Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival


The 10th annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival is taking place at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Fremont, California, June 29-July 1. This year the festival celebrates 100 years of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. The web page for the festival still has information on the 2006 festival, but if you go to their Saturday Night Film Schedule a full list of titles and dates is given. See not only Broncho Billy Anderson, the early cinema’s favourite cowboy, but also Ben Turpin, Max Linder, Beverley Bayne, Francis X. Bushman, Rod LaRoque and Wallace Berry. There’s an evening of Broncho Billy films included, and among the musicians is the incomparable Phil Carli.


As some of you will know, the Goad plans were insurance plans of cities in Britain and elsewhere by Chas. E. Goad. If one searches the COPAC union catalogue of British academic and research libraries ( under ‘maps’, over 6,000 such plans and sets of plans come up. Over a thousand of these are for the period 1880s to 1920.

In the period after 1900, buildings used as cinemas or classed as cinemas are sometimes indicated on these plans, as such buildings were of course known fire hazards. Probably film stores would have been charted too. I have long thought, even before these plans were so well catalogued online on COPAC, that an interesting project for someone would be to use these plans to locate such film-related buildings.

Many of the Goad plans cover Canadian towns and cities, and I believe that, as the originals were lost in a fire in a store in Canada some years ago, these British copies (mainly held in the British Library) are the only surviving examples. Where else would one find an insurance map of Moose Jaw in 1909? British and Canadian early film scholars please note.

The Written Word

Today I was looking over an article I located from the Illustrated London News dated August 19, 1922. The title of the piece is “The Birth of the Cinematograph: From Still to Moving Pictures”. This particular article was written by Will Day. Day was an enthusiastic collector of many things, among them some of the early apparatus of pre-cinema and moving pictures. The article is a very interesting document in that it relates much of the pre-cinema history as opposed to traditional moving images. It also has me reflecting on another group of individuals in motion picture history. People such as Day, Merritt Crawford, Earl Thiesen and countless others spent an inordinate amount of time and energy in the attempt to document moving image history. When you think about it, if not for these men, much sole source data such as first person interviews and correspondence might not exist. In many cases actual footage, and equipment is no longer available, so this turns out to be our only method of providing a sense of the history of the Industry. I have found it fascinating in the course of my own research; be it by design or by accident to locate and find written histories left by many more people who played a part in the development of the film industry.