran for two weeks. This had been preceded by a private preview of the film at the Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The “real” Chicago premiere took place at the Studebaker Theatre on April 20, where the film was
booked for an indefinite run.53 The Studebaker was owned by Charles
Frohman and Klaw & Erlanger, who denied the rumors that this theater,
normally dedicated to a dramatic and musical policy, would be turned into a
motion picture house. They did, however, announce that they would book
“high-class motion pictures” from April 20 to September 21, beginning with
The Spoilers.54 As reported by Motography, the Studebaker summer policy
aligned with that of a number of legitimate theaters in the Chicago Loop, all
of which decided to turn to feature film exhibition during the summer
months. Around the time of The Spoilers opening at the Studebaker, then,
the Auditorium (Chicago’s largest theater) offered competition in the form
of George Kleine’s imported Spartacus (Spartaco, Pasquali Film, 1913); the
Ziegfield showed The Banker’s Daughter (Life Photo Film Corp., 1914); the
Fine Arts Theatre Neptune’s Daughter; the Comedy Theatre The Rise and
Fall of Napoleon (production company and year of release undetermined);
and the La Salle Theatre put on The Battle of the Sexes (Majestic, 1914)
directed by D. W. Griffith.55 Whether these other venues changed their programs more frequently I do not know, but at the Studebaker, The Spoilers
entered its third month in late June. It was reported to do “enormous business” and was arranged to be shown for at least an additional three weeks.56
Around the same time, The Spoilers had its first Chicago screening outside
the Loop, at the Wilson Avenue Theatre.57
It appears one of the more notable patrons at one (or possibly several) of
the Studebaker screenings was the wife of Mayor Carter T. Harrison, Edith
Ogden Harrison, herself a well-known author. In a letter addressed to Sam
Lederer, manager of the Studebaker, dated May 11, 1914, Mrs. Harrison
expressed the immense enjoyment she had got out of a presentation of the
film:
227
My dear Mr. Lederer: The performance of “The Spoilers” in photoplay I witnessed at the Studebaker is “just splendid.”
It held my attention from start to finish.
The acting is superb and so true, that one can almost read the words
from the mute lips.
It is the best entertainment of this sort I ever saw.
Sincerely yours,
[signed] Edith Ogden Harrison58
The letter was later used in the marketing of the film, quoted in selected
advertisements,59 and it is possible that the letter was induced by Selig for
promotional purposes. The fact that it ended up in the William Selig Papers
at the Academy in Los Angeles although it was addressed to the Studebaker
could indicate as much, and perhaps also the circumstance that it is likely
that Mrs. Harrison was present at the sneak preview at the Orchestra Hall in
March, while there is no evidence (except for the letter itself) that she visited
the Studebaker in April or May.
The Western premiere took place in Denver, at the Taber Grand Opera
House on April 26,60 but I have not discovered (or actively looked for)
sources that provide specific information on this event, or the subsequent
Denver run. As to the rest of the country, we will shortly engage in a more
detailed discussion regarding the twelve cities subject to case studies of local
exhibition and reception of The Spoilers. A brief chronology of the film’s
arrival in these cities might offer an appropriate segue into the series of local
case studies, as well as provide a hint about the pattern of distribution.
By May 17, The Spoilers had reached Duluth, Minnesota, where it made
its debut at the Orpheum Theatre.61 The Los Angeles premiere took place at
Clune’s Auditorium on May 25, 1914, and sometime in late May (I am unable to confirm the exact date), the film was also shown in Kansas City,
Missouri, at the Orpheum Theatre.62 My next findings are from September,
when The Spoilers appeared in Salt Lake City, playing at the Salt Lake
Theatre early in the month; in Boise, Idaho, where it was shown at the Isis
Theatre for three days starting on the Thursday, September 17; and in San
Jose, California, where the Victory Theatre screened it for five consecutive
days (from September 20 to 24).63 Meanwhile, Philadelphia as well as Boston had to wait until November before the film premiered there. In Philadelphia, the Chestnut Street Opera House held the first screening in the city on
November 9, and in Boston, the film made its debut at the National Theatre
on November 23.64 The following month, residents of Columbus, Georgia as
well as Olympia, Washington enjoyed the film. In Columbus, Georgia, it
228
was first put on for one night (December 10) at the Grand Theatre, and then
for two additional days at the American Theatre.65 In Olympia, Washington,
practically as far to the northwest as one could travel from Georgia without
leaving the country, the Ray Theater hosted screenings of The Spoilers during the final two days of the year.66
Thereby, most of the cities and places covered in this study had hosted at
least a few screenings of the film before the end of 1914. Throughout 1915,
theaters in several of these cities would book it for return dates. Theaters in
one city, however, Charlotte, South Carolina, was not able and/or willing to
arrange a first screening of The Spoilers until April 1916.67 As we shall see,
however, when they finally did, they did it with a bang, framing the event as
if it was still 1914 and The Spoilers was all the rage on the feature film market.
San Antonio, Texas, the last city to be included in the case study, seems
to have been even worse off, as there are no traces of The Spoilers being
screened here at all during the period investigated (i.e. up until the end of
1920).
In an advertisement appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 23,
1920, The Spoilers is announced to be playing at Nixon’s Colonial in
Germantown.68 This is the last evidence of a public screening of the film
during the period studied and in the cities included in the study.
Authorship and Americanism: The Spoilers in Duluth, Minnesota
It seems likely that residents of Duluth were familiar not only with the novel,
but also the stage version of The Spoilers, as the first mention of the upcoming film in the Duluth News Tribune promised that the screen version
would be even more vividly presented than on stage.69 The first “review”
appearing in the Tribune labeled the film Beach’s “great American romance,”70 which signals (a) how Beach’s authorship was at least partially
relocated to apply to the film itself, or, more important, how Beach was seen
and/or promoted as the film’s creator; and (b) the need of reviewers and/or
promoters to frame The Spoilers as somehow peculiarly and distinctly
American. The same Duluth Tribune reporter admitted that The Spoilers
offered a thrilling story, but also suggested that it was an important story in
the sense that it captured a crucial phase of history.71 This insistence on historical significance applied to the story itself, and not specifically to the film,
but may be seen as corresponding to the widely promoted notion that film
must fulfill some educational and morally uplifting purpose. When it came
to more detailed aspects of the film, the reporter did not elaborate, but he did
stress its authenticity, especially as demonstrated by the marine scenes.
229
A lengthier article appeared in the Tribune on May 22,72 but I would suggest that this was probably a direct transcript of publicity material put out by
the marketing department of the Selig Polyscope Company. The reason for
this will become clearer later, but some corroboration should be presented
here. Firstly, there was a reference to the film as a “virile and … red-blooded
story,” perhaps the most frequently occurring catchphrase connected to The
Spoilers, and one that was most definitely promulgated through the PR apparatus (we will get back to the “red-blooded” figure in a later section).
Moreover, the article did not fail to mention the impressive runs at the famous New York and Chicago theaters, another strategy inspired by central
promoters.
The Old West Displaced to Nome? The Spoilers in Los Angeles
Between May 1914 and February 1915, The Spoilers made four separate
appearances in Los Angeles, at two different theaters. As we already know,
it premiered at Clune’s Auditorium on May 25. The high-point of this first
two-week run at Clune’s was surely the June 4 presentation, which was preceded by a live appearance by the cast members.73 A second engagement at
Clune’s Auditorium commenced on August 17 and lasted the week.74 On
October 5, the film returned to the same venue for a third run.75 In February
1915, it was shown at the Woodley Theatre.76
The day before the first showing at Clune’s, the LA Times, as was the
praxis of most daily newspapers that devoted space to moving pictures at
this time, presented the coming attraction. It is (this too a common characteristic of the newspaper discourse on film) difficult to immediately assess
the level of journalistic independence, but in the case of the LA Times we
know that the column presenting coming attractions was wholly based on
promotional material. Nonetheless, the LA Times preview on May 24 diverged from most items on The Spoilers, by identifying Bessie Eyton, in the
part of Helen Chester, as playing the leading role. The article also noted the
presence of Kathlyn Williams in the role of “the most appealing … figure”
(Cherry Malotte), and that William Farnum’s portrayal of Glenister was his
“first venture into film dramatic art.”77 Besides highlighting the cast, focus
was placed on the typical American character of the film, something we are
familiar with from the Duluth context. In the LA Times account, this trope
was located specifically to the figure of Glenister, described as a “headstrong young miner, permeated with elemental Americanism and not overburdened with the refining influences of society.”78 The last clause implies
another observation about the film’s narrative, i.e. the identification of a
clash between Washington law and the Alaskan miner’s concept of justice as
a major theme. This, as well as the references to Americanism, was not
230
unique to the LA Times, but in spite of the apparent promotional pick-ups
(including a predictable characterization of the story as “red-blooded”), there
was a peculiarity to the particular linking between Americanism, the West
and the theme. Framing the film as “saturated through and through with the
spirit of the old West—the West of the forty-niners, transplanted to Nome in
late years” while simultaneously ascribing to the hero an “elemental Americanism” involved a move to equate the two, i.e. the West and Americanism.
Moreover, this point was underscored by the assertion that the moral of
Beach’s story was to show how the “sense of elemental justice” fostered in
this milieu (the West displaced to Nome) and within such men (true American heroes) won out against the violations of this justice by Washington
politicians.
Disseminating Taglines: The Spoilers in Kansas City
In Kansas City, Missouri, The Spoilers appeared on three different occasions
at three different theaters between May 1914 and May 1915. Of the first we
know very little, as the only evidence is a small and uninformative advertisement for the two last nights of screenings at the Orpheum.79 When the
film returned to Kansas City in December 1914 for screenings at the Willis
Wood Theater, the shows were heavily advertised. The most significant detail about the massive advertisement that appeared in the Kansas City Star
on December 14 was that it consisted almost exclusively of a collage of
repetitions of the various catchphrases and taglines that had been furnished
by the promoters of the film and disseminated through various brochures,
posters and publicity sheets (some of which can be studied at the Academy
in Beverly Hills).
An illustration of Glenister and Helen Chester in each other’s arms
(drawn from the film’s closing shot) occupies the central section of the advertisement. Above the image, various headers disclose the name of the
theater and the title of the film, and on either side of the image, there is column for textual information. The left column informs us: “This picturesque
rugged romance of Alaska has a love story with splendid imagination that
grips and holds the sympathies. ‘The Spoilers’ presents the most stubborn,
strenuous and exciting fight ever pictured—the acme of realism. See a whole
town dynamited! A volcanic earthquake extraordinary! A wonderful drawing
power! Thrilling, Powerful and Picturesque. A Virile Masterpiece. The Most
Wonderful Story Ever Filmed.”80 The description as well as the taglines all
occur in the exact same words in four-page publicity folder issued by the
Selig Polyscope Company, although not in the exact order and accompanied
by a wider assortment of images.81 The same holds true for most of the righthand column: “Big, moving, masterful and wholesome in its human interests, thrilling in incident, absorbing in situation, powerful in progression
231
from start to finish. ‘The Spoilers’ is a thrilling, red blooded story of strong
men battling for supremacy, with all their power of mind and muscle—alert
for every cast of chance. The picture with the punch powerful!” The essence
of the text at the bottom of the right-hand column is also gathered from the
centrally produced publicity material, but updated to apply to the present
situation. Whereas the centrally produced version states that the film comes
“[f]resh from a fortnight run on Broadway, New York City; and an eight
weeks record-breaking engagement at the Studebaker in Chicago,” the Kansas City Star advertisement modifies and adds, resulting in the following:
“Fresh from an extended run on Broadway, New York City; a 16-weeks
record-breaking engagement in the Studebaker, Chicago. A 6-weeks’ capacity engagement in Los Angeles. And 8 weeks in San Francisco.” Below the
central image and the catchphrase columns, the advertisement reiterates the
contents of the letter sent from the wife of Chicago’s Mayor to the manager
of the Studebaker (previously cited). “‘The best I ever saw!’ Says Mrs. Carter H. Harrison,” a header exclaims, which is followed by the information
that Mrs. Harrison is a “Famed Authoress and Wife of Chicago’s Mayor.”
The letter is then cited in its entirety, and for authenticity, Mrs. Harrison’s
signature is included in the advertisement.
The foot of the advertisement offers a summary of the crucial selling
points: “Thousands have seen this thrilling, marvelous picture, and indorsed
it as the greatest. You should see it. A story that appeals to every redblooded American.” These formulations are variations on the centrally produced promotional themes, whereas the advertisement’s next, and concluding statement, may be an original Kansas City selling point: “The book sold
for $1.50. Best seats for the Play cost $1.50. Those who read the book, saw
the play and witnessed the picture proclaim the picture superior to both book
and play.” Appropriately, the admission prices—ranging from 10¢ to
25¢—are stated below this declaration of the film’s superiority.
Figure 43. Advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater, Kansas City Star, December
14, 1914.
232
This nearly exhaustive account of the contents of this particular advertisement (a reiteration of a reiteration if you will) helps us identify an assortment
of promotional arguments that were launched by centrally located publicity
personnel. It is not at all surprising that this material does turn up in advertisements in various local newspapers, although instances of word by word
reproduction of nationally circulated taglines could indicate a diminishing
relevance of localized marketing in general, or at least that the multi-reel
feature film market was furnished along new, and increasingly centralized
lines.
When The Spoilers returned to Kansas City in May 1915 for a third run,
this time at the Empress, the advertising was more modest, plain and simply
designated the film “The World’s Greatest Motion Picture.”82
“Giving ‘The Spoilers’ the ‘Once Over’”: The Spoilers in Salt
Lake City
In Salt Lake City, The Spoilers was booked for screenings at the Salt Lake
Theatre on two separate occasions in September 1914, and the film returned
for a third stint in July 1915 at the Rex Theatre.83 As we know, the stage
version presented by the Mack-Rambeau stock company at the Colonial
Theatre in 1912 received much attention and was part of a web of tie-ins, so
many Salt Lakers were likely to have been familiar with the story. The film
version, too, received considerable treatment in the press, by means of large
as well as small advertisements, captioned productions stills and various
appreciative comments.84
The most original item was a comic strip published on September 9,
1914, under the header “Giving ‘The Spoilers’ at the Salt Lake Theatre the
‘Once Over’”.85 The basic idea of the cartoon is to render the full story of
The Spoilers in a series of succinct lines, each one summarizing a major
narrative event, and each one accompanied by a pictorial reaction to each
event. Fourteen frames are devoted to this undertaking, offering the following condensed version of the story: “The heroine dives in the river. She’s
rescued! They reach Alaska. She’s almost killed!!! Drinking in the dance
hall. She turns down the hero. The villain steals the mines. The hero’s goin’
to shoot the villain. But he don’t!! The hero robs the mines. He blows ‘em
up—bang!!! After a desperate battle he licks the villain. The heroine says
she loves him. They kiss!!!—End—.” The last two frames depict the happy
viewer leaving the movie theater and encourages the readers to go see for
themselves. To some degree, the cartoon spotlights the film slightly differently than the marketing material, emphasizing action (as signaled by heavy
reliance on verbs), the most thrilling scenes, the struggle between hero and
233
villain and the love story, while leaving aspects of Americanism, famous
authors and stars without comment.
Figure 44. “Giving ‘The Spoilers’ at the Salt Lake Theatre the ‘Once Over’,” Salt
Lake Telegram, September 9, 1914.
In contrast to the originality of the comic strip, an item inserted immediately
below it turns out to be a promotional text disguised as belonging to the paper’s editorial material (“editorial” here in the sense of news, information
and comment as opposed to advertising). This piece begins with the remark
that “[i]t has been the fashion of late to picturize the work of famous authors,
and Selig has advanced this as a fine art in ‘The Spoilers,’ from the book of
Rex Beach, in most spirited and vital fashion.”86 This can be compared to the
234
opening paragraph of an item that had appeared in the Duluth New Tribune a
few months previously: “It has been the fashion of late to picturize the work
of famous authors, and Selig has advanced this as a fine art in ‘The Spoilers’
from the book of Rex Beach, which is being shown this week at the Orpheum, in most spirited and vital fashion.”87 Apparently (a comparison of
the two texts offer additional similar examples), the same centrally penned
wording has been used in both cases, albeit slightly altered to better cater to
a local audience.
As elsewhere, the “red-blooded” trope appeared on numerous occasions.
The item cited asserted that “‘The Spoilers’ is as virile and as red blooded a
romance as any that has appeared in the Americana class during the decade.”88 An advertisement dubbed the film “The Real Red-Blooded Picture of
the Year.”89 Finally, an alleged report from a screening during the film’s
second stint at the Salt Lake Theatre assured that the “audience that witnessed the running of the film last night was held spellbound by this gripping
story of red blooded human beings.”90
Plenty of Meat for Your Money: The Spoilers in San Jose,
California
The first trace in the San Jose Mercury News of a local screening of The
Spoilers did not disclose much about the film, but instead served the important purpose of letting the reader know that the Victory Theatre, where the
film was shown for five days starting September 20, 1914, could be
“[r]eached by all city cars transfer connections.”91
The review appearing the following day is one of comparatively few
newspaper items that I have read in which none of the standard catchphrases
turn up. The opening paragraph is indicative of a higher than normal degree
of critical independence:
You get a lot of excitement for your ten-twent-thirt at the Victory this
week. “Cabiria’s” pagan pageant and “Neptune’s Daughter’s” poetical
prettiness are superseded by “The Spoilers,” which will prove entertaining to the people who like raw meat, the smell of the earth and unbridled passion.92
The reviewer moves on to compare the film with the stage version that was
presented in 1909 (also at the Victory), concluding that the play “did not
make much of an impression, owing to the narrow confines of the stage,
while “[a]s a ‘movie’, with all out-of-doors for a stage setting, the story
seems more plausible.” He/she also makes a decent attempt to summarize
the twists and turns of the plot in an alluring manner: “It is chock full of
sensations, running from small-pox to dynamite and from dance halls to
235
gambling halls to midnight suppers and mine robberies, and then back and
round again to stolen papers, a death-dealing hand-to-hand encounter and a
Take-me-Love-I-am-Yours for the final wind-up.” In conclusion, and having
left no doubt that it is primarily about action and thrills: “[P]eople who like a
play in which there is ‘something doing’ every moment of the time will get
their money’s worth at ‘The Spoilers.’”
When the film returned to San Jose for two days of shows (“by special
request”) at the Liberty Theatre, the Mercury succumbed to describing the
film relying on a collection of, by now, familiar phrasings:
“The Spoilers” is a thrilling, red-blooded story of strong men battling
for supremacy, with all their power of mind and muscle alert for any
cast of chance. A picturesque, rugged romance of Alaska and has a
love story with splendid imagination that grips and holds the sympathies. “The Spoilers” presents the most stubborn, strenuous and exciting fight ever pictures—the acme of realism.93
Amazingly, the very same phrases appeared in the Mercury News again a
few days later.94 We know that the text was a product of Selig’s publicity
department, and if its word-by-word reappearance in the advertisement in the
Kansas City Star offered a clear representation of the successful dissemination of centrally produced copy, the unabridged intrusion of the theatrical
columns of the San Jose Mercury News represented a full promotional impact that is all the more unsettling. For film historians, the consequence is
that one cannot merely browse through the daily papers to neatly collect the
findings, one also has to acquire skills to distinguish between the editorial
and the promotional elements of the newspapers’ amusements sections.
Without taking a wide range of material into account, this can be easier said
than done, and as this case study demonstrates, with regard to film coverage
around this time, it is often safest to assume that journalistic independence
was small or non-existent.
“Thrilling Picture Realism” and a Record-Breaking Run: The
Spoilers in Philadelphia
At Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street Opera House, The Spoilers had a significantly longer uninterrupted run than in all other cities included in the case
study, playing for a total of seven weeks to what appears to have been capacity audiences. This is perhaps to be expected considering the size of the
city and knowing what we know about protracted runs of multi-reel feature
films such as Traffic in Souls and Cabiria in Philadelphia, which paved the
way for The Spoilers. It is more surprising that Philadelphians had to wait
until November 9 until the film premiered there.
236
Just over a week before the premiere at the Chestnut Street Opera House,
two newspapers published previews of the film, both placing the emphasis
on the realism of the pictures and the authenticity of the story—two tropes
that sometimes merged but that should perhaps be distinguished from one
another. The Inquirer set out to claim (incorrectly) that the film was “made
at the actual places described.” Moreover, it was assured that the story was a
“rescript of actual occurrences” rather than a pure work of fiction, the ultimate proof of which was provided by the fact that Beach had actually been
on the scene in the early days, i.e. he had lived many of the episodes later
recounted in the book.95 The Philadelphia Record also made note of the fact
that Beach had been present in the Alaskan gold fields back in the day, and
thereby knew what he was talking about, but differed from the Inquirer in
their framing of the realistic settings. The Record recognized that the film
was not shot on location, but was content with what was perceived as a very
convincing “enactment” of the actual places. To substantiate this, it was put
forth that the reconstruction of Nome Main Street was guided by the authenticity offered by old photographs.96 Another item in the Record, appearing a
week later (on November 8), expressed further and more fervent admiration
for the “wonderful fidelity” with regard to locale, and once again brought up
the reconstruction of Nome Main Street as a perfect example. The method
for producing “rainstorm pictures” and the employment of what was perceived to be historically authentic vessels were also identified as adding
greatly to the realism. This particular review also demonstrates that size and
spectacle still mattered; the sheer amount of vessels employed impressed the
reviewer as did the spectacular thrill of certain scenes (the explosions,
Helen’s escape, the fist-fight) and more generally his/her belief that director
Colin Campbell had spent money “without stint” in order to achieve the desired effects.97 Interestingly, the item appearing in the Inquirer on the same
day was very similar in its essentials (also calling attention to the “realistic
rainstorm pictures,” the great number of vessels employed, and so on), indicating that at this point, the two papers might both have aligned their coverage with centrally produced slogans and selling points.98 The reference to
“Rex Beach’s red-blooded story of the early days of gold hunting in Nome”
in the Inquirer article signals as much. Further substantiating this hunch, the
report from the Chestnut Street Opera House published on the day after the
premiere mentioned the exact same scenes as those highlighted in the advertisement that had appeared two days earlier. In addition, yet another description of the film as a “red-blooded tale” slipped in, which seems unlikely to
have been coincidental.99
In contrast, the reviewer at the North American seems to have done a
better job steering clear of prefabricated phrases. He/she made an effort to
measure The Spoilers against the general standard of multi-reel feature films
at the time, arguing that The Spoilers fared very well in such a comparison:
“The average feature nowadays is tiresome in the extreme, and padding is
237
frequent.” Such problems did not seem to mar this particular film, however,
as “[n]one of the situations is overdone, and there is a laudable absence of
interpolated thrills which have little connection with the plot, a common
fault among most directors.”100
The North American reviewer’s essential point can be seen as a slightly
more sophisticated formulation of an appreciative comment often made
about The Spoilers, viz. that although it was a film of remarkable length, it
somehow managed to rivet the attention of the audience throughout the full
nine reels. Arguably, this quality appeared to be essential in explaining the
film’s success. Or, as a Philadelphia Record reporter put it with respect to
the run at the Chestnut Street Opera House, during which people were supposedly turned away at every screening: “The unusual spectacle of theatregoers standing through two and a half hours of a photo drama may be witnessed nightly at this famous playhouse.”101
A $200 Booking: The Spoilers in Columbus, Georgia
In the Columbus Daily Inquirer on December 13, 1914, two different items
on The Spoilers appeared side by side in the paper’s “At the Movies” column. One reported from screenings of the film at the Grand Theatre a few
nights earlier, noting that the film “attracted crowded houses.” It was further
stated that the filming of “this American novel from the pen of Rex Beach”
took more than three months to complete, but that the results, especially with
regard to “real action,” would be difficult to rival. Compliments to the cast
were issued, as were references to the remarkable runs at the Strand in New
York and at the Chestnut Street Opera House in Philadelphia.102 The other
item, previewing the upcoming shows at the American Theatre adhered more
closely to the nationally circulated taglines; to be sure, “powerful and picturesque,” “wholesome in its human interests,” “gripping red-blooded story of
strong men,” and “rugged romance of Alaska” all made their way into the
piece, most of which could also be found in the accompanying advertisement103 Both the article and the advertisement, however, featured one element of localized promotion that I have not seen anywhere else, viz. the
stating of a figure of how much it had cost the theater to book the film: “The
cost of the picture alone is $200 [for a two-day rental] and as this theater is
always on the lookout for their patrons, it will be seen to be appreciated.”104
In the advertisement, perspective to this figure was provided my means of
comparison: “This picture cost alone $200.00 to show it here, which is more
than five times as much as any other 5, 6, or 7 reel picture ever shown in
Columbus.”105
The Spoilers made a third, and probably last appearance in Columbus at
the Bonita—“the little house with the big show”—in late December 1915.106
238
Figure 45. Advertisement for the American Theatre, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13, 1914.
“An ideal Glenister”: The Spoilers in Olympia, Washington
When The Spoilers arrived in Olympia for a two-day engagement at the Ray
Theater, a major concern appears to have been how faithfully the picture
version represented the novel. In particular, as “few readers of fiction” according to the Morning Olympian had not read the bestselling novel, and as
“all readers have admired the strong characters,” visitors to the Ray could be
expected to demand an apt portrayal of the gallery of characters. Luckily, the
Olympian announced there was no cause for alarm: “As an assurance that the
novelist will have his characters properly portrayed, Selig, the producer of
the pictures, has selected an all-star cast.”107 A belief in certain markers of
authenticity might explain the seemingly odd remark that “Kathryn (sic)
Williams was born and raised in Butte, Montana, a typical mining town in its
early days.”108
The next day, following the first actual Olympia screening of the film (the
above was a preview), the Olympian returned a verdict in unquestionable
favor of the cast. The players’ work was claimed to follow “so close to the
ideas formed over of the different characters in the novel, that the slides, and
the striking scenes, from the familiar slip at Seattle to the rough mining town
239
of Alaska, vie with the clever company in earning the praise of those who
have been entertained in the reading of the novel.”109
Among the many recurring promotional features that we have seen utilized in different places, different advertisements and different exhibition
contexts, acknowledgement of Rex Beach’s role and the prominence of the
cast are the two most predictable and persistent. Practically all advertisements, as well as a majority of other texts appearing in the newspapers, referred to the film as “Rex Beach’s The Spoilers” or “The Spoilers by Rex
Beach.” Similarly, a great majority of the sources stressed the presence in
the film of William Farnum and Kathlyn Williams, in addition to a “great
cast.” The discourse surrounding the Olympia screenings, however, entailed
a somewhat different and original take on the issues of authorship as well as
acting. A cause for this is to be found in the insistence on the importance of
fidelity to the literary source. A faithful and “proper” adaptation was, of
course, deemed a desirable quality elsewhere, but within the Olympia context, to digress too greatly from the source was also to violate the rights of
the film’s author and true originator: Rex Beach. Moreover, the heart and
soul of the original story was projected onto its clearest manifestation—the
characters—and this, in turn, seems to have fostered the idea that the actors’
main task was to guarantee fidelity to the literary source. In that spirit and in
contrast to most reviews and promotional texts content to issue a standard
phrase of praise concerning the cast, the Morning Olympian review of the
screenings at the Ray offered a fuller treatment of the characters and of the
actors’ work. Aside from alluring comments upon the film’s savagery v.
civilization theme, the bulk of the text zoomed in on acting:
William Farnum makes an ideal Glenister, the handsome giant who
was educated for a lawyer but became a savage of the North through
environment; Kathlyn Williams, whose fearlessness has been often
witnessed in the Selig animal plays, fills the character of the beautiful
dance hall girl, cold and distant with the ordinary habitués but womanly and touching where her sympathies are aroused; Helen Chester,
the sweet gentle girl who is made an innocent participator in the terrible crime against justice, but who ends by taming the savage Glenister, is cleverly handled by Bessie Eyton; Thomas Santschi, selected
for the strong but thankless character of McNamara, “the most notorious crook in Washington,” vies with Farnum in personal attractions,
being handsome and tall, but haughty and overbearing in his confidence in his physical strength and his mental superiority, and his final
struggle with Glenister makes a fitting climax to this stirring conflict
between these brainy and brawny giants; Even Slap Jack, the long
lean, lankey (sic), bald-pated man with the unique vocabulary is readily recognized in the perfect makeup of Jack McDonald. And all of the
other characters, Dextry, Bronco Kid, Judge Stillman and others fit
into the scenery which is a reproduction of Nome in early days, making the entire production one of the most remarkable and interesting
ever produced on the screen.110
240
Still as Good as New: The Spoilers in Charlotte, South Carolina
Of the cities included in this case study, Charlotte, South Carolina was the
last to see The Spoilers premiere at a local movie theater. The first Charlotte
shows were hosted by the Academy of Music from April 17 to April 19,
1916, more than two years after the first public presentations of the film and
about two months after the release of a twelve-reel reissue. The Academy of
Music in Charlotte screened the original version, however, and seemingly
used the original publicity material as the film was billed here, too, as “the
most wonderful story ever filmed” and as “thrilling, powerful, picturesque.”111 More surprising than the reliance on the established catchphrases
is the fact that the Charlotte Observer conveyed the impression that this was
a fairly new feature film: “Theatergoers, booklovers and movie patrons have
long been awaiting their opportunity of seeing the world-famed novel, ‘The
Spoilers,’ by Rex Beach made into a big photoplay. Now that it has been
accomplished and will be presented in this city for three days … it is expected that the local playhouse will be crowded at every performance.”112
Then again, after the first day of screenings at the Academy of Music, the
Observer instead shifted into historical gear, as indicated by the suggestive
description of the most memorable scene according to the reviewer, i.e. the
climactic struggle between Glenister and McNamara: “The fight between
these two players has become history in photoplay annals as one of the most
realistic fistic encounters that was ever staged as a part of a dramatic entertainment.”113 Sadly, however, the reviewer proved to have had some difficulty in getting the historical record straight, and went on to announce that
the film had been made “under the joint direction of Rex Beach and Mr.
Santschi.”
Programming The Spoilers
When The Spoilers had its official premiere at the Strand Theatre in New
York, it was offered as part of a wider program that involved a variety of
other elements. In that particular case, The Spoilers was the main feature,
occupying all of the second half of the show. The first half of the program
consisted of orchestra music, songs sung by the Strand Quartet, a Keystone
comedy, and an installment of Our Mutual Girl. The music that accompanied the main feature was furnished by a twenty-seven-piece orchestra,
which had allegedly rehearsed with the film beforehand. There was also a
large organ, but it is unclear whether it was used to accompany the feature
film.
241
To little surprise, the programming of The Spoilers at other venues and in
other cities rarely involved the variety, length and lavish surroundings offered at the Strand, although individual elements would be repeated in other
exhibition contexts around the country. Except for the impression that wherever the film opened, it would invariably be shown at one of that particular
city’s larger venues, it is not possible to discern only one specific pattern
with regard to programming. This is significant in itself, as it challenges the
notion that the multi-reel feature format fostered a fixed mode of programming and exhibition, for instance, one confined to and governed by the rules
of the mythical site of the “picture palace.” Clearly, the early and mid-teens
saw the emergence of new, larger and more opulently equipped venues for
the exhibition of motion pictures, and many such venues provided an outlet
for feature films, but around the time of The Spoilers’ first tour around the
country, programming practices were still to large extent localized. This is,
of course, a pivotal reason why detailed local film histories are of such
value. Still, if feature films were essentially inserted into existing local patterns of film culture, how it is that there are no traces of nickel house exhibition of The Spoilers? This is a valid point, but one that can only be answered
by (once again) detailed studies of local and specific film exhibition and
movie-going conditions. Tentatively, we may guess that in many cases and
places, perhaps even in most, a basic rationale of supply and demand steered
a film such as The Spoilers to large and centrally-located venues (geographically and/or socially). In other places, e.g. the big cities, a closer look might
reveal that if not The Spoilers than at least an assortment of other multi-reel
feature films, were in fact exhibited in a variety of venues—I hope and believe the case study of Philadelphia in 1914 is a good case in point. At any
rate, such possible “anomalies,” and others that might come up if we turn to
the local, have greater potential to deepen our understanding of the feature
film’s early history (or histories if you will) than sticking to a notion that the
feature format somehow possessed an innate quality to propel film historical
change in a specific direction.
Shifting attention back to the programming of The Spoilers, a few examples of the use or non-use of supplementary films and features, of the scheduling of shows, the employment of music and of price setting, will demonstrate the variety of programming approaches and how all of these four parameters could be combined in a variety of ways.
From our Philadelphia case study, we know that the screenings at the
Chestnut Street Opera House included a supplementary assortment of firstrun comedy films.114 At the Liberty Theatre in San Jose in January 1915, the
feature film was shown in conjunction with “one of those famous Keystone
comedies.”115 Later in 1915, the Rex Theatre in Salt Lake City combined the
feature with an installment of a serial called The Broken Coin (Universal,
1915).116 Sometimes, as in the case of the Columbus, Georgia screenings in
late 1914, there were no supplemental offerings at all.117 The perhaps most
242
unorthodox form of programming with regard to the combination of feature
film and other attractions took place at the Los Angeles Woodley Theatre in
February 1915. The noon shows here presented The Spoilers in conjunction
with an “efficiency lecture” by Mrs. Margaret C. La Grange, a “noted efficiency expert” from Detroit, presumably catering to the working people who
might want to “improve their minds” while at the same time enjoy a thrilling
motion picture.118
When it came to scheduling, running a continuous show without specifying beyond the hour when the theater opened and closed was one option. For
instance, the Boston Theatre ran the film continuously from 10 a.m. to 10.30
p.m. without further indication of a possible timetable.119 Other theaters
chose to announce at least approximate times when the feature would start;
both the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City and the American Theatre in
Columbus, Georgia (paradoxically?) framed their presentation as a “continuous show every two hours,” starting at 11 o’clock.120 At the Rex in Salt Lake
City, four daily and still purportedly continuous shows were put on, but
since the feature was accompanied by additional films, the management
hinted that the feature would start approximately half an hour into each
show.121 Some theaters, such as the Ray in Olympia, Washington and the
Empress in Kansas City, divided the day into matinee and evening performances.122
Figure 46. Advertisement for the Boston Theatre, Boston Journal, November 21,
1914.
243
Some kind of musical accompaniment was offered at all venues where The
Spoilers was exhibited. The Willis Wood Theater boasted a symphony orchestra and a $20,000 pipe organ.123 At the Boston Theatre, the “incidental
music [was] interpreted by a large symphony orchestra.”124 The American
Theatre in Columbus Georgia employed a four-piece union orchestra.125 In
Philadelphia, the Chestnut Street Opera House announced that the film
would be “Accompanied by Wurlitzer Organ.”126
If we summarize the available information regarding admission prices, we
find that in some cities, a ticket to see The Spoilers could come as cheap as
5¢, whereas the most expensive seats at the most expensive theater would
cost the patron 50¢. The pricing strategies differed among theaters according
to the customary variables. Some venues charged different admission prices
for different types of seats. For instance, the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas
City charged 10¢ or 20¢ for orchestra seats, but 25¢ for the box and loge
seats.127 The Boston Theatre charged 10¢, 15¢ or 25¢ for seats to The Spoilers screenings, without specifying in the advertisement what types of seats
these prices referred to.128 Seats at the Empress in Kansas City in May 1915
were 20¢ or 10¢, these figures also given without further specification.129
Some venues distinguished between matinee and evening performances,
which meant that one particular range of admission prices applied to the
afternoon show and another to the evening show. Adhering to this strategy,
the Salt Lake Theatre charged 15¢ or 25¢ for the matinee and 15¢, 25¢, 35¢
or 50¢ at evenings, and in a similar manner, the Chestnut Street Opera House
in Philadelphia asked 10¢ or 15¢ in the afternoon and 10¢, 15¢ or 25¢ at
night.130 Another possible criterion for price discrimination was age; for
instance, tickets to The Spoilers at the Academy of Music in Charlotte in
April 1916 cost 25¢ for adults and 15¢ for children.131 Of course, there was
also the combination of temporal and age group factors, as in the case of the
Isis Theatre in Boise, where seats came at 10¢ for adults and 5¢ for children
during the matinee part of the day, and at 15¢ for adults and 10¢ for children
in the evening.132 Then there was the alternative of charging a higher price
for reserved seats; the Ray in Olympia opted for this and asked for 50¢ for
reserved seats, compared to the normal 25¢ (or 15¢ for children).133 One
theater, the American Theatre in Columbus, Georgia, raised the admission
prices temporarily for the screenings of The Spoilers, thereby asking for a
whopping 15¢ for adults and 10¢ for children. Or, in the management’s
apologetical but reassuring formulation: “Bear in mind that Admission of
15¢ is for this extraordinary (NINE REEL) feature MONDAY and TUESDAY (ONLY). After Tuesday the price will be 5¢ as usual.”134
244
A Red-Blooded Story: Americanizing the Feature
Market?
We have recurrently noticed that the “red-blooded” trope was an emblematic
marker of the tricky conflations of marketing and reviewing that defined the
newspaper discourse on The Spoilers and the newspaper discourse on film in
general at this time.
It is important to acknowledge the preponderance of the “red-blooded”
label beyond the interface between promotional material and newspaper
discourse. For example, some trade press reviews of The Spoilers made good
use of the trope: James McQuade at Moving Picture World made reference
to a “red-blooded story” in his review, and New York Clipper’s Harry Ennis
proclaimed that “[t]his virile red-blooded romance is a remarkable volume
Americana.”135 The last comment spotlights two meanings of the trope that
seem to be fundamental in relation to The Spoilers: “virile” and “American.”
The first aligns with a lexical definition and may, therefore, be seen as the
trope’s primary meaning (or denotation of you will), while the other is derived from an assumed metonymical relationship between various lexical
meanings and “American.”136 Both qualities were attributed to the persona of
Rex Beach and his work, before as well as after the premiere of the film
version of The Spoilers, and on occasion by reference to precisely the term
in focus here. For example, when the Salt Lake Telegram announced the
winners of “The Spoilers Cast Contest” in August 1912, the paper concluded
that one could not doubt the “popularity here of Rex Beach as a teller of red
blooded stories.”137 Similarly, the publishing of Beach’s The Iron Trail in
1913 caused at least one reviewer to argue that “Rex Beach has written a tale
as virile as ‘The Spoilers’,” and that the new novel’s hero “represents a
larger conception of Manhood.”138 A few years later, the film version of
Beach’s The Barrier (Rex Beach Pictures Company, 1917) also rendered
comparisons, one commentator noting that like The Spoilers, The Barrier
was a “red-blooded” story of the Alaskan fields.139 Thus, Beach’s reputation
as a writer of “red-blooded” fiction and a promoter of a decidedly masculine
and virile Americana, originated already by the publishing of The Spoilers in
1905, and was reaffirmed thanks to a consistent circulation of this formula
concerning his subsequent work. By 1914, Beach had earned the epithet
“Red Blood King of Fiction,”140 and accordingly, promotion of the film version of The Spoilers did not start out from a tabula rasa, but could take advantage of Beach’s particular legacy, readily available for spinning.
These processes did not only involve a particular promotional and critical
framing of Beach’s oeuvre of books and short stories and the various adaptations hereof, but also the staging of a fitting biographical legend, or public
persona. This appears to have been part of a self-promotional endeavor, evident by interviews in the trade press around the time Beach ventured into the
245
film industry. Speaking to the World’s James McQuade shortly before the
Chicago sneak preview of The Spoilers, Beach made a point of serving up
his own background as the best guarantee of the authenticity and realism of
the film, suggesting that a man has to go through the mill to see how hard it
grinds.141 About a year later, in an interview published in the monthly fan
publication Motion Picture Magazine, Beach’s macho identity, habitually
ascribed to the alleged real-life experiences as a rugged adventurer that gave
his work its stamp of authenticity, was even more pronounced. Here the interviewer, waiting for the author to finish some pressing business, recounts
how the floors of Beach’s New York residence are covered by “splendid
skins of animals killed by Beach.”142 At this time, Beach’s persona was long
since pigeonholed and/or intentionally self-advertised to represent the most
virile, vigorous and masculine facets of the American character. A case in
point is a newspaper advertisement for Tuxedo Tobacco in which Beach
appeared in 1913, alongside with John Philip Sousa (“the March King”),
George Randolph Chester (“famous author”), V. Stefansson (“the famous
explorer”), Geo. M. Cohan (“actor, author, composer, manager”), Zane Grey
(“famous sportsman, explorer and writer”), Malcolm Strauss (“noted portrayer of girl types in pen and ink”) and Christy Mathewson (“famous
pitcher of the New York Giants”). This gallery featured an encircled illustration of each celebrity accompanied by their respective signed endorsing,
underwriting the claim that “The Greatest Men in America Endorse Tuxedo
Tobacco.” Identifying a common ground for endorsing the product, the advertisement states that “[t]he live, virile men who make this country what it
is, recognize relaxation from nervous and mental strain, the restfulness—that
comes from smoking Tuxedo Tobacco.” Rex Beach is presented as “famous
author, playwright, sportsman, author of ‘The Spoilers,’ ‘The Barrier,’ ‘The
Silver Horde’,” By way of endorsement in the advertisement he states: “I
have smoked Tuxedo in sub-Arctic Alaska, at Panama and everywhere—would not smoke another kind.”143
Against this background of alpha-male experiences, the significance of
Beach’s shift from books to movies may be read along lines where gender,
the burgeoning feature market and various transformations of the scenariowriting field intersect. As multi-reel features grew more common, there was
a growing uncertainty concerning exactly where story material for present
and forthcoming mammoth productions would come from. One camp predicted that famous and experienced authors would soon be having a field day
thanks to the new market situation.144 Others argued that the future of the
feature lay with those who would seize the opportunity to learn to write
original scenarios directly for the screen.145 For some, the latter stance
hinged on a belief that (a) the scenario field was undergoing processes of
professionalization and division of labor demanding trained scenarists rather
than “big writers,” and that (b) “literary” qualities did not automatically
translate into a successful scenario. Interestingly, however, at least one sup246
porter of this view admitted that authors like Rex Beach, who “write virile
action,” could nonetheless possibly make it in movies.146 Another issue is
exactly how the perceived virility of Beach and his work should be related to
the ever-increasing presence of women within the scenario field.147
Figure 47. Advertisement for Tuxedo Tobacco, Inquirer, August 28, 1913.
247
We may also read the significance of Beach’s entry into the film business as
primarily being related to the tropes of Americanism and Americanization.
In fact, the “red-blooded” trope, so crucial in navigating the reception of The
Spoilers, resonates with a wider change affecting American culture at the
turn of the last century which Richard Abel argues can be seen as prescriptive for American cinema. This change involved a new hierarchal order of
visual representations that valued notions of realism, verisimilitude and
authenticity while debasing notions of romanticism and imitation. Abel links
this to how “Pathé’s foreign subjects provided one of the principal ‘others’
against which to construct an American difference” in the trade press around
1908–1909. On occasion, as in the case of the New York Dramatic Mirror,
this discourse was permeated by masculinism and racism. The relevant
background which Abel derives from Richard Slotkin was the developing of
a “virilist realism” in American culture. Within the realm of literary fiction,
one expression of this was the embracing by some of the “red-blooded realism” of writers such as Owen Wister and Frank Norris.148 A cinematic
counterpart, Abel convincingly shows, was the western, a genre in which the
mythical frontier served as an imaginary space for testing the virility of the
“American character.” Hereby, cinema was taking part in a discourse of
Americanization that (Abel draws on Robert Rydell here) asserted “white
male supremacy as the core of a new national identity.”149 It is remarkable
how well this framework translates to the case of The Spoilers. Set in the old
West displaced to Nome, featuring “strong men battling for supremacy, with
all their power of mind and muscle” (as one advertisement put it), marketed
as a “red-blooded” story and penned by an author whose biographical legend
was long since defined by a masculinized ideal of the “American character,”
The Spoilers was an early feature highpoint in cinematic displays of Americanism. As such, it played its part in the Americanizing of feature cinema, a
process that also involved creating a bulwark against the potential threat
posed by European multi-reel feature films. That the film’s marketing as
well as its formal qualities, not least the allegiance to the genre of action,
were crucial aspects of this is evident, but equally so was the fact The Spoilers was chosen as the opening feature film of the perhaps most high-profile
motion picture palace in the country—The Strand in New York City. This
amounted to the American feature film’s reaching of a pinnacle in film culture, a position from which it would move on to capture the domestic as well
as global market.
248
The Aftermath
The original version of The Spoilers was still on the road and seemingly
doing decent business when a twelve-reel reissue was released from the
Selig’s Pacific Coast Studios in February 1916. While work with the reissue
was still in progress in September 1915, it was previewed in Motography
with a promise that the new version would “out-do the original in many respects.” Easier said than done, one might think, considering the almost limitless film historical relevance that the writer ascribed to The Spoilers:
It is a substantiated fact in motion picture history that “The Spoilers”
has proven to be one of the most successful American picture plays
ever released. It is as popular today as when it was first presented to
the public several years ago. “The Spoilers” has played as many as a
half dozen return dates in many of the principal theaters. … “The
Spoilers,” both as to plot and scenes has been imitated many times.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but none of the adapters has
been able to reproduce the realism shown in the original Selig play.
Exhibitors and the public will await with pleasurable anticipation
the release of “The Spoilers” in its unabridged form. It is as standard
as is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Way Down East,” etc. At least three
thousand feet of the original film will be replaced in the production.150
The twelve-reel version made its way into some of the cities and theaters that
had once hosted the original version. In Duluth, Minnesota, it was announced that the film was so long that only four performances per day could
be offered.151 In Philadelphia, it was advertised with the tagline “Three
Acts—Twelve Reels. Bigger and Better Than Ever.”152 In Olympia, Washington, the Morning Olympian dubbed the film “The New Spoilers;” and
also entertained the notion that the additions and alterations were based on
various suggestions and comments extracted from the avalanche of letters
the producers had received from readers of Beach’s novel.153 Perhaps a publicity stunt of some kind had been an inspirational source. In San Jose, Kansas City and several other cities, the new version was promoted as an “Edition DeLuxe.”154
Parallel to the nationwide launching of the reissue, the original nine-reel
version was still going strong in many places. A program flyer for a venue
called the Apollo Theatre (city and state undetermined) preserved in the
William Selig papers held at the Academy confirms that by early 1918, the
original The Spoilers was still subject to quite sumptuous presentations and
that the original slogans, although in slightly paraphrased form, were still
used:
249
A thrilling tale of the Alaskan Goldfields.
THE MOST WONDERFUL FIGHT EVER STAGED.
THE EXPLOSION AT THE MINES.
THE SCENES OF ALASKAN GOLDFIELDS.
THE WONDERFUL SCENERY AND LIGHTING EFFECTS.
It is “The Sensation of the Moving Picture World”
…
A drama of red-blooded men and women.
The program folder also included a synopsis supposedly written by Rex
Beach himself (this text originally appeared in the publicity brochure put out
by Selig), information on admission prices ($1.50, $1 and 70¢, depending on
the type of seat) and a layout of the evening’s program:
Part One
1. Overture .. .. .. .. .. Apollo Orchestra
2. “THE SPOILERS”. The Sensation of the Moving Picture World. A
story of plot and counter-plot in the Alaskan Gold Fields. A pulsating
drama of an enduring love in the far North-land. The most soulstirring film drama ever staged. Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five.
INTERVAL
Part Two
1. Intermezzo .. .. .. .. .. Apollo Orchestra
2. “THE SPOILERS”. Parts Six, Seven, Eight and Nine.
GOOD-NIGHT155
Beach also struck a deal with Selig regarding the film rights to The Ne’er Do
Well, an adventure story set in Panama and published by Harper’s in 1911.
Production began in the spring of 1915, and the release was planned for
March 1916 by V-L-S-E, the distribution combine that had recently formed
for the purpose of distributing the feature film output of Vitagraph, Lubin,
Selig and Essanay. This film was also produced under the direction of Colin
Campbell, according to Selig himself “the dean of our directing staff.” 156
250
Upon the release of The Ne’er do Well (1916), two tropes were commonly
utilized to position the film on the market. Both tried to capitalize on the
success of its precursor, one by dubbing the film a “worthy successor” to
The Spoilers,157 and the other by drawing attention to the fact that Kathlyn
Williams and Wheeler Oakman (who had played Cherry Malotte and the
Bronco Kid) were cast in the leading roles. Hence the publicity department
could repeatedly declare that The Ne’er Do Well featured “the cast that made
The Spoilers world famous.”158
It seems likely that Selig and/or other film companies approached Beach
with proposals for future projects, but Beach, in another display of entrepreneurship, went on to form his own film production company: Rex Beach
Pictures Company. The company produced seven films between 1917 and
1919, three of which—The Barrier (1917), Heart of the Sunset (1918) and
Laughing Bill Hyde (1918)—were based upon novels by Beach and another
three—Too Fat to Fight (1918), The Brand (1919) and The Crimson Gardenia (1919)—on stories credited to Beach. The last one, The Auction Block
(1917), was written by Adrian Gil-Spear and directed by Laurence Trimble,
and Beach was not personally credited for this film. It remains to explore
further how this company was run, how the films were received and why it
only stayed in business for a few years.
In late September 1920, it was reported that Beach, after a drawn-out lawsuit had recovered from Selig the film rights to The Spoilers and The Ne’er
Do Well, and it was prophesized that both stories would probably be filmed
again in the near future.159 New versions did appear in 1923, The Ne’er Do
Well produced by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and released by
Paramount and The Spoilers produced by Jesse D. Hampton Productions for
Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and distributed by the Goldwyn Distributing
Corporation. Whether Beach himself was involved in any way in the productions is unclear, as is the nature of the respective agreements over the
film rights.
It is said that Beach gradually retired to pursue his favorite pastime:
farming and flower bulb husbandry. Blind, in pain, still mourning the loss of
his wife two years earlier, and worn down after suffering many years of poor
health, he decided to go out with a bang rather than a whimper and shot himself in his home in Sebring, Florida in December 1949.
251
Summary and Conclusions
There is a certain obviousness of the multi-reel feature film due to its longstanding position as the central commodity of the film industry and the
dominant format for artistic film expression. This can sometimes make it
difficult to grasp the industrial friction that the breakthrough of the feature
brought about and the complexity of the cultural negotiations that were
needed to pave the way for an eventual nearly universal acceptance of the
format’s predominance.
Our framing of the breakthrough of the multi-reel feature, based on discussions within the trade and by various commentators, has offered ample
enough evidence of how contested the area once was. What was a “real”
feature and what distinguished these from inferior features? Why were so
many features padded? What was a film’s “natural length”? What was the
difference between a “program feature” and a “special feature”? Would the
feature assist an open market or would program cinema remain intact? Did
the feature require a new type of motion picture theater or could it be made
to fit the small neighborhood houses? Should it aspire primarily to attracting
a $2 audience or should it cater equally to the regulars of the five- and tencent houses? Should it latch onto theater, drama, music, and literature for its
artistic development, or should it seek to refine the qualities and devices
specific to cinema?
As we have come to discover time and again, these and similar contested
issues were seldom the subject of a clear-cut and polarized struggle between
two clearly identifiable camps. A crucial reason for this was that the early
feature was never a monolithic concept, but polymorphous and polysemic in
character. What it “meant” could look very different depending on where
one was standing. Some of the most intriguing examples of this can be found
in the tensions between the agenda-driven trade press discourse and the USA
v. MPPC witnesses’ oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth. Hopefully, our particular framing derives some novelty precisely from
its interpellation between punditry and testimony. And hopefully, the multiperspectival floodlighting of the topic has enriched our understanding of the
object of study as well as of some of the complexities of historical change, in
particular how change, understood as a processual meeting between agency
and structure, can assume various forms of cultural negotiation.
Just as the multi-reel feature film provoked negotiated responses at the
discursive level, it spurred experimentation in programming, exhibition and
252
movie-going practices. A crucial point of the Philadelphia case study has
been to demonstrate how the remodeling of film exhibition inspired by the
feature format was not as much a question of one coherent and dominant
mode replacing another, than as of experimentation, or, trial and error if you
like. Never was this as apparent as in the midst of the very moment of
breakthrough; the context for the exhibition of motion pictures was already
more diverse than often assumed, and throughout 1914, it diversified further.
I have attempted to outline this process in terms of “models” of feature film
exhibition, although cautious to stress that any given case (e.g. a specific
venue at a specific time) may, of course, defy being subsumed under any of
the “models.” A common trait of the “models” as well as of special case
studies that point beyond them is that most were predicated on compound
programs as opposed to either fully-fledged feature programs or variety programs. Although I find it unlikely, this may have been a peculiarity to the
Philadelphia situation, but still, and once again, dualistic explanatory
schemes and the historical emplotment of smooth transitions seem confounded. Some of the compound models of feature film exhibition would
survive to define the early feature era, while others remain indicators of what
might have been.
The case study of multi-reel feature film exhibition in Philadelphia in
1914 also lays bare a trajectory (however uneven), moving from the European photo-spectacles that dominated the screen early in the year to the
veritable explosion of American features—most notably a stream of films
produced by the Famous Players Film Company—toward the end of the
year. We know that the situation varied from place to place across the country, but in Philadelphia, it was Famous Players that led the Americanizing of
the feature market.
As we also know, links between cinema and Americanization were not
merely an issue of market domination, but resonated deeply with an ongoing
transformation of American culture. The Spoilers—the object of the concluding case study—was perhaps the clearest manifestation within the feature film field of these links as they informed American film culture in 1914.
Hence, this film offers an exciting entry point to an array of discourses,
while also hinting at some possible missing links between the influx and
success of the first European feature films and The Birth of a Nation. The
last was arguably the film that decisively marked the supremacy of the
American feature on the domestic market, thereby also being instrumental in
launching the American feature film as the future version of global, and
globalized, cinema.
The Spoilers is also a perfect example to demonstrate how asymmetric
(geographically and temporally) was the breakthrough of the multi-reel feature film. Simultaneously, however, and seemingly contradictory, the case
study of The Spoilers also displays the relentless force of centrally-tailored
advertising schemes and concomitant reading protocols. It may have taken
253
two years for the film to travel from the Strand Theatre in New York City to
the Academy of Music in Charlotte, South Carolina, but when it finally arrived, it was still as “powerful, thrilling, and picturesque” as the original
advertising material had once stipulated.
To my mind, the last point epitomizes much of the allure of studying the
early feature, i.e. the double excitement that arises from the obviousness of
the multi-reel feature’s film cultural dominance, and the simultaneous complexity, unevenness, and unpredictability of its getting there.
254
Notes
List of Abbreviations
Bulletin
Inquirer
MPM
MP News
MPW
NYDM
Photoplay
Record
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin
Philadelphia Inquirer
Motion Picture Magazine/Motion Picture Story Magazine
Moving Picture News
Moving Picture World
New York Dramatic Mirror
Photoplay Magazine
Philadelphia Record
Introduction
1
Lee E. Dougherty, “Conditions and Features,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 224.
Michael Quinn, “Distribution, the Transient Audience, and the Transition to the Feature
Film,” Cinema Journal 40, no. 2 (Winter 2001): 51.
3
Cinema [pseud.], “From Our London Correspondent,” Reel Life 4, no. 10 (May 23, 1914):
26. Reel Life was the in-house publication of a so-called “program company” (in this case the
Mutual company), and assuming that multi-reel feature films exerted particular pressure
against the program companies (this phenomenon is discussed at some length in Chapter 2),
one can expect “Cinema” and other commentators writing for Reel Life to show a certain bias
against the new format.
4
Ibid., Reel Life 4, no. 8 (May 9, 1914): 26.
5
Horace G. Plimpton, “The Development of the Motion Picture,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 198.
6
Labeling participants in what is perceived to be cultural fads as “crazy” is, of course, not
unique to cinema, but something of a standard trope in discussions on a wide range of phenomena in popular culture. In relation to early film audiences and film fan culture in particular, later popular writers as well as film scholars has picked up the thread, as evident by book
titles such as Movie Crazy. Samantha Barbas, Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of
Celebrity (New York: Palgrave, 2001). An entertaining early filmic inscription of the “fandom as insanity” trope survives in form of Vitagraph’s The Picture Idol (1912).
7
Ben Singer, “Feature Films, Variety Programs, and the Crisis of the Small Exhibitor,” in
American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and
2
255
Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004): 77. The book Singer uses to
exemplify his claim is David A. Cook, A History of Narrative Film, 3rd ed. (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1996) and in the passage that Singer cites the “feature craze” notion does in fact turn
up.
8
Singer, “Feature Films,” 79.
9
On the ousting of Pathé, see Richard Abel, The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900–1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). On patents and copyright
struggles, see Janet Staiger, “Combination and Litigation: Structures of U.S. Film Distribution
1896–1917,” Cinema Journal 23, no. 2 (Winter 1983): 41–72. See also André Gaudreault,
“The Infringement of Copyright Laws and Its Effects,” in Early Cinema:
Space—Frame—Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker (London: BFI Publishing, 1990), 114–22; and Charles Musser, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to
1907 (New York: Scribner, 1990), chapters 8–10. On the formation of the Motion Picture
Patents Company, see Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915 (New
York: Scribner, 1990), chapter 2.
10
Richard Abel, Americanizing the Movies and “Movie-Mad” Audiences, 1910–1914 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 16–21.
11
One reel of film was 1,000 feet long and took about 15 minutes to project, depending on the
speed of projection.
12
Such analogies between film and textiles will be further examined in Chapter 1.
13
In his seminal account of boxing and early cinema, Dan Streible discusses prizefight pictures in terms of (proto)feature-length format in several passages. Streible, Fight Pictures: A
History of Boxing and Early Cinema (Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 2008), 5;
18; 186–88. On prizefight pictures and passion plays as proto-features, also see chapter 1,
note 21.
14
On “Serial-Queen Melodrama,” see Ben Singer, Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and Its Contexts (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), especially
chapter 8.
15
The standard reference work on the American newsreel is still Raymond Fielding, The
American Newsreel 1911–1967 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972). A second edition, with the added subtitle “A Complete History,” was published in 2006. Fielding,
The American Newsreel: A Complete History, 1911–1967 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co.,
2006). With regard to research on the newsreel in countries and contexts outside of the United
States, the FIAF Newsreel Symposium that took place in June 1993 presented an opportunity
to expand the field. Some of the results can be studied in a book-length summary of the symposium published in 1996. Roger Smither and Wolfgang Klaue, eds. Newsreels in Film Archives: A Survey Based on the FIAF Newsreel Symposium (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 1996).
16
Jan Olsson, Los Angeles Before Hollywood: Journalism and American Film Culture,
1905–1915 (Stockholm: National Library, 2009, distribution Wallflower Press, London), 61.
Olsson also discusses the overlaps between newsreels, serials and film series in the mid-teens,
detectable in shared promotional strategies and in each format’s placing of women at the
center of attention. Olsson, Los Angeles, chapter 7.
17
On the “balanced program” of early feature cinema and how various formats and genres
(including the serial and the newsreel) were integrated, see Richard Koszarski, An Evening’s
Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915–1928 (New York: Scribner,
1990): chapter 6.
18
In a fairly recent article, Scott Curtis discusses various tensions within the MPPC and the
possible reasons for the downfall of the Trust. Curtis draws extensively on Robert Anderson’s
work. One of Anderson’s claims is that whereas traditional explanations of the demise of the
Trust (including its allegedly conservative responses to the move to the west coast and to the
development of the star system) are “without any basis in fact,” the point that “the Trust failed
to understands the significance of the feature film is valid.” Anderson is correct in pointing
out that the feature posed problems for the Trust, problems that might indeed have contributed
to its demise. However, Curtis’s account is more sensitive to the complexity of this issue, and
256
indicates that the problems went beyond a failure to “understand the significance” of the
feature. In this respect, Curtis’s work aligns more clearly with Michael Quinn, who has also
criticized Anderson’s oversimplified account of the Trust’s response to the feature. Scott
Curtis, “A House Divided: The MPPC in Transition,” in American Cinema’s Transitional
Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004): 239–64; Robert Anderson, “The Motion Picture Patents
Company: A Reevaluation,” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino Balio (Madison, Wis.:
University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 150; and Michael Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution
and the Development of the Motion Picture Industry: Famous Players and Paramount,
1912–1921” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1998), 61–62.
19
Janet Staiger lists a number of reasons why the Los Angeles area was so appealing with
regard to the establishment of permanent film studios, including (a) around-the-year good
weather; (b) a variety of exteriors; (c) good labor supply; (d) advantages of LA being the west
coast theatrical center; and (e) good transportations. Janet Staiger, “The Director-Unit System:
Management of Multiple-Unit Companies after 1909,” in The Classical Hollywood Cinema:
Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger,
and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 122.
20
Kristin Thompson, “The Formulation of the Classical Narrative,” in The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell,
Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 174–93;
Tom Gunning, D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early Years at
Biograph (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991); and Charlie Keil, Early American
Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking, 1907–1913 (Madison, Wis.: University
of Wisconsin Press, 2001).
21
Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, chapter 8.
22
Douglas Gomery, Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States
(London: BFI Publishing, 1992), 29–33. On vaudeville as an exhibition context and the relations between film and vaudeville, see Robert C. Allen, Vaudeville and Film 1895–1915: A
Study in Media Interaction (New York: Arno Press, 1980). One could, of course, argue, as
Gregory Waller convincingly does, that variety and diverse conditions were always (and still
are) trademarks of film exhibition and the moviegoing experience. Gregory Waller, ed.,
Moviegoing in America: A Sourcebook in the History of Film Exhibition (Malden, Mass.:
Blackwell Publishing, 2002), 1–7.
23
Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 23; 76–86; 93–100. Judith Mayne argues that the
conflict between ideal spectator and real viewer, between the homogeneity of the film apparatus and the heterogeneity of the audience, long occupied the center of research on film
spectatorship. Mayne offers the distinction between “address” and “reception” as a way out of
this conundrum. Judith Mayne, “Paradoxes of Spectatorship,” in Viewing Positions: Ways of
Seeing Film, ed. Linda Williams (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995),
155–57.
24
Moya Luckett, “Cities and Spectators: A Historical Analysis of Film Audiences in Chicago
1910–1915,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1995), 302.
25
Shelley Stamp, Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), 48; 96.
26
Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1993).
27
The appearance of boards of review (local and other) can be traced back to 1907. Lee
Grieveson, Policing Cinema: Movies and Censorship in Early-Twentieth-Century America
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 23–26.
28
Russell Merritt, “Nickelodeon Theaters: Building an Audience for the Movies,” Wide Angle
1, no. 1 (1979): 4–9; and Robert C. Allen, “Motion Picture Exhibition in Manhattan,
1906–1912: Beyond the Nickelodeon,” Cinema Journal 18, no. 2 (Spring 1979): 2–15. These
revisionist challenges were criticized on methodological and other grounds by Robert Sklar
257
and later the subject of revision in a 1995 article by Ben Singer. Singer’s article in turn
prompted a riposte from Allen and a series of additional comments by other scholars. Robert
Sklar, “Oh! Althusser!: Historiography and the Rise of Cinema Studies,” Radical History
Review, no. 41 (Spring 1988): 11–35; Ben Singer, “Manhattan Nickelodeons: New Data on
Audiences and Exhibitors,” Cinema Journal 34, no. 3 (Spring 1995): 5–35; Robert C. Allen,
“Manhattan Myopia; or, Oh! Iowa!” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (Spring 1996): 75–103; Sumiko Higashi, “Dialogue: Manhattan’s Nickelodeons,” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (Spring
1996): 72–74; Ben Singer, “New York, Just Like I Pictured It…” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3
(Spring 1996): 104–128; William Urrichio and Roberta E. Pearson, “Dialogue: Manhattan’s
Nickelodeons; New York? New York!” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997): 98–102;
Judith Thissen, “Oy, Myopia!” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997): 102–107; and Ben
Singer, “Manhattan Melodrama,” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997): 107–112. For
later summaries of the debates over the class and ethnic composition of early audiences, see,
for example, Melvyn Stokes, “Introduction: Reconstructing American Cinema’s Audiences,”
in American Movie Audiences: From the Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era, ed.
Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby (London: BFI Publishing, 1999), 2–5; and Lee Grieveson
and Peter Krämer, “Storytelling and the Nickelodeon: Introduction,” in The Silent Cinema
Reader, ed. Lee Grieveson and Peter Krämer (New York: Routledge, 2004), 82–83. Even
more recently, Robert C. Allen has offered a critical assessment of audience research and
spectatorship theory within the field of cinema studies, moving from the traditional survey
histories via 1970s “grand theory” and to the present. Robert C. Allen, “Relocating American
Film History: The ‘Problem’ of the Empirical,” Cultural Studies 20, no. 1 (January 2006):
49–60.
29
Sometimes this is specifically linked to the project of attracting a middle-class audience.
See, for example, LeRoy Ashby, With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular
Culture since 1830 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006), 195.
30
Kathryn H. Fuller, At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie
Fan Culture (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996).
31
Fuller, At the Picture Show, chapter 7. Olsson, Los Angeles, 32–33.
32
For a discussion of the genre of films in story form, see Adrienne L. McLean, “‘New Films
in Story Form’: Movie Story Magazines and Spectatorship,” Cinema Journal 42, no. 3
(Spring 2003): 3–26.
33
Richard DeCordova, Picture Personalities: The Emergence of the Star System in America
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990); and Janet Staiger, “Standardization and Differentiation: The Reinforcement and Dispersion of Hollywood’s Practices,” in The Classical
Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985),
96–112.
34
Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, chapter 7.
35
Ibid., chapter 12.
36
Ibid., 191–92; and Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution,” 45; 60–69.
37
Musser, The Emergence of Cinema, part 3.
38
Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 192.
39
Singer, “Feature Films,” 88–94.
40
Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 195–97. For a monographic study of the Vitagraph
“quality films” within an intertextual framework and as related to the project of moral reform
and making cinema “respectable,” see William Uricchio and Roberta E. Pearson, Reframing
Culture: The Case of the Vitagraph Quality Films (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1993).
41
Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 206. On Jack London’s activities in the field of
motion pictures, see Robert S. Birchard, “Jack London and the Movies,” Film History 1, no. 1
(1987): 15–37; and Marsha Orgeron, “Rethinking Authorship: Jack London and the Motion
Picture Industry,” American Literature 75, no. 1 (March 2003): 91–117. The Hobart Bosworth Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library includes a wide range of correspondence
258
and clippings that offer insight into Bosworth’s career and not least the struggle between
Bosworth and the Balboa Amusement Producing Company over the motion picture rights to
Jack London’s novels. See the Hobart Bosworth Collection, especially scrapbooks #2 and #4
of 14, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Another
fascinating entry point with regard to the influx of contemporary popular authors into the film
industry is offered by the Margaret Herrick Library’s collection of correspondence between
the Selig Polyscope Company and various authors. Correspondence (Authors), the William
Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
42
Lee Grieveson and Peter Krämer, “Feature Films and Cinema Programmes,” in The Silent
Cinema Reader, ed. Lee Grieveson and Peter Krämer (New York: Routledge, 2004), 189–90.
43
Ben Brewster, “Traffic in Souls: An Experiment in Feature-Length Narrative Construction,” Cinema Journal 31, no. 1 (Fall 1991): 38.
44
Abel, Americanizing the Movies, 36–37.
45
Quinn, “Distribution,” 47.
46
In his dissertation, Quinn uses the terms “program cinema,” “variety model” of cinema, and
“variety-program model” of cinema seemingly interchangeably. See, for example, Quinn,
“Early Feature Distribution,” 46–53; 57; and 69. I have opted to consistently refer to “program cinema” as shorthand for the dominant mode of cinema prior to the era of the multi-reel
feature cinema. This is not because it is a more apt term than the others (all are somewhat
problematical, as is of course the term “feature cinema”) but because of the virtues of consistency.
47
Richard Abel, The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896–1914 (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1994), 298–428.
48
Thompson, “The Formulation of the Classical Narrative,” 192.
49
Although Keil does not consider the multi-reel feature film to constitute a stylistic breakingpoint (as most classical techniques were already in use by 1913), he still suggests that multireel films should be approached as “separate formal entities,” i.e. as formally distinct from
one-reelers. To Keil, single- and multi-reel films function similarly stylistically, but the added
length of the latter “invites different approaches to narrative structure.” One can only agree
with Keil that “the relationships among transitional one-reelers, the first features, and early
examples of classicism warrant extensive examination.” Keil, Early American Cinema in
Transition, 12; 210–11.
50
Kristin Thompson, “The Stability of the Classical Approach after 1917,” in The Classical
Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985),
231.
51
For Staiger’s account of how processes of standardization and differentiation shaped the
modes of film production on the U.S. until 1930, and the roles played by advertising and other
relevant factors in these processes. See Janet Staiger, “Standardization and Differentiation,”
96–112. On the feature film’s potential for differentiation, see Janet Staiger, “The Central
Producer System: Centralized Management after 1914,” in The Classical Hollywood Cinema:
Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger,
and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 130–134.
52
Janet Staiger, “Announcing Wares, Winning Patrons, Voicing Ideals: Thinking about the
History and Theory of Film Advertising,” Cinema Journal 29, no. 3 (Spring 1990): 3–31.
53
Staiger; “The Central Producer System,” 130–31; and Kristin Thompson, “From Primitive
to Classical,” in The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to
1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 164.
54
Tino Balio, “Struggles for Control, 1908–1930,” in The American Film Industry, ed. Tino
Balio (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 112.
55
On the feasible options for small exhibitors in the face of the feature, see Singer, “Feature
Films,” 89–93.
56
Ibid., 76–77.
259
57
Abel, Americanizing the Movies, 40; 260n7; 274n208.
Balio, “Struggles for Control,” 112; and Staiger, “The Central Producer System,” 132.
59
Olsson, Los Angeles, 24.
60
The phrase “modernity thesis,” and kindred ones such as ““History-of-vision doctrine” and
“vision-in-modernity theorists” were coined by David Bordwell in a 1996 Velvet Light Trap
article and later elaborated on in his 1997 book On the History of Film Style. Bordwell used
the terms in an argument that called into question a type of culturalist explanation of film
stylistic change as an effect of modernity. Under the header “Making Sense of the Modernity
Thesis,” Ben Singer offered an attempt to refute Bordwell’s critique, while also presenting an
instructive rundown of the debate. In 2004, Charlie Keil recast the anti-culturalist critique,
placing Singer, but above all Tom Gunning in the line of fire (partly but indirectly in critical
dialogue with Gunning’s article on The Lonedale Operator [Biograph, 1911] published in the
same volume). This prompted a response from Gunning, appearing in a 2006 volume devoted
precisely to the possible links between cinema and modernity. David Bordwell, “La Nouvelle
Mission de Feuillade; or, What Was Mise-en-Scène,” Velvet Light Trap, no. 37 (Spring
1996): 22–27; David Bordwell, On the History of Film Style (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1997), 139–149; Singer, Melodrama and Modernity, 101–130; Charlie Keil,
“‘To Here from Modernity’: Style, Historiography, and Transitional Cinema,” in American
Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and Shelley
Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 51–65; Tom Gunning, “Systemizing
the Electric Message: Narrative Form, Gender, and Modernity in The Lonedale Operator,” in
American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and
Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 15–50; and Tom Gunning,
“Modernity and Cinema: A Culture of Shocks and Flows,” in Cinema and Modernity, ed.
Murray Pomerance (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2006), 297–315.
61
David Bordwell, “Historical Poetics of Cinema,” in The Cinematic Text: Methods and
Approaches,” ed. R. Barton Palmer (New York: AMS Press, 1989), 377; 382–83. See also
Bordwell, On the History of Film Style, 149–57.
62
For two diverging views appearing in the same collection of articles on early cinema, see
Tom Gunning, “Weaving a Narrative: Style and Economic Background in Griffith’s Biograph
Films,” in Early Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser with Adam
Barker (London: BFI Publishing, 1990), 336–47; and Charles Musser, “The Nickelodeon Era
Begins: Establishing the Framework for Hollywood’s Mode of Representation,” in Early
Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker (London: BFI
Publishing, 1990), 256–73. See also chapter 1, note 178.
63
Olsson, Los Angeles, 21–22.
64
Grieveson, Policing Cinema, 5–7; 11–36. For a few examples of Grieveson key phrases,
such as “elite anxiety,” “elite control,” “elite responses,” and “elite concerns,” see pages 6–7;
13–14; 18; 22; 24; 26; and 30.
65
See, for example, Olsson, Los Angeles, 389–91; chapters 5 and 6.
66
Abel, The Red Rooster Scare, especially 118–140; Abel, Americanizing the Movies; and
Kristin Thompson, Exporting Entertainment: American in the World Film Market, 1907–1934
(London: BFI Publishing, 1985).
67
“Generative mechanism,” signifying one particular causal factor within a totality of multiple causes, was introduced in film studies by Robert Allen and Douglas Gomery. Allen and
Gomery mobilized the term for the purpose of exploring a “realist” middle-ground between
two extremes that they labeled “empiricist” and “conventionalist” approaches to film history.
Robert C. Allen and Douglas Gomery, Film History: Theory and Practice (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1985).
68
The term “Piecemeal” theory was coined by Noël Carroll. It has later been closely associated with Carroll and David Bordwell, both who use it as a counter-concept to “Grand Theory.” The latter refers to theories that they consider to have monolithic or all-explaining pretensions (e.g. structural linguistics, psychoanalysis, Marxism). Bordwell also, in an admittedly
acrimonious spirit, coined the term “SLAB Theory” to designate a particular brand of “Grand
58
260
Theory” that was predicated on Saussurean semiotics, Lacanian psychoanalysis, Althusserian
Marxism, and Barthesian textual theory. In contrast to “Grand” and “SLAB” theory’s alleged
top-down perspective, “piecemeal” theory should be understood as a selection of small-scale
and bottom-up theories, each one adjusted and appropriate for a specific case or research
question. Noël Carroll, Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Contemporary Film Theory
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 8; David Bordwell, “Contemporary Film
Studies and the Vicissitudes of Grand Theory,” in Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies,
ed. David Bordwell and Noël Carroll (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 3–36;
and Bordwell, “Historical Poetics of Cinema,” 385–92.
69
David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, The Classical Hollywood Cinema:
Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985),
especially chapter 14 (“From Primitive to Classical.”)
70
Keil, Early American Cinema in Transition, 11–12.
71
The term (or phrase more accurately) “cinema of attractions” was coined by Tom Gunning
and André Gaudreault, although an essay by Gunning has become the standard reference.
Gunning’s essay was originally published in Wide Angle but according to Wanda Strauven,
Gunning himself considers the slightly altered reprint appearing in the anthology on early
cinema edited by Thomas Elsaesser and published in 1990 to be the final and “correct” version. An indication of the enduring impact of the term is the recent publication of a commemorative volume devoted to “reloading” it from a variety of perspectives. On the somewhat complex genealogy of the term, see Wanda Strauven, “Introduction to an Attractive
Concept,” in The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded, ed. Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006), 11–16. For the standard source and some additional elaborations
on the term, see Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the
Avant-Garde,” in Early Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser with
Adam Barker (London: BFI Publishing, 1990), 56–62; Tom Gunning, “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator,” in Viewing Positions: Ways of
Seeing Film, ed. Linda Williams (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995),
114–33; and Tom Gunning, “‘Now You See It, Now You Don’t’: The Temporality of the
Cinema of Attractions,” in Silent Film, ed. Richard Abel (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers
University Press, 1996), 71–84. See also Wanda Strauven, ed., The Cinema of Attractions
Reloaded (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006).
72
Richard Abel, “‘History Can Work for You, You Know How to Use It’,” Cinema Journal
44, no. 1 (Fall 2004): 108.
73
Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, “Introduction,” in American Cinema’s Transitional Era:
Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 2004), 2.
74
Ben Brewster, “Periodization of Early Cinema,” in American Cinema’s Transitional Era:
Audiences, Institutions, Practices, ed. Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 2004), 74.
75
Brewster’s tripartite periodization of early cinema includes a variety/fairground period, a
one-reel/nickelodeon period and a feature period. Brewster claims that this scheme can accommodate a stylistic division between classical cinema and the cinema of attractions as well
as an institutional division between short and long films. Ibid., 73–74.
76
Keil and Stamp, “Introduction,” 2.
77
Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (2007;
London: Penguin Books, 2008), 161.
78
On the legacy of the 1978 FIAF conference in Brighton see, for example, “FIAF Conference, Lisbon, 1989: The Brighton FIAF Conference (1978); Ten Years After,” Historical
Journal of Film, Radio and Television 11, no. 3 (1991): 279–291; and Tom Gunning, “Enigmas, Understanding, and Further Questions: Early Cinema Research in Its Second Decade
Since Brighton,” Persistence of Vision, no. 9 (1991): 4–9. Other significant events with regard
to the reexamination of early cinema and the institutionalization of this field of study was the
261
establishment of the annual Pordenone Film Festival in 1981 and the formation of Domitor in
1987. See Abel “‘History Can Work for You’,” 107.
79
Musser, The Emergence of Cinema.
80
Keil and Stamp, “Introduction,” 2–3.
81
Olsson, Los Angeles, 24; 15–16.
82
Brewster, “Periodization,” 74.
83
Keil and Stamp, “Introduction,” 2.
84
Brewster, “Periodization,” 74.
85
See Introduction, note 57.
86
Keil and Stamp, “Introduction,” 5.
87
Recited in Pinker, The Stuff of Thought, 154–55.
88
For an accessible and lucid textbook version of this model of historical change, see Piotr
Sztompka, The Sociology of Social Change (1993; Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1994),
especially part 3.
89
Ibid., 208; 219–224.
90
Much of White’s writing insist that the meaning of an event is a function of its narrativization, but it should be noted that in later works, White attempted to temper the radical relativism characteristic of Metahistory. The theme of White trying to uphold what has been labeled
his “metaphorical narrativism,” while at the same time retaining an element of positivist
stability at the level of the single event and allowing for the idea that some historiographical
representations are more adequate than others, is introduced in Tropics of Discourse, more
pronounced in The Content of the Form and brought to a head in the essays on Holocaust
historiography. According to some, these attempts have been unsuccessful, mainly due to the
many inconsistencies that arise, and consistently work to undermine White’s project. Another
critique of White’s work suggests that his “narrativism” actually shares the epistemological
“either-or logic” of the traditional positivist view that it is supposed to rebut. White contrasts
knowledge with interpretation, and equates the latter with “fictionalizing” and “narrativizing,”
an operation that can only be based on the assumption that the only true knowledge must be
absolute, founded knowledge. This assumption is equivalent of an outdated empiricist “picture theory of knowledge,” i.e. the idea that there is a possibility of knowledge without interpretation and that truth can only be thought of as direct correspondence. What White fails to
recognize (a failure indicative of his inability to identify productive links between historical
research and historical representation) is that historians do not make use of foundationalist
theories of truth, but of “truth tracking criteria,” such as scope, explanatory power, and
comprehensiveness. Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination of NineteenthCentury Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973); Hayden White, Tropics
of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1978); Hayden White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987); Hayden White, “Historical
Emplotment and the Problem of Truth,” in The History and Narrative Reader, ed. Geoffrey
Roberts (London: Routledge, 2001), 375–89, first published in Probing the Limits of Representation, ed. Saul Friedlander (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992); Hayden
White, “The Modernist Event,” in The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the
Modern Event, ed. Vivian Sobchack (New York: Routledge, 1996), 17–38; Wulf Kansteiner,
“Hayden White’s Critique of the Writing of History,” History and Theory 32, no. 3 (October
1993): 273–95; and Chris Lorenz, “Can Histories Be True? Narrativism, Positivism, and the
‘Metaphorical Turn’,” History and Theory 37, no. 3 (October 1998): 309–29.
91
These examples are from the New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd edition; MerriamWebster Online Dictionary; and Webster’s Online Dictionary.
92
This skepticism is rooted in what I perceive to be several problematic aspects of the Foucauldian-charged “discourse,” including (a) an obliteration of human agency by the predeterministic power of “discourse” and “discursive practice,” which runs counter to my view
of history as essentially propelled by precisely human agency; (b) the overinvestment in the
questioning of the “fiction of direct reference” (a critique that is at best commonplace and at
262
worst linguistically misguided); and (c) the purely speculative leap from here to the claim that
the language system is external from humans, derived from “power structures.” For a lengthier critique, see Arthur Marwick, “Two Approaches to Historical Study: The Metaphysical
(Including 'Postmodernism') and the Historical,” Journal of Contemporary History 30, no. 1
(January 1995): 5–35.
93
See, for examples, James G. Williams, Those Who Ponder Proverbs: Aphoristic Thinking
and Biblical Literature (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1981); Aris Fioretos, “Contraction (Benjamin, Reading, History),” MLN 110, no. 3 (April 1995): 540–564; and Murray S. Davis,
“Aphorisms and Clichés: The Generation and Dissipation of Conceptual Charisma,” Annual
Review of Sociology 25 (1999): 245–269.
94
Richard J. Rundell, review of Aphorismus, by Harald Fricke, The German Quarterly 59, no.
1 (Winter 1986): 124–125.
95
This sketch of the relations between frame, discourse and context is inspired by Thomas J.
Scheff’s “deciphering” of Erving Goffman’s Frame Analysis, although I am aware that the
implications of appropriating socio-linguistic concepts and placing them in a new context
might need further consideration. Thomas J. Scheff, “The Structure of Context: Deciphering
‘Frame Analysis’,” Sociological Theory 23, no. 4 (December 2005): 368–385.
96
Thomas Elsaesser, “The New Film History as Media Archaeology,” Cinémas 14, no. 2–3
(2004): 84; 112–13. For Russell’s version of the term, see Catherine Russell, “Parallax Historiography: The Flâneuse as Cyberfeminist,” in A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema, ed. Jennifer M. Bean and Diane Negra (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), 552–70, first published
July 2000 in the online journal Scope.
97
Nanna Verhoeff, The West in Early Cinema: After the Beginning (Amsterdam: Amsterdam
University Press, 2006), 19–20.
98
Alison Griffiths, Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century
Visual Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), xxx.
99
Olsson, Los Angeles, 16.
100
Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin,
prepared on the basis of the German volume edited by Rolf Tiedemann (Cambridge Mass.:
Belknap Press, 1999), N3,1, 463.
101
Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History,” in Selected Writings: Volume 4,
1938–1940, trans. Edmund Jephcott et al, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 2003), 390. 389–397.
102
Fioretos, “Contraction,” 544.
103
Motion Picture News was known as Moving Picture News up until October 11, 1913 when
the title was changed, due to the editors’ conviction that the notion of “moving pictures” was
misleading. I have chosen to consistently refer to the publication as Motion Picture News,
including entries from prior to October 11, 1913, thereby retrospectively correcting the title in
accordance with the editors’ will.
104
This problem is commonly addressed by early cinema scholars. See, for example, Quinn,
“Distribution,” 35–36; and Singer, “New York,” 115.
105
An informative summary of the developments within the field is Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley
and George Potamianos, “Introduction: Researching and Writing the History of Local Moviegoing,” in Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, ed.
Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 3–19.
106
On the New York nickelodeon debates, see chapter 1.2.1.4, note 28. For some work on
moviegoing and film exhibition in Chicago, see J. A. Lindstrom, “Where Development Has
Just Begun: Nickelodeon Location, Moving Picture Audiences, and Neighborhood Development in Chicago,” in American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices,
ed. Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004),
217–238; Lee Grieveson, “Why the Audience Mattered in Chicago in 1907,” in American
Movie Audiences: From the Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era, ed. Melvyn Stokes
and Richard Maltby (London: BFI Publishing, 1999), 79–91; Mary Carbine, “‘The Finest
Outside the Loop’: Motion Picture Exhibition in Chicago’s Black Metropolis, 1905–1928,” in
263
Silent Film, ed. Richard Abel (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996),
234–262; and Moya Luckett, “Cities and Spectators.”
107
Allen, “Relocating”; Abel, Americanizing the Movies, 45–55; 85–96; Richard Abel, “The
Movies in a ‘Not So Visible Place’: Des Moines, Iowa, 1911–1914,” in Hollywood in the
Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, ed. Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 107–129; Richard Abel, “The Passing (Picture) Show in the Industrial Heartland: The Early 1910s,” in Allegories of Communication:
Intermedial Concerns from Cinema to the Digital, ed. John Fullerton and Jan Olsson (Rome:
John Libbey, 2004), 321–332; and Olsson, Los Angeles.
108
Michael Aronson, Nickelodeon City: Pittsburgh at the Movies 1905–1929 (Pittsburgh, PA:
Pittsburgh University Press, 2008); and Paul S. Moore, Now Playing: Early Moviegoing and
the Regulation of Fun (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008).
109
Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley, ed., Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of
Local Moviegoing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
110
Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby, eds., American Movie Audiences: From the Turn of
the Century to the Early Sound Era (London: BFI Publishing, 1999); and Richard Maltby,
Melvyn Stokes and Robert C. Allen, eds., Going to the Movies: Hollywood and the Social
Experience of Cinema (Reed Hall: University of Exeter Press, 2007).
111
Fuller, At the Picture Show.
112
Gregory A. Waller, Main Street Amusements: Movies and Commercial Entertainment in a
Southern City, 1896–1930 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995); and
Waller, ed., Moviegoing in America.
113
See chapter 1.2.1.4, note 28.
114
Allen, “Relocating,” 62–71; 80–81; Robert C. Allen, “Decentering Historical Audience
Studies: A Modest Proposal,” in Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of
Local Moviegoing, ed. Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley (Berkeley: University of California Press,
2008), 20–33; and Abel, “‘History Can Work for You’,” 109.
115
Allen, “Relocating,” 49–57. For a more elaborate debunking of psychoanalytically charged
spectatorship theories, taking issue not least with their anti-empirical outlook, see Stephen
Prince, “Psychoanalytic Film Theory and the Problem of the Missing Spectator,” in PostTheory: Reconstructing Film Studies, ed. David Bordwell and Noël Carroll (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 71–86.
116
Jane M. Gaines, “Reading World Film History for the Plot” (paper presented at Globalism
and Film History: A Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago, April 7, 2006).
117
Charles Musser, “Another Look at the ‘Chaser Theory’,” Studies in Visual Communications 10, no. 4 (1984): 24–44. See also Robert C. Allen, “Contra The Chaser Theory,” Wide
Angle 3, no. 1 (1979): 4–11; Robert C. Allen, “Looking at ‘Another Look at the “Chaser
Theory”’,” Studies in Visual Communications 10, no. 4 (1984): 45–50; and Charles Musser,
“Musser’s Reply to Allen,” Studies in Visual Communications 10, no. 4 (1984): 51–52. The
so-called “chaser theory,” the assertion that after the initial period of novelty and success,
motion pictures were so unpopular that they were used as “chasers” in vaudeville houses, i.e.
as a means to get audiences out of the auditorium in order to make room for new patrons, has
been credited to Robert Grau. It also appears in Lewis Jacobs’s influential survey history.
Robert Grau, The Theatre of Science: A Volume of Progress and Achievement in the Motion
Picture Art (New York: Broadway Publishing Company, 1914), prefatory note; 5; 11–12; and
Lewis Jacobs, The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History; With an Essay; Experimental Cinema in America 1921–1947, 3rd ed. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968), 5.
118
Richard Abel, “Fan Discourse in the Heartland: The Early 1910s,” Film History 18, no. 2
(2006), 145. See also Abel, “‘History Can Work for You’,” 109–10. Another, more prosaic
reason for an increasing number of scholars to answer Abel’s and Olsson’s long-standing call
is the ongoing digitalization of newspapers and the making available of them in databases
such as ProQuest. This is obviously a welcome development, although there is a risk that the
many historical newspapers only available on microfilm will be ignored until these papers are
264
also digitalized and/or the digital archives become exhausted and scholars turn back to microfilm.
119
Olsson, Los Angeles, especially chapter 2. See also Jan Olsson, “Pressing Inroads: Metaspectators and the Nickelodeon Culture,” in Screen Culture: History and Textuality, ed. John
Fullerton (Eastleigh: John Libbey Publishing, 2004), 113–35.
120
Ibid., 58.
121
Paul S. Moore, “Everybody’s Going: City Newspapers and the Early Mass Market for
Movies,” City & Community 4, no. 4 (December 2005): 339–357.
122
Ibid., 345.
123
Olsson, Los Angeles, 61.
124
Data on circulation and political affiliation from N.W. Ayer & Son’s American Newspaper
Annual Vol. 1915 (Philadelphia: N.W. Ayer & Son, 1915).
125
Ibid.
126
The North American was a previously republican paper that had turned progressive by
1914.
127
In the 1912 presidential election the Pennsylvania ballots were cast as follows: Republican
Party (William H. Taft) 273,360 votes (22,45%), Democratic Party (Woodrow Wilson)
395,637 votes (32,49%), Progressive Party (Theodore Roosevelt) 444,894 votes (36,53%),
Socialist Party (Eugene V. Debs) 83,614 votes, Prohibition Party (Eugene V. Chafin) 19,525
votes and the Socialist Labor Party/Industrialist Party (Arthur E. Reimer) 706 votes and the
Philadelphia votes as follows: Republican Party 91,944 votes (36,53%), Democratic Party
66,308 votes (26,35%), Progressive Party 82,963 votes (32,96%), Socialist Party 9,784 votes,
Prohibition Party 571 votes and the Socialist Labor Party/Industrialist Party 120 votes. Smull's
Legislative Handbook and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania 1913 (Harrisburg: C. E.
Aughinbaugh, 1912), 580–81.
128
A formative text with regard to this was Lincoln Steffens, “Philadelphia: Corrupt and
Contented,” McClure’s Magazine 21, no. 3 (1903): 249–263.
129
Much of the material held here consists of magazine and newspaper advertisements and
reviews, many of which are also available elsewhere. There is also a copyright synopsis and a
scene dissection plan, both of which may be of value for anyone interested in a more comprehensive formal analysis of the film. Another part of the archive includes the research files of
James Belpedio, whose 1995 dissertation explores the link between The Spoilers and the reallife conspiracy on which the story was based. The Rex Beach Archive website,
http://tars.rollins.edu/olin/archives/150EBEACH.htm (accessed May 25, 2009);
Gertrude Laframboise, archive specialist at Rollins College Archives and Special Collections,
e-mail message to author, July 21, 2009; and James R. Belpedio, “Fact, Fiction, Film: Rex
Beach and The Spoilers” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Dakota, 1995).
130
David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 8th ed. (Boston:
McGraw Hill, 2008), especially parts 2 and 3.
131
A pioneering book in the field of historical reception studies within cinema studies,
spurred precisely by the insight that contextual factors trump textual ones in determining the
film viewing experience and its continued uses, is Janet Staiger’s Interpreting Films, in which
Staiger explores how reception studies may generate “historical explanations of the event of
interpreting a text” rather than attempting to interpret the text. In a subsequent book on the
same topic, Staiger addresses an aspect slightly downplayed in her previous work, i.e. how the
interpretative strategies each spectator brings to the viewing experience result in personal
meaning. As sympathetic to Staiger’s project as I am, some serious problems remain, most
crucially how to design case studies that will get us from fairly general statements about the
conditions of reception to the actual experiences of real life viewers. This problem is especially acute when it comes to studies of historical reception. Janet Staiger, Interpreting Films:
Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1992); and Janet Staiger, Perverse Spectators: The Practices of Film Reception (New
York: New York University Press, 2000).
265
132
The American Film Institute Catalog. Feature Films, 1911–1920. Film Entries, exec. ed.
Patricia King Hanson with ass. ed. Alan Gevinson (Berkeley, CA.: University of California
Press, 1988), xv.
133
Both Eileen Bowser and Michael Quinn note that the term “feature” was imported from
vaudeville, where the “feature act” was the headline attraction. This link to vaudeville implies
that the term was originally closely related to the exhibition context, taken to represent any
extraordinary element of the show, filmic or non-filmic. Bowser, The Transformation of
Cinema, 191; Quinn, “Distribution,” 37.
134
Staiger, “The Central Producer System,” 129–30; Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema,
191; and Quinn, “Distribution,” 37. For an example of a 1904 Kleine advertisement for “feature films,” see Abel, The Red Rooster Scare, 23–25.
135
The Pittsburgh Calcium Light Company to William M. Selig, May 18, 1906, the William
Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
136
Plimpton, “The Development of the Motion Picture,” 198.
137
Jesse L. Lasky, “The Accomplishments of the Feature,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914):
214.
138
W. Stephen Bush, “The Dreary Commonplace,” MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914):
1484.
139
Frank L. Dyer, The United States of America Petitioner vs. The Motion Picture Patents
Co., et al Defendants, Vol. 3:1630, copy of transcript of records in The Charles G. Clarke
Collection at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I
have studied this material at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills and at the New
York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City. The volumes kept at the two
archives are identical as to the content, but since the pagination differs, I will adhere to standard citation procedures when referring to the NYPL copy, but make explicit when I am
referring to the Margaret Herrick Library copy.
140
Frank E. Woods, “What Are We Coming to?” MPW 21, no. 3 (July 18, 1914): 442–43.
141
Louis Rosenbluh, USA v. MPPC 1:380–83, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
Chapter 1
1
The International Motion Picture Association was one of two major trade organizations for
exhibitors at the time. The association had been constituted a year previously, when internal
conflicts (including a struggle for the presidency) at the annual convention of The Motion
Picture Exhibitors’ League prompted exhibitors from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, California and Canada to dissent and form the International Motion Picture Association. The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no.
1804 (July 16, 1913): 25; “Convention and Exposition: Serious Split in Exhibitors League,”
NYDM 70, no. 1804 (July 16, 1913): 26–27, cont. on 80. For an overview of the topics discussed at the second annual convention see “All Set for Convention and Exposition,” Motography 11, no. 12 (June 13, 1914): 397.
2
“Association Holds Second Convention: Re-elects Old Officers,” Motography 11, no. 13
(June 27, 1914): 448–49.
3
“Talks Against Selling Art by the Mile,” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1695.
4
“Facts and Comments,” MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914): 931.
5
On brand names see Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 103–105. On the emergence
and growing significance of “picture personalities” for film reception during this period, see
DeCordova, Picture Personalities.
6
“News from the World of the Photoplay,” Photoplay 3, no. 4 (November 1912): 107.
7
Raymond L. Schrock, “Reflections of the Critic,” Photoplay 3, no. 3 (October 1912): 77–78.
8
Ibid., Photoplay 3, no. 5 (December 1912): 104.
266
9
Frank L. Dyer, USA v. MPPC 3:1630, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
“Les Miserables,” MP News 7, no. 16 (April 19, 1913): 14.
11
See, for example, W. Stephen Bush, “Padding and Puffing,” MPW 22, no. 12 (December
19, 1914): 1653; Cinema [pseud.], “From Our London Correspondent,” Reel Life 4, no. 10
(May 23, 1914): 26; Cinema [pseud.], “From Our London Correspondent,” Reel Life 4, no. 8
(May 9, 1914): 26; “Observations by Our Man About Town,” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27,
1914): 1818; W. Stephen Bush, “The Art of Exhibition: Rothapfel’s Ideas on How the Best
Program May Be Secured under Present Conditions—‘Features’ and ‘Variety’,” MPW 22, no.
2 (October 17, 1914): 323; Leslie T. Peacocke, “Hints on Photoplay Writing,” Photoplay 8,
no. 2 (July 1915): 131; “A Few Facts on Three-Reelers,” Vitagraph Bulletin 5, no. 6 (September 1915): 53; and advertisement for the Balboa Amusement Producing Co., The Pictureplayer, November 15, 1913.
12
There are, however, other sources that offer contemporaneous definitions of what padding
was. The author of one scenario writing manual suggested that “padding” could be generally
defined as the insertion of unnecessary material to prolong the subject, or, more specifically
with regard to the format of the reel, as “[p]utting in unnecessary action to bring a story up to
a full reel length.” Moving Picture World scribe Louis Reeves Harrison suggested that one
such unnecessary element was subtitles, either of “no particular unimportance” and/or used
too often and/or exposed too long. So called “continuity scenes,” e.g. scenes of characters
putting on their coats and hats, was another example. A. W. Thomas, How to Write a Photoplay (Chicago, Ill.: The Photoplaywrights’ Association of America, 1914), 151; 318; and
Louis Reeves Harrison, “Why Some Features Fail,” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 464.
13
“Padding—Why Not?” MP News 9, no. 8 (February 28, 1914): 34.
14
Frank L. Dyer, USA v. MPPC 3:1622, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
15
Ibid., 1620.
16
Ibid.
17
Ibid., 1621–22.
18
Ibid., 1620.
19
William N. Selig, “Present Day Trend in Film Lengths,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914):
181–82.
20
Rollin S. Sturgeon to Col. W. N. Selig, September 29, 1916, the Charles G. Clarke Collection, Scrapbook #3 of 3, Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences.
21
An indication of the crucial connection between the early feature and transformations of
film distribution is the attempt by Hugh Hoffman (Moving Picture World scribe until 1915
and later press agent and scenario writer) to dub Pliny P. Craft the “father of the feature,” to
great extent on account of “inventing” the “states rights idea.” He also credited Craft with
producing and distributing what Hoffman claimed to be the first feature—Buffalo Bill’s Wild
West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East (Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill Film Company, 1910), a
three-reel western/biopic starring Colonel Cody himself—as well as bringing Dante’s Inferno
to the United States in 1911. Allegedly, a major source of inspiration for craft was the controversial (not least with regard to issues of race) Johnson-Jeffries Fight (J & J Company, 1910).
Hoffman and Craft were not alone in referring to prizefight films as a proto-feature type of
film; Frank Woods recalled how all films, except for boxing pictures, used to be “fragments.”
Ever since, and still continuing, the highlighting of prizefight films (but also of passion plays)
as proto-features has been a recurring element of film historiography and scholarship on early
cinema. Hugh Hoffman, “The Father of the Feature: A Glance Backward to the Origin of the
Multiple Reel Production as We Know it Now, and a Few Words by the Bright Mind that
Conceived it,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 272. On the career of Hoffman, see Sally
Dumaux, King Baggot: A Biography and Filmography of the First King of the Movies (Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland, 2002), 10; 83–84; 131–132. On Craft’s marketing of Dante’s Inferno
as well as Homer’s Odyssey (Milano, 1911), see Abel, Americanizing the Movies, 23–24; and
Tino Balio, “Struggles for Control,” 110–11. On the Johnson-Jeffries Fight, see Streible,
Fight Pictures, 5; 186; 188. On prizefight films and other formats as proto-features, see
10
267
Musser, The Emergence of Cinema, 193–224; Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema,
201–202; and Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies
(New York: Random House, 1975), 21–22. Musser discusses three types of film—prizefight
films, passion plays and travel film—not in terms of feature-length but in terms of “Fulllength programs,” a concept that nevertheless signals its continuity with the later practice of
“An evening’s entertainment” built around a single film of feature-length.
22
See Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution,” 102–220.
23
“Thomas Ince Discusses Future of Feature. Proxy Delivers His Convention Speech,” Motography 14, no. 6 (August 7, 1915): 235.
24
Harry Schwalbe, USA v. MPPC 4:2259–60, the Charles G. Clarke copy.
25
Alfred H. Saunders, “Where Are We Drifting?” Ex-Cathedra, MP News 7, no. 12 (March
22, 1913): 7. Saunders presented similar arguments in “New Years Greetings,” MP News 6,
no. 26 (December 28, 1912): 8; and “The Open Market,” Ex-Cathedra, MP News 7, no. 15
(April 12, 1913): 7–8. William Lord Wright also expressed support for the “open market”
model in Motion Picture News. Wright’s account was cited and endorsed by a commentator in
Photoplay Magazine. Theodore W. Atwood, “The Photoplay Forum,” Photoplay 5, no. 1
(December 1913): 118.
26
W. Stephen Bush, “The Line Above the Average,” MPW 22, no. 11 (December 12, 1914):
1494. See also Bush, “The New Exhibitor,” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1661; Bush,
“The Quest of Quality,” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 308; and “Facts and Comments,”
MPW 21, no. 5 (August 1, 1914): 675.
27
“The New Rental Basis: No Scale of Prices—Scale of Merit Only,” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 316.
28
“The Paramount’s New Quarters: Will Have a Building of Its Own on Forty-first
Street—Mr. Hodkinson on the Corporation’s Growth,” MPW 22, no. 7 (November 14, 1914):
907.
29
For an overview of feature film distribution alliances between 1912 and 1915, and of the
Trust’s responses to the multi-reel feature film during the same period see Staiger, “Combination and Litigation,” 56–57; and 60–61. For meatier accounts of the various methods of
distribution of the early multi-reel feature see Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution.” On General Film’s “grudging acceptance of a modified ‘open market’,” allowing exhibitors to book
independent features in addition to the regular program, see Richard Abel, Americanizing the
Movies, 40. In the opening chapter of this monographic study, Abel also offers an analysis
(relying partly on Bowser and Quinn) of changes in film distribution at the interface of program cinema and feature cinema. For some contemporary assessments and reports of ongoing
transformations of film distribution see W. Stephen Bush, “The Regular Program,” MPW 21,
no. 10 (September 5, 1914): 1345; “Feature Producers Associate: Alliance Formed by Famous
Players, Lasky and Bosworth, Inc., with Leading American Feature Distributors,” MPW 20,
no. 9 (May 30, 1914): 1245; “Kinematography in the United States: A Latter Day Narrative of
the Growth of the Motion Picture Industry, the Twentieth Century Aladdin’s Lamp,” MPW
21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 178–9; “Warner’s Features, Inc: Company’s Success in the Film
Industry Is Notable Example of Strict Adherence to Carefully Thought Out Purpose,” MPW
21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 262; “Paramount Pictures Corporation: Marketing Plan on Novel
Lines, as Regards Photoplay Producers, Expected to Accomplish Wonders,” MPW 21, no. 2
(July 11, 1914): 264; “World Film Corporation,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 264; “Famous Players Anniversary: One Year Since the Inauguration of the Program That Created
Feature History,” MPW 21, no. 10 (September 5, 1914): 1384; “Famous Players Celebrate
Anniversary: Company Which Blazed the Trail for Feature Programs, Under Leadership of
Adolph Zukor, Finds Itself on Pinnacle of Prosperity at End of First Twelve-Month—The
Year’s Record and Its Significance to the Industry,” MP News 10, no. 9 (September 5, 1914):
33; “Seely of Alco Is Pleased with Bright Outlook for the Coming Year,” MP News 10, no. 24
(December 19, 1914): 27; “Lubin Discusses Future Features,” Motography 14, no. 1 (July 3,
1915): 7; “Premier Program Enters Feature Field: Will Release Weekly,” Motography 14, no.
21 (November 20, 1915): 1073; “Important Move by General Film: Will Book Long Produc-
268
tions through New Department Which Will Displace the Exclusive Service—First Picture
Will Be Five-Part Lubin Production of Charles Klein’s ‘Third Degree’,” MP News 8, no. 23
(December 13, 1913): 19; and “Mutual Announces New Feature Service. Three Masterpictures Weekly,” Motography 14, no. 26 (December 25, 1915): 1313.
30
Junius [pseud.], “The Spirit of the Play,” MPM 8, no. 7 (August 1914): 124.
31
Louis Reeves Harrison, “Her Infinite Variety,” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1660. See
also Bush, “The Regular Program,” 1345.
32
Cinema [pseud.], “From Our London Correspondent,” Reel Life 4, no. 23 (August 22,
1914): 22.
33
John M. Bradlet, “The Tendency for Long Films,” Advertising the Picture, MP News 8, no.
15 (October 11, 1913): 29–30.
34
“Three Big Problems,” MP News 9, no. 4 (January 31, 1914): 13.
35
“The Future of the Motion Picture: The Second Interview with Charles Pathé Dealing with
the Vast Possibilities of the Film Industry, and Forever Approaching Developments in Its
Ever-widening Field,” MP News 9, no. 3 (January 24, 1914): 17.
36
Bush, “The Dreary Commonplace,” 1484; Bush, “Wizards of the Screen,” MPW 20, no. 7
(May 16, 1914): 941; Bush, “The Day of the Expert,” MPW 19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1213;
Bush, “First Runs,” MPW 21, no. 8 (August 22, 1914): 1072; and Bush, “The Regular Program,” 1345. Although Bush consistently associated the feature to artistic progress and uplift,
he did not give all aspects of the feature market his unconditional support and was still in
August 1915 disinclined to imagine a film industry without single-reel films and varied programs of short films. See, for example, Bush, “The Demand for Variety,” MPW 20, no. 8
(May 23, 1914): 1088; Bush, “The Single Reel,” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1800;
Bush, “The Single Reel—II,” MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 36; and Bush, “The Good Old
One Reelers,” MPW 25, no. 6 (August 7, 1915): 971.
37
This aligns to present day scholars’ assertion that the term “feature” initially signified a
potential for differentiation in general, and that length was only one of many possible markers
of differentiation. Staiger, “The Central Producer System,” 128–33; and Quinn, “Distribution,” 37–39.
38
“Better Features and Better Prices,” MP News 9, no. 10 (March 14, 1914): 34. See also
“Playing Up the Feature,” MP News 9, no. 10 (March 14, 1914): 38; and “Poor Features Are
Too Plentiful: So Says Harry Goldberg, of the Casino Feature Film Company, Detroit, Who
Fears the Result if This Continues,” MP News 9, no. 20 (May 23, 1914): 40.
39
Bush, “Wizards of the Screen,” 941. Articles such as the one cited helped set a slightly new
tone to Moving Picture World’s discourse on the multi-reel feature film, which had been more
unconditionally favorable in the early 1910s. For examples, see Bowser, The Transformation
of Cinema, 198–203.
40
George Cohen, cross-examination on the part of the petitioner, The United States of America Petitioner vs. The Motion Picture Patents Co., et al Defendants, transcript of record (New
York: Appeal Printing Company, 1915), Vol. 4:1937–39.
41
Abraham Greenburg, USA v. MPPC 4:2104–105.
42
Staiger, “Standardization and Differentiation,” 96–112; and Staiger, “Announcing Wares,”
3–31. Staiger also discusses how adaptation of plays and novels were utilized for the differentiation of multi-reel feature films and how film industrial institutions helped standardizing
the longer film as the dominant exhibition practice. Staiger, “The Central Producer System,”
128–34.
43
Staiger, “Standardization and Differentiation,” 108.
44
As Staiger notes, due to the tension between a need for standardization and a need for differentiation, filmmaking never achieved an assembly line like uniformity. Ibid., 108–9.
45
A. Warner, “Demand for Features: Observations Resulting from an 8,000-Mile Trip
Through States,” NYDM 69, no. 1792 (April 23, 1913): 27.
46
“Selznick Predicts Disappearance of Daily Changes of Programs Everywhere,” MP News
10, no. 24 (December 19, 1914): 28.
47
Advertisement for General Film, Motography 9, no. 8 (April 5, 1914), 6–7.
269
48
“Vitagraph Echoes,” Vitagraph Bulletin 3, no. 12 (Feb 1914), 27.
Bush, “The Art of Exhibition: Rothapfel’s Ideas,” 323.
50
The Listener [pseud.], “The Listener Chatters,” Reel Life 4, no. 6 (April 25, 1914): 6. Edison’s Horace G. Plimpton expressed a similar opinion. Plimpton, “The Development of the
Motion Picture,” 197–98.
51
Harrison, “Her Infinite Variety,” 1660.
52
Bush, “Wizards of the Screen,” 941.
53
The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no. 1806 (July 30, 1913):
24.
54
“Important Move by General Film,” 19.
55
“These Long Features,” Motography 9, no. 8 (April 19, 1913): 261–62.
56
Bush, “Padding and Puffing,” 1653.
57
Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 442.
58
Junius [pseud.], “The Spirit of the Play,” MPM 8, no. 8 (September 1914): 124.
59
Rollin S. Sturgeon to Col. W. N. Selig, September 29, 1916.
60
Advertisement for General Film, Motography 9, no. 8 (April 5, 1914), 6–7.
61
Frank L. Dyer, USA v. MPPC 3:1631, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy. Dyer’s definition aligns with Janet Staiger’s later claim that “[t]he feature film as it began depended not
on length but on a conception of its anticipated exchange-value and its place in an exhibitor’s
entertainment package.” Staiger, “The Central Producer System,” 130. Although, of course,
operating in completely different contexts, this indicates that both Dyer and Staiger approached the feature from a primarily industrial perspective, highlighting its characteristics as
a commodity. With regard to Dyer, his point of view is in this respect somewhat different
from many of his contemporaries, for instance those writing for the trade papers, who placed
other issues (e.g. film artistic uplift and progress) higher up the agenda.
62
“The Exclusive Supply Corporation: How It Differs from Other Supply Organizations and
Why the Feature Program Has Caused An Evolution in the Film Game,” MP News 8, no. 8
(August 23, 1913): 8.
63
Staiger, “Combination and Litigation,” 50–54. See also Abel, Americanizing the Movies,
15–21. Concerning events preludial to the period covered by Staiger see Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, chapter 5.
64
For a more detailed account of various standards of variety program cinema, see Abel,
Americanizing the Movies, chapter 1.
65
Bush, “The Regular Program,” 1345.
66
Staiger, “Combination and Litigation,” 57. See Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema,
chapter 13 for a more recent and extensive account of how the market opened up around this
point.
67
Bowser argues that the protracted rise to dominance of the multi-reel feature resulted from a
struggle for control between producers on the one hand and exchanges and exhibitors on the
other. Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 191–92.
68
Carl Laemmle, “Doom of Long Features Predicted,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 185.
See also Brewster, “Traffic in Souls,” 37; and Kristen Whissel, “Regulating Mobility: Technology, Modernity, and Feature-Length Narrativity in Traffic in Souls,” Camera Obscura 49
(2002): 22.
69
Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, 163; 87.
70
Plimpton, “The Development of the Motion Picture,” 197–98. Plimpton expressed similar
views in a New York Dramatic Mirror article from February 1915. Koszarski, An Evening’s
Entertainment, 163.
71
“Goldfish Predicts Passing of the Features: Declares that in Europe as Well as America
Small Exhibitors Will Be Compelled to Use Diversified Program,” MP News 10, no. 3 (July
25, 1914): 40.
72
“Is the Short Length Film Doomed?” MP News 8, no. 16 (October 25, 1913): 14.
73
See, for a few examples, “Features, or Program, or Both?” Motography 14, no. 18 (October
30, 1915): 911–12; The Spectator [pseud.], “Heard in the Studio and Exchange,” Reel Life 4,
49
270
no. 14 (June 20, 1914): Epes Winthrop Sargent, “One Reelers Always,” Advertising for Exhibitors, MPW 20, no. 2 (April 11, 1914): 205; Bush, “The Regular Program,” 1345; Bush,
“The Single Reel,” 1800; The Photoplay Philosopher [pseud.], “Musings of the Photoplay
Philosopher,” MPM 8, no. 12 (January 1915): 124; and “Thomas Ince Discusses Future of
Feature,” 235.
74
Bush, “The Regular Program,” 1345. For examples of the trope of “cheap” and “unclean”
features, see “Facts and Comments,” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 463; The Listener
[pseud.], “The Listener Chatters,” Reel Life 4, no. 8 (May 9, 1914): 6; and W. Stephen Bush,
“No Lowering of Standards,” MPW 19, no. 4 (January 24, 1914): 389.
75
The defense also tried to show that aside from outside competition, the internal competition
between the various manufacturers linked to General Film also safeguarded against any monopolistic tendencies. See USA v. MPPC, passim. See also W. Stephen Bush, “United States
vs. Motion Picture Patents Co: Final Arguments Are Heard Before Justice O. B. Dickinson in
the District Court of the United States for the Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania—Hearing
Enlivened by Questions and Incidents—Testimony and Briefs Contain Over Two Million
Words—Government Claims Patents Are No Defense Against Charge of Illegal Restraint of
Trade—Defendants Say They Acted For the Best of the Industry,” MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914): 1815–17.
76
“Patents Company Must Be Dissolved: Government So Orders,” Motography 14, no. 16
(October 16, 1915): 773–74.
77
“The Decision Against the Patents Company,” Motography 14, no. 16 (October 16, 1915):
805–6.
78
The “backbone of the business” trope is sometimes, perhaps a little tongue in cheek, picked
up in later film historiography. See, for example, Richard Abel, “1912: Movies, Innovative
Nostalgia, and Real-Life Threats,” in American Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations,
ed. Charlie Keil and Ben Singer (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009), 72.
79
“From One of Our Friends,” Lubin Bulletin 3, no. 12 (September 22, 1915): cover page.
80
John J. Coleman, “The Ultimate Triumph of the Single Reel Production,” MPW 22, no. 3
(October 17, 1914): 323.
81
The Goat Man [pseud.], “On the Outside Looking In,” Motography 9, no. 7 (April 5, 1913):
239–40.
82
Plimpton, “The Development of the Motion Picture,” 197.
83
Selig, “Present Day Trend in Film Lengths,” 181. See also Bowser, The Transformation of
Cinema, 214–15; and Gerben Bakker, “The Decline and Fall of the European Film Industry:
Sunk Costs, Market Size, and Market Structure, 1890–1927,” Economic History Review 58,
no. 2 (2005): 337.
84
Bush, “The Demand for Variety,” 1088.
85
W. Stephen Bush, “A Little Homely on Prices,” MPW 23, no. 2 (January 9, 1915): 193.
86
Using the metaphor of growth to explain how change occurs dates back, at least, to Aristotle, and “growth” has remained a significant “root metaphor” in the sciences. It is also typical of the influential “Grand Vision” of history that Piotr Sztomka calls “Classical Evolutionism.” Robert N. St. Clair, The Major Metaphors of European Thought-Growth, Game, Game,
Language, Drama, Machine, Time, and Space (Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 2002),
97–136; and Sztompka, The Sociology of Social Change, 99–112.
87
Terry Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights (1926; repr., New York: Simon and Schuster,
1964).
88
Frank E. Woods, “Pictures Divided into Three Grades: How the Demands of Varied Audiences Are Being Met by Manufacturers,” NYDM 70, no. 1803 (July 9, 1914): 25.
89
William Fox, USA v. MPPC 2:722, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
90
“Specialty Theatres Soon, Says Lubin,” MP News 9, no. 17 (May 2, 1914): 28.
91
See, for example, The Photoplay Philosopher [pseud.], “Musings of the Photoplay Philosopher,” MPM 8, no. 12 (January 1915): 124.
92
Coleman, “The Ultimate Triumph of the Single Reel Production,” 323.
93
W. Stephen Bush, “Gradation in Service,” MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645.
271
94
Epes Winthrop Sargent, “Handling Features/The Remedy,” MPW 20, no. 6 (May 9, 1914):
812.
95
Harry N. Marvin, USA v. MPPC 3:1361, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
96
Selig, “Present Day Trend in Film Lengths,” 181–82.
97
Bush, “The Day of the Expert,” 1213.
98
“One-Reel and Six-Reel Audiences,” Reel Life 3, no. 18 (January 17, 1914): 32.
99
“Observations by Our Man About Town,” MPW 21, no. 9 (August 29, 1914): 1227.
100
Lasky, “The Accomplishments of the Feature,” 214.
101
“Observations by Our Man About Town,” MPW 21, no. 9 (August 29, 1914): 1227.
102
William L. Sherry, “Do Features Pay?” MP News 9, no. 11 (March 21, 1914): 19–20.
103
The Film Man [pseud.], “Uplifting the Feature Film: An Interview with E. Mandelbaum,
Film Idealist,” NYDM 70, no. 1822 (November 19, 1913): 30.
104
Quinn, “Distribution,” 45.
105
The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no. 1802 (July 2, 1913):
24.
106
“Much Oratory on the Multiple Reel Question,” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1695.
107
Chester W. Sawin, USA v. MPPC 4:2296.
108
Ike van Ronkel, USA v. MPPC 4:2238.
109
Al Lichtman to Mr. Herman Wobber, July 2, 1913. Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
110
Van Ronkel, USA v. MPPC 4:2238. It should be noted that the price for a week of General
Film releases was also subject to variation, for instance, depending on whether the theater
chose to offer first run films or older films.
111
Such factors might involve what type of feature was being booked, its length, whether it
was a first or later run film, whether it was distributed by one of the program companies, by a
feature exchange, on a states rights basis or in any other means of distribution, whether marketing was included or not, and so on.
112
It might have been the case that the average rental price for features increased within this
span during 1914, since some evidence suggests that $25 per day was regarded a low price for
a feature in early 1915. See, for example, Carl Laemmle, “Quit Using Dope! No. 65 Straightfrom-the-Shoulder Talks by Carl Laemmle, President,” Universal Weekly 6, no. 3 (January
16, 1915): 3, cont. on 24.
113
Frederick Talbot argued that this was the main reason why many exhibitors in the earliest
days of the feature were prone to stick to a varied program of one-reelers. Frederick A. Talbot, Moving Pictures: How They Are Made and Worked (London: William Heinemann,
1912), 169–178.
114
Bush, “The Quest of Quality,” 308.
115
Concerning this source material, one must, however, remember that both the defendants
and the petitioner had incentives to stress the importance, popularity and market value of
multiple-reel features—or “specials,” as they were often referred to during the hearings—the
former to demonstrate that the Trust’s supposed withholding of feature films to independent
distributors and exhibitors was causing substantial harm, and the latter to refute the accusations of a monopolistic behavior, by showing that competition from feature oriented companies and independent firms in general in all branches of the business made monopolistic formations impossible in the film industry.
116
William Brandt, USA v. MPPC 4:1991, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
117
Samuel H. Shirley, USA v. MPPC 4:2406, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
118
William C. Brandon, USA v. MPPC 4:2365.
119
As Ben Singer reminds us, this source material too has to be handled with some caution,
since there are many indications that the results reported from the various cities/exchange
centers around the country reflects the agenda of the exchange man as much as actual conditions. Singer, Melodrama and Modernity, 219–20.
120
“The Motion Picture News Chart of National Film Trade Conditions,” MP News 10, no. 17
(October 31, 1914): 20–21. See also “Review of Trade Conditions Reveals Prosperity
272
Throughout Country: Outlook Is Everywhere Encouraging, Even Where Business Has Slackened During the Past Few Months—Few Dull Periods Laid to the War—Many Movements
for Higher Admission Prices in Progress—Features in Almost Universal Demand, but Complaint Is Made of Dearth of First-Class One and Two-Reel Pictures—Opinions on Serials
Vary,” MP News 10, no. 17 (October 31, 1914): 22–31, cont. on 59; and “A Proof of Healthy
Prosperity,” MP News 10, no. 17 (October 31, 1914): 43. The first trade review, published on
July 11, 1914 did not include a summarizing chart to compare with the one presented in October, but a study of the written reports from the various cities/exchange centers suggests a
positive trend for features (high demand, well-regarded among exhibitors as well as patrons,
good box-office results, and so on) evident at the time of the first survey and escalating further to the second. See “A Trade Review,” MP News 10, no. 1 (July 11, 1914): 21; “The
Motion Picture News Review of Film Trade Conditions in America: A Comprehensive Survey of Business, Environment and Outlook Among the Exhibitors of the United States and
Canada, Dealing with Admission Prices, Rental Rates, Popularity of Features, Competition
Conditions, the Small Exhibitor and the Big One, Increase in Theatre Construction, Relations
Between the Exhibitor, Exchange Man and Producer, ‘What Does the Public Want?’ and
Every Other Phase of the Field,” MP News 10, no. 1 (July 11, 1914): 29–64.
121
Singer, “Feature Films,” 89–93.
122
Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution,” 59; 49–50.
123
“Much Oratory,” 1695.
124
“Quality Films at Quantity Prices: The Two Are Incompatible, Yet Many Exhibitors Face
Ruinous Conditions Through Fear of Advancing Their Admissions—Trend Is Steadily Toward Larger Theatres, Superior Productions and Higher Prices—A Typical Case,” MP News
9, no. 15 (April 18, 1914): 25.
125
Epes Winthrop Sargent, “Feature Films,” Advertising for Exhibitors, MPW 20, no. 2 (April
11, 1914): 204.
126
Plimpton, “The Development of the Motion Picture,” 197–8; and Coleman, “The Ultimate
Triumph of the Single Reel Production,” 323.
127
The Goat Man [pseud.], “On the Outside Looking In,” Motography 11, no. 11 (May 30,
1914): 373.
128
“Association Holds Second Convention,” 445–50.
129
“What the Convention Did,” Motography 11, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 469–70. On the resolution concerning multiple-reel films, see also “Much Oratory on the Multiple Reel Question,” 1695.
130
“Features, or Program, or Both?” 911.
131
“The Daily Program’s Drawbacks: ‘It Has Many,’ Says J.D. Williams, Whose Name
Needs No Introduction to American Exhibitors, ‘But the Chiefest of Them Is that It Handicaps the Showman in Advertising His Wares,” MP News 9, no. 18 (May 9, 1914): 27.
132
J.A. Schubert, USA v. MPPC 4:2097.
133
See, for example, “The Exhibitor’s End of It,” Reel Life 4, no 22 (August 15, 1914): 20;
Frederick James Smith, “The Evolution of the Motion Picture: X; The Feature Picture and
Exhibiting Methods; An Interview with Tom Moore, the Exhibitor of Washington, D. C.”
NYDM 70, no. 1811 (September 3, 1913): 25; John Freuler, “President Freuler’s Message to
Exhibitors,” Reel Life 6, no. 26 (September 11, 1915): 3; Charles J. Giegerich, “The Function
of Feature Productions,” Motography 14, no. 8 (August 21, 1915): 357; “Booming the Feature
Film: An Exposition of the Methods Employed by Marcus Loew in Advertising the Big Film
Productions Shown at His Chain of Theatres,” MP News 9, no. 2 (January 17, 1914): 32; and
“Breaking Feature Records in Detroit: Keeping a Five-Reel Picture at One Theatre for Two
Weeks, in a Town Where It Had Never Been Done Before, Is an Achievement—Pierce and
Personal Appeal Did It,” MP News 9, no. 22 (June 6, 1914): 43–44.
134
“Irwin of V.L.S.E. Thinks Small Theaters Can Show Features,” Motography 14, no. 8
(August 21, 1915): 358.
135
“Fitting a Big Feature to a Small House,” MP News 9, no. 23 (June 13, 1914): 55.
273
136
See, for a few examples, “Philadelphia Exhibitors to Raise Prices,” MPW 20, no. 4 (April
25, 1914): 525; “Facts and Comments,” MPW 20, no. 6 (May 9, 1914): 791; James S.
McQuade, “Chicago Letter,” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 474; “Let the Price Rise
with the Quality,” MP News 10, no. 20 (November 21, 1914): 33; and “Feature, or Program,
or Both?” 911–12.
137
The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 71, no. 1842 (April 8, 1914):
31.
138
Robert Grau, “The Vital Issue,” MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914): 1829.
139
Robert Grau, “From the Historian’s Viewpoint,” MPM 9, no. 5 (June 1915): 104. It should
be noted that Grau had mentioned the notion of one- and two-dollar films in Moving Picture
World article from December 1914 too, prophesying that such films would exist but that there
would never be a great audience for them. Grau, “The Vital Issue,” 1829.
140
“Aitken Issues Statement,” Motography 14, no. 2 (July 10, 1915): 50. See also “Big Three
Form Triangle Film,” Motography 14, no. 5 (July 31, 1915): 204; and “H. E. Aitken Discusses Triangle Plans: Combination Plays at $2.00 Prices,” Motography 14, no. 6 (August 7,
1915): 235. For a recent account of the Triangle Film Corporation, in particular its aspirations
for “highbrow film culture,” see Rob King, “‘Made for the Masses with an Appeal to the
Classes’: The Triangle Film Corporation and the Failure of Highbrow Film Culture,” Cinema
Journal 44, no. 2 (Winter 2005): 3–33.
141
Harry E. Aitken, “Out of Quantity—Quality,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 211.
142
“Better Films for Masses, Not Classes: Zukor Advocates Change,” Motography 14, no. 18
(October 30, 1915): 885–86.
143
The Listener [pseud.], “The Listener Chatters,” Reel Life 4, no. 3 (April 4, 1914): 6. Moving Picture World frequently made note of events when a dollar had been paid in admission to
see a film. See, for example, Epes Winthrop Sargent, “Features,” Advertising for Exhibitors,
MPW 19, no. 2 (January 10, 1914): 162; and Bush, “First Runs,” 1072.
144
See, for example, “Greenroom Jottings: Little Whispers from Everywhere in Playerdom,”
MPM 7, no 1 (February, 1914): 115; Robert Grau, “A Playhouse and Its Significance,” MPM
7, no. 1 (March, 1914): 107, cont. on 152; The Photoplay Philosopher [pseud.], “The Last
Word: In the Exploiting and Exhibiting of Motion Pictures,” MPM 7, no. 4 (May, 1914):
91–5; “Vitagraph Theater Anniversary: Specially Strong Program for the Week Marking the
First Year of Broadway’s First Picture Theatre,” MPW 23, no. 7 (February 13, 1915): 959;
Harry Ennis, “Strand, New York’s Newest Playhouse, Opens Saturday, April 11,” Doings in
Filmdom, New York Clipper 62, no. 9 (April 11, 1914): 14; and George D. Procter, “Oh, It’s
An Interesting Life!” MP News 9, no. 5 (February 7, 1914): 27–28.
145
“Picturizing Broadway,” MP News 8, no. 26 (January 3, 1914): 18.
146
Anne Morey argues that although film culture in a small city had to be attuned to local
conditions, national schemes were readily understood and adopted, not least because audiences “wanted to hear that the films available to them were the same as those playing in New
York.” In that respect, we could say that local film culture was influenced by and to some
extent adopted metropolitan film culture as an idea or set of ideas about what motion pictures
were supposed to be about (culturally and socially). Anne Morey, “Early Film Exhibition in
Wilmington, North Carolina,” in Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of
Local Moviegoing, ed. Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley (Berkeley: University of California Press,
2008), 70.
147
“Facts and Comments,” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 307.
148
Ibid. See also Bush, “The Single Reel—II,” 36.
149
W. Stephen Bush, “Stop the Vandals,” MPW 22, no. 9 (November 28, 1914): 1210.
150
“Quality Films at Quality Prices,” 25.
151
Sherry, “Do Features Pay?” 19.
152
“The Price of Admission,” MP News 9, no. 9 (March 7, 1914): 34.
153
The program companies were not completely alone in voicing the variety-over-reel-length
preference. See, for example, The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 71,
no. 1844 (April 22, 1914): 27.
274
154
The Listener [pseud.], “The Listener Chatters,” Reel Life 4, no. 8 (May 9, 1914): 6.
Laemmle, “Quit Using Dope!” 3, cont. on 24.
156
Louis Rosenbluh, USA v. MPPC 1:381, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
157
As usual with this source material, we should be wary of biases that might arise as a result
of the specific legal-strategic goals involved. It clearly lied in the interests of the petitioner to
demonstrate that special features were a vital part of the average exhibitor’s show, but the
citations I use here are from cross-examinations by the petitioner. If the exhibitors had been
called as witnesses by the petitioner and set up precisely to demonstrate the significance of
features, their testimony would, of course, have been much more questionable.
158
William F. Kertscher, USA v. MPPC 4:1943.
159
Adolph Bauernfreund, USA v. MPPC 4:1946.
160
Harry Marsey, USA v. MPPC 4:2003.
161
Joseph P. Morgan, USA v. MPPC 4:2314.
162
To cite just one example, Motion Picture News in April 1914 suggests that while there was
a growing demand for short films and varied programs throughout the state of Wisconsin, the
western states demanded more “big high-class pictures” and fewer short ones. Substantiation
of these and similar variations, and more detailed knowledge about them can, however, only
be obtained by further undertakings of regional and local film history. “Film Conditions in
Wisconsin: Feature Booking Now a Problem Owing to Demand for Short-Length Film and a
Diversified Program—‘A Feature House in Every City,’ Suggested As a Remedy—A Leading
Exhibitor’s Opinion of Situation,” MP News 9, no. 15 (April 18, 1914): 33; and “West Is
Strong for Features: But Anything Over Five Reels Must ‘Have the Goods,’ Says Sol Lesser
of the Golgate in Price Question,” MP News 9, no. 16 (April 25, 1914): 22.
163
Matthew Hansen, USA v. MPPC 4:2057.
164
“Observations by Our Man About Town,” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1818; and
Bush, “The Single Reel,” 1800.
165
See, for example, “These Long Features,” 261.
166
See, for example, Leslie T. Peacocke, “The Practical Side of Scenario Writing: A Peep
Into the Future,” Photoplay 5, no. 6 (May 1914): 132; Epes Winthrop Sargent, “One Reelers,”
MPW 20, no. 3 (April 18, 1914): 304; and George Blaisdell, “At the Sign of the Flaming
Arcs,” MPW 20, no. 9 (May 30, 1914): 1245.
167
Advertisement for General Film, MPW 19, no. 2 (January 10, 1914): 192. See, for a similar
claim, Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 442–43.
168
“‘Padding’—Why Not?” 34.
169
Frank Dyer, USA v. MPPC 3:1624, the Charles G. Clarke copy.
170
See, for example, “First Showing of ‘Quo Vadis’,” NYDM 69, no. 1792 (April 23, 1913):
25; “Another Solax State Rights Feature: ‘Kelly from the Emerald Isle,” with the WellKnown Barney Gilmore,” MP News 7, no. 19 (May 10, 1913): 12; The Film Man [pseud.],
“Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 69, no. 1795 (May 14, 1913): 25; The Film Man
[pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no. 1814 (September 24, 1913): 29; J.A.
Schubert, USA v. MPPC 4:2098; Ike van Ronkel, USA v. MPPC 4:2237; “Important Move by
General Film,” 19; and Dougherty, “Conditions and Features,” 224.
171
Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, chapter 6. Ben Singer also comments upon the
frequent strategy to combine multi-reel features with shorter films, concluding that due to this,
the breakthrough of the feature might have actually spurred the production of single-reel
films, at least for some time. Singer, “Feature Films,” 79–86.
172
Hansen argues that the “classical” spectator was perceived of as a hypothetical and universal point of textual address. Moya Luckett has added that new conceptions of the audience
should not be considered to be exclusively a textual effect, but equally as the result of an
intentional striving for the elevation of cinema’s cultural status that favored a silent and selfcontrolled viewer who concentrated on the screen rather than on the patron next to him/her. In
either case, the new ideal “spectator” may be contrasted to the loud, localized and corporeal
audience member associated with the “cinema of attractions.” Hansen, Babel and Babylon,
155
275
23; 76–86; Luckett, “Cities and Spectators,” 270–71; 286. Regarding the term “cinema of
attractions,” see Introduction, note 71.
173
Kristin Thompson, 192; 212; and 231.
174
Louis Rosenbluh, USA v. MPPC 1:381, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
175
Raymond L. Schrock, “Getting the Right Stride,” MPM 7, no. 1 (February 1914): 111.
176
“These Long Features,” 261–62.
177
“Three Classic Features: New Picture-Plays Adapted from Famous Novels—Mrs. Fiske in
‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles,’ Princess Ruspoli in ‘The Betrothed,” and J. W. Johnston in ‘Rob
Roy’,” MP News 8, no. 10 (September 6, 1913): 12.
178
For an account of early cinema, adaptation and cultural uplift, especially as related to
Vitagraph’s so-called “quality films,” see William Uricchio and Roberta E. Pearson, Reframing Culture: The Case of the Vitagraph Quality Films (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1993). On the influences of nineteenth-century theater on cinema, with a focus on the
early feature films of the 1910s, see Ben Brewster and Lea Jacobs, Theatre to Cinema: Stage
Pictorialism and the Early Feature Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). On the
transgressive figure of Cecil B. DeMille, in particular as embodying new links between film
and theater as well as between cinema and “genteel culture,” see Sumiko Higashi, Cecil B.
DeMille and American Culture: The Silent Era (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1994). On the issue of “wooing the middle-class” and the concomitant strive for cultural
respectability, Tom Gunning used this as an explanatory model for the activities of the MPPC,
while also suggesting that adaptations of famous plays, novels, poems, and so on served
similar purposes. See Gunning, “Weaving a Narrative,” 336–47; and Gunning, D. W. Griffith
and the Origins of American Narrative Film (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991). The
link between adaptation and cultural uplift has also been suggested by Miriam Hansen. See
Hansen, Babel and Babylon, 63–64. Moya Luckett has connected the cultural uplift of cinema
to the increasing dominance of feature films and the refurnishing and upgrading of theater
space, arguing that both served to associate film to widely held views of what “art” was.
Luckett, “Cities and Spectators,” 279–80. Gunning, Hansen and Luckett all seem to agree that
improvements in movie theater design was carried out in order to attract the middle-class. See
Gunning, “Weaving a Narrative,” 338; Hansen, Babel and Babylon, 62; and Luckett, “Cities
and Spectators,” 271. Concerning the application of the wooing-and-striving-for-culturaluplift-scheme to explain changing modes of representation, Charles Musser has challenged
Gunning’s view, claiming that explanations of this are rather to be sought in changing production conditions. Musser, “The Nickelodeon Era Begins,” 271–72.
179
See, for example, “Famous Players Anniversary,” 1384; and “Famous Players Celebrate
Anniversary,” 33.
180
Staiger, “The Central Producer System,” 128–34.
181
“The Future of the Motion Picture,” 17.
182
See, for example, Leslie T. Peacocke, “The Practical Side of Scenario Writing,” 132. Since
most features were adaptations of theatrical and literary works, Peacocke was hostile to the
feature format, repeatedly predicting its “doom.” This opposition to the practice of adaptation
and by association the feature must, of course, be seen against the background that Peacocke
feared the obsolescence of the type of original scenario writing that he had built his motion
picture career upon.
183
Harrison, “Why Some Features Fail,” 464.
184
Louis Reeves Harrison, “Nineteen-Fifteen,” MPW 23, no. 1 (January 2, 1915): 43.
185
Grau, “From the Historian’s Viewpoint,” 104. Grau’s The Theatre of Science reproduces a
letter from D. W. Griffith, in which Griffith expresses the view that literary and theatrical
sources will be exhausted and that the motion picture in any event should rid itself of theatrical influences in order to become an independent art form. Considering that Grau dedicates
The Theatre if Science to the “genius” of D. W. Griffith, it is tempting to identify the latter as
the source of inspiration for the views on adaptation that Grau promoted in various contexts.
Grau himself acknowledges that the Griffith letter “confirms” his own views. See Grau, The
Theatre of Science, 85–87.
276
186
Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 443.
John Stuart Blackton, “Literature and the Motion Picture—A Message,” introduction to
Grau, The Theatre of Science, xxvii.
188
“Motion Pictures to Dominate Drama. Thanhouser Predicts Big Change,” Motography 14,
no. 17 (October 23, 1915): 831–32.
189
Blackton, “Literature and the Motion Picture,” xxvii.
190
Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 443.
191
Grau, “From the Historian’s Viewpoint,” 104.
192
As Janet Staiger shows, increased marketability was a main reason why the practice of
adaptation was so integral to the emergence of the feature. See Staiger, “The Central Producer
System,” 128–134.
193
Advertisement for Majestic, Reel Life 4, no. 2 (March 28, 1914): 1.
194
Frederick James Smith, “The Evolution of the Motion Picture: VII. From the Standpoint of
the Photoplaywright; An Interview with Captain Leslie T. Peacocke, Special Scenario Writer
with the Universal Company,” NYDM 70, no. 1805 (July 23, 1913): 25.
195
Oliver Morosco, “Tomorrow—The Future of the Photoplay,” Motography 15, no. 1 (January 1, 1916): 9.
196
Ibid.
197
Famous Players Film Company to Mr. J. Wilton, Janesville, Wis., August 31, 1912, Special Collections, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
198
“Screen Actors for the Screen,” MP News 9, no. 16 (April 25, 1914): 34.
199
The Listener [pseud.], “The Listener Chatters,” Reel Life 4, no. 7 (May 2, 1914): 6.
200
On the emergence of the star system, see DeCordova, Picture Personalities. On early fan
culture and its relation to movie stars, see Fuller, At the Picture Show.
201
Robert Grau, “Big Stage Salaries,” MPM 7, no. 4 (May 1914): 121–2.
202
See, for example, “Biograph Company and Klaw & Erlanger to Combine and Form the
Protective Film Company,” MP News 7, no. 25 (June 21, 1913): 12; “Another Big Combine:
Biograph and Klaw and Erlanger Form the Protective Film Company,” NYDM 70, 1801 (June
25, 1913): 26; “Lasky-Belasco Pictures: First of the Production of Belasco Plays Will Appear
in November in the Paramount Program,” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 345; and
“Paramount-Klaw & Erlanger Alliance: $2,000,000 Corporation Formed,” Motography 14,
no. 20 (November 13, 1915): 1005.
203
Bush, “The Single Reel,” 1800.
204
Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 442–43.
205
Ibid.
206
“Some Feature Film Men Denounced,” MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 791.
207
“New York Feature Buyers get Together: Twenty-One Form Feature Film Protective
Association to Co-operate on Bad Accounts, Fight ‘Pirates’ and ‘Dupers’ and Endeavor to
Get Manufacturers to Produce More High Class Features,” MP News 8, no. 24 (December 20,
1913): 14.
208
“Keep the Feature Above Reproach!” MP News 9, no. 11 (March 21, 1914): 34.
209
The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 71, no. 1844 (April 22,
1914): 27.
210
Woods, “What Are We Coming To?” 442–43.
211
The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no. 1814 (September 24,
1913): 29. See also The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,” NYDM 70, no. 1820
(November 5, 1913): 28.
212
Frank L. Dyer, USA v. MPPC 3:1618–9; and 1603–4, the Charles G. Clarke Collection
copy.
213
“Streyckmans Resigns from the Mutual to Enter Big Feature Film Enterprise,” MP News 8,
no. 6 (August 9, 1913): 9.
214
G. E. Quisenberry, “Making Features Pay at a Quarter: Roy Crawford, ex-Showman, Now
Full-Fledged Exhibitor, Is Doing It—Billboard and Newspaper Advertising Are His Strong
Points; 24-Sheets Are Good Enough for Him,” MP News 9, no. 18 (May 9, 1914): 38.
187
277
215
Stephen Bush distinguished between a “school of adaptation” and a “school of originality.”
The latter was held to be based on the “uniqueness” of the screen and the possibilities of the
camera, using the “direct emotional, psychological and artistic power of the screen” without
the “filtration” through any other medium. This “school of originality” represented Bush’s
ideal whereas he argued that the “school of adaptation” was in decline. Typical of Bush,
however, his model accommodated both schools, arguably due to Bush’s recognition of the
vital significance of adaptation in the feature’s history up until that point. Bush, “Wizards of
the Screen,” 941.
216
“Picture Perfection Made Possible by the Feature,” MP News 9, no. 12 (March 28, 1914):
34.
Chapter 2
1
Sam Bass Warner Jr., The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1968), 162.
2
This is not to say that film culture consists of nothing else than movie-goers, films and
movie theaters. These are basic elements, but the question of what a specific culture is, does
and involves is much more complex.
3
Robert A. Beauregard, When America Became Suburban (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 32.
4
Elisabeth Belanger, “Department Stores,” in Material Culture in America: Understanding
Everyday Life, ed. Helen Sheumaker and Shirley Teresa Wajda (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABCCLIO, 2008), 146. See also Alison Isenberg, Downtown America: A History of the Place and
the People Who Made It (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).
5
Warner Jr., The Private City, 169.
6
Ibid., 170–71.
7
Lloyd M. Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” in Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, ed.
Russell F. Weigley (New York: Norton, 1982), 526.
8
Warner Jr., The Private City, 191.
9
Nathaniel Burt and Wallace E. Davies, “The Iron Age: 1875–1905,” in Philadelphia: A 300Year History, ed. Russell F. Weigley (New York: Norton, 1982), 485.
10
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 524.
11
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
1—Population of Minor Civil Divisions: 1910, 1900, and 1890,” Thirteenth Census of the
United States. Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 3. Population 1910. Reports by States, with
Statistics for Counties, Cities and Other Civil Divisions. Nebraska-Wyoming. Alaska, Hawaii
and Porto Rico (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913), 549.
12
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
12—Foreign White Stock, by Nationality, for Cities of 100,000 or More,” Thirteenth Census
of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:566.
13
Ibid.
14
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
I—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for the State and for Counties,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:582.
15
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1876–1905,” 481.
16
Ibid., 483.
17
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 532–33.
18
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1876–1905,” 481.
19
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 533.
20
Unless otherwise stated, all of the cited data on occupation is from the U.S. Department of
Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population. Occupation Statistics: Table III—Total Per-
278
sons of 10 Years of Age and Over Engaged in Each Specified Occupation, Classified by Sex,
for Cities of 100,000 Inhabitants or More: 1910,” Thirteenth Census of the United States.
Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 4. Population 1910.Occupation Statistics (Washington:
Government Printing Office, 1913), 181–93; and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of
the Census, “Population. Occupation Statistics: Table VIII—Total Males and Females 10
Years of Age and Over Engaged in Selected Occupations, Classified by Age Periods and
Color or Race, Nativity, and Parentage, for Cities of 100,000 Inhabitants or More,” Thirteenth
Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 4:588–91.
21
Steffens, “Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented,” 249–263.
22
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 537–39.
23
The “Gas War” revolved around Philadelphia boss’s Is Durham’s attempt to “steal” a public gas contract and the protests here against. Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,”
540–43.
24
Ibid., 550–53.
25
Ibid., 553.
26
As Eugene E. Leach remarks, ever since scholars inaugurated the history of progressivism,
new dimensions of the subject have been discovered, rendering it increasingly unclear who
the progressivists were (politicians? humanitarian idealists? corporate fixers?), whose interests they served (the middle-class? the “governing” class? the lower classes?), and what the
chief mission of the movement was (clean up corruption? achieve efficiency? save industrial
capitalism? care for its “victims”?). Eugene E. Leach, “1900–1914,” in A Companion to 20thCentury America, ed. Stephen J. Whitfield (2004; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing,
2007), 3-18.
27
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 535.
28
Ibid., 535–37. On the cultural and intellectual “flowering” of the nineteenth century, see
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1876–1905,” 498–502.
29
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 535–37.
Chapter 3
1
The first public exhibition of moving pictures in Philadelphia took place on Christmas Day
1895 at Keith’s Bijou, where Latham’s Eideloscope was demonstrated. Judging by the Inquirer’s advertising section for amusements and its theatrical pages, for the first few years,
the Bijou and the Ninth and Arch Museum offered moving pictures as a steady feature of the
bill, whereas other venues only put on moving pictures on an occasional basis. The latter
included the Auditorium Theatre; the Star and Gaiety (offering “the cinnamonograph [sic],
with its moving pictures”); and the Chestnut Street Theatre. Immediately upon the arrival of
moving pictures, projector machine salesmen also appeared. Considering the small price of
the machinery, it would not be overly surprising if several other venues in addition to the ones
we have traced through the paper press discourse added moving pictures to their playbills, at
least from time to time. The availability of motion picture machinery not only from local
agencies but also through mail order catalogs such as the Sears & Roebuck catalog, might
further have facilitated the integration of moving pictures into the existing entertainment
infrastructure. Joseph P. Eckhardt, The King of the Movies: Film Pioneer Sigmund Lubin
(Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997): 17–18; Footlight
Flashes, Inquirer, July 9, 1896:24; advertisement for B. F. Keith’s Bijou, Inquirer, October
17, 1897:23; “Star and Gaiety,” Inquirer, February 14, 1897:20; Footlight Flashes, Inquirer,
April 11, 1897:20–21; “Ninth and Arch Museum: Many Attractive Features for This Week,”
Inquirer, May 15, 1898:24; “Auditorium—The Veriscope,” Inquirer, November 7, 1897:22;
classified advertisement for Edison Phonograph Agency, General Agent for Edison Apparatuses, Inquirer, March 28, 1897:18; classified advertisement for the United States Talking
279
Machine Company, Ltd., Inquirer, January 10, 1897:17; classified advertisement for
Hawthorne and Scheble, Inquirer, May 30, 1897:17; and Calvin Pryluck, “The Itinerant
Movie Show and the Development of the Film Industry,” in Hollywood in the Neighborhood:
Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, ed. Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 37–52, first published 1983 in Journal of the University
Film and Video Association 35, no. 4.
2
The bill at the Bijou advertised on February 14, 1897 is a case in point. In addition to moving pictures as well as “several other specialists” than the ones below, the following was on
offer: A Quiet Evening at Home, a vaudeville comedy act with Ms. Johnstone Bennet, playing
no less than five parts herself; the American Lilliputians perform Hogan’s Alley; acrobats in
the form of the Glinserettis (on their first American tour); Kitty Mitchell—“A bright singing
soubrette;” a musical sketch with The Three Rackett Brothers; Eva Williams and Jack Tucker
in a “Laughable character comedy”; Annie Wilmuth Curran (a singer); George Larsen—a
“Unique entertainer;” Arnim and Wagner in a singing sketch; Stanton—juggler and
equilibrist; the Fitzgibbons Trio; Eugene Neadert, a local bicycle celebrity; Edwin R. Lang
performing a character monolog; and Eddie and Josie Evans in a juvenile character sketch.
Advertisement for B. F. Keith’s Bijou, Inquirer, February 14, 1897:20.
3
Advertisement for the Ninth and Arch Dime Museum, Inquirer, October 17, 1897:23.
4
“Passion Play Pictures,” Inquirer, November 7, 1897:3; Advertisement for the Austrian
Ober-Ammergau Lecture by Ernest Lacy of the Passion Play (as Given at Horitz) Illustrated
by Moving Pictures, Inquirer, November 14, 1897:23.
5
On this background and other relevant contexts for the Horitz Passion Play, see Charles
Musser, “Passions and the Passion Play: Theater, Film, and Religion in America,
1880–1900,” in Movie Censorship and American Culture, ed. Francis G. Couvares, 2nd ed.
(Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2006), 52–60.
6
Advertisement for the Austrian Ober-Ammergau Passion Play, Inquirer, November 21,
1897:23.
7
Musser, “Passions and the Passion Play,” 58.
8
Advertisement, for the Austrian Ober-Ammergau Passion Play, Inquirer, November 21,
1897:23. See also “Passion Play Pictures,” 3.
9
For an example, see “The Passion Play: An Original Reproduction of It at the Academy of
Music,” Inquirer, November 23, 1897:5.
10
“Miscellaneous Bills,” Inquirer, December 5, 1897:22.
11
“Passion Play at Horticultural Hall,” Inquirer, November 27, 1897:3.
12
For the seminal account of boxing, prizefight pictures and early cinema, see Streible, Fight
Pictures.
13
“Auditorium—The Veriscope,” Inquirer, November 7, 1897:22. The Veriscope Company’s
eleven-reel feature the Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight premiered on May 22, 1897 at the Academy of Music in New York City, and according to Charles Musser, played for three weeks in
Philadelphia from June 26. The Veriscope Company was a group of promoters, investors and
inventors who developed and owned the Veriscope, a wide-screen motion picture technology
for the exclusive purpose of filming the Corbett-Fitzsimmons title fight in Carson City, Nevada on March 17, 1897. The pictures turned out to be an unprecedented motion picture success. Musser, The Emergence of Cinema, 197–200; Dan Streible, “On the Canvas: Boxing,
Art, and Cinema,” in Moving Pictures: American Art and Early Film, 1880–1910, Nancy
Mowll Matthews with Charles Musser (Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills Press in association
with the Williams College Museum of Art, 2005), 113; Streible, Fight Pictures, chapter 2.
14
Streible, Fight Pictures, 135–36.
15
“Ninth and Arch Museum: Plenty of Interesting Features this Week,” Inquirer, January 19,
1899:8. See also Dramatic Notes, Inquirer, February 5, 1899:7.
16
Streible, Fight Pictures, 99–102.
17
“Ninth and Arch Museum,” At the Playhouses, Inquirer, September 5, 1899:2; “Ninth and
Arch Museum,” Inquirer, November 5, 1899:14; and “Jeffries and Sharkey: Pictures of Their
Fight to Be Shown at the Auditorium,” Inquirer, December 9, 1899:6.
280
18
Streible, Fight Pictures, 104–13.
“Jeffries and Sharkey: Pictures of Their Fight to Be Shown at the Auditorium,” Inquirer,
December 9, 1899:6; and “Scenes from the Great Jeffries-Sharkey Fight,” Inquirer, December
10, 1899:14.
20
“Auditorium—Fight Pictures,” Inquirer, December 17, 1899:14.
21
Ibid.
22
Invitation to the Inquirer’s Fitzsimmons-Sharkey event, Inquirer, August 24, 1900:6; “Inquirer Gave First News of the Fight to Thousands,” Inquirer, August 25, 1900:6; and “Inquirer’s News of the Fight Away Ahead of All Others: Thousands of Enthusiastic, Shouting
Admirers of the Fistic Art Heard Each Round and the Final Result Megaphoned on Market
Street From One to Five Minutes Before They Were Received at Other Points,” Inquirer,
August 31, 1900:7.
23
“Inquirer Gave First News of the Fight to Thousands,” Inquirer, August 25, 1900:6.
24
“Inquirer’s News of the Fight Away Ahead of All Others,” Inquirer, August 31, 1900:7.
25
“Just Come to the Inquirer Office: That Is, if You Want to Get the Earliest Election News
To-Night, the Correct Election Reports, and at the Same Time Be Royally Entertained,” Inquirer, November 6, 1900:1, cont. on 14.
26
The Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald events are covered by Jan Olsson, Los
Angeles, 76–78. The New York Evening Journal event is covered by Dan Streible, “Children
at the Mutoscope,” Cinémas: revue d’ètudes de cinématographiques/Cinémas: Journal of
Film Studies 14, no. 1 (2003): 105–7.
27
Streible, Fight Pictures, 153.
28
This aspect was even more pronounced twelve years later, when the Inquirer arranged a
similar election night event. By this point, in 1912, the use of telephones overshadowed the
presence of both movies and older communication technologies such as the telegraph. “Inquirer Will Give Earliest Election News: Special Phone Service Will Send Returns All Over
City; Result From Every Part of the Country Will Be Shown on Screens at Office,” Inquirer,
November 3, 1912:1, cont. on 2.
29
“Chinese New Year: The Festivities Will Begin Tomorrow at Midnight in Earnest; All in
Gala Attire; Great Preparations Being Made at the Mission and by the Unconverted to Celebrate,” Inquirer, February 8, 1899:13.
30
“Woodside Park,” Inquirer, May 27, 1898:7; “Real Estate News,” Inquirer, December 30,
1898:12; “Fellowship Club: Unique Christmas Dinner by a Merry Party of Diners; Moving
Pictures and Silver Loving Cup Souvenirs Were Among the Features,” Inquirer, December
28, 1899:8; and “Y. M. C. A. Entertaining Course,” Inquirer, January 19, 1900:7.
31
Advertisement for Gimbel Brothers Department Store, Inquirer, April 2, 1900:3.
32
Ibid., Inquirer, April 3, 1900:3.
33
“Pontifical Pictures: Wonderful Portraits Now Being Exhibited at Gimbels,” Inquirer, April
3, 1900:2.
34
Advertisement for Lit Brothers Department Store, Inquirer, March 13, 1902:5; ibid., Inquirer, March 15, 1902:5; and ibid., Inquirer, March 25, 1902:5.
35
Advertisement for Marks Brothers Department Store, PI. April 25, 1902:4.
36
“Moving Pictures Are All the Rage,” 5.
37
See, for example, “Moving Picture Crowds Stampeded,” Inquirer, November 19, 1907:3;
“Panic Narrowly Averted: Flames at a Moving Picture Show Cause Rush for Exits,” Inquirer,
March 16, 1908:4; “Firemen Trapped in Moving Picture Show Cellar Blaze: Audience Escaped, But Flame Fighters Are Overcome by Smoke; Dragged Out from Cauldron of Fire;
300 Persons in Show Room in City’s Centre Dismissed Quietly, Ignorant of Trouble,” Inquirer, December 25, 1908:1, cont. on 5; “Eleven Overcome Fighting Moving Picture Show
Fire: Two Other Firemen Nearly Drown at Stubborn Blaze; More Than Two Hours Subduing
Flames,” Inquirer, December 6, 1909:1, cont. on 2; “Panic in Moving Picture Show,” Inquirer, July 5, 1909:2; “Audience in Panic: Scare at Moving Picture Show in Bridgeton,”
Inquirer, April 18, 1910:1; “25 Persons Reported Dead in Theatre Fire at Canonsburg, PA:
Explosion in Moving Picture House in Town Near Pittsburgh Has Fatal Results,” Inquirer,
19
281
August 27, 1911:1; “50 Killed in Moving Picture Show Panic: Many Children Among the
Dead in Bilbao, Spain,” Inquirer, November 25, 1912:1; “Ten Killed in ‘Movie’ Fire: Panic
Follows Burning of Film in Belgian Town,” Inquirer, December 23, 1912:1.
38
See, for example, “Moving Picture Show Licenses Revoked: Mayor McClellan Issues a
Drastic Order Against Five Hundred Establishments,” Inquirer, December 25, 1908:3;
“Moving Picture Men Very Much Disturbed: Protest Vehemently at Mayor McClellan’s
Action in Revoking Their Licenses,” Inquirer, December 26, 1908:4; “Moving Picture Shows
All Open: Proprietors Obtain an Injunction Against Mayor McClellan’s Order on Christmas
Eve,” Inquirer, December 27, 1908:2; and “Moving Picture Men Win,” Inquirer, January 7,
1909:5; and “Lubin’s New Palace: Moving Picture House to Include Vaudeville,” Inquirer,
August 31, 1908:9.
39
Dan Cupper, Working in Pennsylvania: A History of the Department of Labor and Industry
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the
Department of Labor and Industry, 2000), 13.
40
Ibid., 11–13.
41
Ibid. 13.
42
The report of a five-year old boy in Camden stabbing his sister with a pen knife, claiming to
have done because he had seen an Indian do it in a Western picture, was typical, as was the
story of the “‘movie crazed’ bandit” who had attempted to hold up a car on the Philadelphia
and Western railway. “Stabbed Sister in Arm to Mimic Wild West Scene,” Inquirer, March
24, 1914:4; and “Tries to Wreck and Rob Car, Loses Nerve: Philadelphia and Western
Smashes Into Track Obstruction—Masked Man Flees on West Chester Pike,” Inquirer, September 3, 1914:3. For similar stories, see “Bar Wild West Pictures: Pittsburg (sic) to Place
Ban on Sensational ‘Movies’,” Inquirer, July 12, 1910:2; “Farm Hands Admit Several Burglaries: Two Young Men Were Almost Nightly Attendants at ‘Movies’ in West Chester,”
Inquirer, February 9, 1912:3; “Moving Picture Cause Boys to Plan Robbery,” Inquirer, May
20, 1912:3; and “Police Supervision of Movies Urged: Magistrate Gorman Hears of Market
Street Exhibition Which Greatly Displeases Him,” Inquirer, July 5, 1913:4.
43
“Stole to See ‘Movies,’ He Admits,” Inquirer, July 22, 1914:3.
44
See, for example, “The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 8, 1910:10; “Parson for Newspapers: But Takes Little Rap at Moving Picture Shows,” Inquirer, December 27, 1911:4; and
“Minors’ Arrests Due to Moving Picture Shows,” Inquirer, January 10, 1913:3.
45
The Eastern Penitentiary was opened in 1829 and closed in 1971, and operates today as a
museum/tourist/historic site. Its most famous inmate was probably Al Capone, who spent
eight months there in 1929–1930. Robert J. McKenty became warden in 1908 and stayed until
1923, when he resigned after a Grand Jury investigation concerning a series of irregularities
(including supposed murders having been dismissed as death by natural causes and likely
cases of prostitution at the prison). For an extensive history, see Marianna Thomas, ed., Eastern State Penitentiary: Historic Structures Report, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Historical Commission, 1994).
46
“M’Kenty Says Some ‘Movies’ Make People Criminals,” Inquirer, November 4, 1913:4.
47
Editorial, “A Blessing and a Curse,” Inquirer, February 17, 1914:8. See also Editorial, “No
Romance in Crime,” Inquirer, March 23, 1914:10. The Inquirer’s editorial page was a longstanding promoter of the movies-are-crime-breeders trope and advocate of special rules and
regulations regarding children’s movie theater patronage. See, for example, Editorial, “Children and Moving Picture Shows,” Inquirer, March 23, 1912:8; Editorial, “The ‘Movies’ and
Crime,” Inquirer, August 31, 1913:8; and Editorial, “Movies and Morals,” Inquirer, December 16, 1913:8.
48
Editorial, “A State Moving Picture Censor,” Inquirer, January 25, 1914:6. See also Editorial, “Movies and Morals,” 8.
49
Editorial, “Movies as Crime Breeders,” Inquirer, May 3, 1914:10. The Inquirer’s editorial
support for educational motion pictures harked back at least to 1910. See, for example, Editorial, “Moving Pictures in School,” Inquirer, May 7, 1910:8; and Editorial, “Geography by
Moving Pictures,” Inquirer, April 29, 1911:8.
282
50
Editorial, “A Blessing and a Curse,” 8
Olsson, Los Angeles, 202–219.
52
See, for example, Editorial Comments, Inquirer, March 19, 1899:8; “The Biograph in
Medicine: A New Aid for Doctors in Studying Obscure Diseases,” Inquirer, February 19,
1900:10; “Diphtheria’s Wild Spread: Quarantined Victims Go to Church and Moving Pictures,” Inquirer, April 12, 1911:4; “Dixon Gives Movie Advice: Would Demand Proper
Ventilation and Cleanliness,” Inquirer, June 9, 1914:5. See also Congdon [pseud.], “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1851.
53
“Mill Girls’ Fate Hinges on Hours: Therapeutics Professor Reads From Note Books Sad
Chapters of Lives; Speakers at Child Labor Meeting Agree on Necessity of Short Day for
Workers,” Inquirer, February 22, 1914:9.
54
Diana [pseud.], “Mothers Give Balance to Daughters,” Inquirer, July 2, 1914:7. Another
“Diana” column emphasized that although moving picture entertainment could be a blessing
for the whole family, it was the primary duty of women to keep a nice home and not to stray
too far from it. Diana [pseud.], “Homing Instincts,” Inquirer, October 30, 1914:5.
55
Stamp, Movie-Struck Girls, 37; 102–3.
56
“Wife Quits ‘Movies’ and Shatters Divorce Suit: Kiss and Make Up After Jewish Holiday
Adjustments,” Inquirer, September 15, 1912:1.
57
“Wife Goes to Movies, Supper Late, Beaten: Magistrate Refuses to Decide How Frequently
Women Should Go to See Films,” Inquirer, July 23, 1914:6.
58
Aside from proposing segregation plans, Porter and Robinson also addressed the “poster
problem,” urging exhibitors to “refrain from exhibiting the wild, morbid and weirdly executed
posters which have proven an eyesore to the adult and an inflamer of juvenile minds.” They
were also responsible for putting an end to so-called “prize-drawings” (i.e. lotteries) arranged
by some theaters in combination with ticket sales. “Porter Will Uplift All Local ‘Movies’,”
Inquirer, July 7, 1913:14; “To Stop Ticket Prices: Moving Picture Theatres Must Discontinue
Drawings,” Inquirer, December 12, 1913:10; “Prohibits Drawings: Director Porter Orders
Lotteries at ‘Movies’ Stopped December 15,” Inquirer, December 4, 1914:8; and Congdon,
“Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 12 (December 19, 1914): 1718.
59
“Porter Will Uplift All Local ‘Movies’,” Inquirer, July 7, 1913:14. The authoritative study
of anxieties about female patronage in early cinema is provided by Shelley Stamp. According
to Stamp, women were seen as especially susceptible to the sexual threats that individual
films as well as the movie theater space were often associated with. This was also related to
the difficult negotiation of the emergence of a heterosexual dating culture. Stamp, MovieStruck Girls, 46–51.
60
“May Thwart Lotharios: Porter Considers ‘Movie’ Segregation Plan Likely,” Inquirer,
March 6, 1914:3.
61
In the Philadelphia area, various clergymen’s attitudes toward motion pictures ranged from
downright condemnation to the appropriation and sanctification of motion pictures. One
particular reason for the latter stance, and also for some congregations to offer moving picture
shows in church, was that the moving picture show, in spite of all its possible flaws at least
helped in keeping people away from a much more harmful environment: the saloon. As Lee
Grieveson has demonstrated, this was a recurring trope, turning up on various progressive
agendas around 1908–1909 as well as in D. W. Griffith’s infamous The Rise and Fall of Free
Speech pamphlet of 1916. The big fan magazines too—perhaps as a strategy to add moral and
cultural legitimacy to the pleasure-oriented fan activities—frequently gave vent to the same
argument, often in the form of brief verses or cartoons. “Bishop Darlington in Favor of the
‘Movies’,” Inquirer, December 8, 1913:3; Grieveson, Policing Cinema, 78; 195; Willard
Howe, “The Passing of O’Sullivan’s Saloon: A Story From Life,” Photoplay 2, no. 2 (March
1912): 45–48; “Picture Shows vs. Drink Emporiums,” Photoplay 3, no. 1 (August 1912): 83;
Stewart Everett Rowe, “The Drunkard’s Reformation,” MPM 7, no. 2 (March 1914): 118; “A
Temperance Lesson,” MPM 7, no. 2 (March 1914): 124; and Beatrice Howard, “The Two
Signs,” MPM 8, no. 9 (October 1914): 31.
51
283
62
Pennsylvania’s earliest blue laws dates back to colonial period negotiations between
Quaker ideals and sports as well as other amusement activities. In 1794, a law “forbidding
worldly employment or business on the Lord’s day,” and was increasingly strictly enforced in
Philadelphia from 1899, due to an initiative of the Philadelphia Sabbath Association and
Police Superintendent Quirk. J. T. Jable, “Pennsylvania’s Early Blue Laws: A Quaker Experiment in the Suppression of Sport and Amusements, 1682–1740,” Journal of Sport History
1, no. 2 (1974): 107–121; “Blue Laws in Philadelphia,” New York Times, December 10,
1899:1.
63
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 100.
64
Ibid., MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 828.
65
Irvin R. Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813
Theatres Constructed Since 1724 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986), 21.
66
Musser, The Emergence of Cinema, 421–22. See also Richard Abel, “‘Pathé Goes to
Town’: French Films Create a Market for the Nickelodeon,” Cinema Journal 35, no. 1
(Autumn, 1995): 13.
67
Abel, “‘Pathé Goes to Town’,” 13; Musser, The Emergence of Cinema, 421–22.
68
Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, 22.
69
“New Theatre Opens Today: Moving Picture Show Exhibition Made More Attractive by
Musical Programme,” Inquirer, January 20, 1908:5.
70
“Moving Picture Entertainment,” Inquirer, March 4, 1908:2.
71
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 3, 1908:10.
72
Ibid.
73
Weldon B. Durham, American Theatre Companies, 1888–1930 (Westport: Greenwood
Press, 1987), 360; 412–13; and Arthur Hornblow, A History of the Theatre in America from
Its Beginnings to the Present Time (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1919),
2:319–322.
74
“Uptown to Have Up-to-Date Moving Picture Auditorium: The New Liberty Auditorium; J.
Fred Zimmerman Is Erecting Large Building on Columbia Avenue Near Broad,” Inquirer,
January 17, 1909:3.
75
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 8, 1910:10.
76
“Grand Opera House: Good Vaudeville Acts and Moving Pictures Complete the Bill,”
Inquirer, June 28, 1910:2.
77
Irvin R. Glazer, Philadelphia Theaters: A Pictorial Architectural History from the Collection of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia with 141 Illustrations (New York: The Athenaeum of
Philadelphia & Dover Publications, 1994), xx.
78
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, January 8, 1911:5.
79
Stageland, Inquirer, August 7, 1910:12.
80
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 14, 1911:14.
81
Ibid., Inquirer, May 12, 1912:6.
82
Ibid., Inquirer, May 26, 1912:12.
83
Ibid., Inquirer, November 13, 1910:10.
84
Ibid., Inquirer, May 19, 1912:14.
85
“Opera House,” Changes in Stock and Combination, Inquirer, May 12, 1912:6.
86
Ibid.
87
“Walnut,” Changes in Stock and Combination, Inquirer, May 12, 1912:6.
88
Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, 234–36.
89
“Walnut,” Changes in Stock and Combination, Inquirer, May 12, 1912:6.
90
“Forrest,” Changes in Stock and Combination, Inquirer, May 12, 1912:6.
91
Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, 114–15.
92
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 19, 1912:14.
93
Quinn, “Distribution,” 47.
94
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, March 2, 1913:6; “Forrest,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and
Film Enliven Theatres, Inquirer, June 29, 1913:10.
95
“Metropolitan,” Inquirer, July 13, 1913:13.
284
96
“Metropolitan,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and Film Enliven Theatres, Inquirer, June 29,
1913:10.
97
“Keystone,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and Film Enliven Theatres, Inquirer, June 29,
1913:10.
98
“Neronian Films Still Delight,” Inquirer, July 8, 1913:5.
99
“Garrick,” Vaudeville, Stock and Pictures, Inquirer, July 20, 1913:10; “Eleventh Week of
Quo Vadis,” Inquirer, July 22, 1913:4.
100
“Garrick,” Vaudeville, Stock and Pictures, Inquirer, July 27, 1913:15.
101
Advertisement for Quo Vadis? Inquirer, August 3, 1913:11.
102
“‘Quo Vadis’ Breaks Records,” NYDM 69, no. 1796 (May 21, 1913): 26; and “Long Runs
Continue,” NYDM 69, no. 1800 (June 18, 1913): 27.
103
“Eleventh Week of Quo Vadis,” 4.
104
Advertisement for Quo Vadis? Inquirer, August 3, 1913:11.
105
“Garrick,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and Film Enliven Theaters, Inquirer, June 29,
1913:10; “Neronian Films Still Delight,” Inquirer, July 8, 1913:5.
106
“Garrick,” Vaudeville, Stock and Pictures, Inquirer, July 27, 1913:15.
107
See, for example, “Garrick,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and Film Enliven Theaters, 10.
108
“Those Arena Scenes in Quo Vadis?” Inquirer, July 13, 1913:10.
109
Ibid.
110
See, for example, Fuller, At the Picture Show, 51; Grieveson, Policing Cinema, 1–3; Abel,
Americanizing the Movies, 275n9; and Olsson, Los Angeles, 322–26.
111
“Garrick,” Brisk Doings in Varieties and Film Enliven Theaters, 10; “Neronian Films Still
Delight,” Inquirer, July 8, 1913:5; “Those Arena Scenes in Quo Vadis?” Inquirer, July 13,
1913:10; and “Garrick,” Inquirer, July 13, 1913:10.
112
“Another ‘Movie’ Opening,” Inquirer, November 26, 1913:6.
113
“Liberty,” Notable Changes in Vaudeville, Inquirer, December 14, 1913:8.
114
“Metropolitan Opera House,” Notable Changes in Vaudeville, Inquirer, December 14,
1913:8.
115
Ibid.
116
Ibid.
117
Ibid.
118
The controversies surrounding the cycle of white slave films have been most thoroughly
examined in Stamp, Movie-Struck Girls, chapter 2.
119
“Metropolitan—Traffic in Souls,” Record, January 4, 1914, part 4:7.
120
Ibid.
121
Ibid.
122
See, for example, advertisement for Traffic in Souls at the Metropolitan Opera House,
Record, January 4, 1914, part 4:7; and Advertisement for The Inside of the White Slave Traffic
at Liberty Theatre, ibid.
123
“At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, January 6, 1914:5; “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer,
January 13, 1914:5; “New Broadway,” The Films Dramas, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; and
“At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, January 27, 1914:6. See also “White Slave Films at New
Broadway,” Inquirer, January 20, 1914:5; and “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, January 20,
1914:5.
124
“The Broadway,” Moving Picture Plays, Inquirer, February 1, 1914:8. See also “Olympia,” The Screen Drama, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:8; and “White Slave Films at Olympia,”
Inquirer, February 10, 1914:10.
125
“At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, February 3, 1914:10; and “Metropolitan,” The Films
Dramas, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9.
126
“Concerning Filth,” excerpt from Collier’s Weekly, Inquirer, February 14, 1914:10.
127
Editorial, “Signs of Returning Reason,” Bulletin, January 15, 1914:6.
128
“Can You Beat It?” Bulletin, January 24, 1914.
129
“Why Not?” Bulletin, February 17, 1914.
130
“Review of Week in Real Estate,” Inquirer, March 2, 1913:10.
285
131
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, March 2, 1913:6; and “The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer,
October 26, 1913:6.
132
Editorial, “The ‘Movies’ and Crime,” Inquirer, August 31, 1913:8.
133
“Would Place New Ban on ‘Movies’: Not to Operate Within 500 Feet of Certain Institutions Without Written Consent,” Inquirer, June 12, 1913:4.
134
“Moving Picture Bill Is Taken Up Again,” Inquirer, June 19, 1913:5.
135
“Plan to Thwart ‘Movie’: 500 Pass Resolution Asking Education Board to Buy Site,”
Inquirer, March 23, 1913:27.
136
“Review of Week in Real Estate: Continued Activity in Moving Picture Field Stimulates
Interest in the City; Five Theatres Proposed, Total Expenditure of Several Hundred Thousands Dollar,” Inquirer, March 2, 1913:10.
137
“Objects to New ‘Movie’: Property Owner Declares Theatre Would Destroy Place,” Inquirer, March 16, 1913:3.
138
“Objects to ‘Movies’ Theatre,” Inquirer, March 23, 1913:7.
139
“Rehearing in ‘Movie’ Case: Another Complainant Asks Permission to Intervene,” Inquirer, June 25, 1913:9.
140
“Reopens ‘Movie’ Fight: Louis Burk Files Exception to Court’s Permission to Build
Theatre,” Inquirer, September 9, 1913:5; and “Picture Theatres Projected,” MPW 19, no. 5
(January 31, 1914): 608.
141
“Would Restrain Movie: Resident Seeks to Halt Building of Theatre,” Inquirer, July 14,
1914:8; and “Objects to ‘Movie’: “Physician Seeks to Prevent Erection of Theatre,” Inquirer,
July 29, 1914:6.
142
“Judge Favors ‘Movie’ Builders in Ruling: Asserts Sidewalk Crowds Do Not Constitute
‘Nuisance,’ but Reserves Decision in Suit,” Inquirer, August 31, 1914:5; and “Records of the
Courts,” Inquirer, August 31, 1914:15.
143
“Review of Week in Real Estate,” Inquirer, March 2, 1913:10.
144
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, March 6, 1910:6.
145
Ibid., Inquirer, May 8, 1910:10.
146
Traditionally, the cheaper gallery seats at legitimate theaters were thought of as primarily
catering to plebeian groups (such as the working-classes, “journeymen,” servants and slaves
confined to the gallery after having held orchestra seats for their masters, prostitutes, and so
on) but by the early twentieth century, as the allegedly rowdy men and boys of the gallery
shifted their attention to film and vaudeville, the notion of the Gallery God came to signify an
audience comprised of, as social historian Richard Butsch puts it, “earnest devotees of drama
unable to afford orchestra seats. The new galleryites were middle-class and mostly women.
They were canonized as the true lovers of drama, and in the process the history of the earlier
gallery also took on a rosier hue.” Richard Butsch, The Making of American Audiences: From
Stage to Television, 1750–1990 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 126–27.
147
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, December 31, 1911:6.
148
Ibid., Inquirer, December 17, 1911:7.
149
Ibid., Inquirer, May 22, 1910:11. See also Ibid., Inquirer, March 6, 1910:6.
150
Ibid., Inquirer, November 19, 1911:13.
151
Ibid., Inquirer, November 17, 1912:13.
152
From an Atlantic City Staff Correspondent, “The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, July 27,
1913:15.
153
Editorial, “Actors and the Moving Picture Business,” Inquirer, July 9, 1914:10.
154
Ibid.
286
Chapter 4
1
See chapter 3, note 67.
Defendants’ Exhibit No. 159: Statement as of October 31, 1910, Showing Number of Places
in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited. (Separated as to
licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.), USA v. MPPC
6:3036–37; Defendants’ Exhibit No. 160: Statement as of January 30, 1911, Showing Number
of Places in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited. (Separated
as to licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.), USA v. MPPC
6:3038–39; Defendants’ Exhibit No. 161: Statement as of July 3, 1911, Showing Number of
Places in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited. (Separated as
to licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.), USA v. MPPC
6:3040–41; Defendants’ Exhibit No. 162: Statement as of December 18, 1911, Showing
Number of Places in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited.
(Separated as to licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.), USA
v. MPPC 6:3042–43; Defendants’ Exhibit No. 163: Statement as of July 7, 1912, Showing
Number of Places in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited.
(Separated as to licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.)USA v.
MPPC 6:3044–45; and Defendants’ Exhibit No. 145: Statement as of July 21, 1913, Showing
Number of Places in Cities of 100,000 and over in Which Motion Pictures Were Exhibited.
(Separated as to licensees and non-licensees of the Motion Picture Patents’ Company.), USA
v. MPPC 6:2936–37.
3
Harry Schwalbe, cross-examination on the part of the petitioner, USA v. MPPC 4:2153.
4
Harry Schwalbe, direct examination on the part of the defense, USA v. MPPC 4:2257, the
Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
5
“Stanley Theatre Opening;” Inquirer, April 19, 1914:19; “Globe Theatre Opens,” Inquirer,
June 2, 1914:4; “New Motion Picture Theatre,” Record, January 1, 1914:4; “New Playhouse
in West Phila.: Loew’s Knickerbocker Opened Auspiciously Last Night With Capacity Audience in Attendance,” Inquirer, September 1, 1914:6; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 2 (October 10, 1914): 217–18; “Dixie Theatre Opens,” Inquirer, September 15, 1914:11; and Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 4 (July 25,
1914): 605.
6
“Picture Theatres Projected,” MPW 19, no. 1 (January 3, 1914): 62; “Picture Theatres Projected,” MPW 19, no. 5 (January 31, 1914): 608; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence,
MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 828; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW
19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1256; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no.
12 (March 21, 1914): 1556; “Picture Theatres Projected,” MPW 19, no. 13 (March 28, 1914):
1748; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 1 (April 4, 1914): 94; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 9 (May 30, 1914): 1281; “Brevities of the Business:
Roll of States; Pennsylvania,” Motography 11, no. 12 (June 13, 1914): 442; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 4 (July 25, 1914): 605; “Theatre Site Is Sold by
Railway: Big Lot on Frankford Avenue Will Be Improved by Moving Picture House,” Inquirer, August 20, 1914:11; and Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 4
(October 24, 1914): 519.
2
287
7
“Liberty,” In the Realms of Vaudeville, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:18.
“Brevities of the Business,” 442; and “Feature Films at Opera House,” Inquirer, October 25,
1914:13.
9
“Broadway,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9; “Allegheny Opens
Season,” Inquirer, August 25, 1914:4; “Comedy Rules at Keystone,” Inquirer, August 25,
1914:4; and “Penn Has Comedy Variety,” Inquirer, August 25, 1914:4.
10
Harry Schwalbe, cross examination, USA v. MPPC 4:2150.
11
“Secures Verdict Against Moving Picture Trust: Jury Awards Lewis M. Swaab $20,424
Damages; Attempt of Vitagraph and Other Large Production companies to Control Trade
Gets Jolt,” Inquirer, March 8, 1914:1, cont. on 2.
12
Robert Etris, direct examination, USA v. MPPC 4:262–63. The general argument that the
Trust stabilized the industry in this manner, and with profitable consequences for the industry
as a whole, appeared not only in contexts obviously ripe with bias, but elsewhere too.
13
This was after the previously dominant independent distribution combines, The Film Supply Co. and the Sales Co. had lost their principal industrial roles.
14
Frederick James Smith, “Many Feature Exchanges,” NYDM 69, no. 1795 (May 14, 1913):
26.
15
“Itala Feature Films in Demand by Philadelphia Exchanges,” MP News 7, no. 20 (May 17,
1914): 15.
16
Robert Etris, direct examination, USA v. MPPC 4:2115–16.
17
Harry Schwalbe, direct examination, USA v. MPPC 4:2259–60.
18
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1256.
19
“Exhibitors’ News: Philadelphia,” MPW 21, no 8 (August 22, 1914): 1113–14.
20
“To Show Big Feature Films,” Inquirer, August 23, 1914:3.
21
Ibid.
22
“Colonial Gets Fine Films,” Inquirer, August 30, 1914:7.
23
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 519.
24
Eckhardt, King of the Movies, 80–81.
25
Ibid., 86.
26
Ibid., 144–45.
27
Ibid., 149.
28
W. Stephen Bush, “Betzwood, the Great: The Lubin Plant Is More Than a Studio or Factory—It Is an Institution—the Biggest in the World and the Most Complete—Some of Its
Excellent Features,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 274.
29
“Big Fire at Lubin Plant: Explosion Wrecks Film Storage Vault Causing Damage of Between $500,000 and $1,000,000—No Interruption in Business,” MPW 20, no 13 (June 27,
1914): 1803; W. Stephen Bush, “A Day with Sigmund Lubin,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 209; and “Lost in Lubin Fire: Many Valuable Motion Pictures Destroyed by Recent
Explosion at Big Philadelphia Plant,” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 267.
30
“Philadelphia Exhibitors to Raise Prices,“ 525; and “Facts and Comments,” MPW 20, no. 6
(May 9, 1914): 791. See also, for a Motion Picture News report before the plans were ratified,
“Raising Prices in Philadelphia: Quaker City Exhibitors Vote to Adopt Uniform Scale, Beginning April 3, Charging Five Cents for a Four-reel Program and Ten Cents for Five to Eight
Reels—Plan Not Yet Ratified,” MP News 9, no. 11 (March 21, 1914): 33.
31
“Program Question in Philadelphia,” MPW 19, no. 12 (March 21, 1914): 1530–31.
32
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1851.
33
“Regent Theatre, Philadelphia, PA,” MPW 20, no. 4 (April 25, 1914): 533.
34
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 12 (December 19, 1914): 1718.
35
This venue was “officially” named the Broadway Theatre, but referred to by the newspapers as “The New Broadway” to distinguish it from the older Broadway Theatre on 718 S.
Broad Street and from a vaudeville house on Broad Street and Snyder Avenue that was also
named the Broadway Theatre. For clarity, I will adhere to the newspapers’ policy in this
matter.
8
288
36
See, for example, advertisements for the New Broadway Theatre, Inquirer, January 18,
1914:9; Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9; advertisements for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; Inquirer, January 11, 1914:7; Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; Inquirer, January
25, 1914:9; Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9; and Inquirer, February 22, 1914:15.
37
See, for example, advertisements for the Palace Theatre, Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15;
Inquirer, November 29, 1914:15; Inquirer, December 12, 1914:15; advertisements for the
Victoria Theatre, Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21; Inquirer, October 4, 1914:15; and Inquirer,
December 20, 1914:15.
38
See, for example, advertisement for the Olympia, PI February 8, 1914:9.
39
Advertisement for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23.
40
Ibid., Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19.
41
See, for example, advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, April 26,
1914:23; and Inquirer, August 8, 1914:9.
42
See, for example, advertisements for the Forrest Theatre, Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21; Inquirer, May 17, 1914:19; Inquirer, June 7, 1914:15; and Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
43
See, for example, advertisements for the Garrick Theatre, Inquirer, July 12, 1914:9; and
Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9.
44
Advertisement for the Adelphi Theatre, Inquirer, April 19, 1914:21.
45
Advertisements for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11; and
Inquirer, October 18, 1914:15.
46
See, for example, advertisements for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November
1, 1914:15; Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 16; Inquirer, December 13, 1914:15;
and Inquirer, December 27, 1914, special feature section: 8.
47
Advertisements for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:13; and Inquirer,
October 4, 1914:15.
48
Advertisement for the Palace Theatre, Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15.
49
See, for example, advertisements for the Alhambra Theatre, Inquirer, March 22, 1914:17;
Inquirer, September 20, 1914:13; advertisements for B. F. Keith’s Allegheny, Inquirer, January 25, 1914:9; Inquirer, March 1, 1914:17; Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23; Inquirer, September
6, 1914:11; advertisement for the Empress Theatre, Inquirer, December 13, 1914:15; advertisements for the Fairmount, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; Inquirer, February 15, 1914:7;
Inquirer, March 15, 1914:15; Inquirer, April 19, 1914:21; Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21; advertisement for the Keystone, Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21;
50
See, for example, advertisement for the Cross Keys Theatre, Inquirer, December 27, 1914,
special feature section: 8.
51
See, for example, advertisements for Nixon’s Grand, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; .Inquirer,
May 24, 1914:17; Inquirer, June 14, 1914:15; Inquirer, July 19, 1914:4; Inquirer, August 23,
1914:9; Inquirer, September 20, 1914:13; Inquirer, October 25, 1914:15; Inquirer, November
22, 1914:15; and Inquirer, December 13, 1914:15.
52
See, for example, advertisements for the William Penn, Inquirer, October 18, 1914:15;
Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 16; advertisements for the Frankford, Inquirer,
January 25, 1914:9; Inquirer, February 22, 1914:15; Inquirer, March 29, 1914:19; and Inquirer, May 27, 1914:19.
53
See, for example, advertisement for the Girard Avenue Theatre, Inquirer, September 6,
1914:11.
54
See, for example, advertisements for Hart’s Family Theatre, Inquirer, November 15,
1914:15; and Inquirer, December 6, 1914:15.
55
See, for example, advertisement for the New Dixie Theatre, Inquirer, September 13,
1914:11.
56
See, for example, advertisements for Marcus Loew’s Knickerbocker Theatre, Inquirer,
August 30, 1914:11; Inquirer, September 6, 1914:11; Inquirer, October 25, 1914:15; Inquirer, November 8, 1914:16; and Inquirer, December 6, 1914:15.
57
Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, 143; advertisements for B. F. Keith’s Theatre, Inquirer,
January 11, 1914:7; Inquirer, February 1, 1914:9; Inquirer, March 8, 1914:15; Inquirer, May
289
10, 1914:21; Inquirer, June 28, 1914:4; Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9; P I; September 13,
1914:11; Inquirer, November 1, 1914:15; and Inquirer, December 20, 1914:15.
58
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 17, 1914:18.
59
With regard to the ballyhoo and various forms of noise outside movie theaters, the trade
press spoke in late 1907 of a “war” raging on Market Street, between the interests of movie
theaters on the one hand and other businesses’ on the other. See Olsson, Los Angeles, 164.
60
Rick Altman, Silent Film Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 249–69.
61
“New Motion Picture Theatre,” Record, January 1, 1914:4; and Congdon, “Philadelphia,”
Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 1 (October 3, 1914): 88.
62
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 828; ibid.,
MPW 22, no. 7 (November 14, 1914): 955; ibid., MPW 19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1256;
“Regent Theatre,” 533; “Exhibitors’ News: Philadelphia,” 1113; Congdon, “Philadelphia,”
Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 2 (October 10, 1914): 217; and “Liberty,” The Film Drama,
Inquirer, November 29, 1914:14.
63
For a small assortment of favorable but not particularly elaborate comments on the music at
some Philadelphia moving picture theaters see “Forrest,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer,
June 7, 1914:15; “Paramount Pictures at Stanley,” Inquirer, October 20, 1914:10; “Opera
House,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, November 1, 1914:14; and “Opera House—The Spoilers,”
Record, November 15, 1914:6.
64
“Biblical Film Shown: ‘The Life of Our Saviour’ on View at the Adelphi,” Inquirer, April
21, 1914:5.
65
“Inspections of Stanley Theatre,” Inquirer, April 25, 1914:9.
66
“Lina Abarbanell—Stanley,” Record, April 28, 1914:6.
67
“Stanley,” In the Realms of Vaudevilles, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:18; “Vaudeville and Picture
Shows,” Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21; “Pictures at the Stanley,” Inquirer, May 12, 1914:7; and
“Fine Pictures at Stanley,” Inquirer, May 19, 1914:9.
68
“New Organ at Stanley,” Inquirer, June 9, 1914:4; and “Stanley,” Film Dramas, Inquirer,
August 30, 1914:11. See also “Feature Films at Stanley,” Inquirer, June 16, 1914:7; “‘Othello’ on Screen at Stanley,” Inquirer, July 28, 1914:6; and “Edeson Film at Stanley,” Inquirer,
October 13, 1914:15.
69
“Opera House,” Film Dramas, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11.
70
Martin Miller Marks, Music and the Silent Film: Contexts and Case Studies, 1895–1924
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 104–5. Marks bases this part of his discussion on
Paolo Cherchi Usai, “Cabiria, an Incomplete Masterpiece: The Quest for the Original 1914
Version,” Film History 2, no. 2 (1988): 163.
71
“Opera House,” Photo Plays, Inquirer, September 6, 1914:10.
72
“Academy of Music,” The Film Dramas, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:12.
73
“Stanley,” The Film Dramas, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:12; and “Fine Film Play at
Stanley,” Inquirer, September 29, 1914:10.
74
“Opera House,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, October 18, 1914:15.
75
“Vaudeville and Pictures,” Bulletin, October 20, 1914:8; “Ireland in Films: Historical Motion Pictures Shown at Opera House,” Inquirer, October 20, 1914:10.
76
The Birth of a Nation has been called the “most controversial motion picture of all time,”
and it is possibly also the film most discussed from the early feature period by film scholars.
In the most recent book-length study of the film, Melvyn Stokes provides a brief summary of
the work achieved by a range of scholars before him. Melvyn Stokes, D. W. Griffith’s The
Birth of a Nation: A History of “The Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time” (New
York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 11–13.
77
“Ku Klux Film in Phila.: Director of Public Safety Porter Enjoined by Judge Ferguson from
Interfering with Showing of the Big Griffith Spectacle—Full Police Protection Was Given the
Show, but Even the Colored People in the Audience Applauded,” MPW 25, no. 12 (September 18, 1915): 2026.
290
78
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 531–32. On the nineteenth-century Philadelphia
race riots see Russell F. Weigley, “The Border City in Civil War: 1854–1865,” in Philadelphia: A 300-Year History, ed. Russell F. Weigley (New York: Norton, 1982), 386.
79
“Oppose Film Play: Negroes Will Ask Mayor to Bar ‘Birth of a Nation’,” Inquirer, August
30, 1915:2; “Protest Film Play: Colored Residents Contribute $400 to Finance Legal Proceedings,” Inquirer, September 27, 1915:7; and “Porter Prohibits Birth of a Nation: Accedes
to Appeal of Those Who Protest Against Its Production; Film Management May Seek Injunction to Permit Presentation—Was Passed by Censors,” Inquirer, September 4, 1915:2.
80
“Seats in ‘Movies’ Open: Patrons Can Choose Any Not Reserved Seats, Says Magistrate,”
Inquirer, March 15, 1914:3.
81
Olsson, Los Angeles, 384–86.
82
The “new” Convention Hall opened on June 29, 1912 and is not to be confused with the
complex of buildings in West Philadelphia (near the University of Pennsylvania campus area)
that originated as the site for the National Export Exhibition in 1899, and that later became
known as The Municipal Auditorium, Convention Hall, and the Civic Center. On the opening
of the “new” Convention Hall see “Saengerfest Opens: Chorus of 2,000 at Inaugural Concert
in New Convention Halls,” New York Times, June 30, 1912:10.
83
“Movies in Convention Hall: Company to Pay $100 a Night for Privilege,” Inquirer, May
23, 1914:1.
84
“A Genuine Novelty: Will Be First of Kind in This Country—At Convention Hall,” Inquirer, May 24, 1914:6.
85
Ibid.
86
Ibid.; and Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914):
1558.
87
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914):1558.
88
“A Genuine Novelty,” Inquirer, May 24, 1914:6.
89
Andrew F. Smith, Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America (Columbia,
SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999), 99–103.
90
Moore, “Everybody’s Going,” 339–357.
91
Olsson, Los Angeles, 20; 34–35; and 61.
92
“Philadelphia Exhibitors’ Ball,” MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 794.
93
“Pennsylvania League Ball Successful: Clara Kimball Young’s Portrait Sold For Red Cross
Benefit—Dittenfass (sic) Secures Picture—Many Photoplayers Present,” MPW 22, no. 13
(December 26, 1914): 1821.
94
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914): 979.
95
“Exhibitors’ News: Philadelphia,” 1113.
96
“Reel Fellows Want Clubhouse,” MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914): 1523.
97
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, September 20, 1914:12.
98
Ibid.
99
“Facts and Figures and Such,” Reel Life 5, no. 2 (September 26, 1914): 6.
100
“Reel Fellows Entertain,” MPW 22, no. 1 (October 3, 1914): 70.
101
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 828.
102
Kay Sloan, “Sexual Warfare in the Silent Cinema,” American Quarterly 33, no. 4
(Autumn, 1981): 427–28.
103
Ibid., 431–32.
104
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 828.
105
“Poole’s Canal Motion Pictures,” Inquirer, March 22, 1914:16.
106
Promotional brochure for Frederic Poole lecture series, University of Iowa Libraries digital
collections, Redpath Chautauqua Collection, digital ID
http://sdrcdata.lib.uiowa.edu/libsdrc/details.jsp?id=/poolef/6 (accessed April
17, 2009).
107
“Chinese New Year: The Festivities Will Begin Tomorrow at Midnight in Earnest; All in
Gala Attire; Great Preparations Being Made at the Mission and by the Unconverted to Celebrate,” Inquirer, February 8, 1899:13.
291
108
For a self-promotional biographical account and background to his travels to the orient see
promotional brochure for Frederic Poole, University of Iowa Libraries digital collections,
Redpath Chautauqua Collection, digital ID
http://sdrcdata.lib.uiowa.edu/libsdrc/details.jsp?id=/poolef/7 (accessed April
17, 2009).
109
Harry Schwalbe, USA v. MPPC 4:2256, the Charles G. Clarke Collection copy.
110
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645.
111
Alice M. Holden, “Current Municipal Affairs,” The American Political Science Review 8,
no. 3 (August 1914): 461.
112
Ibid., 461–62.
113
This passage was cited in a much later issue of the journal’s successor The American City
and County, in an article calling attention to the fact that similar events were still keeping
Philadelphians busy cleaning up their city in 2007. Deanna Hart, “Next to Cleanliness: Annual Events Keep Philadelphia Spick and Span,” The American City and County (November
2007): 78.
114
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645.
115
The Swat-the-Fly campaign has been addressed by Marina Dahlquist, and more recently,
specifically within the Pittsburgh context, by Michael Aronson. Marina Dahlquist, “Swat the
Fly: Educational Films and Health Campaign 1909-1914,” in Kinoöffentlichkeit (1895–1920):
Entstehung, Etablierung, Differenzierung = Cinema’s Public Sphere (1895–1920): Emergence, Settlement, Differentiation, ed. Corinna Müller and Harro Segeberg (Marburg:
Schüren, 2008), 211–25; and Aronson, Nickelodeon City, 104–111.
116
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914): 1558.
117
Based on a range of scholarly work on the rise of sociology and “scientism,” particularly
as related to the Chicago School of sociology, Linda J. Rynbrandt has argued that the “newly
emerging social sciences, especially sociology, were crucial in forming the link between
religious, moral, and ‘scientific’ knowledge in progressive reform,” although at least one
scholar contends the notion that progressivism contributed directly to the development of
sociology. Linda J. Rynbrandt, “Caroline Bartlett Crane and the History of Sociology: Salvation, Sanitation, and the Social Gospel,” The American Sociologist 29, no. 1 (March 1998):
72.
118
Garth S. Jowett, Ian C. Jarvie and Kathryn H. Fuller, Children and the Movies: Media
Influence and the Payne Fund Controversy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
119
Zenas L. Potter, The Social Survey: A Bibliography (New York: Russell Sage Foundation,
Department of Surveys and Exhibits, 1915). Jan Olsson discusses the genre of recreation
surveys and notes that this type of source material has been amply used by film scholars in
recent times. Olsson, Los Angeles, 30–31. For a few examples (not explicitly mentioned by
Olsson) of scholars relying to various degrees on recreation surveys, see Stamp, Movie-Struck
Girls, 6–7; Butsch, The Making of American Audiences, 146; 155; Steven J. Ross, Working
Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 1998), 179; and Grieveson, Policing Cinema, 92.
120
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Finding Aid, Collection 1961, Family Service of
Philadelphia records, 9.
121
“Consult Pupils on ‘Movies’: Social Workers Prepare List of Questions for High Schools,”
Inquirer, February 14, 1914:9.
122
“Laud Quaker City Exhibitors: Social Workers’ Committee Finds No Offensive Pictures,
and Many That Are Instructive and Morally Inspiring After Tour of More Than 230 Philadelphia Theatres,” MP News 9, no. 12 (March 28, 1914).
123
Rob King, “1914: Movies and Cultural Hierarchy,” in American Cinema of the 1910s:
Themes and Variations, ed. Charlie Keil and Ben Singer (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers
University Press, 2009), 123.
124
Harold MacGrath, “The Adventures of Kathlyn,” Record, January 4, 1914, part 3:11.
125
“Pictures at the Stanley,” Inquirer, May 12, 1914:7.
292
126
See, for example, “Metropolitan,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:4;
advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9; and advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, September 20, 1914:13.
127
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 1 (October 3, 1914): 88.
128
Advertisement for Marcus Loew’s Knickerbocker Theatre, Inquirer, November 29,
1914:15.
129
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914): 1870.
130
“The Exploits of Elaine: A Detective Novel and Motion Picture Drama; Presented by the
Inquirer in Collaboration With the Famous Pathe (sic) Players,” Inquirer, December 27, 1914,
special feature section: 1.
131
“Minstrels Satirize Movies,” Inquirer, September 16, 1914:18.
132
“Moving Picture Development: Films Exchanged at Sea for the Edification of Sailors,”
Inquirer, October 30, 1910:13.
133
“Burton Holmes’ Lecture: Large Audience Conducted to the Ancient City of Fez,” Inquirer, January 28, 1899:13.
134
Advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; advertisement for
the Academy of Music, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; ”Burton Holmes’ European Subjects,”
Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 15; advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, December 6, 1914:15; advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, December
13, 1914:15; and advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, December 20, 1914:15.
135
Advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, January 11, 1914:7; advertisement for
the Academy of Music, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; “With Newman in Rome,” Inquirer,
January 25, 1914:9; advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, February 1, 1914:9.
136
Advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9; advertisement for
the Academy of Music, Inquirer, February 15, 1914:7; advertisement for the Academy of
Music, Inquirer, February 22, 1914:15; advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer,
March 1, 1914:17; advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, March 8, 1914:15; and
advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, March 22, 1914:17.
137
“Lyman Howe’s Travel Pictures,” Inquirer, May 24, 1914:16; and advertisement for the
Garrick Theatre, Inquirer, June 7, 1914:15.
138
“Garrick,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
139
“Hugh O’Donnell to Lecture,” New York Times, March 30, 1913:C7.
140
Advertisements for Hugh O’Donnell at Witherspoon Hall, Inquirer, March 29, 191419;
Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21; Inquirer, April 12, 1914:21; and Inquirer, April 19, 1914:19.
141
Advertisements for B. F. Keith’s in Inquirer, January 11, 1914:7; Inquirer, January 25,
1914:9; Inquirer, February 1, 1914:9; Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9; PI; March 8, 1914:15;
and Inquirer, March 15, 1914:15.
142
Advertisements for B. F. Keith’s in Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21; Inquirer, May 17,
1914:19; Inquirer, June 14, 1914:15; Inquirer, June 21, 1914:11; PI; June 28, 1914:4; PI; July
5, 1914:13; PI; July 12, 1914:9; and Inquirer, July 19, 1914:4.
143
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14,1914): 828.
144
Advertisement for the H. B. B. Weekly, Bulletin, April 25, 1914:6. Moving Picture World
reported on June 13 that the H. B. B. company had made a deal to supply B. F. Keith’s Theatre with films of local events, but by this point these films had been showing at the theater for
several weeks. Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914):
1558.
145
Advertisement for the H. B. B. Weekly, Bulletin, April 25, 1914:6.
146
“Stanley,” News of the Vaudevilles, Inquirer, April 26, 1914:22.
147
“Keith’s,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9; advertisement for B. F.
Keith’s, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9. See also advertisements for B. F. Keith’s in the Inquirer
on August 16, August 23, August 30, September 6, September 13, September 20, October 4,
October 11, October 25, November 1, November 8, November 22, November 29, December
6, December 13, December 20 and December 27.
293
148
“Metropolitan Opera House,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9; advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11; and Inquirer,
September 6, 1914:11.
149
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, November 22, 1914:13.
150
Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, December 27, 1914, special
feature section: 8.
151
Fielding, The American Newsreel, 1st ed., 118–120.
152
“Vaudeville and Pictures,” Bulletin, December 29, 1914:5. The reference to Antwerp
suggests that the reporter had got his Belgian cities mixed up rather than a film other than the
Hearst-Selig pictures was shown (for instance the Universal footage of the siege of Antwerp,
also shot in 1914 and presented as part of The Universal Animated Weekly), since the advertising for the Chestnut Street Opera House clearly indicates that it was, in fact, the HearstSelig pictures that were exhibited. Fielding, The American Newsreel, 1st ed., 105.
153
Amusements advertisement section, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9.
154
Ibid., Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23.
155
Ibid., Inquirer, July 21, 1914:11.
156
Ibid., Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
157
Ibid., Inquirer, October 11, 1914:15.
158
King, “1914: Movies and Cultural Hierarchy,” 115–16.
159
Ben Singer and Charlie Keil, “Introduction: Movies and the 1910s,” in American Cinema
of the 1910s: Themes and Variations, ed. Charlie Keil and Ben Singer (New Brunswick, N.J.:
Rutgers University Press, 2009), 1; and Charlie Keil, “1913: Movies and the Beginning of a
New Era,” in American Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations, ed. Charlie Keil and
Ben Singer (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009), 93.
160
“Learning to Dance: One Who Sees the Castles on the ‘Screen’ Will Benefit,” Record,
February 22, 1914:6.
161
“Pictures at the Stanley,” Inquirer, May 5, 1914:7; “Forrest,” Summer Bills, Inquirer, July
19, 1914:4; “Forrest,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, July 26, 1914:12; “New Dancing
Carnival: The Jardin de Dance at the Forrest Theatre Proves Attractive,” Inquirer, July 28,
1914:6; “Forrest Theatre,” Inquirer, August 4, 1914:15; and “Metropolitan Opera House,”
Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
162
Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23.
163
American Film Institute, American Film Institute Catalog. Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in
American Feature Films, 1911–1960, ed. Alan Gevinson (Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 1997), 529; Kevin Brownlow, Behind the Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence,
Prejudice, Crime; Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 126–27; and “Pennsylvania and Ohio Censors Attack ‘John Barleycorn’
Film: J. Louis Breitinger, Head of Keystone State Censor Board and Lawyer for Liquor Interests, Demands Radical Eliminations—Exchange Prepares to Carry Case to Court; May Show
Film Publicly in Defiance of Censors—Picture’s Appearance on Eve of ‘Wet-or-Dry’ Election in Ohio Dismays Politicians,” MP News 10, no. 4 (August 1, 1914): 19-20, cont. on 64
and 66.
164
W. Stephen Bush, “Censors Defied: ‘John Barleycorn,’ Unblessed of Censors Showing in
Garrick Theater at Philadelphia—Managers Wait in Vain for Patrol Wagon—J. Louis Breitinger Threatens—That’s ALL,” MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914): 934.
165
“Facts and Comments,” MPW 21, no. 6 (August 8, 1914): 807.
166
“Philadelphian Moving Picture Censor,” Inquirer, January 21, 1914:4; “Moving Picture
Censor Sworn In,” Inquirer, January 30, 1914:8.
167
Brownlow, Behind the Mask of Innocence, 8; 126.
168
“Censors to Rob Movies of All Their Thrills: New State Board Outlines Drastic Rules for
Picture Shows; No More Crime or Death; Scenes of Blood and Terror and Immorality Must
Be Eliminated,” Record, January 25, 1914, part 1:7.
169
Ibid.
170
Editorial, “Moving Picture Censors,” Inquirer, September 19, 1913:8.
294
171
For some entry points regarding the various protests against Pennsylvania state censorship,
including attempts to get court injunctions, see “Moving Picture Men to Fight Censorship,”
Inquirer, January 26, 1914:1; Editorial, “The Movies and the Law,” Inquirer, January 27,
1914:8; “Moving Picture Censor Law Is To Be Tested,” Inquirer, January 27, 1914:2; “To
Regulate ‘Movie’ Houses Immediately: Conduct of Theatres to Be First Matter Taken Up by
Industrial Board,” Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9; “‘Movie’ Regulations Are to Be Made This
Week,” Inquirer, April 6, 1914:9; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 5
(May 2, 1914): 645; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 7 (May 16,
1914): 994; Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 9 (May 30, 1914): 1281.
172
“Censored Movies to Begin Today: ‘Improper Adventures or False Standard of Conduct’
State Board Eliminates; Immorality, Indecency and the Sacrilegious to Go, Besides Sex Plays
Are Barred,” Inquirer, April 27, 1914:4.
173
Editorial, “Fair Play for the Movies,” Bulletin, May 30, 1914:6.
174
“Censors to Rob Movies of All Their Thrills,” Record, January 25, 1914, part 1:7.
175
“Oppose Moving Picture Censorship,” Bulletin, February 9, 1914:2.
176
“Philadelphia Makes Move to Combat Censorship,” MPW 19, no. 13 (March 28, 1914):
1687.
177
“Fight on State ‘Movie’ Act Opens: Suits Filed by Buffalo and Pennsylvania Mutual Film
Corporations; Plaintiffs Seeks to Have Censor Board Declared Unconstitutional—Denied
Appeal They Assert,” Inquirer, June 4, 1914:8. See also “Will Test Legality of Film Censorship: Cases of Moving Picture Men Are Placed on Argument List for Tomorrow,” Inquirer,
June 14, 1914:7.
178
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1714. See
also Ibid., MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914): 1558.
179
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914): 1558.
180
“Pennsylvania League Against Censorship,” MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 76.
181
“Pennsylvania Exhibitors Confer: Advised to Demand Censor Law Repeal by Senator
Penrose—Preparing for Big Convention of Harrisburg,” MPW 22, no. 11 (December 12,
1914): 1527.
182
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 11 (December 12, 1914): 1562.
183
Ibid., MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914): 1535.
184
“Moving Picture Bill Finally Amended: Inspection Fees Are Reduced and Powers of Censorship Are Restricted in Senate Committee,” Inquirer, April 26, 1915:11.
185
Ibid.
186
“Barleycorn on Screen: Strong Sermon in Film Drama Shown at Garrick,” Inquirer,
August 4, 1914:15.
187
Ibid.
188
“Garrick,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:4; and “‘Barleycorn’ Continues at Garrick,” Inquirer, August 11, 1914:11.
189
DeCordova, Picture Personalities; and Staiger, “Standardization and Differentiation.”
190
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, December 15, 1912:13.
191
“The Maude Adams of the Movies,” Inquirer, April 6, 1914:10.
192
Frank L. Dyer, direct examination, USA v. MPPC 3:1604, the Charles G. Clarke copy.
193
“Footlight Flashes,” Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19.
194
“Fairmount,” Vaudeville Attractions This Week, Inquirer, April 19, 1914:20; “Photoplay
at Fairmount,” Inquirer, April 21, 1914:5; “Fairmount,” In the Realms of Vaudevilles, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:18; “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, May 5, 1914:7; and “Bill at the
Fairmount,” Inquirer, May 19, 1914:9.
195
Michael Quinn’s study of General Film’s and Paramount’s respective approaches to the
feature offers the best account of the notions of program and feature cinema respectively.
Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution,” especially chapters 2 and 3. See also Introduction, note
46.
196
“Footlight Flashes,” Inquirer, June 14, 1914:15.
197
“Famous Players Films at Stanley,” Inquirer, June 23, 1914:7.
295
198
“‘The Escape’ Filmed at Stanley,” Inquirer, August 25, 1914:4; “Dramatic Film Impresses: ‘Wrath of the Gods’ Features Attraction of Metropolitan,” Inquirer, August 25,
1914:4; “Colonial Gets Fine Films,” Inquirer, August 30, 1914:7; “Stanley,” Picture Plays,
Inquirer, September 20, 1914:12; “Fairmount,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, October 18, 1914:15;
“Stanley,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, October 25, 1914:14; and “‘Behind the Scenes’ at Stanley,” Inquirer, October 27, 1914:13.
199
“Metropolitan,” Film Dramas, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11; “Metropolitan,” Photo Plays,
Inquirer, September 6, 1914:10; “Metropolitan,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 13,
1914:10; “Metropolitan,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 20, 1914:12; and “Metropolitan,” The Film Dramas, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:12.
200
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, November 1, 1914:14.
201
Ibid., Inquirer, October 4, 1914:14.
202
The preamble to Bosworth’s ultimate acquisition of the film rights to Jack London’s novels included a much-noted controversy between Bosworth Inc. and the Balboa Amusement
Producing Company. Balboa claimed to be the rightful owners of the film rights and did, in
fact, produce and release a three-reel version of The Sea Wolf, Unfortunately for Balboa,
however, London argued that the firm had failed to produce the pictures agreed upon within
the stipulated time limit, thereby breaching the contract, and leaving London free to strike a
deal with Bosworth. A lengthy legal struggle followed, eventually resulting in an injunction
against Balboa, forcing the company to withdraw its version of the film. Given these struggles, the appearance of the author himself as a marker of authentication, most notably in the
prologues to the Bosworth pictures and in the use of London’s signature in certain advertisements, was particularly significant. “From Jack London to His Friends,” Open Letter, 1913,
the Hobart Bosworth Collection, scrapbook #2 of 14:145; advertisement for the Balboa
Amusement Producing Company, The Pictureplayer, August 1, 1913; “Jack London Wins
Photo Play Suits: Gets Judgment Against Balboa Amusement Company, Which Quits Using
‘Sea Wolf’,” LA Examiner, February 3, 1914:page undetermined.
203
Program for the Jack London banquet in Philadelphia on September 23, 1914, the Hobart
Bosworth Collection, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, scrapbook #2 of 14:155.
204
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, October 4, 1914:14; and Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 2 (October 10, 1914): 217.
205
For an examination of prologues and the early multi-reel feature film see Jan Olsson, Los
Angeles, chapter 8.
206
Orgeron, “Rethinking Authorship,” 91–117.
207
“Lina Abarbanell—Stanley,” Inquirer, April 28, 1914:6; “Jack London’s ‘Sea Wolf’,”
Inquirer, September 13, 1914:7; “Palace,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 20, 1914:12;
“‘The Sea Wolf at Palace,” Inquirer, September 22, 1914:6; “Palace,” The Film Dramas,
Inquirer, September 27, 1914:12; “‘Sea Wolf’ at Palace,” Inquirer, September 29, 1914:10;
“Another London Film Drama,” Inquirer, September 6, 1914:10; and “The Call Boy’s Chat,”
Inquirer, October 11, 1914:13.
208
Tom Gunning, “The Intertextuality of Early Cinema: A Prologue to Fantômas,” in A Companion to Literature and Film, eds. Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo (Malden, Mass.:
Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 127–28.
209
Gaudreault, “The Infringement of Copyright Laws,” 114–22; and Charles Musser, Before
the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 197; 280–84.
210
Tom Gunning, “The Intertextuality of Early Cinema,” 128.
211
“Another Big Combine,” 26; and The Film Man [pseud.], “Comment and Suggestion,”
NYDM 70, no. 1802 (July 2, 1913): 24. See also chapter 1, note 202.
212
Eckhardt, King of the Movies, 167–170.
213
“Famous Players Anniversary,” 1384; “Lasky-Belasco Pictures,” 345; and advertisement
for Paramount Pictures, MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 368–69.
296
214
The other case involved the theatrical producer Henry W. Savage’s suing of the Attractive
Feature Film Exchange for distributing Magda, a Modern Madame X (Hispano Films, 1913),
a Spanish film that according to Savage violated his copyright to the play Madame X. “Court
to See Movie Show: Judge Deems Exhibition Necessary for Decision,” Inquirer, December
19, 1914:6. Savage brought similar lawsuits against exchanges in New York and Chicago; see
“H. W. Savage, Inc. Secures Continuance of Temporary Injunction in ‘Madame X’ Case—W.
C. Karrer Again Enjoined by Judge Weeks,” and “Judge Tuthill Orders Gleason to Grant
Permit for Chicago Exhibition of Magda,” New York Clipper, May 2, 1914:14.
215
Advertisement for the New Broadway Theatre, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9.
216
Eric Schafer, “On Hygiene and Hollywood: Origins of the Exploitation Film,” The Velvet
Light Trap, no. 30 (Fall 1992): 34–47.
217
Ibid., 38.
218
Copyright records, cited in ibid., 38.
219
Advertisement for the Garrick Theatre, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9.
220
“A Little Theatrical War,” Inquirer, February 10, 1914:10.
221
Brownlow, Behind the Mask of Innocence, 58–61; Annette Kuhn, Cinema, Censorship and
Sexuality, 1909–1925 (London: Routledge, 1988), 49–74; Frank T. Thompson, Lost Films:
Important Movies that Disappeared (Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing, 1996), 27–35; and Kay
Sloan, The Loud Silents: Origins of the Social Problem Film (Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1988), 84.
222
“‘Damaged Goods’ Open at Garrick: Brieux Play, Dealing Statistically With Disease,
Presented by Richard Bennett; Audience Seems to Enjoy Humorous Byplay More Than Solemn Warning of Author,” Inquirer, January 27, 1914:6.
223
Ibid.
224
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, February 1, 1914:8.
225
Katie N. Johnson, “Damaged Goods: Sex, Hysteria and the Prostitute Fatale,” Theatre
Survey 44, no. 1 (May 2003): 43–67.
226
Ibid., 45.
227
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, September 13, 1914:10. For the various screening and
play dates, see “Stanley,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9; advertisement for the Palace Theatre, Inquirer, November 29, 1914:15; “Palace,” The Film Drama,
Inquirer, November 29, 1914:14; and advertisement for the American Theatre, Inquirer,
September 6, 1914:11.
228
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, September 13, 1914:10.
229
“‘The Typhoon’ at Stanley,” Inquirer, November 3, 1914:11.
230
“‘Littlest Rebel’ at Opera House,” Inquirer, November 3, 1914:11.
231
“‘The Littlest Rebel’ in Film at Chestnut: Stirring Wartime Picture Depicts Work of a Tiny
Heroine; Story of Days of ’61,” North American, November 3, 1914:8.
232
“Vaudeville and Pictures,” Bulletin, December 29, 1914:5.
Chapter 5
1
For one example, see Stamp, Movie-Struck Girls, 4.
This would of course, and perhaps problematically, involve appropriating a notion of classical narrative cinema in a manner that violates the associated framework for understanding
how stylistic change occurs. See Introduction, 22.
3
Just recently, Michael Aronson put forth further evidence of this, by demonstrating how a
closer study of movies and film culture in Pittsburgh renders the standard film historiographical link of big films, big theaters, and middle-class audiences problematic. Aronson also
points out that the standard version to a high degree reproduces the trade press agendas of the
time. Aronson, Nickelodeon City, 85–90.
2
297
4
In this respect, findings relating to the Philadelphia situation reminds one of Gregory
Waller’s description of Lexington, Kentucky in 1908: “Moving pictures were then screened in
several quite distinct venues: summer parks, fairs, churches, vaudeville theaters, the opera
house, and at least five storefront nickelodeons downtown.” Waller, Movie-Going in America,
2.
5
Singer and Keil, “Introduction: Movies and the 1910s,” 19.
6
Lary May, Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry (1980; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983), 148.
7
Allen, “Decentering Historical Audience Studies,” 31.
8
Keil, Early American Cinema in Transition, 17.
9
Lindstrom, “Where Development Has Just Begun,” 217.
10
The number 254 is gathered from cross-correlating data from Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z; Glazer, Philadelphia Theaters: A Pictorial Architectural History; various searches
in the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings database
http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/index.cfm; and my own findings
about film exhibition in the Philadelphia newspaper press.
11
Glazer’s categorization also has problems taking a temporal dimension into account, i.e. the
fact that many theaters changed policy now and then (for instance, from legitimate theater to
motion pictures). To make up for this I have excluded any venue that according to Glazer or
other sources were clearly not exhibiting motion pictures in 1914 (although they may have
switched to a film policy later on and therefore falling into some of Glazer’s movie theater
categories).
12
All data on seating capacity from Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, unless otherwise
stated.
13
Philadelphia City Planning Commission, The Political and Community Service Boundaries
of Philadelphia, PCPC Map Series (Philadelphia: Philadelphia City Planning Commission,
2004).
14
Kenneth Finkel, ed., Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens’ Manual (Philadelphia: Library
Company of Philadelphia, 1995). See
http://www.phila.gov/phils/Docs/otherinfo/placname.htm (accessed August
24, 2009) for an on-line version of the list.
15
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
1—Population of Minor Civil Divisions: 1910, 1900, and 1890,” Thirteenth Census of the
United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:549.
16
Warner Jr., The Private City, 185–194.
17
Estimates for each planning district’s share of the city’s total seating capacity has been
obtained as follows: First of all, the available data on seating capacity for each type of venue
has been summarized and divided by the total number of such venues (on which we have
seating capacity data) to acquire an estimated average capacity for each type of venue. Evidently, this operation produces a more reliable approximation when carried out on categories
in which the rate of venues that we have data on over venues that we do not have data on is
high (e.g. Glazer’s “motion picture theaters”), and less reliable when the rate is low (as is the
case with Glazer’s “nickelodeons”). To calculate a particular district’s estimated total seating
capacity, one simply adds the estimated average of each type of venue multiplied with the
number of that type of venue in the district, until all venues have been accounted for (i.e.
according to the formula Total seating capacity = ACm * M + ACs * S + ACn * N + ACsc *
SC + ACc * C + ACl * L + ACv * V + ACe * E, where AC is the estimated average capacity,
lowercase letters signify the type of venue and capital letters the total number of that particular type of venue). The result can then be divided by the estimated total seating capacity of the
whole city, the latter figure having been obtained by means of the same formula.
18
My estimate is that the South Philadelphia venues provided approximately 18% of the
city’s total seating capacity, compared to Center City’s 16%. If one removes the gargantuan
Olympia (a South Philadelphia theater that seated 4,000 people) from the approximation, the
figures of the respective districts would approach each other more closely, but even without
298
such statistical gerrymandering, the contrast between the Center and South Philadelphia is
evident.
19
This figure is obtained by summarizing the population data for all South Philadelphia wards
(of course following the ward division of the period), i.e. wards one, two, three, four, twentysix, thirty, thirty-six and thirty-nine, as given by the 1910 census. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table 1—Population of Minor
Civil Divisions: 1910, 1900, and 1890,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the
Year 1910 3:549.
20
Unless otherwise stated, this and all similar estimates are based on the 1910 census’ wardby-ward statistics for Philadelphia. All ward-by-ward statistics that include data on specific
nationalities count people either themselves or with both parents born in a foreign country as
belonging to the category “Foreign Nationalities,” thus excluding people with one parent born
outside the United States. Elsewhere, and occasionally, the census lumps together people with
either one or two foreign born parents into the category of “Native White—Foreign or Mixed
Parentage.” U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards
of Cities of 50,000 or More. Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in
the Year 1910 3:605.
21
Ibid., 608; 605. Ward seven was, as a matter of fact, a Center City ward, but its southern
parts merged demographically with the northern parts of ward thirty.
22
Ibid., 605–8.
23
Ward thirty-six was divided into two wards in February 1914, the upper section (between
Washington and Moore) where a majority of the ward’s Irish resided retaining the designation
ward thirty-six, whereas the geographically larger but more sparsely populated section below
Moore Street became the new ward forty-eight.
24
Ibid., 608.
25
Warner Jr., The Private City, 177.
26
Ibid., 183–85.
27
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More.
Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:606–7.
28
Ibid., 605–6.
29
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1915,” 529.
30
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More.
Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:606; 608.
31
Warner Jr., The Private City, 177; 194–97.
32
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 526; Warner Jr., The Private City, 191–94.
33
Abernathy, “Progressivism: 1905–1919,” 525.
34
Ibid., 532.
35
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania. Composition and Characteristics. Table 13—Composition and Characteristics of the Population,
for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More: 1920,” Fourteenth Census of the United States. Taken
in the Year 1920. Volume 3. Population 1920. Composition and Characteristics of the Population by States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922), 896–99; and “Population—Pennsylvania: Table V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards
of Cities of 50,000 or More. Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in
the Year 1910 3:605–8.
36
Ibid., 532.
37
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More.
Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:607–8.
38
Ibid., 607.
39
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1875–1905,” 492.
299
40
Philip B. Scranton, “Philadelphia’s Industrial History: Context and Overview,” in Workshop of the World—A Selective Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Philadelphia, man. ed.
John R. Bowie (Wallingford, PA: Oliver Evans Press, 1990; adapted for the internet in 2007),
http://www.workshopoftheworld.com/overview/overview.html.
41
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Thirteenth Census of the United
States. Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 9. Manufactures 1909. Reports by States, with Statistics for Principal Cities (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1912), 1052.
42
Warner Jr., The Private City, 177.
43
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1875–1905,” 474–80.
44
Ibid., 480.
45
John James Macfarlane, Manufacturing in Philadelphia, 1683–1912 (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Commercial Museum, 1912), 39.
46
Burt and Davies, “The Iron Age: 1875–1905,” 482.
47
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Population—Pennsylvania: Table
V—Composition and Characteristics of the Population for Wards of Cities of 50,000 or More.
Philadelphia,” Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910 3:607.
48
Ibid., 607–8.
49
Ibid., 607.
50
Warner Jr., The Private City, 170–71. Warner Jr. argues that the trend during the first decades of the twentieth century accentuated residential segregation on the basis of income and
ethnicity, whereas the clustering of skilled textile workers was a residual element of an older
rationale for segregation, based on the organization of the population into specific work
groups. Ibid., 162–69.
51
Ibid., 173–83; 192.
52
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961; New York: Vintage,
1992), 114–17.
53
“Liberty—Vaudeville,” Record, January 4, 1914, part 4:7; advertisement for the Liberty
Theatre, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, January 6, 1914:5;
advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, January 11, 1914:7 “At the Other Houses,”
Inquirer, January 13, 1914:5; advertisement for the Broadway Theatre, Inquirer, January 18,
1914:9; and advertisement for the Broadway Theatre, Inquirer, February 1, 1914:9.
54
“Metropolitan—‘Traffic in Souls’,” Record, January 4, 1914, part 4:7; advertisement for
the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, January 4, 1914:7; advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, January 11, 1914:7; advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera
House, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, January 25, 1914:9; and “Motion Picture Exhibitions,” Record, January 27, 1914.
55
Advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, January 18, 1914:9; “Serpent of Nile on
Screen: Eight Part Photoplay, Antony and Cleopatra, Produced Here,” Inquirer, January 20,
1914:5; advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, January 25, 1914:9 “At the Other
Houses,” Inquirer, January 27, 1914:6; and “Motion Picture Exhibitions,” Record, January
27, 1914.
56
“At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, March 3, 1914:4.
57
“New Interest in Cleopatra,” Inquirer, January 29, 1914:16; “Moving Picture Plays,” Inquirer, February 1, 1914:8; “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, February 3, 1914:10; “The
Screen Drama,” Inquirer, February 8, 1914:8; advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer,
February 8, 1914:9; “Quo Vadis at the Liberty,” Inquirer, February 10, 1914:10; “At the
Other Houses,” Inquirer, February 17, 1914:10; “Jungle Pictures at Liberty,” Inquirer, February 24, 1914:6; and advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, February 22, 1914:15.
58
Advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, February 15, 1914:7; and advertisement
for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:17.
59
Advertisement for the Olympia Theatre, Inquirer, February 8, 1914:9.
60
Advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:17; and “At the Other
Houses,” Inquirer, March 3, 1914:4.
300
61
Advertisement for B. F. Keith’s Allegheny Theatre, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:17; and “Allegheny,” In Vaudeville’s Realm, Inquirer, March 1, 1914:16.
62
Advertisement for the Great Northern Theatre, Inquirer, March 22, 1914:17.
63
Advertisement for Nixon’s Colonial Theatre, Inquirer, March 22, 1914:17; “Striking Film
at the Nixon Colonial,” Inquirer, March 24, 1914:6; and advertisement for the Frankford,
Inquirer, March 29, 1914:19.
64
Advertisement for the Keystone, Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21; “Animal Film at Keystone,”
Inquirer, April 7, 1914:5; advertisement for the Fairmount, Inquirer, April 12, 1914:21;
“Fairmount,” What the Vaudeville Offer, Inquirer, April 12, 1914:20; and “The Bill at the
Fairmount,” Inquirer, April 14, 1914:5.
65
See any given amusement section advertisement for the Fairmount in the Sunday edition of
the Inquirer for evidence of the policy described here.
66
Advertisements for the Fairmount, Inquirer, April 19, 1914:21; Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23;
and Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19. See also “Fairmount,” Vaudeville Attractions This Week,
Inquirer, April 19, 1914:20; “Photo-Play at Fairmount,” Inquirer, April 21, 1914:5;
“Fairmount,” News of the Vaudevilles, Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23; “Fairmount,” In the
Realms of Vaudevilles, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:18; and “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer, May
5, 1914:7.
67
Advertisement for the Victoria Theatre, Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21. According to Joseph
Eckhardt, The Drug Terror initially “outraged” Lubin on account of its controversial subject
matter, and Lubin refused to have anything to do with the film. It was overtaken by “Mrs.
Vanderbilt’s Crusade Against the Terrifying Cocaine and Drug Habits” and became a commercial success. At this point, Lubin moved to again take charge of “his” film. Eckhardt, King
of the Movies, 179.
68
Advertisement for the Victoria Theatre, Inquirer, April 5, 1914:21.
69
“Stanley Theatre Opening,” Inquirer, April 19, 1914:19.
70
Ibid.
71
Advertisement for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, April 26, 1914:23.
72
Ibid.
73
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, May 17, 1914:18.
74
Advertisements for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19 and Inquirer, May 10,
1914:21.
75
See, for example, advertisement for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, May 17, 1914:19.
76
“Current Views of the Stage,” Bulletin, April 25, 1914:5.
77
For an appreciative account of the good ventilation system and overall convenience of the
Stanley Theatre, see “Vaudeville and Picture Shows,” Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21.
78
For a brief account of the brothers Jules and Stanley Mastbaum’s careers and success of
their national theater chain, see Gomery, Shared Pleasures, 38–40.
79
Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z, 21; and Eckhardt, King of the Movies, 43.
80
See, for example, “Central Theatre Project Reported,” Inquirer, March 15, 1913:14; “To
Start Work on New Theatre,” Inquirer, March 21, 1913:16; “Market Street Film theatre Rumored,” Inquirer, April 29, 1913:11; and “Establishes New Mark in Building,” Inquirer,
October 1, 1913:13.
81
“‘Movie’ Syndicate Add to Holdings: Owners of Market Street Establishments Purchase
Four More Theatres Widely Separated,” Inquirer, March 27, 1914:5.
82
What we now label the “Great Man” theory of history is sometimes associated with Scottish
historian Thomas Carlyle, who in his 1840 lecture “The Hero as Divinity” stated: “The History of the world is but the Biography of great men.” Ralph Waldo Emerson emulated
Carlyle’s view of history as biography, according to one scholar in a manner by which he
“out-Carlyles Carlyle”: “We are always coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our
private experience and verifying them here. All history becomes subjective; in other words,
there is properly no history, only biography.” Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship,
and the Heroic in History, ed. Annie Russell Marble (1841; London: Macmillan, 1905), 39;
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “History,” in Essays (Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1841), 8;
301
and Patrick J. Keane, Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason: The Transatlantic “Light
of All Our Day” (Columbia; University of Missouri Press, 2005), 92.
83
“Realized His Ideals,” Inquirer, April 25, 1915:12.
84
Ibid.
85
Various types of “motion-picture balls,” usually built around the real life presence of movie
stars, were common around this time. Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 117.
86
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, November 7, 1915:9.
87
“Actress to Be Feted,” Inquirer, November 14, 1915:10.
88
“Dinner to Popular Actress,” Inquirer, November 16, 1915:5.
89
“The Call Boy’s Chat,” Inquirer, November 22, 1914:13.
90
Ibid., Inquirer, October 31, 1915:12.
91
Ibid.
92
“Stanley,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, May 31, 1914:8; and “Dickens Films at Stanley,” Inquirer, June 2, 1914:4.
93
“Famous Players Films at Stanley,” Inquirer, June 23, 1914:7.
94
“Stanley,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, June 14, 1914:15.
95
“Stanley V. Mastbaum,” Obituary, New York Times, March 8, 1918:11; and “Stanley V.
Mastbaum Dies,” Obituary, Variety, March 8, 1918.
96
“Stanley V. Mastbaum,” Obituary, New York Times, March 8, 1918:11; and “Stanley V.
Mastbaum Dies.”
97
“J. E. Mastbaum Dies After an Operation: Leading Movie Theatre Owner Succumbs to
Complications in Philadelphia; Generous Giver to Charity; Founded the Stanley Company—Mayor Walker Hastens to Friend’s Family,” New York Times, December 8, 1926:27.
98
“J. E. Mastbaum Dies After an Operation, New York Times, March 8, 1926:27; and “Jules
Mastbaum,” Obituary, Variety, December 8, 1926. A lasting monument of Jules Mastbaum’s
activities as a patron of the arts is Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum, located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 22nd street. The year before his death, Mastbaum had brought home nearly one
hundred Rodin statues from Europe, and prior to his death, he donated $1,000,000 to the city
of Philadelphia to build a Rodin Museum.
99
“Jules E. Mastbaum Mourned by 20,000: Head of Stanley Chain of Theatres Eulogized for
His Many Philantropies,” New York Times, December 10, 1926:25.
100
Advertisement for the Fairmount, Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21.
101
“Bill at the Fairmount,” Inquirer, May 19, 1914:9.
102
Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19.
103
Advertisement for the Stanley Theatre, Inquirer, June 14, 1914:15.
104
Advertisement for Home, Sweet Home, Reel Life 4, no. 13 (June 13, 1914): 3.
105
The self-staging of Griffith’s public persona was most notoriously articulated in an advertisement (first appearing in the New York Dramatic Mirror on December 3, 1913, and a few
days later in other leading trade papers) that listed a range of cinematic techniques that
Griffith had purportedly invented.
106
Advertisement for the Forrest, Inquirer, May 10, 1914:21.
107
“Forrest,” Vaudeville and Picture Houses, Inquirer, May 24, 1914:16.
108
“Forrest,” Photo Play Shows, Inquirer, May 17, 1914:18; “At the Other Houses,” Inquirer,
May 26, 1914:9; and “Forrest,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, May 31, 1914:8.
109
Advertisement for the Forrest, Inquirer, June 7, 1914:15; “‘East Lynne’ Seen on Films:
Old Favorite in New Medium Holds Its Popularity,” Inquirer, June 9, 1914:4; advertisement
for the Forrest, Inquirer, July 19, 1914:4; advertisement for the Forrest, Inquirer, August 23,
1914:9; “Forrest,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9; and “Forrest Has
Foreign War Pictures,” Inquirer, August 25, 1914:4.
110
Advertisement for the Garrick, Inquirer, May 31, 1914:8; “Travel Pictures Shown: Panama
Canal Operations Attract Interest,” Inquirer, June 2, 1914:4; “Garrick,” Openings Scheduled,
Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9; advertisement for the Garrick, Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9;
“Garrick,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9; and “Garrick,” Film Dramas, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11.
302
111
“Garrick,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, July 12, 1914:9. See also “Evangeline Continues at Garrick,” Inquirer, July 14, 1914:6.
112
“Garrick,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 2, 1914: and advertisement for the
Garrick, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9.
113
“Metropolitan,” Film Dramas, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11.
114
“Metropolitan,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:4.
115
Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9.
116
“Feature Films at Metropolitan,” Inquirer, August 18, 1914:6.
117
Ibid.
118
Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, May 3, 1914:19.
119
Advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9; and Inquirer, September 13, 1914:11.
120
See, for example, advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 16,
1914:9; and Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
121
Advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 9, 1914:9; and Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9.
122
Advertisements for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, September 6, 1914:11; and
Inquirer, September 13, 1914:11.
123
“Metropolitan Opera House,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9; and
“Metropolitan Opera House,” Vaudeville and Pictures, Inquirer, August 23, 1914:9.
124
Congdon, “Philadelphia,” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914): 1535.
125
“Opera House,” Film Dramas, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11; “Opera House,” Photo Plays,
Inquirer, September 6, 1914:10; “Cabiria at Opera House,” Inquirer, September 8, 1914:14;
“Opera House,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 13, 1914:10; “At the Other Houses,”
Inquirer, September 15, 1914:11; “Opera House,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 20,
1914:12; “Academy of Music,” The Film Dramas, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:12; and
“Academy of Music,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, October 4, 1914:15.
126
“Cabiria at the Palace,” Inquirer, November 17, 1914:11; “Jack London’s ‘Sea Wolf’,”
Inquirer, September 13, 1914:7; and “Palace,” Picture Plays, Inquirer, September 20,
1914:12.
127
All advertisements for the film present it as “D’Annunzio’s Cabiria”. For one example, see
advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11.
128
Ivo Blom, “D’Annunzio, Gabriele,” in Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, ed. Richard Abel
(London: Routledge, 2005), 164.
129
Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11.
130
Ibid., Inquirer, September 6, 1914:11.
131
Ibid., Inquirer, August 30, 1914:11; and advertisement for the Academy of Music, Inquirer, October 4, 1914:15.
132
Advertisement for the Palace Theatre, Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15.
133
Without supporting much historical evidence beyond a Peter Bogdanovich quote, Linda
Williams argues that it was not until 1960 and the premiere of Psycho that audiences were
disciplined into arriving on time and seeing a film from beginning to end. In her desire to
make something more than a successful publicity stunt from Hitchcock’s request that all
viewers see the film from beginning to end, Williams claims that such a “policy” was “unheard of in the United States at this time.” However, a quick browse through the leading trade
papers of the early and mid-1910s makes clear, the problems caused by a clash between dropin patronage and the narrative integrity of multi-reel films was recognized and addressed
almost immediately upon the emergence of such films. Moreover, as Moya Luckett has shown
with regard to Chicago, and as my own findings regarding Philadelphia also corroborate,
scheduling as well as attempts to change audience behavior in this direction was already
undertaken in the early feature era. Linda Williams, “Discipline and Fun: Psycho and Postmodern Cinema,” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho: A Casebook, ed. Robert Kolker (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2004), 182–83; and Luckett, “Cities and Spectators,” 293.
134
Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, September 6, 1914:11.
303
135
Advertisement for the Metropolitan Opera House, Inquirer, August 16, 1914:9.
“Colonial Gets Fine Films,” Inquirer, August 30, 1914:7; advertisement for Nixon’s Colonial Theatre, Inquirer, September 27, 1914:13; advertisement for the New Dixie Theatre,
Inquirer, September 13, 1914:11.
137
“Feature Films at Opera House,” Inquirer, October 25, 1914:13.
138
Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November 1, 1914:15.
139
Ibid., Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 16; and Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15.
140
Ibid., Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15.
141
See, for example, “Letters to the Editor,” MPM 7, no. 5 (June 1914): 169; ibid., MPM 7,
no. 6 (July 1914): 169; Junius [pseud.], “The Spirit of the Play,” MPM 8, no. 8 (September
1914): 124; “Letters to the Editor,” MPM 8, no. 8 (September1914): 164–65; and The Photoplay Philosopher [pseud.], “Musings of the Photoplay Philosopher,” MPM 9, no. 3 (April
1915): 107–8, cont. on 165.
142
A few qualifications should be made with regard to the figures I provide on how many
feature films were exhibited for specific and separate months. First of all, as should be clear,
these figures should by no means be taken as exhaustive since they are based on sources that
are limited to covering only a minority of theaters in Philadelphia. Secondly, in the figure for
any given month I have included not only the films premiering this particular month, but also
films carried over from the preceding month. I find this to be a more illuminating representation of the feature field for specific months, but logically, causes some discrepancies between
figures provided for individual months and for longer periods. For instance, merely summarizing the figures provided for October, November, and December would add up to eightynine, but as we will see, I offer different figures for the period October-December analyzed as
one discreet temporal entity. This also has to do with a third predicament, viz. whether to
count unique films or unique bookings. Both have merits and I have mostly opted for taking
both into account, depending on exactly what type of information is needed to answer a specific question.
143
Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive statistics that disclose exactly how individual
shares of the total output of multi-reel films for a specific period (e.g. a specific year) were
allocated between different production companies and whether these producers were tied to a
program company, to a feature combine (such as Paramount), or acted as independent producer. Without aspiring to that level of detail, Ben Singer has put forth estimates of the total
output of multi-reel films (compared to the output of films of one-reel or less), but the significance of these estimates has been questioned by Richard Abel. Clearly then, additional research is required to come to more accurate terms with the scale of early multi-reel feature
film production. Aside from generating more reliable data on the total output, in-depth studies
of individual production and distribution companies with regard to their various approaches to
the feature also seems highly called for.
144
John Collier, direct examination on the part of the defense, USA v. MPPC 5:2899.
145
Quinn, “Early Feature Distribution,” 45; 60–69; 76–77.
146
All estimates of total and average run times should be handled with care, as it is not always
fully evident how long a particular film ran at a certain theater. In such cases, we may make
qualified guesses based on what we know about the standard policy of specific theaters, but
there is, of course, always a risk that such guesses are incorrect.
147
Abel, “The Movies in a ‘Not So Visible Place’,” 113.
148
The seventeen films included Martha of the Lowlands, The County Chairman, The Lost
Paradise, Caprice, Behind the Scenes, The Unwelcome Mrs. Hatch, The Man From Mexico,
Such a Little Queen, The Straight Road, Aristocracy, Mrs. Black Is Back, Tess of the Storm
Country, Wildflower, Conspiracy, The Crucible, The Sign of the Cross and Cinderella, all
produced by Famous Players Film Co., and released in 1914, except for Caprice, which was
released in 1913.
149
The table can either be read from left to right, each row offering a snapshot of that particular month, or from top to bottom, each column implying a specific aspect of change over
the course of the year.
136
304
150
The term “hypotext” is drawn from Gérard Genette. See, for example, Genette, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, trans. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1997).
Chapter 6
1
Unless otherwise stated, all biographical information is drawn from the Rex Beach Archive
website, http://tars.rollins.edu/olin/archives/150EBEACH.htm (accessed May
25, 2009). All information on serializations, publications and editions of Beach’s work referred to in this section and the next is taken from The Bestsellers Database set up by the
Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, http://www3.isrl.illinois.edu/~unsworth/courses/bestsellers/
(accessed May 25, 2009).
2
“The Gold Fever: Rex E. Beach’s Thrilling Story of Life in the Far North, ‘The Spoilers’,”
New York Times Review of Books, April 16, 1906:BR242.
3
“Books for the Summer,” New York Times Review of Books, June 16, 1906:BR381.
4
Rex E. Beach to the New York Times Review of Books, June 16, 1906:BR400.
5
Anonymous to the New York Times Review of Books, June 23, 1906:BR412.
6
William Bridge to the New York Times Review of Books, June 30, 1906:BR426.
7
Frank H. Brooks, ed., The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881-1908)
(New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994).
8
Florence Finch Kelly to the New York Times Review of Books, July 7, 1906:BR438.
9
Publisher’s Weekly’s list of bestselling fiction hardcover books for 1906, provided by Cader
Books, http://www.caderbooks.com/best00.html (accessed May 26, 2009).
10
Rex Beach and James McArthur, The Spoilers: A Play in Four Acts, Stage Play Manuscript,
the William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences.
11
“‘The Spoilers’ Produced,” New York Times, November 6, 1906:9.
12
J. Dennis Rich and Kevin L. Seligman, “The New Theatre of Chicago, 1906–1907,” Educational Theatre Journal 26, no. 1 (March 1974): 53–68. A more recent and more critical
account of the New Theatre, framed as a failed aristocratic endeavor within the culturally
idealistic parameters of the Chicago Renaissance, see Kathy L. Privatt, “The New Theater of
Chicago: Democracy 1; Aristocracy 0,” Theatre History Studies 24 (June 2004): 97–108.
13
“The Spoilers Spoiled,” News of the Theaters, Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1906:8; and
“The Spoilers,” News of the Theaters, Chicago Tribune, November 6, 1906:8. See also Rich
and Seligman, “The New Theatre of Chicago, 1906–1907,” 61–62; and Privatt, “The New
Theater of Chicago: Democracy 1; Aristocracy 0,” 103.
14
“‘The Spoilers’ Produced: Daniel Frohman’s Presentation of the Dramatization of Beach’s
Novel,” New York Times, January 29, 1907:9; and Privatt, “The New Theater of Chicago:
Democracy 1; Aristocracy 0,” 103.
15
Playbill/Program of the Park Theatre in Brooklyn for the week commencing Monday October 19, 1908, William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
16
“A ‘Thriller’ Movie at the Victory: Rex Beach’s ‘Spoilers’ Filmed with William Farnum in
the Lead,” San Jose Mercury News, September 21, 1914:3.
17
“Do You Think That You Would Be a Competent Stage Director? Cast the Willard MackMarjorie Rambeau Players for The Spoilers and Earn Tickets,” Salt Lake Telegram, August
22, 191210; “What Part Do You Want to See Your Favorite Stock Actor Play?” Salt Lake
Telegram, August 23, 1912:12; “Telegram Readers Cast Characters in ‘The Spoilers’: Many
Join Contest for Rex Beach’s Dramatized Story,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 24, 1912:10;
and “Winners of ‘The Spoilers’ Cast Contest,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 26, 1912:10.
305
18
“Rex Beach’s Gripping Drama Opens at Wilkes Tonight,” Salt Lake Telegram, April 15,
1917:12.
19
Henry Albert Phillips, “How I Came to Write For the Motion Pictures: The Interesting
Facts Brought to Light for the First Time in an Interview with Rex Beach,” MPM 9, no. 4
(May 1915): 95–98.
20
Ibid.
21
Advertisement for the serial publication of Rex Beach’s The Net, Kansas City Star, September 1, 1912:11.
22
William Klein II, “Authors and Creators: Up by Their Own Bootstraps,” Communications
and the Law 14, no. 3 (September 1992): 41–72. Klein II describes the situation facing
authors and creators around the beginning of the twentieth century as follows: “Book and
magazine publishers, play producers, motion-picture companies—all included among their
number those who (a) paid a pittance for an outright sale; (b) retained the copyright in the
United States and throughout the world in their own name; (c) held on to manuscripts indefinitely without paying a penny; (d) agreed to pay piddling royalties, but then never paid them;
(e) often rewrote the author’s work, making it unrecognizable; ad infinitum.” Klein II,
“Authors and Creators,” 46–47.
23
Ibid., 61.
24
Cited in Klein, “Authors and Creators,” 59.
25
Anne Morey, “‘Would You Be ashamed to Let Them See What You Have Written?’ The
Gendering of Photoplaywrights, 1913–1923,” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 17, no. 1
(Spring 1998): 85.
26
Ibid., 85.
27
Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in
America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), 31.
28
Ibid., 21.
29
Levine’s general term for analyzing the processes by which cultural hierarchies are created
is “sacralization.”
30
Ibid., 36.
31
Rex Beach to William Selig, June 9, 1913, the William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick
Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
32
Rex Beach to William Selig, November 28, 1913, the William Selig Papers, Margaret
Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
33
W. E. Wing, “Interest in ‘Spoilers’: High Expectations for Film Adaptation of Rex Beach’s
Story,” NYDM 70, no. 1809 (August 20, 1913): 28.
34
Ibid.
35
Harry Carr, “Blowing Up Movie Town: Wonderful Moving Picture Reel Played; A Complete Placer Mine Dynamited; Rex Beach’s Novel, ‘The Spoilers,” Los Angeles Times, July
18, 1913, third part:1.
36
“‘The Spoilers’ Is Thrilling,” Los Angeles Times, August 6, 1913, third part:2.
37
Bonnie Glessner, “‘The Spoilers’ in Eight Reels,” Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1913,
second part:6.
38
I first saw the film at a private research screening arranged by the always equally helpful
staff at the Film Study Center at the Modern Museum of Art in New York City. Later, and for
the purpose of detailed plot segmentation, I was able to borrow a version released by Blackhawk Films from my supervisor’s private collection.
39
In the world of film semiotics, at least as long as one adheres to Christian Metz’s “grande
syntagmatique,” a “scene” as well as a “sequence” is per definition made up of several shots
(as opposed to the “autonomous shot,” according to Metz the “only instance where a single
shot constitutes a primary, and not a secondary, sub-vision of the film”). Christian Metz, Film
Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema, trans. Michael Taylor (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1974).
40
“First Showing of ‘Spoilers:’ Selig Company Host to Distinguished Audience at Orchestra
Hall—Film Pleases,” NYDM 71, no. 1841 (April 1, 1914): 22.
306
41
Harry Ennis, “Success Prefaces ‘The Spoilers’,” Motion Picture Department, New York
Clipper 62, no. 9 (April 11, 1914): 14.
42
“First Showing of ‘Spoilers’,” 22.
43
“‘Spoilers’ to Open. Selig Production Will Be Opening Attraction at the Strand Theater,”
NYDM 71, no. 1840 (March 25, 1914): 30.
44
“New Strand Opens: Biggest of Movies; Handsome Theatre at Broadway and 47th Street
Seats Almost 3,500 People,” New York Times, April 12, 1914:15.
45
“Strand Theater Opens. In Blaze of Glory Selig’s ‘The Spoilers’ is Well Received at
Opening of Large Theater,” NYDM 71, no. 1843 (April 15, 1914): 31. The Mirror’s report
matches the program as outlined in the twelve-page program leaflet from the opening of the
Strand. Aside from presenting the program, this leaflet included an introduction to the Strand
Theatre and its many amenities, a synopsis of The Spoilers (“The Story of the Play”), and
some preview information about The Sea Wolf, the feature that would supplant The Spoilers
two weeks later. Program Leaflet from the Opening of the Strand Theatre, The Spoilers clipping file, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. See also and “New Strand
Opens,” New York Times, April 12, 1914:15.
46
“New Strand Opens,” New York Times, April 12, 1914:15.
47
Ennis, “Strand, New York’s Newest Playhouse,” 14.
48
Ibid.
49
Ennis, “Success Prefaces ‘The Spoilers’,” 14.
50
James McQuade, “The Spoilers,” MPW 20, no. 2 (April 11, 1914): 186–87.
51
“The Spoilers,” Variety 34, no. 7 (April 17, 1914): 22.
52
Quizz [pseud.], “‘The Spoilers’ (Selig) Nine Reels,” Current Film Events, New York Clipper 62, no. 11 (April 25, 1914): 16.
53
Harry Ennis, “Selig’s Great Picture,” Motion Picture Department, New York Clipper 62, no.
10 (April 18, 1914): 8.
54
James McQuade, “Studebaker to Be Opened by ‘The Spoilers’,” Chicago Letter, MPW 20,
no. 4 (April 25, 1914): 520.
55
“Pictures Have Captured Chicago’s Loop: Six Big Shows,” Motography 11, no. 11 (May
30, 1914): 369.
56
G. P. Von Harleman, “Chicago Letter,” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1812.
57
Ibid.
58
Edith Ogden Harrison to Sam Lederer, manager of the Studebaker Theatre Chicago, May
11, 1914, the William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
59
See, for example, advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City, Kansas City
Star, December 14, 1914:9.
60
Ennis, “Selig’s Great Picture,” 8.
61
“Orpheum,” Duluth New Tribune, May 16, 1914:6.
62
“Clune’s Auditorium,” Dramatic Reviews, Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1914, third part:3;
and advertisement for the Orpheum Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, May 30,
1914:3.
63
“Scene from Rex Beach’s Play to Be Shown at the Salt Lake,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1914:5; advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 5,
1914:5; advertisement for the Isis Theatre in Boise, Idaho, Idaho Statesman, September 14,
1914:10; and “A ‘Thriller’ Movie at the Victory: Rex Beach’s ‘Spoilers’ Filmed with William
Farnum in the Lead,” San Jose Mercury News, September 21, 1914:3.
64
“Thrilling Picture Realism,” Inquirer, November 1, 1914:14; and “Boston Reopens with
Film Play,” Boston Journal, November 21, 1914:5; and advertisement for the Boston Theatre,
Boston Journal, November 21, 1914:5.
65
“Great Crowd Attends ‘Spoilers’ at Grand,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer,
December 13, 1914:2; “‘The Spoilers’ at the American,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily
Inquirer, December 13, 1914:2; and advertisement for the American Theatre in Columbus,
Georgia, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13, 1914:2.
307
66
“Rex Beach’s ‘The Spoilers’ at Ray,” Morning Olympian, December 30, 1914:4; and advertisement for the Ray Theater in Olympia, Washington, Morning Olympian, December 30,
1914:4.
67
Advertisements for the Academy of Music in Charlotte, South Carolina, Charlotte Observer, April 15, 1916:5; and Charlotte Observer, April 17, 1916:9.
68
Advertisement for Nixon’s Colonial, Inquirer, March 23, 1920:3.
69
“Orpheum,” Duluth News Tribune, May 16, 1914:6.
70
Ibid., Duluth News Tribune, May 21, 1914:6.
71
Ibid.
72
“Orpheum,” Amusements, Duluth News Tribune, May 22, 1914:5.
73
Jan Olsson, Los Angeles, 130.
74
Ibid., 131.
75
“Rex Beach’s ‘The Spoilers’ Returns to Clune’s,” Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1914,
third part:1.
76
“The Woodley,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 1915, third part:3; and “The Woodley,”
Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1915, second part:6.
77
“Clune’s Auditorium,” Dramatic Reviews, Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1914, third part:3.
78
Ibid.
79
Advertisement for the Orpheum Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, May 30, 1914:3.
80
Advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, December
14, 1914:9.
81
Selig Polyscope Co., “Selig’s ‘The Spoilers’,” four-page publicity brochure, William Selig
Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
82
Advertisements for the Empress Theater, Kansas City Star, May 29, 1915:3; and Kansas
City Star, May 30, 1915:15.
83
Advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1914:15; “At
the Theatres,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 29, 1914:3; advertisement for the Rex Theatre,
Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1915:10; and advertisement for the Rex Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, July 2, 1915:8.
84
Advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1914:15; advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 7, 1914:6; “Scene from
Rex Beach’s Play to be Shown at the Salt Lake,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1914:15;
and “At the Theatres,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 10, 1914:3.
85
Casey, “Giving ‘The Spoilers’ at the Salt Lake Theatre the ‘Once Over’,” Cartoon, Salt
Lake Telegram, September 9, 1914:2.
86
“Vitalizing a Romance,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 9, 1914:2.
87
“Orpheum,” Amusements, Duluth News Tribune, May 22, 1914:5.
88
“Vitalizing a Romance,” 2.
89
Advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 12, 1914:31.
90
“At the Theatres,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 29, 1914:3.
91
“Important Events of the Week: When, Where and How to Get There,” San Jose Mercury
News, September 20, 1914:8.
92
“A ‘Thriller’ Movie at the Victory: Rex Beach’s ‘Spoilers’ Filmed with William Farnum in
the Lead,” San Jose Mercury News, September 21, 1914:3.
93
“‘The Spoilers’.” At the Theatres, San Jose Mercury News, January 17, 1915:14.
94
“‘The Spoilers’ at the Liberty Theatre Today: Wonderful Film Story Is Romance of
Alaska,” San Jose Mercury News, January 20, 1915:8.
95
“Thrilling Picture Realism,” Inquirer, November 1, 1914:14.
96
“Rescript from Life: ‘The Spoilers’ Told a Story that Had Been Enacted in Alaska,” Record, November 1, 1914:7.
97
“Opera House—‘The Spoilers’,” Record, November 8, 1914:7.
98
“Opera House,” The Film Drama, Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 15.
308
99
“‘The Spoilers’: Rex Beach’s Novel Seen in Films at Chestnut Street Opera House,” Inquirer, November 10, 1914:13; and advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section: 16.
100
“Film of ‘The Spoilers’ Is Good Movie Drama: Nine-Thousand Feet of Pictures Give Fine
Version of Rex Beach’s Novel; Action Is Sustained,” North American, November 10,
1914:14.
101
“Opera House—‘The Spoilers’,” Record, November 22, 1914:6.
102
“Great Crowds Attend ‘Spoilers’ at Grand,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer,
December 13, 1914:2.
103
“‘The Spoilers’ at the American,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13,
1914:2; and advertisement for the American Theatre, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13,
1914:2.
104
“‘The Spoilers’ at the American,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13,
1914:2.
105
Advertisement for the American Theatre, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13, 1914:2.
It should be made clear that the film was booked for Monday and Tuesday, and perhaps also
that a rental price of $200 for two days for this particular town and theater, of course, does not
allow for any generalizations of rental price in other cases, considering how this specific film
was distributed as well as the possible price variations (for instance in accordance to order of
run and location) that any given film might have been subject to at this time.
106
Advertisement for the Bonita Theatre, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 28, 1915:6.
107
“Rex Beach’s ‘The Spoilers’ at Ray,” Morning Olympian, December 30, 1914:4.
108
Ibid.
109
“‘The Spoilers’ Pack the Ray,” Morning Olympian, December 31, 1914:4.
110
Ibid.
111
Advertisement for the Academy of Music, Charlotte Observer, April 15, 1916:5.
112
“‘The Spoilers’,” Amusements, Charlotte Observer, April 17, 1916:5.
113
“‘The Spoilers’ Fine Production,” Charlotte Observer, April 18, 1916:8.
114
Advertisements for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd
section: 16; and Inquirer, November 15, 1914:15.
115
“‘The Spoilers’.” At the Theatres, San Jose Mercury News, January 17, 1915:14.
116
Advertisement for the Rex Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1915:10.
117
“‘The Spoilers ‘ at the American,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer, December 13,
1914:2.
118
“The Woodley,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 1915, third part:3. La Grange was formerly Pastor of the First New Thought Church of Detroit.
119
Advertisement for the Boston Theatre, Boston Journal, November 21, 1914:5.
120
Advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, December
14, 1914:9; and “‘The Spoilers ‘ at the American,” At the Movies, Columbus Daily Inquirer,
December 13, 1914:2.
121
Advertisement for the Rex Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, July 1, 1915:10.
122
Advertisement for the Ray Theater, Morning Olympian, December 30, 1914:4; and advertisement for the Empress Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, May 30, 1915:15.
123
Advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, December
14, 1914:9.
124
“Boston Reopens with Film Play,” Boston Journal, November 21, 1914:5.
125
Advertisement for the American Theatre in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus Daily Inquirer,
December 13, 1914:2.
126
Advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd
section: 16.
127
Advertisement for the Willis Wood Theater in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, December
14, 1914:9.
128
Advertisement for the Boston Theatre, Boston Journal, November 21, 1914:5.
309
129
Advertisements for the Empress Theater, Kansas City Star, May 29, 1915:3; and Kansas
City Star, May 30, 1915:15.
130
Advertisement for the Salt Lake Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1914:5; and
advertisement for the Chestnut Street Opera House, Inquirer, November 8, 1914, 2nd section:
16.
131
Advertisement for the Academy of Music in Charlotte, South Carolina, Charlotte Observer, April 17, 1916:9.
132
Advertisement for the Isis Theatre in Boise, Idaho, Idaho Statesman, September 14,
1914:10.
133
Advertisement for the Ray Theater in Olympia, Washington, Morning Olympian, December 30, 1914:4.
134
Advertisement for the American Theatre in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus Daily Inquirer,
December 13, 1914:2.
135
McQuade, “The Spoilers,” 186; and Ennis, “Selig’s Great Picture,” 8.
136
The Oxford English Dictionary Online defines “red-blooded” as “virile, vigorous, full of
life, spirited.” The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary suggests “vigorous, lusty.” Webster’s
Online Dictionary offers “endowed with or exhibiting great bodily or mental health.”
137
“Winners of ‘The Spoilers’ Cast Contest,” Salt Lake Telegram, August 26, 1912:10.
138
Review of The Iron Trail by Rex Beach (published by Harper’s), Book Review, Duluth
News Tribune, September 21, 1913:5.
139
“‘The Barrier’ in Film,” Inquirer, February 18, 1917:11.
140
Advertisements for the Sunday’s Tribune, Chicago Tribune, December 5, 1914:15; and
December 20, 1914:9.
141
James McQuade, “Rex E. Beach: Author of the Spoilers Sees Filmed Story Passed by
Chicago Censors, and Gives an Interesting Interview to World representatives,” MPW 19, no.
12 (March 21, 1914): 1506.
142
Phillips, “How I Came to Write For the Motion Pictures,” 95.
143
Advertisement for Tuxedo Tobacco, Inquirer, August 28, 1913:5.
144
See, for example, Blackton, “Literature and the Motion Picture,” xxvii; and Woods, “What
Are We Coming To?” 443.
145
See, for example, Morosco, “Tomorrow,” 9; and Frederick James Smith, “The Evolution
of the Motion Picture. IV. From the Standpoint of the Scenario Editor. An Interview with
Lawrence S. McCloskey, Scenario Editor of the Lubin Manufacturing Company,” NYDM 69,
no. 1798 (June 4, 1913): 25, cont. on 32.
146
Smith, “The Evolution of the Motion Picture. IV,” 25, cont. on 32.
147
The gendering of the scenario writing field is addressed by Morey, “‘Would You Be
Ashamed?” 83–99.
148
Abel, The Red Rooster Scare, 122–26.
149
Ibid., 159–164. Abel revisits the significance of the western for processes of Americanization and for Americanizing the movies in Abel, Americanizing the Movies, 61–82; 105–123.
150
“The Spoilers to Be Re-issued,” Motography 14, no. 13 (September 25, 1915): 630.
151
“‘The Spoilers,’ at the Orpheum, Great Film,” Duluth News Tribune, April 24, 1916:2.
152
Advertisement for the Forrest Theatre, Inquirer, May 5, 1916:3.
153
“The Spoilers at Ray Tomorrow,” At the Movies, Morning Olympian, April 1, 1917:3.
154
“Edition DeLuxe of ‘The Spoilers’ Here,” San Jose Mercury News, May 16, 1917:10; and
advertisement for the 12th Street Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas City Star, January 18,
1917:6. See also “Edition De Luxe of Rex Beach Film Opens Today,” Duluth News Tribune,
August 10, 1919:6; and advertisement for the Forrest Theatre, Inquirer, May 5, 1916:3.
155
Apollo Theatre, “Apollo Theatre Programme for January 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, 1918,” the
William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
156
“Selig Discusses Future Releases,” Motography 14, no. 3 (July 17, 1915): 98. On the
formation of V-L-S-E, see Anthony Slide, The Big V: A History of the Vitagraph Company,
310
(Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1976), 65. See also “This Is the Answer,” Vitagraph Bulletin 5, no. 2 (May 1915): 8.
157
See, for a few examples, “Scene from Rex Beach’s Play,” Morning Olympian, March 28,
1916:4; “Rex Beach’s ‘Ne’er Do Well’ Scenes Coming to Ray,” Morning Olympian, March
30, 1916:4; “Rex Beach’s Greatest Story, ‘The Ne’er Do Well’ at the Liberty,” San Jose
Mercury News, April 14, 1916:15; and advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, Salt Lake Telegram, June 25, 1916:22.
158
See, for a few examples, advertisement for the Liberty Theatre, San Jose Mercury News,
April 15, 1916:12; advertisement for the Willis Wood Theatre, Kansas City Star, April 23,
1916:2; and “Another Rex Beach Film to Be Shown,” Inquirer, June 11, 1916:18.
159
“Snapshots in the Studios,” Kansas City Star, September 22, 1920:3; and “Rex Beach
Wins,” Duluth News Tribune, September 26, 1920:3.
311
Sources
Published
Abel, Richard. Americanizing the Movies and “Movie-Mad” Audiences, 1910–1914.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
———. The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896–1914. Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1994.
———. “Fan Discourse in the Heartland: The Early 1910s.” Film History 18, no. 2
(2006): 140–153.
———. “‘History Can Work for You, You Know How to Use It’.” Cinema Journal
44, no. 1 (Fall 2004): 107–112.
———. “The Movies in a ‘Not So Visible Place’: Des Moines, Iowa, 1911–1914.”
In Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, edited by Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley, 107–129. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
———. “1912: Movies, Innovative Nostalgia, and Real-Life Threats.” In American
Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations, edited by Charlie Keil and Ben
Singer, 69–91. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
———. “The Passing (Picture) Show in the Industrial Heartland: The Early 1910s.”
In Allegories of Communication: Intermedial Concerns from Cinema to the
Digital, edited by John Fullerton and Jan Olsson, 321–332. Rome: John Libbey,
2004.
———. “‘Pathé Goes to Town’: French Films Create a Market for the Nickelodeon.” Cinema Journal 35, no. 1 (Autumn, 1995): 3–26.
———. The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900–1910. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1999.
Abernathy, Lloyd M. “Progressivism: 1905–1919.” In Philadelphia: A 300-Year
History, edited by Russell F. Weigley, 524–565. New York: Norton, 1982.
Advertisement for the Balboa Amusement Producing Co. The Pictureplayer. November 15, 1913.
Advertisement for General Film. Motography 9, no. 8 (April 5, 1914), 6–7.
Advertisement for General Film. MPW 19, no. 2 (January 10, 1914): 192.
Advertisement for Home, Sweet Home. Reel Life 4, no. 13 (June 13, 1914): 3.
Advertisement for Majestic. Reel Life 4, no. 2 (March 28, 1914): 1.
Advertisement for Paramount Pictures. MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 368–69.
Aitken, Harry E. “Out of Quantity—Quality.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 211.
“Aitken Issues Statement.” Motography 14, no. 2 (July 10, 1915): 50.
312
Allen, Robert C. “Contra The Chaser Theory.” Wide Angle 3, no. 1 (1979): 4–11.
———. “Decentering Historical Audience Studies: A Modest Proposal.” In Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, edited
by Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley, 20–33. Berkeley: University of California Press,
2008.
———. “Looking at ‘Another Look at the “Chaser Theory”’.” Studies in Visual
Communications 10, no. 4 (1984): 45–50.
———. “Manhattan Myopia; or, Oh! Iowa!” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (Spring
1996): 75–103.
———. “Motion Picture Exhibition in Manhattan, 1906–1912: Beyond the Nickelodeon.” Cinema Journal 18, no. 2 (Spring 1979): 2–15.
———. “Relocating American Film History: The ‘Problem’ of the Empirical.”
Cultural Studies 20, no. 1 (January 2006): 44–88.
———. Vaudeville and Film 1895–1915: A Study in Media Interaction. New York:
Arno Press, 1980.
Allen, Robert C., and Douglas Gomery. Film History: Theory and Practice. New
York: McGraw-Hill, 1985.
“All Set for Convention and Exposition.” Motography 11, no. 12 (June 13, 1914):
397.
Altman, Rick. Silent Film Sound. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
American Film Institute. American Film Institute Catalog. Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911–1960. Edited by Alan Gevinson. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 1997.
The American Film Institute Catalog. Feature Films, 1911–1920. Film Entries.
Edited by Patricia King Hanson (executive ed.) and Alan Gevinson (ass. ed.).
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Anderson, Robert. “The Motion Picture Patents Company: A Reevaluation.” In The
American Film Industry, edited by Tino Balio, 133–152. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
“Another Big Combine: Biograph and Klaw and Erlanger Form the Protective Film
Company,” NYDM 70, 1801 (June 25, 1913): 26.
“Another Solax State Rights Feature: ‘Kelly from the Emerald Isle,” with the WellKnown Barney Gilmore.” MP News 7, no. 19 (May 10, 1913): 12.
Ashby, LeRoy. With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture
since 1830. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006.
“Association Holds Second Convention: Re-elects Old Officers.” Motography 11,
no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 445–50.
Atwood, Theodore W. “The Photoplay Forum.” Photoplay 5, no. 1 (December
1913): 118.
Bakker, Gerben. “The Decline and Fall of the European Film Industry: Sunk Costs,
Market Size, and Market Structure, 1890–1927.” Economic History Review 58,
no. 2 (2005): 310–351.
Balio, Tino. “Struggles for Control, 1908–1930.” In The American Film Industry,
edited by Tino Balio, 103–131. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press,
1985.
Barbas, Samantha. Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity. New York:
Palgrave, 2001.
Beauregard, Robert A. When America Became Suburban. Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 2006.
313
Belanger, Elisabeth. “Department Stores.” In Material Culture in America: Understanding Everyday Life, edited by Helen Sheumaker and Shirley Teresa Wajda,
145–147. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2008.
Belpedio, James R. “Fact, Fiction, Film: Rex Beach and The Spoilers.” Ph.D. dissertation. University of North Dakota, 1995.
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin
McLaughlin, prepared on the basis of the German volume edited by Rolf
Tiedemann. Cambridge Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999.
———. “On the Concept of History.” In Selected Writings: Volume 4, 1938–1940.
Translated by Edmund Jephcott et al. Edited by Howard Eiland and Michael
Jennings, 389–397. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap, 2003.
“Better Features and Better Prices.” MP News 9, no. 10 (March 14, 1914): 34.
“Better Films for Masses, Not Classes: Zukor Advocates Change.” Motography 14,
no. 18 (October 30, 1915): 885–86.
“Big Fire at Lubin Plant: Explosion Wrecks Film Storage Vault Causing Damage of
Between $500,000 and $1,000,000—No Interruption in Business.” MPW 20, no
13 (June 27, 1914): 1803.
“Big Three Form Triangle Film.” Motography 14, no. 5 (July 31, 1915): 204.
“Biograph Company and Klaw & Erlanger to Combine and Form the Protective
Film Company.” MP News 7, no. 25 (June 21, 1913): 12.
Birchard, Robert S. “Jack London and the Movies.” Film History 1, no. 1 (1987):
15–37.
Blackton, John Stuart. “Literature and the Motion Picture—A Message.” Introduction to Robert Grau, Theatre of Science: A Volume of Progress and Achievement
in the Motion Picture Art. New York: Broadway Publishing Company, 1914.
Blaisdell, George. “At the Sign of the Flaming Arcs.” MPW 20, no. 9 (May 30,
1914): 1245.
Blom, Ivo. “D’Annunzio, Gabriele.” In Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, edited by
Richard Abel, 164. London: Routledge, 2005.
“Booming the Feature Film: An Exposition of the Methods Employed by Marcus
Loew in Advertising the Big Film Productions Shown at His Chain of Theatres.” MP News 9, no. 2 (January 17, 1914): 32.
Bordwell, David. “Contemporary Film Studies and the Vicissitudes of Grand Theory.” In Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, edited by David Bordwell
and Noël Carroll, 3–36. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.
———. “Historical Poetics of Cinema.” In The Cinematic Text: Methods and Approaches,” edited by R. Barton Palmer, 369–398. New York: AMS Press,
1989).
———. “La Nouvelle Mission de Feuillade; or, What Was Mise-en-Scène.” Velvet
Light Trap, no. 37 (Spring 1996): 10–29.
———. On the History of Film Style. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1997.
Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood
Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1985.
Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. 8th ed. Boston:
McGraw Hill, 2008.
Bowie, John R., man. ed. Workshop of the World—A Selective Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Philadelphia. Wallingford, PA: Oliver Evans Press, 1990;
314
adapted for the internet in 2007.
http://www.workshopoftheworld.com/overview/overview.html.
Bowser, Eileen. The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915. New York: Scribner,
1990.
Bradlet, John M. “The Tendency for Long Films.” Advertising the Picture. M P
News 8, no. 15 (October 11, 1913): 29–30.
“Breaking Feature Records in Detroit: Keeping a Five-Reel Picture at One Theatre
for Two Weeks, in a Town Where It Had Never Been Done Before, Is an
Achievement—Pierce and Personal Appeal Did It.” MP News 9, no. 22 (June 6,
1914): 43–44.
“Brevities of the Business: Roll of States; Pennsylvania.” Motography 11, no. 12
(June 13, 1914): 442.
Brewster, Ben. “Periodization of Early Cinema.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, 66–75. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
———. “Traffic in Souls: An Experiment in Feature-Length Narrative Construction.” Cinema Journal 31, no. 1 (Fall 1991): 37–56.
Brewster, Ben and Lea Jacobs. Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorialism and the Early
Feature Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Brooks, Frank H., ed. The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (18811908). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994.
Brownlow, Kevin. Behind the Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence, Prejudice, Crime;
Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era. Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1990.
Burt, Nathaniel and Wallace E. Davies. “The Iron Age.” In Philadelphia: A 300Year History, edited by Russell F. Weigley, 471–523. New York: Norton, 1982.
Bush, W. Stephen. “The Art of Exhibition: Rothapfel’s Ideas on How the Best Program May Be Secured under Present Conditions—‘Features’ and ‘Variety’.”
MPW 22, no. 2 (October 17, 1914): 323.
———. “Betzwood, the Great: The Lubin Plant Is More Than a Studio or Factory—It Is an Institution—the Biggest in the World and the Most Complete—Some of Its Excellent Features.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 274.
———. “Censors Defied: ‘John Barleycorn,’ Unblessed of Censors Showing in
Garrick Theater at Philadelphia—Managers Wait in Vain for Patrol Wagon—J.
Louis Breitinger Threatens—That’s ALL.” MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914):
934.
———. “The Day of the Expert.” MPW 19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1213.
———. “A Day with Sigmund Lubin.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 209.
———. “The Demand for Variety.” MPW 20, no. 8 (May 23, 1914): 1088.
———. “The Dreary Commonplace.” MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914): 1484.
———. “First Runs.” MPW 21, no. 8 (August 22, 1914): 1072.
———. “The Good Old One Reelers.” MPW 25, no. 6 (August 7, 1915): 971.
———. “Gradation in Service.” MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645.
———. “The Line Above the Average.” MPW 22, no. 11 (December 12, 1914):
1494.
———. “A Little Homely on Prices.” MPW 23, no. 2 (January 9, 1915): 193.
———. “The New Exhibitor.” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1661.
———. “No Lowering of Standards.” MPW 19, no. 4 (January 24, 1914): 389.
———. “Padding and Puffing.” MPW 22, no. 12 (December 19, 1914): 1653.
315
———. “The Quest of Quality.” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 308.
———. “The Regular Program.” MPW 21, no. 10 (September 5, 1914): 1345.
———·. “The Single Reel.” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1800.
———. “The Single Reel—II.” MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 36.
———. “Stop the Vandals.” MPW 22, no. 9 (November 28, 1914): 1210.
———. “Wizards of the Screen.” MPW 20, no. 7 (May 16, 1914): 941.
———. “United States vs. Motion Picture Patents Co: Final Arguments Are Heard
Before Justice O. B. Dickinson in the District Court of the United States for the
Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania—Hearing Enlivened by Questions and Incidents—Testimony and Briefs Contain Over Two Million Words—Government
Claims Patents Are No Defense Against Charge of Illegal Restraint of
Trade—Defendants Say They Acted For the Best of the Industry.” MPW 22, no.
13 (December 26, 1914): 1815–17.
Butsch, Richard. The Making of American Audiences: From Stage to Television,
1750–1990. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Carbine, Mary. “‘The Finest Outside the Loop’: Motion Picture Exhibition in Chicago’s Black Metropolis, 1905–1928.” In Silent Film, edited by Richard Abel,
234–262. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996.
Carlyle, Thomas. On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History. Edited by
Annie Russell Marble. London: Macmillan, 1905. First published 1841.
Carroll, Noël. Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Contemporary Film Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.
Cherchi Usai, Paolo. “Cabiria, an Incomplete Masterpiece: The Quest for the Original 1914 Version.” Film History 2, no. 2 (1988): 155–65.
Cinema [pseud.]. “From Our London Correspondent.” Reel Life 4, no. 8 (May 9,
1914): 26.
———. “From Our London Correspondent.” Reel Life 4, no. 10 (May 23, 1914): 26.
———. “From Our London Correspondent.” Reel Life 4, no. 23 (August 22, 1914):
22.
“Convention and Exposition: Serious Split in Exhibitors League.” NYDM 70, no.
1804 (July 16, 1913): 26–27, cont. on 80.
Coleman, John J. “The Ultimate Triumph of the Single Reel Production.” MPW 22,
no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 323.
Congdon. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914):
828.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 19, no. 10 (March 7, 1914): 1256.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 19, no. 12 (March 21, 1914): 1556.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 20, no. 1 (April 4, 1914): 94.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 20, no. 5 (May 2, 1914): 645.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 20, no. 7 (May 16, 1914): 994.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 20, no. 9 (May 30, 1914): 1281.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence, MPW 20, no. 11 (June 13, 1914): 1558.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1851.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 100.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 21, no. 4 (July 25, 1914): 605.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914): 979.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence, MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914):
1535.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 1 (October 3, 1914): 88.
316
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 2 (October 10, 1914):
217–18.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 519.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 7 (November 14, 1914):
955.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence, MPW 22, no. 11 (December 12, 1914):
1562.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 12 (December 19, 1914):
1718.
———. “Philadelphia.” Correspondence. MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914):
1870.
Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. 3rd ed. New York: W. W. Norton,
1996.
Cupper, Dan. Working in Pennsylvania: A History of the Department of Labor and
Industry. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the Department of Labor and Industry, 2000.
Curtis, Scott. “A House Divided: The MPPC in Transition.” In American Cinema’s
Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, edited by Charlie Keil and
Shelley Stamp, 239–64. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
Dahlquist, Marina. “Swat the Fly: Educational Films and Health Campaign 19091914.” In Kinoöffentlichkeit (1895–1920): Entstehung, Etablierung,
Differenzierung = Cinema’s Public Sphere (1895–1920): Emergence, Settlement, Differentiation, edited by Corinna Müller and Harro Segeberg, 211–25.
Marburg: Schüren, 2008.
“The Daily Program’s Drawbacks: ‘It Has Many,’ Says J.D. Williams, Whose Name
Needs No Introduction to American Exhibitors, ‘But the Chiefest of Them Is
that It Handicaps the Showman in Advertising His Wares.” MP News 9, no. 18
(May 9, 1914): 27.
Davis, Murray S. “Aphorisms and Clichés: The Generation and Dissipation of Conceptual Charisma.” Annual Review of Sociology 25 (1999): 245–269.
“The Decision Against the Patents Company.” Motography 14, no. 16 (October 16,
1915): 805–6.
DeCordova, Richard. Picture Personalities: The Emergence of the Star System in
America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990.
Dougherty, Lee E. “Conditions and Features.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 224.
Dumaux, Sally. King Baggot: A Biography and Filmography of the First King of the
Movies. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland, 2002.
Durham, Weldon B. American Theatre Companies, 1888–1930. Westport:
Greenwood Press, 1987.
Eckhardt, Joseph P. The King of the Movies: Film Pioneer Sigmund Lubin. Madison
and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1997.
Elsaesser, Thomas. “The New Film History as Media Archaeology.” Cinémas 14,
no. 2–3 (2004): 75–117.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “History.” In Essays. Boston: James Munroe and Company,
1841.
Ennis, Harry. “Selig’s Great Picture.” Motion Picture Department. New York Clipper 62, no. 10 (April 18, 1914): 8.
———. “Strand, New York’s Newest Playhouse, Opens Saturday, April 11.” Doings in Filmdom, New York Clipper 62, no. 9 (April 11, 1914): 14.
317
———. “Success Prefaces ‘The Spoilers’.” Motion Picture Department, New York
Clipper 62, no. 9 (April 11, 1914): 14.
“The Exclusive Supply Corporation: How It Differs from Other Supply Organizations and Why the Feature Program Has Caused An Evolution in the Film
Game.” MP News 8, no. 8 (August 23, 1913): 8.
“The Exhibitor’s End of It.” Reel Life 4, no 22 (August 15, 1914): 20.
“Exhibitors’ News: Philadelphia.” MPW 21, no 8 (August 22, 1914): 1113–14.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 20, no. 6 (May 9, 1914): 791.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 21, no. 5 (August 1, 1914): 675.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 21, no. 6 (August 8, 1914): 807.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 21, no. 7 (August 15, 1914): 931.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 307.
“Facts and Comments.” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 463.
“Facts and Figures and Such.” Reel Life 5, no. 2 (September 26, 1914): 6.
“Famous Players Anniversary: One Year Since the Inauguration of the Program That
Created Feature History.” MPW 21, no. 10 (September 5, 1914): 1384.
“Famous Players Celebrate Anniversary: Company Which Blazed the Trail for Feature Programs, Under Leadership of Adolph Zukor, Finds Itself on Pinnacle of
Prosperity at End of First Twelve-Month—The Year’s Record and Its Significance to the Industry.” MP News 10, no. 9 (September 5, 1914): 33.
“Feature Producers Associate: Alliance Formed by Famous Players, Lasky and
Bosworth, Inc., with Leading American Feature Distributors.” MPW 20, no. 9
(May 30, 1914): 1245.
“Features, or Program, or Both?” Motography 14, no. 18 (October 30, 1915):
911–12.
“A Few Facts on Three-Reelers.” Vitagraph Bulletin 5, no. 6 (September 1915): 53.
“FIAF Conference, Lisbon, 1989: The Brighton FIAF Conference (1978); Ten Years
After.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 11, no. 3 (1991):
279–291.
Fielding, Raymond. The American Newsreel 1911–1967. Norman, OK: University
of Oklahoma Press, 1972.
———. The American Newsreel: A Complete History, 1911–1967. Jefferson, N.C.:
McFarland & Co., 2006.
“Film Conditions in Wisconsin: Feature Booking Now a Problem Owing to Demand
for Short-Length Film and a Diversified Program—‘A Feature House in Every
City,’ Suggested As a Remedy—A Leading Exhibitor’s Opinion of Situation.”
MP News 9, no. 15 (April 18, 1914): 33.
The Film Man [pseud.]. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 69, no. 1795 (May 14,
1913): 25.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 70, no. 1802 (July 2, 1913): 24.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 70, no. 1804 (July 16, 1913): 25.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 70, no. 1806 (July 30, 1913): 24.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 70, no. 1814 (September 24, 1913): 29.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 70, no. 1820 (November 5, 1913): 28.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 71, no. 1842 (April 8, 1914): 31.
———. “Comment and Suggestion.” NYDM 71, no. 1844 (April 22, 1914): 27.
———. “Uplifting the Feature Film: An Interview with E. Mandelbaum, Film Idealist.” NYDM 70, no. 1822 (November 19, 1913): 30.
318
Finkel, Kenneth, ed. Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens’ Manual. Philadelphia:
Library Company of Philadelphia, 1995.
Fioretos, Aris. “Contraction (Benjamin, Reading, History).” MLN 110, no. 3 (April
1995): 540–564.
“First Showing of ‘Quo Vadis’.” NYDM 69, no. 1792 (April 23, 1913): 25.
“First Showing of ‘Spoilers:’ Selig Company Host to Distinguished Audience at
Orchestra Hall—Film Pleases.” NYDM 71, no. 1841 (April 1, 1914): 22.
“Fitting a Big Feature to a Small House.” MP News 9, no. 23 (June 13, 1914): 55.
Freuler, John. “President Freuler’s Message to Exhibitors.” Reel Life 6, no. 26
(September 11, 1915): 3.
Friedberg, Anne. Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.
“From One of Our Friends.” Lubin Bulletin 3, no. 12 (September 22, 1915): cover
page.
Fuller, Kathryn H. At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of
Movie Fan Culture. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.
Fuller-Seeley, Kathryn H., ed. Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case
Studies of Local Moviegoing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
Fuller-Seeley, Kathryn H., and George Potamianos. “Introduction: Researching and
Writing the History of Local Moviegoing.” In Hollywood in the Neighborhood:
Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, edited by Kathryn H. FullerSeeley, 3–19. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
“The Future of the Motion Picture: The Second Interview with Charles Pathé Dealing with the Vast Possibilities of the Film Industry, and Forever Approaching
Developments in Its Ever-widening Field,” MP News 9, no. 3 (January 24,
1914): 17, cont. on 49.
Gaudreault, André. “The Infringement of Copyright Laws and Its Effects.” In Early
Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, edited by Thomas Elsaesser with Adam
Barker, 114–22. London: BFI Publishing, 1990.
Genette, Gérard. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Translated by
Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska
Press, 1997.
Giegerich, Charles J. “The Function of Feature Productions.” Motography 14, no. 8
(August 21, 1915): 357.
Glazer, Irvin R. Philadelphia Theaters: A Pictorial Architectural History from the
Collection of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia with 141 Illustrations. New York:
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia & Dover Publications, 1994.
———. Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z: A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813
Theatres Constructed Since 1724. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986.
The Goat Man [pseud.]. “On the Outside Looking In.” Motography 9, no. 7 (April 5,
1913): 239–40.
———. “On the Outside Looking In.” Motography 11, no. 11 (May 30, 1914): 373.
“Goldfish Predicts Passing of the Features: Declares that in Europe as Well as
America Small Exhibitors Will Be Compelled to Use Diversified Program.” MP
News 10, no. 3 (July 25, 1914): 40.
Gomery, Douglas. Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United
States. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.
Grau, Robert. “Big Stage Salaries.” MPM 7, no. 4 (May 1914): 121–2.
———. “From the Historian’s Viewpoint.” MPM 9, no. 5 (June 1915): 104.
319
———. “A Playhouse and Its Significance.” MPM 7, no. 1 (March, 1914): 107,
cont. on 152.
———. The Theatre of Science: A Volume of Progress and Achievement in the
Motion Picture Art. New York: Broadway Publishing Company, 1914.
———. “The Vital Issue.” MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914): 1829.
“Greenroom Jottings: Little Whispers from Everywhere in Playerdom,” MPM 7, no
1 (February, 1914): 115.
Grieveson, Lee. Policing Cinema: Movies and Censorship in Early-TwentiethCentury America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
———. “Why the Audience Mattered in Chicago in 1907.” In American Movie
Audiences: From the Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era, edited by
Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby, 79–91. London: BFI Publishing, 1999.
Grieveson, Lee, and Peter Krämer. “Feature Films and Cinema Programmes.” In The
Silent Cinema Reader, edited by Lee Grieveson and Peter Krämer, 187–195.
New York: Routledge, 2004.
Grieveson, Lee, and Peter Krämer. “Storytelling and the Nickelodeon: Introduction.”
In The Silent Cinema Reader, edited by Lee Grieveson and Peter Krämer,
77–86. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Griffiths, Alison. Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-theCentury Visual Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
Gunning, Tom. “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous
Spectator.” In Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film, edited by Linda Williams, 114–33. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
———. “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the AvantGarde.” In Early Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, edited by Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker, 56–62. London: BFI Publishing, 1990.
———. D. W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film: The Early
Years at Biograph. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.
———. “Enigmas, Understanding, and Further Questions: Early Cinema Research
in Its Second Decade Since Brighton.” Persistence of Vision, no. 9 (1991): 4–9.
———. “The Intertextuality of Early Cinema: A Prologue to Fantômas.” In A Companion to Literature and Film, edited by Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo,
127–143. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
———. “Modernity and Cinema: A Culture of Shocks and Flows.” In Cinema and
Modernity, edited by Murray Pomerance, 297–315. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2006,
———. “‘Now You See It, Now You Don’t’: The Temporality of the Cinema of
Attractions.” In Silent Film, edited by Richard Abel, 71–84. New Brunswick,
N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996.
———. “Systemizing the Electric Message: Narrative Form, Gender, and Modernity in The Lonedale Operator.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, 15–50.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
———. “Weaving a Narrative: Style and Economic Background in Griffith’s Biograph Films.” In Early Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative, edited by Thomas
Elsaesser with Adam Barker, 336–47. London: BFI Publishing, 1990.
Hansen, Miriam. Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993.
320
Harrison, Louis Reeves. “Her Infinite Variety.” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914):
1660.
———. “Nineteen-Fifteen.” MPW 23, no. 1 (January 2, 1915): 43.
———. “Why Some Features Fail.” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 464.
Hart, Deanna. “Next to Cleanliness: Annual Events Keep Philadelphia Spick and
Span.” The American City and County (November 2007): 78.
“H. E. Aitken Discusses Triangle Plans: Combination Plays at $2.00 Prices.” Motography 14, no. 6 (August 7, 1915): 235.
Higashi, Sumiko. Cecil B. DeMille and American Culture: The Silent Era. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1994.
———. “Dialogue: Manhattan’s Nickelodeons.” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (Spring
1996): 72–74.
Hoffman, Hugh. “The Father of the Feature: A Glance Backward to the Origin of the
Multiple Reel Production as We Know it Now, and a Few Words by the Bright
Mind that Conceived it.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 272.
Holden, Alice M. “Current Municipal Affairs.” The American Political Science
Review 8, no. 3 (August 1914): 461.
Hornblow, Arthur. A History of the Theatre in America from Its Beginnings to the
Present Time. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1919.
Howard, Beatrice. “The Two Signs.” MPM 8, no. 9 (October 1914): 31.
Howe, Willard. “The Passing of O’Sullivan’s Saloon: A Story From Life.” Photoplay 2, no. 2 (March 1912): 45–48.
“H. W. Savage, Inc. Secures Continuance of Temporary Injunction in ‘Madame X’
Case—W. C. Karrer Again Enjoined by Judge Weeks.” New York Clipper, May
2, 1914:14.
“Important Move by General Film: Will Book Long Productions through New Department Which Will Displace the Exclusive Service—First Picture Will Be
Five-Part Lubin Production of Charles Klein’s ’Third Degree’.” MP News 8, no.
23 (December 13, 1913): 19.
“Irwin of V.L.S.E. Thinks Small Theaters Can Show Features.” Motography 14, no.
8 (August 21, 1915): 358.
Isenberg, Alison. Downtown America: A History of the Place and the People Who
Made It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
“Is the Short Length Film Doomed?” MP News 8, no. 16 (October 25, 1913): 14.
“Itala Feature Films in Demand by Philadelphia Exchanges.” MP News 7, no. 20
(May 17, 1914): 15.
Jable, J. T. “Pennsylvania’s Early Blue Laws: A Quaker Experiment in the Suppression of Sport and Amusements, 1682–1740.” Journal of Sport History 1, no. 2
(1974): 107–121.
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage,
1992. First published 1961 by Random House.
Jacobs, Lewis. The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History; With an Essay;
Experimental Cinema in America 1921–1947. 3rd ed. New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1968. First published 1939 by Harcourt, Brace.
Johnson, Katie N. “Damaged Goods: Sex, Hysteria and the Prostitute Fatale.”
Theatre Survey 44, no. 1 (May 2003): 43–67.
Jowett, Garth S., Ian C. Jarvie and Kathryn H. Fuller. Children and the Movies:
Media Influence and the Payne Fund Controversy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
321
“Judge Tuthill Orders Gleason to Grant Permit for Chicago Exhibition of Magda.”
New York Clipper, May 2, 1914:14.
“Jules Mastbaum.” Obituary. Variety. December 8, 1926.
Junius [pseud.]. “The Spirit of the Play.” MPM 8, no. 7 (August 1914): 124.
———. “The Spirit of the Play.” MPM 8, no. 8 (September 1914): 124.
“Keep the Feature Above Reproach!” MP News 9, no. 11 (March 21, 1914): 34.
Kansteiner, Wulf. “Hayden White’s Critique of the Writing of History.” History and
Theory 32, no. 3 (October 1993): 273–95.
Keane, Patrick J. Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason: The Transatlantic
“Light of All Our Day.” Columbia; University of Missouri Press, 2005.
Keil, Charlie. Early American Cinema in Transition: Story, Style, and Filmmaking,
1907–1913. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
———. “‘To Here from Modernity’: Style, Historiography, and Transitional Cinema.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, 51–65. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2004.
———. “1913: Movies and the Beginning of a New Era.” In American Cinema of
the 1910s: Themes and Variations, edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer,
92–114. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009).
Keil, Charlie, and Shelley Stamp, eds. American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
“Kinematography in the United States: A Latter Day Narrative of the Growth of the
Motion Picture Industry, the Twentieth Century Aladdin’s Lamp.” MPW 21, no.
2 (July 11, 1914): 178–9.
King, Rob. “‘Made for the Masses with an Appeal to the Classes’: The Triangle
Film Corporation and the Failure of Highbrow Film Culture.” Cinema Journal
44, no. 2 (Winter 2005): 3–33.
———. “1914: Movies and Cultural Hierarchy.” In American Cinema of the 1910s:
Themes and Variations, edited by Charlie Keil and Ben Singer, 115–138. New
Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
Klein II, William. “Authors and Creators: Up by Their Own Bootstraps.” Communications and the Law 14, no. 3 (September 1992): 41–72.
Koszarski, Richard. An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature
Picture, 1915–1928. New York: Scribner, 1990.
Kuhn, Annette. Cinema, Censorship and Sexuality, 1909–1925. London: Routledge,
1988.
“Ku Klux Film in Phila.: Director of Public Safety Porter Enjoined by Judge
Ferguson from Interfering with Showing of the Big Griffith Spectacle—Full
Police Protection Was Given the Show, but Even the Colored People in the
Audience Applauded.” MPW 25, no. 12 (September 18, 1915): 2026.
Laemmle, Carl. “Doom of Long Features Predicted.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 185.
———. “Quit Using Dope! No. 65 Straight-from-the-Shoulder Talks by Carl
Laemmle, President.” Universal Weekly 6, no. 3 (January 16, 1915): 3, cont. on
24.
“Lasky-Belasco Pictures: First of the Production of Belasco Plays Will Appear in
November in the Paramount Program.” MPW 22, no. 3 (October 17, 1914): 345.
Lasky, Jesse L. “The Accomplishments of the Feature.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 214.
322
“Laud Quaker City Exhibitors: Social Workers’ Committee Finds No Offensive
Pictures, and Many That Are Instructive and Morally Inspiring After Tour of
More Than 230 Philadelphia Theatres.” MP News 9, no. 12 (March 28, 1914).
Leach, Eugene E. “1900–1914.” In A Companion to 20th-Century America, edited
by Stephen J. Whitfield, 3-18. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. First
published in 2004 by Blackwell Publishing.
“Les Miserables.” MP News 7, no. 16 (April 19, 1913): 14.
“Letters to the Editor.” MPM 7, no. 5 (June 1914): 169.
“Letters to the Editor.” MPM 7, no. 6 (July 1914): 169.
“Letters to the Editor.” MPM 8, no. 8 (September1914): 164–66.
“Let the Price Rise with the Quality.” MP News 10, no. 20 (November 21, 1914):
33.
Levine, Lawrence W. Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in
America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988.
Lindstrom, J. A. “Where Development Has Just Begun: Nickelodeon Location,
Moving Picture Audiences, and Neighborhood Development in Chicago.” In
American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices, edited
by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, 217–238. Berkeley: University of California
Press, 2004.
The Listener [pseud.]. “The Listener Chatters.” Reel Life 4, no. 3 (April 4, 1914): 6.
———. “The Listener Chatters.” Reel Life 4, no. 6 (April 25, 1914): 6.
———. “The Listener Chatters.” Reel Life 4, no. 7 (May 2, 1914): 6.
———. “The Listener Chatters.” Reel Life 4, no. 8 (May 9, 1914): 6.
“Long Runs Continue.” NYDM 69, no. 1800 (June 18, 1913): 27.
Lorenz, Chris. “Can Histories Be True? Narrativism, Positivism, and the ‘Metaphorical Turn’.” History and Theory 37, no. 3 (October 1998): 309–29.
“Lost in Lubin Fire: Many Valuable Motion Pictures Destroyed by Recent Explosion at Big Philadelphia Plant.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 267.
“Lubin Discusses Future Features.” Motography 14, no. 1 (July 3, 1915): 7.
Luckett, Moya. “Cities and Spectators: A Historical Analysis of Film Audiences in
Chicago 1910–1915.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison,
1995.
Macfarlane, John James. Manufacturing in Philadelphia, 1683–1912. Philadelphia:
Philadelphia Commercial Museum, 1912.
Maltby, Richard, Melvyn Stokes, and Robert C. Allen, eds. Going to the Movies:
Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema. Reed Hall: University of
Exeter Press, 2007.
Marwick, Arthur. “Two Approaches to Historical Study: The Metaphysical (Including 'Postmodernism') and the Historical.” Journal of Contemporary History 30,
no. 1 (January 1995): 5–35.
May, Lary. Screening Out the Past: The Birth of Mass Culture and the Motion Picture Industry. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983. First published
1980 by Oxford University Press.
Mayne, Judith. “Paradoxes of Spectatorship.” In Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing
Film, edited by Linda Williams, 155–83. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995.
McLean, Adrienne L. “‘New Films in Story Form’: Movie Story Magazines and
Spectatorship.” Cinema Journal 42, no. 3 (Spring 2003): 3–26.
McQuade, James S. “Chicago Letter.” MPW 22, no. 4 (October 24, 1914): 474.
323
———. “Rex E. Beach: Author of the Spoilers Sees Filmed Story Passed by Chicago Censors, and Gives an Interesting Interview to World representatives.”
MPW 19, no. 12 (March 21, 1914): 1506.
———. “The Spoilers.” MPW 20, no. 2 (April 11, 1914): 186–87.
———. “Studebaker to Be Opened by ‘The Spoilers’.” Chicago Letter, MPW 20,
no. 4 (April 25, 1914): 520.
Merritt, Russell. “Nickelodeon Theaters: Building an Audience for the Movies.”
Wide Angle 1, no. 1 (1979): 4–9.
Metz, Christian. Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. Translated by Michael
Taylor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Miller Marks, Martin. Music and the Silent Film: Contexts and Case Studies,
1895–1924. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Moore, Paul S. “Everybody’s Going: City Newspapers and the Early Mass Market
for Movies.” City & Community 4, no. 4 (December 2005): 339–357.
———. Now Playing: Early Moviegoing and the Regulation of Fun. Albany: State
University of New York Press, 2008.
Morey, Anne. “Early Film Exhibition in Wilmington, North Carolina.” In Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local Moviegoing, edited
by Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley, 53–74. Berkeley: University of California Press,
2008.
———. “‘Would You Be ashamed to Let Them See What You Have Written?’ The
Gendering of Photoplaywrights, 1913–1923.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 17, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 83–99.
Morosco, Oliver. “Tomorrow—The Future of the Photoplay.” Motography 15, no. 1
(January 1, 1916): 9.
“The Motion Picture News Chart of National Film Trade Conditions.” MP News 10,
no. 17 (October 31, 1914): 20–21.
“The Motion Picture News Review of Film Trade Conditions in America: A Comprehensive Survey of Business, Environment and Outlook Among the Exhibitors of the United States and Canada, Dealing with Admission Prices, Rental
Rates, Popularity of Features, Competition Conditions, the Small Exhibitor and
the Big One, Increase in Theatre Construction, Relations Between the Exhibitor,
Exchange Man and Producer, ‘What Does the Public Want?’ and Every Other
Phase of the Field.” MP News 10, no. 1 (July 11, 1914): 29–64.
“Motion Pictures to Dominate Drama. Thanhouser Predicts Big Change,” Motography 14, no. 17 (October 23, 1915): 831–32.
“Much Oratory on the Multiple Reel Question.” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914):
1695.
Musser, Charles. “Another Look at the ‘Chaser Theory’.” Studies in Visual Communications 10, no. 4 (1984): 24–44.
———. Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing
Company. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
———. The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. New York:
Scribner, 1990.
———. “Musser’s Reply to Allen.” Studies in Visual Communications 10, no. 4
(1984): 51–52.
———. “The Nickelodeon Era Begins: Establishing the Framework for Hollywood’s Mode of Representation.” In Early Cinema: Space—Frame—Narrative,
324
edited by Thomas Elsaesser with Adam Barker, 256–73. London: BFI Publishing, 1990.
———. “Passions and the Passion Play: Theater, Film, and Religion in America,
1880–1900.” In Movie Censorship and American Culture, edited by Francis G.
Couvares, 43–72. 2nd ed. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2006.
“Mutual Announces New Feature Service. Three Masterpictures Weekly.” Motography 14, no. 26 (December 25, 1915): 1313.
“The New Rental Basis: No Scale of Prices—Scale of Merit Only.” MPW 22, no. 3
(October 17, 1914): 316.
“News from the World of the Photoplay.” Photoplay 3, no. 4 (November 1912):
106–8.
“New York Feature Buyers get Together: Twenty-One Form Feature Film Protective
Association to Co-operate on Bad Accounts, Fight ‘Pirates’ and ‘Dupers’ and
Endeavor to Get Manufacturers to Produce More High Class Features.” M P
News 8, no. 24 (December 20, 1913): 14.
N.W. Ayer & Son’s American Newspaper Annual Vol. 1915. Philadelphia: N.W.
Ayer & Son, 1915.
“Observations by Our Man About Town.” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1818.
“Observations by Our Man About Town.” MPW 21, no. 9 (August 29, 1914): 1227.
Olsson, Jan. Los Angeles Before Hollywood: Journalism and American Film Culture, 1905–1915. Stockholm: National Library, 2009, distribution Wallflower
Press, London.
———. “Pressing Inroads: Metaspectators and the Nickelodeon Culture.” In Screen
Culture: History and Textuality, edited by John Fullerton, 113–35. Eastleigh:
John Libbey Publishing, 2004.
“One-Reel and Six-Reel Audiences.” Reel Life 3, no. 18 (January 17, 1914): 32.
Orgeron, Marsha. “Rethinking Authorship: Jack London and the Motion Picture
Industry.” American Literature 75, no. 1 (March 2003): 91–117.
“Padding—Why Not?” MP News 9, no. 8 (February 28, 1914): 34.
“Paramount Pictures Corporation: Marketing Plan on Novel Lines, as Regards Photoplay Producers, Expected to Accomplish Wonders.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 264.
“Paramount-Klaw & Erlanger Alliance: $2,000,000 Corporation Formed.” Motography 14, no. 20 (November 13, 1915): 1005.
“The Paramount’s New Quarters: Will Have a Building of Its Own on Forty-first
Street—Mr. Hodkinson on the Corporation’s Growth.” MPW 22, no. 7 (November 14, 1914): 907.
“Patents Company Must Be Dissolved: Government So Orders.” Motography 14,
no. 16 (October 16, 1915): 773–74.
Peacocke, Leslie T. “Hints on Photoplay Writing.” PP 8, no. 2 (July 1915):
129–132.
———. “The Practical Side of Scenario Writing: A Peep Into the Future.” Photoplay 5, no. 6 (May 1914): 132.
“Pennsylvania and Ohio Censors Attack ‘John Barleycorn’ Film: J. Louis Breitinger,
Head of Keystone State Censor Board and Lawyer for Liquor Interests, Demands Radical Eliminations—Exchange Prepares to Carry Case to Court; May
Show Film Publicly in Defiance of Censors—Picture’s Appearance on Eve of
‘Wet-or-Dry’ Election in Ohio Dismays Politicians.” MP News 10, no. 4
(August 1, 1914): 19-20, cont. on 64 and 66.
325
“Pennsylvania Exhibitors Confer: Advised to Demand Censor Law Repeal by
Senator Penrose—Preparing for Big Convention of Harrisburg.” MPW 22, no.
11 (December 12, 1914): 1527.
“Pennsylvania League Against Censorship.” MPW 21, no. 1 (July 4, 1914): 76.
“Pennsylvania League Ball Successful: Clara Kimball Young’s Portrait Sold For
Red Cross Benefit—Dittenfass [sic] Secures Picture—Many Photoplayers Present.” MPW 22, no. 13 (December 26, 1914): 1821.
Philadelphia City Planning Commission. The Political and Community Service
Boundaries of Philadelphia. PCPC Map Series. Philadelphia: Philadelphia City
Planning Commission, 2004.
“Philadelphia Exhibitors’ Ball.” MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 794.
“Philadelphia Exhibitors to Raise Prices.” MPW 20, no. 4 (April 25, 1914): 525.
“Philadelphia Makes Move to Combat Censorship.” MPW 19, no. 13 (March 28,
1914): 1687.
Phillips, Henry Albert. “How I Came to Write For the Motion Pictures: The Interesting Facts Brought to Light for the First Time in an Interview with Rex
Beach.” MPM 9, no. 4 (May 1915): 95–98.
The Photoplay Philosopher [pseud.]. “The Last Word: In the Exploiting and Exhibiting of Motion Pictures.” MPM 7, no. 4 (May, 1914): 91–5
———. “Musings of the Photoplay Philosopher.” MPM 8, no. 12 (January 1915):
124.
———. “Musings of the Photoplay Philosopher.” MPM 9, no. 3 (April 1915):
107–8, cont. on 165.
“Picture Perfection Made Possible by the Feature.” MP News 9, no. 12 (March 28,
1914): 34.
“Pictures Have Captured Chicago’s Loop: Six Big Shows.” Motography 11, no. 11
(May 30, 1914): 369.
“Picture Shows vs. Drink Emporiums.” Photoplay 3, no. 1 (August 1912): 83.
“Picture Theatres Projected.” MPW 19, no. 1 (January 3, 1914): 62.
“Picture Theatres Projected.” MPW 19, no. 5 (January 31, 1914): 608.
“Picture Theatres Projected.” MPW 19, no. 13 (March 28, 1914): 1748.
“Picturizing Broadway.” MP News 8, no. 26 (January 3, 1914): 18.
Pinker, Steven. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.
London: Penguin Books, 2008. First published 2007 by Allen Lane.
“Playing Up the Feature.” MP News 9, no. 10 (March 14, 1914): 38.
Plimpton, Horace G. “The Development of the Motion Picture.” MPW 21, no. 2
(July 11, 1914): 197–98.
“Poor Features Are Too Plentiful: So Says Harry Goldberg, of the Casino Feature
Film Company, Detroit, Who Fears the Result if This Continues.” MP News 9,
no. 20 (May 23, 1914): 40.
Potter, Zenas L. The Social Survey: A Bibliography. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, Department of Surveys and Exhibits, 1915.
“Premier Program Enters Feature Field: Will Release Weekly.” Motography 14, no.
21 (November 20, 1915): 1073.
“The Price of Admission.” MP News 9, no. 9 (March 7, 1914): 34.
Prince, Stephen. “Psychoanalytic Film Theory and the Problem of the Missing
Spectator.” In Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, edited by David
Bordwell and Noël Carroll, 71–86. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press,
1996.
326
Privatt, Kathy L. “The New Theater of Chicago: Democracy 1; Aristocracy 0.”
Theatre History Studies 24 (June 2004): 97–108.
Procter, George D. “Oh, It’s An Interesting Life!” MP News 9, no. 5 (February 7,
1914): 27–28.
“Program Question in Philadelphia.” MPW 19, no. 12 (March 21, 1914): 1530–31.
“A Proof of Healthy Prosperity.” MP News 10, no. 17 (October 31, 1914): 43.
Pryluck, Calvin. “The Itinerant Movie Show and the Development of the Film Industry.” In Hollywood in the Neighborhood: Historical Case Studies of Local
Moviegoing, edited by Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley, 37–52. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2008. First published 1983 in Journal of the University Film
and Video Association 35, no. 4.
“Quality Films at Quantity Prices: The Two Are Incompatible, Yet Many Exhibitors
Face Ruinous Conditions Through Fear of Advancing Their Admissions—Trend Is Steadily Toward Larger Theatres, Superior Productions and
Higher Prices—A Typical Case.” MP News 9, no. 15 (April 18, 1914): 25.
Quinn, Michael. “Distribution, the Transient Audience, and the Transition to the
Feature Film.” Cinema Journal 40, no. 2 (Winter 2001): 35–56.
———. “Early Feature Distribution and the Development of the Motion Picture
Industry: Famous Players and Paramount, 1912–1921.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1998.
Quisenberry, G. E. “Making Features Pay at a Quarter: Roy Crawford, ex-Showman,
Now Full-Fledged Exhibitor, Is Doing It—Billboard and Newspaper Advertising Are His Strong Points; 24-Sheets Are Good Enough for Him.” MP News 9,
no. 18 (May 9, 1914): 38.
Quizz [pseud.]. “‘The Spoilers’ (Selig) Nine Reels.” Current Film Events. New York
Clipper 62, no. 11 (April 25, 1914): 16.
“‘Quo Vadis’ Breaks Records.” NYDM 69, no. 1796 (May 21, 1913): 26.
“Raising Prices in Philadelphia: Quaker City Exhibitors Vote to Adopt Uniform
Scale, Beginning April 3, Charging Five Cents for a Four-reel Program and Ten
Cents for Five to Eight Reels—Plan Not Yet Ratified.” MP News 9, no. 11
(March 21, 1914): 33.
Ramsaye, Terry. A Million and One Nights. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964.
First published 1926 by Simon and Schuster.
“Reel Fellows Entertain.” MPW 22, no. 1 (October 3, 1914): 70.
“Reel Fellows Want Clubhouse.” MPW 21, no. 11 (September 12, 1914): 1523.
“Regent Theatre, Philadelphia, PA.” MPW 20, no. 4 (April 25, 1914): 533.
“Review of Trade Conditions Reveals Prosperity Throughout Country: Outlook Is
Everywhere Encouraging, Even Where Business Has Slackened During the Past
Few Months—Few Dull Periods Laid to the War—Many Movements for
Higher Admission Prices in Progress—Features in Almost Universal Demand,
but Complaint Is Made of Dearth of First-Class One and Two-Reel Pictures—Opinions on Serials Vary.” MP News 10, no. 17 (October 31, 1914):
22–31, cont. on 59.
Rich, J. Dennis and Kevin L. Seligman. “The New Theatre of Chicago, 1906–1907.”
Educational Theatre Journal 26, no. 1 (March 1974): 53–68.
Ross, Steven J. Working Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in
America. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Rowe, Stewart Everett. “The Drunkard’s Reformation.” MPM 7, no. 2 (March
1914): 118.
327
Rundell, Richard J. Review of Aphorismus, by Harald Fricke. The German Quarterly 59, no. 1 (Winter 1986): 124–125.
Russell, Catherine. “Parallax Historiography: The Flâneuse as Cyberfeminist.” In A
Feminist Reader in Early Cinema, edited by Jennifer M. Bean and Diane Negra,
552–70. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. First published July 2000 in the
online journal Scope.
Rynbrandt, Linda J. “Caroline Bartlett Crane and the History of Sociology: Salvation, Sanitation, and the Social Gospel.” The American Sociologist 29, no. 1
(March 1998): 71–82.
Sargent, Epes Winthrop. “Feature Films.” Advertising for Exhibitors. MPW 20, no.
2 (April 11, 1914): 204.
———. “Features.” Advertising for Exhibitors. MPW 19, no. 2 (January 10, 1914):
162.
———. “Handling Features/The Remedy.” MPW 20, no. 6 (May 9, 1914): 812.
———. “One Reelers.” MPW 20, no. 3 (April 18, 1914): 304.
———. “One Reelers Always.” Advertising for Exhibitors, MPW 20, no. 2 (April
11, 1914): 205.
Saunders, Alfred H. “New Years Greetings.” MP News 6, no. 26 (December 28,
1912): 7–8.
———. “The Open Market.” Ex-Cathedra. MP News 7, no. 15 (April 12, 1913):
7–8.
———. “Where Are We Drifting?” Ex-Cathedra. MP News 7, no. 12 (March 22,
1913): 7–8.
Scheff, Thomas J. “The Structure of Context: Deciphering ‘Frame Analysis’.” Sociological Theory 23, no. 4 (December 2005): 368–385.
Schrock, Raymond L. “Getting the Right Stride.” MPM 7, no. 1 (February 1914):
111.
———. “Reflections of the Critic.” Photoplay 3, no. 3 (October 1912): 77–80.
———. “Reflections of the Critic.” Photoplay 3, no. 5 (December 1912): 102–106.
“Screen Actors for the Screen.” MP News 9, no. 16 (April 25, 1914): 34.
“Seely of Alco Is Pleased with Bright Outlook for the Coming Year.” MP News 10,
no. 24 (December 19, 1914): 27.
“Selig Discusses Future Releases.” Motography 14, no. 3 (July 17, 1915): 98.
Selig, William N. “Present Day Trend in Film Lengths.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11,
1914): 181–82.
“Selznick Predicts Disappearance of Daily Changes of Programs Everywhere,” MP
News 10, no. 24 (December 19, 1914): 28.
Schafer, Eric. “On Hygiene and Hollywood: Origins of the Exploitation Film.” The
Velvet Light Trap, no. 30 (Fall 1992): 34–47.
Sherry, William L. “Do Features Pay?” MP News 9, no. 11 (March 21, 1914):
19–20.
Singer, Ben. “Feature Films, Variety Programs, and the Crisis of the Small Exhibitor.” In American Cinema’s Transitional Era: Audiences, Institutions, Practices,
edited by Charlie Keil and Shelley Stamp, 76–102. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
———. “Manhattan Melodrama.” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997):
107–112.
———. “Manhattan Nickelodeons: New Data on Audiences and Exhibitors.” Cinema Journal 34, no. 3 (Spring 1995): 5–35.
328
———. Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and Its Contexts.
New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
———. “New York, Just Like I Pictured It…” Cinema Journal 35, no. 3 (Spring
1996): 104–128.
Singer, Ben, and Charlie Keil. “Introduction: Movies and the 1910s.” In American
Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations, edited by Charlie Keil and Ben
Singer, 1–25. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2009.
Sklar, Robert. Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies. New
York: Random House, 1975.
———. “Oh! Althusser!: Historiography and the Rise of Cinema Studies.” Radical
History Review, no. 41 (Spring 1988): 11–35.
Slide, Anthony. The Big V: A History of the Vitagraph Company. Metuchen, N.J.:
Scarecrow Press, 1987.
Sloan, Kay. The Loud Silents: Origins of the Social Problem Film. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
———. “Sexual Warfare in the Silent Cinema.” American Quarterly 33, no. 4
(Autumn, 1981): 412–36.
Smith, Andrew F. Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.
Smith, Frederick James. “The Evolution of the Motion Picture: VII. From the
Standpoint of the Photoplaywright; An Interview with Captain Leslie T. Peacocke, Special Scenario Writer with the Universal Company.” NYDM 70, no.
1805 (July 23, 1913): 25.
———. “The Evolution of the Motion Picture: X; The Feature Picture and Exhibiting Methods; An Interview with Tom Moore, the Exhibitor of Washington, D.
C.” NYDM 70, no. 1811 (September 3, 1913): 25.
———. “Many Feature Exchanges.” NYDM 69, no. 1795 (May 14, 1913): 26.
Smither, Roger, and Wolfgang Klaue, eds. Newsreels in Film Archives: A Survey
Based on the FIAF Newsreel Symposium. Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 1996.
Smull's Legislative Handbook and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania 1913. Harrisburg: C. E. Aughinbaugh, 1912.
“Some Feature Film Men Denounced.” MPW 19, no. 7 (February 14, 1914): 791.
“Specialty Theatres Soon, Says Lubin.” MP News 9, no. 17 (May 2, 1914): 28.
The Spectator [pseud.]. “Heard in the Studio and Exchange.” Reel Life 4, no. 14
(June 20, 1914): 22.
“The Spoilers.” Variety 34, no. 7 (April 17, 1914): 22.
“The Spoilers to Be Re-issued.” Motography 14, no. 13 (September 25, 1915): 630.
“‘Spoilers’ to Open. Selig Production Will Be Opening Attraction at the Strand
Theater.” NYDM 71, no. 1840 (March 25, 1914): 30.
Staiger, Janet. “Announcing Wares, Winning Patrons, Voicing Ideals: Thinking
about the History and Theory of Film Advertising.” Cinema Journal 29, no. 3
(Spring 1990): 3–31.
———. “The Central Producer System: Centralized Management after 1914.” In
The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960,
coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson, 128–141.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
———. “Combination and Litigation: Structures of U.S. Film Distribution
1896–1917.” Cinema Journal 23, no. 2 (Winter 1983): 41–72.
329
———. “The Director-Unit System: Management of Multiple-Unit Companies after
1909.” In The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production
to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson,
121–127. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
———. Interpreting Films: Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
———. Perverse Spectators: The Practices of Film Reception. New York: New
York University Press, 2000.
———. “Standardization and Differentiation: The Reinforcement and Dispersion of
Hollywood’s Practices.” In The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and
Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and
Kristin Thompson, 96–112. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
Stamp, Shelley. Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the
Nickelodeon. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000.
“Stanley V. Mastbaum Dies.” Obituary. Variety. March 8, 1918.
St. Clair, Robert N. The Major Metaphors of European Thought-Growth, Game,
Game, Language, Drama, Machine, Time, and Space. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 2002.
Steffens, Lincoln. “Philadelphia: Corrupt and Contented.” McClure’s Magazine 21,
no. 3 (1903): 249–263.
Stokes, Melvyn. D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation: A History of “The Most
Controversial Motion Picture of All Time.” New York: Oxford University
Press, 2007.
———. “Introduction: Reconstructing American Cinema’s Audiences.” In American Movie Audiences: From the Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era,
edited by Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby, 1–11. London: BFI Publishing,
1999.
Stokes, Melvyn, and Richard Maltby, eds. American Movie Audiences: From the
Turn of the Century to the Early Sound Era. London: BFI Publishing, 1999.
“Strand Theater Opens. In Blaze of Glory Selig’s ‘The Spoilers’ is Well Received at
Opening of Large Theater.” NYDM 71, no. 1843 (April 15, 1914): 31.
Strauven, Wanda, ed. The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded. Amsterdam: Amsterdam
University Press, 2006.
Streible, Dan. “Children at the Mutoscope.” Cinémas: revue d’ètudes de
cinématographiques/Cinémas: Journal of Film Studies 14, no. 1 (2003):
91–116.
———. Fight Pictures: A History of Boxing and Early Cinema. Berkeley, CA.:
University of California Press, 2008.
———. “On the Canvas: Boxing, Art, and Cinema.” In Moving Pictures: American
Art and Early Film, 1880–1910, Nancy Mowll Matthews with Charles Musser,
111–116. Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Williams
College Museum of Art, 2005.
“Streyckmans Resigns from the Mutual to Enter Big Feature Film Enterprise.” MP
News 8, no. 6 (August 9, 1913): 9.
Sztompka, Piotr. The Sociology of Social Change. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell,
1994. First published 1993 by Blackwell.
Talbot, Frederick A. Moving Pictures: How They Are Made and Worked. London:
William Heinemann, 1912.
“Talks Against Selling Art by the Mile.” MPW 20, no. 12 (June 20, 1914): 1695.
330
“A Temperance Lesson.” MPM 7, no. 2 (March 1914): 124.
“These Long Features.” Motography 9, no. 8 (April 19, 1913): 261–62.
“This Is the Answer.” Vitagraph Bulletin 5, no. 2 (May 1915): 8.
Thissen, Judith. “Oy, Myopia!” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997): 102–107.
Thomas, A. W. How to Write a Photoplay. Chicago, Ill.: The Photoplaywrights’
Association of America, 1914.
“Thomas Ince Discusses Future of Feature. Proxy Delivers His Convention Speech.”
Motography 14, no. 6 (August 7, 1915): 235.
Thomas, Marianna, ed. Eastern State Penitentiary: Historic Structures Report. 2
vols. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Historical Commission, 1994.
Thompson, Frank T. Lost Films: Important Movies that Disappeared. Secaucus,
N.J.: Carol Publishing, 1996.
Thompson, Kristin. Exporting Entertainment: American in the World Film Market,
1907–1934 (London: BFI Publishing, 1985).
———. “The Formulation of the Classical Narrative.” In The Classical Hollywood
Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David
Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, 174–193. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1985.
———. “From Primitive to Classical.” In The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film
Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by David Bordwell, Janet
Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, 157–173. New York: Columbia University
Press, 1985.
———. “The Stability of the Classical Approach after 1917.” In The Classical
Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, coauthored by
David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, 231–240. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1985.
“Three Big Problems.” MP News 9, no. 4 (January 31, 1914): 13–14.
“Three Classic Features: New Picture-Plays Adapted from Famous Novels - Mrs.
Fiske in ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles,’ Princess Ruspoli in ‘The Betrothed,” and J.
W. Johnston in ‘Rob Roy’.” MP News 8, no. 10 (September 6, 1913): 12–13.
“A Trade Review.” MP News 10, no. 1 (July 11, 1914): 21.
The United States of America Petitioner vs. The Motion Picture Patents Co., et al
Defendants. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Copy of transcript
of record in six volumes in The Charles G. Clarke Collection, Margaret Herrick
Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The United States of America Petitioner vs. The Motion Picture Patents Co., et al
Defendants. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Transcript of record in six volumes. New York: Appeal Printing Company, 1915.
Urrichio, William, and Roberta E. Pearson. “Dialogue: Manhattan’s Nickelodeons;
New York? New York!” Cinema Journal 36, no. 4 (Summer 1997): 98–102.
———. Reframing Culture: The Case of the Vitagraph Quality Films. Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1993.
U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the
United States Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 3. Population 1910. Reports by
States, with Statistics for Counties, Cities and Other Civil Divisions. NebraskaWyoming. Alaska, Hawaii and Porto Rico. Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1913.
331
———. Thirteenth Census of the United States. Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 4.
Population 1910.Occupation Statistics. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913.
———. Thirteenth Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1910. Volume 9.
Manufactures 1909. Reports by States, with Statistics for Principal Cities.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1912.
Verhoeff, Nanna. The West in Early Cinema: After the Beginning. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006.
“Vitagraph Echoes.” Vitagraph Bulletin 3, no. 12 (Feb 1914), 27.
“Vitagraph Theater Anniversary: Specially Strong Program for the Week Marking
the First Year of Broadway’s First Picture Theatre.” MPW 23, no. 7 (February
13, 1915): 959.
Von Harleman, G. P. “Chicago Letter.” MPW 20, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 1812.
Waller, Gregory A. Main Street Amusements: Movies and Commercial Entertainment in a Southern City, 1896–1930. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution
Press, 1995.
———, ed. Moviegoing in America: A Sourcebook in the History of Film Exhibition. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
Warner, A. “Demand for Features: Observations Resulting from an 8,000-Mile Trip
Through States.” NYDM 69, no. 1792 (April 23, 1913): 27.
Warner Jr., Sam Bass. The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its
Growth. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1968.
“Warner’s Features, Inc: Company’s Success in the Film Industry Is Notable Example of Strict Adherence to Carefully Thought Out Purpose.” MPW 21, no. 2
(July 11, 1914): 262.
Weigley, Russell F. “The Border City in Civil War: 1854–1865.” In Philadelphia: A
300-Year History, edited by Russell F. Weigley, 363–416. New York: Norton,
1982.
“West Is Strong for Features: But Anything Over Five Reels Must ‘Have the
Goods,’ Says Sol Lesser of the Golgate in Price Question.” MP News 9, no. 16
(April 25, 1914): 22.
“What the Convention Did.” Motography 11, no. 13 (June 27, 1914): 469–70.
Whissel, Kristen. “Regulating Mobility: Technology, Modernity, and FeatureLength Narrativity in Traffic in Souls.” Camera Obscura 49 (2002): 1–29.
White, Hayden. The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.
———. “Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth.” In The History and
Narrative Reader, edited by Geoffrey Roberts, 375–89. London: Routledge,
2001. First published in Probing the Limits of Representation, edited by Saul
Friedlander. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.
———. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination of Nineteenth-Century Europe.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.
———. “The Modernist Event.” In The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television,
and the Modern Event, edited by Vivian Sobchack, 17–38. New York: Routledge, 1996.
———. Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
Williams, James G. Those Who Ponder Proverbs: Aphoristic Thinking and Biblical
Literature. Sheffield: Almond Press, 1981.
332
Williams, Linda. “Discipline and Fun: Psycho and Postmodern Cinema.” In Alfred
Hitchcock’s Psycho: A Casebook, edited by Robert Kolker, 164–204. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Wing, W. E. “Interest in ‘Spoilers’: High Expectations for Film Adaptation of Rex
Beach’s Story.” NYDM 70, no. 1809 (August 20, 1913): 28.
Woods, Frank E. “Pictures Divided into Three Grades: How the Demands of Varied
Audiences Are Being Met by Manufacturers.” NYDM 70, no. 1803 (July 9,
1914): 25.
———. “What Are We Coming to?” MPW 21, no. 3 (July 18, 1914): 442–43.
“World Film Corporation.” MPW 21, no. 2 (July 11, 1914): 264.
Unpublished
Apollo Theatre. “Apollo Theatre Programme for January 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th,
1918.” The William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Beach, Rex to William Selig, June 9, 1913. The William Selig Papers, Margaret
Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Beach, Rex to William Selig, November 28, 1913. The William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Beach, Rex and James McArthur. The Spoilers: A Play in Four Acts. Stage Play
Manuscript. The William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Bestsellers Database. The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
http://www3.isrl.illinois.edu/~unsworth/courses/bestsellers/ (accessed
May 25, 2009).
Correspondence (Authors). The William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library,
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Famous Players Film Company to Mr. J. Wilton, Janesville, Wis., August 31, 1912.
Special Collections, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences.
Gaines, Jane M. “Reading World Film History for the Plot.” Paper presented at
Globalism and Film History: A Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago,
April 7, 2006.
Harrison, Edith Ogden to Sam Lederer, manager of the Studebaker Theatre Chicago,
May 11, 1914. The William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Finding aid, Collection 1961, Family Service of Philadelphia records.
The Hobart Bosworth Collection, scrapbooks #2 and #4 of 14, Margaret Herrick
Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Lichtman, Al, to Mr. Herman Wobber, July 2, 1913. Margaret Herrick Library,
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings database
http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/index.cfm.
333
The Pittsburgh Calcium Light Company to William M. Selig, May 18, 1906. The
William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
Playbill/Program of the Park Theatre in Brooklyn for the week commencing Monday October 19, 1908. William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Program for the Jack London banquet in Philadelphia on September 23, 1914. The
Hobart Bosworth Collection, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences, scrapbook #2 of 14:155.
Program Leaflet from the Opening of the Strand Theatre. The Spoilers clipping file,
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Promotional brochure for Frederic Poole lecture series. University of Iowa Libraries
digital collections, Redpath Chautauqua Collection, digital ID
http://sdrcdata.lib.uiowa.edu/libsdrc/details.jsp?id=/poolef/6 (accessed
April 17, 2009).
Promotional brochure for Frederic Poole. University of Iowa Libraries digital collections, Redpath Chautauqua Collection, digital ID
http://sdrcdata.lib.uiowa.edu/libsdrc/details.jsp?id=/poolef/7 (accessed
April 17, 2009).
Publisher’s Weekly’s list of bestselling fiction hardcover books for 1906. Provided
by Cader Books, http://www.caderbooks.com/best00.html (accessed May
26, 2009).
The Rex Beach Archive website.
http://tars.rollins.edu/olin/archives/150EBEACH.htm (accessed May 25,
2009).
Selig Polyscope Co. “Selig’s ‘The Spoilers’” Four-page publicity brochure. The
William Selig Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
Sturgeon, Rollin S. to Col. W. N. Selig, September 29, 1916. The Charles G. Clarke
Collection, Scrapbook #3 of 3, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences.
334
Index of names, companies, and film titles
Abarbanell, Lina, 119, 171
Abel, Richard, 19–22, 24, 27, 31–33,
194, 248, 264–65n118, 268n29,
304n143
Adams, Maude, 141
Adventures of Kathlyn, The (Selig, 19131914), 128,
Aitken, Harry, 49, 60–61
Albee, Edward Franklin, 108–109
Albee III, Edward Franklin, 108
Alco Film Corp., 196–197
Allen, Robert C., 31–32, 152, 257n22,
257–58n28, 260n67
All on Account of the Milk (Biograph,
1910), 143
Altman, Rick, 118–119
Ambrosio, 66, 71, 113
American Film Manufacturing Co., 147
American Mutoscope & Biograph, 84
Anderson, Robert, 256–57n18
Antony and Cleopatra (Marcantonio e
Cleopatra; Cines, 1913), 115, 167,
190
Aquila Films, 100
An Arcadian Maid (Biograph, 1910), 143
Aristocracy (Famous Players, 1914),
304n148
Aronson, Michael, 31, 292n115, 297n3
Attractive Feature Film Co., 113,
297n214
Auction Block, The (Rex Beach Pictures
Company, 1917), 251
Balboa Amusement Producing Company, 196, 258–59n41, 296n202
Balio, Tino, 21–22
Banker’s Daughter, The (Life Photo
Film Corp., 1914), 227
Barbas, Samantha, 255n6
Bargain, The (New York Motion Picture
Corp., 1914), 195
Barker [Production Company, UK], 181
Barker, Reginald, 149, 175
Barrier, The (Rex Beach Pictures Company, 1917), 245, 251
Barrier That Was Burned, The (Vitagraph, 1912), 207
Barth, Gunther, 33
Bartlett, Lanier, 209
Battle of the Sexes, The (Majestic, 1914),
227
Bauernfreund, Adolph, 63
Baumann, Charles O., 47
Beach, Rex, 35–36, 203–251
Behind the Scenes (Famous Players,
1914), 143, 304n148
Belasco, David, 69, 141–42, 146
Bell Film Exchange, 146
Ben Hur (Kalem, 1907), 146
Benjamin, Walter, 30
Bennett, Richard, 147
Bernhardt, Sarah, 20, 69, 71, 96
Betrothed, The (Ambrosio, 1913), 66
Between Savage and Tiger (Cines, 1914),
168–69, 190
Biograph Co., 53–54, 84–86, 141, 143,
145–46, 172, 185, 196,
Birth of a Nation, The (D. W. Griffith
Corp./Epoch Producing Corp., 1915),
35, 48, 60, 96, 121, 225, 253, 290n76
335
Bishop’s Carriage, The (Famous Players,
1913), 142, 177, 189,
Blackton, John Stuart, 67–68
Blankenburg, Rudolph, 34, 80, 176
Blatch, Harriet Stanton, 125
Bogdanovich, Peter, 303n113
Boger, Dr. John A., 105
Bordwell, David, 22, 24, 36, 260n60,
260–61n68
Bosworth, Hobart, 100
Bosworth Productions, 135–36, 144–45,
172, 193, 195–96, 258–59n41,
296n202
Box Office Attractions, 45, 50, 113,
196–97
Bowser, Eileen, 18–19, 30, 50, 266n133,
270n67
Bradenburgh, C. A., 84
Brand, The (Rex Beach Pictures Company, 1919), 251
Brandon, William C., 57,
Brandt, William, 57
Breitinger, Louis J., 136–38, 145
Brewster, Ben, 19, 24–26, 261n75,
276n178
Bridge, William, 205
Brieux, Eugene, 146
Broken Coin, The (Universal, 1915), 242
Broncho Film Company, 49
Brownlow, Kevin, 147
Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill Film Company, 267–68n21
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee
Bill’s Far East (Buffalo Bill and
Pawnee Bill Film Company, 1910),
267–68n21
Bunny, John, 97, 134, 172
Burglar M.D. (a.k.a. At a Quarter of
Two, Imp, 1911), 143
Burk, Louis, 104
Bush, W. Stephen, 38, 45–48, 50, 52–54,
56, 62–63, 69, 114, 136, 139,
269n36, 278n215
Bushman, Francis X., 124
Butsch, Richard, 286n146
336
Cabiria (Itala, 1914), 116–20, 186–90,
195–96, 235–36
Camille (La Dame aux camellias; Film
d’Art, 1911), 96,
Campbell, Colin, 210–11, 226, 237, 250
Capone, Al, 282n45
Caprice (Famous Players, 1913),
141–43, 170, 304n148
Carlyle, Thomas, 301–2n82
Carr, Harry, 210–11
Carroll, Noël, 260–61n68
Cassidy, Ed K., 87
Castle, Irene and Vernon, 133–35, 181
Chafin, Eugene V., 265n127
Chaplin, Charlie, 125
Chester, George Randolph, 246
Cinderella (Famous Players, 1914), 150,
304n48
Cines, 13, 98–99, 115, 168
Circus Man, The (Jesse L. Lasky Feature
Co., 1914), 193
Clansman, The [novel and stage version],
48
Clark, Frank M., 212
Cohan, George M., 246
Cohen, George, 46,
Coleman, John J., 52–53, 58
Conspiracy (Famous Players, 1914),
304n148
Continental Film Exchange, 113
Cook, David A., 255–56n7
Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight (Veriscope,
1897), 84, 280n13
County Chairman, The (Famous Players,
1914), 304n148
Craft, Pliny P., 267–68n21
Crimson Gardenia, The (Rex Beach
Pictures Company, 1919), 251
Crucible, The (Famous Players, 1914),
304n148
Curtis, Scott, 256–57n18
Dahlquist, Marina, 292n115
Damaged Goods (American Film Manufacturing Co., 1914), 147
Damaged Goods [stage version], 146–48
D’Annunzio, Gabriele, 187–89
Dante’s Inferno (L’Inferno; Milano Film,
1911), 95, 99, 267–68n21
Davies, Madeline, 121–22
Davis, Harry, 92
Debs, Eugene V., 265n127
De Cordova, Richard, 140
DeMille, Cecil B., 176, 276n178
Diana [pseud.], 283n54
Dickens, Charles, 177
Dintenfass, Mark, 124
Dixon, Thomas F., 48
Dollar Mark, The (William A. Brady
Picture Plays, 1914), 189,
Dougherty, Lee, 53
Dougherty, Thomas M., 104
Drug Terror, The (Lubin, 1914), 142,
170, 301n67
Durham, Is, 80, 279n23
D. W. Griffith Corp., 35
Dyer, Frank L., 38, 41–43, 48–49, 65,
70, 141, 270n61
Eagle’s Mate, The (Famous Players,
1914), 143, 189
East Lynne (Barker [UK], 1913), 181
Eckhardt, Joseph P., 173, 301n67
Eclair American, 66
Edison Company, 13, 37–38, 50,
145–46, 207, 224
80 Million Women Want—? (Unique
Film Co., 1913), 125
Einstein, Abe, 124
Electric Theatre Supply Co., 113
Elmendorf, Dwight, 130–131
Elsaesser, Thomas, 29, 261n71
Emanuel, Jay, 124–125
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 301–2n82
Empire Film Exchange, 113
Ennis, Harry, 224–25, 245
Epoch Producing Corp., 35
Equitable Motion Pictures Corp., 176
Escape, The (Majestic/The Griffith
Company, 1914), 196
Etris, Robert, 112–13
Exclusive Supply Corporation, 49
Motion Picture Exhibitors’ League, 70,
115, 123–24, 138, 139, 266n1
Exploits of Elaine, The (Pathé-American,
1914), 129,
Eyton, Bessie, 212, 230, 240
Famous Players Film Company, 19–20,
52, 56, 66, 69, 100, 113, 141–43,
146, 150, 177, 187, 193–94, 196,
253, 304n148
Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, 251
Farnum, William, 209–212, 230, 240
Favorite Players, 197
Federal Feature Film Company, 44, 113
Fedora (Aquila Films, 1913), 100
Fielding, Raymond, 256n15
Film d’Art, 96
Film Supply Company of America, 14,
49, 288n13
Finch, Flora, 134
Finch Kelly, Florence, 205
Fly Pest, The (Charles Urban, 1909), 127
Foucault, Michel, 28, 262–62n92
Fox, William, 38, 50, 53, 63, 94, 124
Freeman, Walter W., 82–84
Frohman, Charles, 69, 108, 146, 206,
227
Frohman, Daniel, 69, 108, 142, 144, 146,
206
From the Manger to the Cross (Kalem,
1912), 43
Fuller-Seeley, Kathryn H., 31, 127
Gaines, Jane M., 32
Gaudreault, André, 145–46, 261n71,
Gaumont, 49, 113,
Gene Gauntier Feature Players, 52
General Film Company, 14, 20, 38,
41–44, 47–49, 56–57, 59, 63–65, 96,
110, 112–13, 124, 196–97, 226,
269n75, 272n110
Genette, Gérard, 305n150
Gentleman from Mississippi, The (William A. Brady Picture Plays, 1914),
194–95
337
George Kleine Attractions, 13
Ghost Breaker, The (Jesse L. Lasky
Feature Co., 1914), 194
Gil-Spear, Adrian, 251
Glazer, Irvin R., 92, 117, 153–55, 173,
298n11, 298n17
Glessner, Bonnie, 211
Goffman, Erving, 263n95
Goldfish [Goldwyn], Samuel, 50–51
Goldwyn Distributing Corporation, 251
Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, 251
Gomery, Douglas, 260n67
Good Little Devil, A (Famous Players,
1914), 142, 179
Good Little Devil, A [stage version], 141,
143
Goodness Gracious; or, The Movies as
They Shouldn’t Be (Vitagraph, 1914),
179
Grau, Robert, 60, 67–69, 264n117,
274n139, 276n185
Greater New York Film Rental Company, 38, 63
Great Northern Film Company, 49
Greenburg, Abraham, 46
Grey, Zane, 246
Grieveson, Lee, 19, 23, 260n64, 283n61
Griffith, David W., 15, 48, 60, 141,
180–81, 215, 227, 276n185, 302n105
Griffith Company, The, 196
Griffiths, Alison, 30
Gunning, Tom, 145–46, 260n60, 260n62,
261n71, 276n178
Guy, Alice, 100
G. W. Beadenburg Film Exchange, 113
Hadley, Edwin J., 93
Hansen, Matthew, 63–64
Hansen, Miriam, 16, 65, 275–76n172,
276n178
Harper and Brothers, 203, 207, 250
Harrison, Carter T., 223, 227
Harrison, Edith Ogden, 227, 228, 232
Harrison, Louis Reeves, 45, 47, 67,
267n12
338
Hayakawa, Sessue, 149
H. B. B. Motion Pictures, 131, 293n144
Hearst, William Randolph, 86, 207
Hearst-Selig newsreel, 132, 294n152
Heart of the Sunset (Rex Beach Pictures
Company, 1918), 251
Hearts Adrift (Famous Players, 1914),
142, 170
Hector Film, 197
Henry, Dr. Charles P., 127
Higashi, Sumiko, 257–58n28, 276n178
His Neighbor’s Wife (Famous Players,
1913), 100
History of the American Cinema series,
18, 23, 65
Hitchcock, Alfred, 303n113
Hodkinson, W. W., 45
Hoffman, Hugh, 267–68n21
Holmes, Burton, 130–31
Homer’s Odyssey (Milano, 1911), 100,
267–68n21
Home, Sweet Home (Reliance; Majestic,
1914), 18082
Horitz Passion Play (International Film
Company, 1897), 82–84
Howe, Lyman H., 130–31, 181
How Wild Animals Live (production
company undetermined; states rights
distributed in the US in 1914 by
Midgar Features), 181
Human Hearts (Imp, 1914), 196
Imar, the Servitor (Majestic, 1914), 51,
68
Imp, 49, 143
Ince, Thomas, 60, 175
Inside of the White Slave Traffic, The
(Moral Feature Film Co., 1913),
100–1, 111–12, 167–69, 199
International Motion Picture Association,
40, 57, 58, 72, 266n1
Interstate Film Company, 44, 113, 138
In the Midst of the Jungle (Selig, 1913),
100
In the Season of Buds (Biograph, 1910),
143
Ireland, a Nation (Walter MacNamara,
USA, 1914), 116, 120, 190
Irving, Walter W., 59
Itala, 49, 116, 196
Jacobs, Jane, 164
Jacobs, Lea, 276n178
Jacobs, Lewis, 264n117
J & J Company, 267–68n21
James, Henry, 80
Jarvie, Ian Charles, 127
Jeffries-Sharkey Contest (American
Mutoscope & Biograph, 1899), 84
Jesse D. Hampton Productions, 251
Jesse L. Lasky Feature Co., 146, 189,
193–94
John Barleycorn (Bosworth, 1914),
135–40, 145, 181
Johnson, Katie N., 148
Johnson-Jeffries Fight (J & J Company,
1910), 267–68n21
Jowett, Garth, 127
Jungle Film Co., 37
Kahn & Greenburg, 104–5
Kalem, 43, 100, 146
Keil, Charlie, 21, 24–25, 134, 151–52,
259n49, 260n60
Kellerman, Annette, 181
Kertscher, William F., 63
Key-Bee, 49
Keystone, 49, 125, 172, 182, 224,
241–42
Kid from Klondike, The (Edison, 1911),
207
King, Rob, 128
Kismet, 197
Klaw & Erlanger, 69, 227
Klein II, William, 207–8, 306n22
Kleine, George, 61, 167–69, 190, 223,
227
Kleine Optical Company, 13
Koszarski, Richard, 50, 65
Krämer, Peter, 19
Kruger, Charles, 173
Kuhn, Annette, 147
Lacy, Ernest, 82–84
Laemmle, Carl, 50, 62–63, 124
La Grange, Margaret C., 243
Lasky, Jesse L., 38, 55, 142
Last Days of Pompeii, The (Gli ultimi
giorni di Pompeii; Ambrosio, 1913),
71, 100
Laughing Bill Hyde (Rex Beach Pictures
Company, 1918), 251
Leach, Eugene E., 279n26
Lederer, Sam, 227–28
Lengyel, Melchior, 149
Les Misérables (Pathé Frères, 1913), 41
Les Misérables (Vitagraph, 1909), 19
Levine, Lawrence W., 209, 306n29
L’Histrionic Film, 20
Liebler Company, 69, 146
Life of Moses, The (Vitagraph, 1909), 19,
37
Life of Napoleon, The (Vitagraph, 1909),
19
Life of Our Savior [reissue title] (La Vie
et la passion de Jésus Christ, PathéFrères, 1903), 116, 119
Life Photo Film Corp., 227
Lincoln, E. K., 69
Lindstrom, J. A., 152
Littlest Rebel, The (Photoplay Productions, 1914), 149, 190
Loew, Marcus, 94
London, Jack, 19, 135, 140–41, 144–45,
170–71, 174, 195, 258–59n41,
296n202
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 181
Lost Paradise, The (Famous Players,
1914), 304n148
Love’s Refrain (Imp/Universal, 1914),
143
Lubin, Sigmund, 53, 114, 124, 173,
301n67
Lubin Film Service Exchange, 112
Lubin Manufacturing Co., 84–86, 114,
124, 142, 145–46, 170, 186–87,
195–96, 250, 301n67
Luckett, Moya, 16, 275–76n172,
276n178, 303n113
339
MacGrath, Harold, 128,
MacNamara, Walter, 116
Magda, a Modern Madame X (Hispano
Films, 1913), 297n214
Majestic, 48–49, 51, 68, 100, 180, 196,
227
Maltby, Richard, 31
Mandelbaum, Emanuel, 55
Man From Mexico, The (Famous Players, 1914), 304n148
Man of the Hour, The (William A. Brady
Picture Plays, 1914), 194
Man on the Box, The (Jesse L. Lasky
Feature Co., 1914), 194–95,
Mapes, Victor, 206
Mark, Adolph, 105
Marsey, Harry, 63
Martha of the Lowlands (Famous Players, 1914), 304n148
Martin Eden (Bosworth, 1914), 145
Marvin, Harry, 54
Mastbaum, Jules E., 92, 173, 177–78,
302n98
Mastbaum, Stanley V., 113, 124,
143–45, 173–77, 179
Mastbaum Brothers & Fleischer, 173
Master Mind, The (Jesse L. Lasky Feature Co., 1914), 189
Mathewson, Christy, 246
May, Lary, 152
Mayne, Judith, 257n23
McArthur, James, 205–6
McDonald, Jack, 213
McKenty, Robert, 89, 282n45
McQuade, James, 226, 245–46
Meyer, Harry W., 119
Merrill, W. C., 62
Merritt, Russell, 31–32, 257–58n28
Metz, Christian, 306n39
Michael Strogoff (Popular Plays and
Players/Lubin, 1914), 195
Midgar Features, 181
Milano Film, 95, 100
Miller Marks, Martin, 120, 290n70
Million Bid, A (Vitagraph, 1914), 179
Million Dollar Mystery, The (Thanhouser, 1914), 129, 182
340
Mine on the Yukon, The (Edison, 1912),
20
Monarch Feature Film Exchange, 113
Moore, Owen, 141–42, 150
Moore, Paul S., 31, 33, 123
Moral Feature Film Co., 100
Morey, Anne, 208, 274n146
Morgan, Joseph P., 63
Morosco, Oliver, 68–69
Mother (William A. Brady Picture Plays,
1914), 194–95
Motion Drama Co., 142
Motion Picture Distributing and Sales
Co., 14, 49, 288n13
Motion Picture Patents Company
(MPPC), 14, 18, 20, 30, 44, 46, 52,
57, 59, 63, 96, 110, 113, 193, 226,
252, 256–57n18, 272n115, 275n157,
288n12
Mrs. Black Is Back (Famous Players,
1914), 304n148
Muggsy’s First Sweetheart (Biograph,
1910), 144
Musser, Charles, 18, 25, 32, 83, 145,
260n62, 267–68n21, 276n178
Mutual, 14, 44–45, 49, 60, 71, 112–13,
124–25, 138–39, 166, 172, 181,
19–98
Ne’er Do Well, The (Famous PlayersLasky Corp., 1923), 251
Ne’er do Well, The (Selig, 1916), 250–51
Neptune’s Daughter (Universal, 1914),
181, 227, 235
Newman Travel Talks, 130
New York Motion Picture Corp., 47, 49,
149, 175, 195–96
Niver, Mrs. E. C., 136–38
Nixon-Nirdlinger, Fred G., 94, 113, 143,
166, 194–95
Nixon-Nirdlinger, Samuel F., 93–94
Norris, Frank, 248
Oakman, Wheeler, 213, 251
O’Donnell, Hugh, 131, 155
Odyssey of the North, An (Bosworth,
1914), 145, 195
Olsson, Jan, 23, 25, 30–31, 33, 90, 123,
256n16, 264–65n118, 290n59,
292n119
Orgeron, Marsha, 145
Our Mutual Girl (Reliance, 1914-1915),
128–29, 224, 241
Oz Film Manufacturing Company, 120
Pankhurst, Emmeline, 125,
Paramount, 20, 44–45, 50, 113, 142–44,
146, 149, 172, 193–98, 251, 304n143
Pardners (Edison, 1910), 207
Parke, Alexander, 95
Pasquali Film, 227
Patchwork Girl of Oz, The (The Oz Film
Manufacturing Company, 1914), 120,
196
Pathé, 14, 23, 41, 116, 119, 172, 182,
248
Pathé, Charles,, 46, 67
Pathé Weekly, 131–32, 182, 185
Pathé-American, 129
Paul J. Rainey’s African Hunt (Jungle
Film Co., 1912), 37, 95
Payne Fund, 127
Peacocke, Leslie T., 67–68, 276n182
Pearson, Roberta E., 257–58n28,
258n40, 276n178
Penrose, Boies, 80, 139
Perils of Pauline, The (Pathé-American,
1914), 129
Perry, Eugene L., 124
Personal (Biograph, 1904), 145–46
Phillips, Henry Albert, 207
Photoplay Productions, 149
Pickford, Mary, 140–43, 150, 170,
174–75, 177, 179, 184–85
Picture Idol, The (Vitagraph, 1912),
255n6
Pittsburgh Calcium Light Company, 37
Pizzetti, Ildebrando, 120
Plimpton, Horace G., 37, 50, 52, 58,
270n50
Poole, Frederic, 126
Pope Leo XIII, 87–88
Popular Plays and Players, 195–96
Porter, Edwin S., 149, 207
Porter, George D., 80, 91, 121, 283n58
Powers, 49
Price, Gertrude, 33
Prince Features, 113
Progress Film Company, 165
Property Man, The (Keystone, 1914),
125
Quay, Matthew, 80
Queen Elisabeth (L’Histrionic Film,
1912; co-financed and imported by
Famous Players Film Company), 20,
69
Quinn, Michael, 11, 18, 20, 27, 44, 55,
57, 193, 256–57n18, 259n46,
266n133
Quo Vadis? (Cines, 1912), 13, 35,
37–38, 97–100, 148, 167–68, 190
Ragged Earl, The (Popular Plays and
Players/Lubin, 1914), 195
Ramo Films, 181
Ramona (Biograph, 1910), 143
Ramsaye, Terry, 53
Raymond L. Ditmars, 197
Ready Money (Jesse L. Lasky Feature
Co., 1914), 194
Re-enactment of Sharkey-McCoy Fight
(Lubin, 1899), 84
Reeve, Arthur B., 129
Reimer, Arthur E., 265n127
Reliance, 48–49, 128–29, 180
Rembusch, Frank J., 40–41
Reproduction of the Fitzsimmons-Jeffries
Fight (Lubin, 1899), 84
Reproduction of the Jeffries and Sharkey
Fight (Lubin, 1899), 84
Rex, 49
Rex Beach Pictures Company, 245, 251
Rich Revenge, A (Biograph, 1910), 143
Rise and Fall of Napoleon, The (production company and year of release undetermined), 227
341
Rob Roy (Eclair American, 1913), 66
Rodin, Auguste, 302n98
Rogues of Paris, The (Solax, 1913), 100
Roosevelt, Edith Kermit Carow, 87
Roosevelt, Theodore, 34, 87, 265n127
Rosenbluh, Louis, 38, 63, 66
Rose of Rancho, The (Jesse L. Lasky
Feature Co., 1914), 194
Rothapfel, Samuel L., 47, 223–24
Russell, Catherine, 29, 263n96
Russell Sage Foundation, 127
Rydell, Robert, 248
Rynbrandt, Linda, 292n117
Ryno, W. H., 212
Santschi, Tom, 212, 240–41
Sapho (Lubin, 1900), 85
Sapho (Majestic, 1913), 100
Sargent, Epes Winthrop, 54
Savage, Henry W., 146, 297n214
Sawin, Chester W., 56
Schaefer, Eric, 146–47
Scheff, Thomas J., 263n95
Schrock, 66
Schubert, J. A., 59
Schubert [theatre organization], 69
Schubert Features, 196
Schwalbe, Harry, 44, 110–11, 113, 126
Sears & Roebuck, 279–80n1
Sea Wolf, The (Bosworth, 1913), 145,
170–71, 187, 195, 296n202
Second Sight (Imp, 1911), 143
Selig, William, 37, 43, 52, 54, 209, 210,
223
Selig Polyscope Co., 12, 35, 36, 100,
128, 195, 196, 197, 207, 209, 210,
211, 226, 227, 228, 230, 231, 234,
235, 236, 239, 240, 249, 250, 251,
258–59n41
Selznick, Lewis J., 47, 124
Sennett, Mack, 60, 125
Sheehan, Winifred R., 45
Sherry, William L., 56, 62
Shirley, Samuel H., 57
Sienkiewicz, Henryk, 99
342
Sign of the Cross, The (Famous Players,
1914), 304n148
Sign of the Rose, The (a.k.a. The Alien,
New York Motion Picture Corp.,
1915), 175,
Singer, Ben, 13, 21, 22, 27, 31–32, 57,
134, 151–52, 257–58n28, 260n60,
272n119, 275n171, 304n143
Sklar, Robert, 257–58n28
Sloan, Kay, 147
Slotkin, Richard, 248
Smashing the Vice Trust (Progress Film
Company, 1914), 165, 169
Smith Wallace, Roy, 101
Social Workers Club of Philadelphia,
128
Solax, 49, 100,
Sousa, John Philip, 246
Spartacus (Spartaco, Pasquali Film,
1913), 227
Spoilers, The (Jesse D. Hampton Productions for Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, 1923), 251
Spoilers, The (Selig, 1914), 12, 35–36,
116, 118, 190, 194–195, 197,
202–251, 253–54
Spoor, George, 223
Staiger, Janet, 21–22, 24, 46, 67, 140,
257n19, 265n131, 269n42, 269n44,
270n61, 277n192,
Stamp, Shelley, 16, 24, 25, 91, 283n59
Stanley Company, 111, 124, 173–74,
177–78, 194–95, 198
St. Clair, Robert N., 271n86
Stefansson, V., 246
Steffens, Lincoln, 79–81, 265n128
Stiefel, Oscar, 119
Stoddard, John L., 82
Stokes, Melvyn, 31, 290n76
Straight Road, The (Famous Players,
1914), 304n148
Stranglers of Paris, The (Motion Drama
Co., 1913), 142, 179
Strauss, Malcolm, 246
Strauven, Wanda, 261n71
Streible, Dan, 86, 256n13
Streyckmans, H. J., 71
Stronach, Robert, 223
Stuart, Edwin, 89
Sturgeon, Rollin S., 43–44, 48
Such a Little Queen (Famous Players,
1914), 143, 304n148
Swaab, Lewis M., 112, 124
Sztompka, Piotr, 262n88, 271n86
Taft, William H., 34, 265n127
Talbot, Frederick A., 272n113
Tangled Tangoists, The (Vitagraph,
1914), 134
Tener, John, 136, 138
Tess D’Urbervilles (Famous Players,
1913), 66
Tess of the Storm County (Famous Players, 1914), 142, 149, 304n148
Thanhouser, 49, 129
Thanhouser, Edwin, 68
Thomas, A. W., 267n12
Thompson, Frank T., 147
Thompson, Joseph H., 138
Thompson, Kristin, 21, 24, 36, 65
Thread of Destiny, The (Biograph, 1910),
143
Tigress, The (Popular Plays and Players,
1914), 195
Too Fat to Fight (Rex Beach Pictures
Company, 1918), 251
Tourneur, Maurice, 176
Traffic in Souls (Universal, 1913),
100–1, 167, 183, 199, 236
Trey o’ Hearts, The (Universal, 1914),
129–30, 182
Triangle Film Corp., 60, 274n140
Trilby (Equitable Motion Pictures Corp.,
1915), 176
Trimble, Laurence, 251
Tuxedo Tobacco, 246–47
Twisted Trail, The (Biograph, 1910), 143
The Typhoon (New York Motion Picture
Corp., 1914), 149, 195
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Kalem, 1913), 100
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Vitagraph, 1910),
38
Unique Film Co., 125
United Features, 113
Universal, 14, 44, 49–50, 62, 100,
112–13, 123–24, 129–30, 132, 143,
181, 185, 196–98, 242, 294n152
Unwelcome Mrs. Hatch, The (Famous
Players, 1914), 304n148
Urban, Charles, 127
Uricchio, William, 257–58n28, 258n40,
276n178
USA v. MPPC, 30, 44, 46, 57, 59, 63,
110, 113, 193, 252, 272n115,
275n157, 288n12
Vanderbilt, Mrs. W. K., 170, 301n67
van Ronkel, Ike, 56
Vengeance of Durand; or, The Two Portraits, The (Vitagraph, 1913), 207
Verhoeff, Nanna, 29–30
Veriscope Co., 82, 84, 280n13
Victim of Sin, A (1913; production company and director undetermined),
146–47
Virginian, The (Jesse L. Lasky Feature
Co., 1914), 194–95
Vitagraph, 19, 38, 43, 47, 61, 67, 97,
112, 114, 124, 134, 146, 172, 179,
182–83, 196, 207, 250, 255n6,
258n40, 276n178
V-L-S-E, 59, 250, 310–311n156
Waller, Gregory, 31, 257n22, 298n4
War of Wars, The (Ramo Films, 1914),
181
Warner, Abe, 47
Warner Jr., Sam Bass, 157, 158, 159,
163, 164,
Warner’s Features, 19–20, 50, 52, 56, 59,
62, 113, 194, 300n50
Where the Trail Divides (Jesse L. Lasky
Feature Co., 1914), 194
White, Hayden, 28, 262n90
White, Pearl, 129
White Star, 196
Whitman Features, 197
Wild Animals at Large (production company and release year undetermined),
169–70
343
Wildflower (Famous Players, 1914),
304n148
William A. Brady Picture Plays, 172,
189, 193–94, 196
Williams, Kathlyn, 128, 212, 230,
239–40, 251
Williams, Linda, 303n113
Williams, Raymond, 23
Wilson, Woodrow, 34, 265n127
Wister, Owen, 80, 248
Woods, Frank E., 38, 48, 53, 67–68, 70,
267–68n21
World Film Corp.47, 50, 55, 196–98
Wrath of the Gods, The (New York Motion Picture Corp., 1914), 195–96
Wright, William Lord, 268n25
Young, Clara Kimball, 124, 175–76
Zimmerman, J. Fred, 93–94, 169
Zudora (Thanhouser, 1914-1915), 129
Zukor, Adolph, 60–61, 144
344
Stockholm Cinema Studies
Published by Stockholm University
Editor: Astrid Söderbergh Widding
1. Karl Hansson. Det figurala och den rörliga bilden – Om estetik, materialitet och medieteknologi hos Jean Epstein, Bill Viola och Artintact (The Figural and the Moving Image – On Aesthetics, Materiality and Media Technology in the Work of Jean Epstein, Bill Viola and Artintact). Stockholm
2006. 214 pp.
2. Eirik Frisvold Hanssen. Early Discourses on Colour and Cinema: Origins,
Functions, Meanings. Stockholm 2006. 208 pp.
3. Therése Andersson. Beauty Box – Filmstjärnor och skönhetskultur i det
tidiga 1900-talets Sverige (Beauty Box – Film Stars and Beauty Culture in
Early Twentieth-Century Sweden). Stockholm, 2006. 200 pp.
4. Anna Sofia Rossholm. Reproducing Languages. Translating Bodies: Approaches to Speech, Translation and Identity in Early European Sound Film.
Stockholm 2006. 214 pp.
5. Åsa Jernudd. Filmkultur och nöjesliv i Örebro 1897-1908 (Movies and
Entertainment in Örebro 1897-1908). Stockholm 2007. 204 pp.
6. Henrik Gustafsson. Out of Site: Landscape and Cultural Reflexivity in
New Hollywood Cinema 1969-1974. Stockholm 2007. 228 pp.
7. Vreni Hockenjos. Picturing Dissolving Views: August Strindberg and the
Visual Media of His Age. Stockholm 2007. 250 pp.
8. Malena Janson. Bio för barnet bästa?: Svensk barnfilm som fostran och
fritidsnöje under 60 år (Cinema of Best Intentions?: 60 Years of Swedish
Children’s Film as Education and Entertainment). Stockholm 2007. 176 pp.
9. Joel Frykholm. Framing the Feature Film: Multi-Reel Feature Film and
American Film Culture in the 1910s. Stockholm 2009. 346 pp.
Subscriptions to the series and orders for single volumes should be addressed
to any international bookseller or directly to the distributor:
eddy.se ab, B, SE-621 24 Visby, Sweden.
Phone: +46 498 253900
Fax: +46 498 249789
E-mail: order@bokorder.se
http://acta.bokorder.se
345
ACTA UNIVERSITATIS STOCKHOLMIENSIS
Corpus Troporum
Romanica Stockholmiensia
Stockholm Cinema Studies
Stockholm Economic Studies. Pamphlet Series
Stockholm Oriental Studies
Stockholm Slavic Studies
Stockholm Studies in Baltic Languages
Stockholm Studies in Classical Archaeology
Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion
Stockholm Studies in Economic History
Stockholm Studies in Educational Psychology
Stockholm Studies in English
Stockholm Studies in Ethnology
Stockholm Studies in History
Stockholm Studies in History of Art
Stockholm Studies in History of Ideas
Stockholm Studies in History of Literature
Stockholm Studies in Human Geography
Stockholm Studies in Linguistics
Stockholm Studies in Modern Philology. N.S.
Stockholm Studies in Musicology
Stockholm Studies in Philosophy
Stockholm Studies in Psychology
Stockholm Studies in Russian Literature
Stockholm Studies in Scandinavian Philology. N.S.
Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology. N.S.
Stockholm Studies in Sociology. N.S.
Stockholm Studies in Statistics
Stockholm Theatre Studies
Stockholmer Germanistische Forschungen
Studia Fennica Stockholmiensia
Studia Graeca Stockholmiensia. Series Graeca
Studia Graeca Stockholmiensia. Series Neohellenica
Studia Juridica Stockholmiensia
Studia Latina Stockholmiensia
Studies in North-European Archaeology
346