Motion Pictures – Not for Theaters

Motion Pictures - Not for Theaters

Now this is important. The Prelinger Archives are digitising the whole of the American journal The Educational Screen, and putting it up on the Internet Archive, volume by volume, 1922 to 1962. The journal reported on the educational film in America, and is an important source for learning about the non-theatrical film business and the rise of 16mm.

But its particular importance comes because between 1938 and 1944 The Educational Screen published Arthur Edwin Krows’ vast history of the non-theatrical film, Motion Pictures – Not for Theaters. It was published one chapter at a time, issue by issue, though it was never completed. It would probably never have found a publisher as a book, being of such length, rambling in style, and specialised in theme, but it is a fabulous store of information on filmmakers, films and film businesses working to make films that instructed, advertised, propagandised or educated, which simply cannot be found anywhere else. Sometimes the history is dubious, or too bound up with anecdote, and relevant information on people is often scattered across the chapters (the word-searchable text files supplied on the Internet Archive will be a huge help).

Caveats aside, it has a huge amount of information on the silent era, from the 1890s onwards, including such key figures as Charles Urban, Lyman Howes, Burton Holmes, Percy Smith, George Kleine, Jean Comandon, Max Fleischer, Joseph De Frene, James A. Fitzpatrick and Alexander Victor. Once again Rick Prelinger has done scholarship a marvellous service.

4 responses

  1. Ah yes, but would you really want to go to the bother of finding each issue of Educational Screen on this site which contains an episode of Krows’ history, then downloading the entire issue, then printing out the relevant pages? Wouldn’t it be easier if all episodes had been reprinted into one convenient volume, and with annotations by experts? All Krows in one nest, so to speak. Well, this is probably going to happen. Perhaps I shouldn’t be revealing this plan, and it won’t be out for a couple of years, but obviously Bioscopic readers should be the first to hear.

  2. Well, indeed it would be quite a chore to download all those PDFs (and volume 22, which will contain the last chapters of Krows’ work, hasn’t been published online as yet). The plain text files, however, are an excellent opportunity for word searching – invaluable, given the chaotic way in which Krows arranged his material.

    And yes there is talk of republishing Motion Pictures – Not for Theaters, with expert annotations. I just hope it comes with an index!

  3. Hi there – I’m currently compiling all of Krows’ columns. The last appearance of it seems to be in June 1944 (part 58), even though it ends with the standard “(to be continued)”. Any idea why Krows (apparently) never completed the series?

  4. Hi there – I don’t know why it was never completed, though maybe it just a case of the publisher deciding that enough was enough (it had run for seven years) and that Krows saw no way of actually finishing it. But that’s just speculation. Good luck on compiling all of the columns. There was talk a few years ago of a film history journal producing a special edition which would reproduce the entire text plus have assorted scholarly annotations, but it doesn’t look likely to happen now.

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