June 2nd at 7.30 p.m. and available until June 30th on Kennington Bioscope You Tube Channel.
‘Women and the Silent Screen’ is a conference held bi-annually in New York City. Number 11 this year is on line between June 4th and June 6th. A series programmes will have papers and discussion on the work and art of women film-makers in early cinema; the central theme this year is ‘Women, Cinema and World Migration’.
Before the Conference there will be a tribute screening to the important pioneer of early cinema, Alice Guy Blaché and this is being made available on the Kennington Bioscope. Alice worked as a secretary at the firm of Gaumont, soon to become the first major production company in the new cinema industry. She was a pioneer in making short narrative films as the Head of Production at Gaumont between 1896 and 1906.
In 1907 she married Herbert Blaché and the pair moved to the USA to work for Gaumont in that territory. In 1910 she, with partners, formed the Solax Film Company, a production company based first in an ex-Gaumont Studio in New York and then in a new production facility in the film town Fort Lee, near New York. She continued directing and producing films up until 1920.
The programme streaming on the Bioscope offers nine titles from her period at Solax.
The titles included present Alice Guy as producer, writer and director. A number of archives have contributed including producing newly digitised versions. As can been seen the surviving information available varies and some of the transfers still show the ravages on the original prints. The Bioscope also offers musical accompaniments streamed alongside the titles. The programme is in two parts and runs for 120 minutes
Frozen on Love’s Trail. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1912), running time: 13:30 minutes. Source Archive: Eye Filmmuseum. Music: Costas Fotopolous.
An early western.
Two Little Rangers. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1912). running time: 14 minutes. Source Archive: Eye Filmmuseum. Music: Andrew E. Simpson.
Another western adventure; possibly a tinted version
The Strike. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1912). running time: 11:10 minutes. Source Archive: BFI. Music: Lillian Henley.
A ‘labour problem’ drama.
A Man’s a Man. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1912). running time: 9.5 minutes. Source Archive: GEM. Music: Andrew E. Simpson.
A drama of social justice.
Starting Something. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1911). running time: 10:30 minutes. Source Archive: LOC/Lobster Films Collection. Music: John Sweeney.
A suffragette comedy.
The Sewer. Directed by Edward Warren (Solax, USA, 1912). Produced with scenario by Alice Guy Blaché. Set design by Henri Ménessier. Running time: 18:40 minutes. Source Archive: LOC. Music: John Sweeney.
A crime drama.
Cousins of Sherlocko. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1913). running time: 12 minutes. Source Archive: LOC. Music: Colin Sell.
Mistaken identity leads to a criminal investigation.
The Detective’s Dog. Produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1912). running time: 11:30 minutes. Source Archive: LOC. Music: Meg Morley.
One for Canine fans; unfortunately the final scene is missing.
Greater Love Hath No Man. Directed and produced by Alice Guy Blaché (Solax, USA, 1911). running time: 15:20 minutes. Source Archive: LOC. Music: John Sweeney.
A western romance.
The programme offers an interesting insight into the developing genres of early cinema and the films directed by Alice Guy stand up in their own right. There are interesting plays with developing narrative: some fine exteriors: and excellent cinematography. And KB silents are always enhanced by the musical accompaniments.
The online editions of the Kennington Bioscope continue into 2021, commencing with a programme courtesy of the archives of the Library of Congress. Episode 14 on January 27th, 2021 at 19.30 GMT, free and open access worldwide on YouTube.
Fly high with the main presentation of comedy-drama, Daring Deeds (US 1927), directed by Duke Worne, in which William Gordon, Jr. (Billy Sullivan) is the rebellious heir to a million-dollar airplane business. He leaves home in search of adventure and falls in love with Helen (Molly Malone), the daughter of an eccentric, destitute inventor. William enters an air race using a souped-up plane, which rewards with some thrilling aerial shots. The title is five reels in black and white running about 60 minutes. You can get more details on the director and the cast on the American Film Institute’s pages [AFI].
Supporting the feature are have two short films, the mesmerising H20 (US 1929), a watery documentary by cinematographer Ralph Steiner and The Day After (US 1909), an American Biograph comedy detailing the dangers of alcoholic refreshment imbibed by the hosts of a New Year’s party. Directed by D.W. Griffith and written by Mary Pickford, it features several familiar faces from the studio’s stable, among them Mack Sennett and Blanche Sweet. This short film is in black and white, is 460 feet in length and runs for about eight minutes. The AFI catalogue page includes a synopsis.
As usual the programme includes introduction and a musical accompaniment.