Film studies is dead… long live film studies


Vitagraph’s Manchester office in 1921, from Richard Brown’s article ‘The Missing Link: Film Renters in Manchester, 1910–1920’

OK, not that film studies, but Film Studies the journal, published by Manchester University Press, produced out of the University of Kent, which is no more. This is sad news, because it was handsomely produced and filled with stimulating riches, issue after issue. But, as Catherine Grant on the never less than essential Film Studies for Free reports, Manchester University Press has done the decent thing and made all of the articles in the journal 2004-2007 freely available online in PDF format (earlier content 1999-2004 isn’t available in digital form). Film Studies for Free lists all of the articles that are available; here at the Bioscope we’re selective in our tastes, so here is all the articles which touch on silent cinema:

Volume 10 (Spring 2007)
Luke McKernan, ‘Only the screen was silent …’: Memories of children’s cinema-going in London before the First World War
(pp 1-20)
Full Article in PDF p1 (273 k)

Simon Brown, Flicker Alley: Cecil Court and the Emergence of the British Film Industry
(pp 21-33)
Full Article in PDF p21 (122 k)

Janet McBain, Green’s of Glasgow: `We Want "U" In’
(pp 54-57)
Full Article in PDF p54 (124 k)

Richard Brown, The Missing Link: Renters in Manchester, 1910-1920
(pp 58-63)
Full Article in PDF p58 (157 k)

Frank Gray, Kissing and Killing: A Short History of Brighton on Film
(pp 64-71)
Full Article in PDF p64 (113 k)

Brigitte Flickinger, Cinemas in the City: Berlin’s Public Space in the 1910s and 1920s
(pp 72-86)
Full Article in PDF p72 (173 k)

Kate Bowles, ‘All the evidence is that Cobargo is slipping’: An ecological approach to rural cinema-going
(pp 87-96)
Full Article in PDF p87 (120 k)

Volume 9 (Winter 2006)

David Lavery, ‘No More Undiscovered Countries’: The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse
(pp 1-8)
Full Article in PDF p1 (92 k)

Volume 8 (Summer 2006)

Patrick Colm Hogan, Narrative Universals, Nationalism, and Sacrificial Terror: From Nosferatu to Nazism
(pp 93-105)
Full Article in PDF p93 (208 k)

Volume 6 (Summer 2005)

David Trotter, Virginia Woolf and Cinema
(pp 13-26)
Full Article in PDF p13 (152 k)

Elizabeth Lebas, Sadness and Gladness: The Films of Glasgow Corporation, 1922-1938
(pp 27-45)
Full Article in PDF p27 (236 k)

Volume 4 (Summer 2004)

Charles Musser, The Hidden and the Unspeakable: On Theatrical Culture, Oscar Wilde and Ernst Lubitsch’s Lady Windermere’s Fan
(pp 12-47)
Full Article in PDF p12 (478 k) [this PDF is not working at present]

A marvellous selection, including a number from a special issue on Cities and Cinema. I can quite recommend the top article to you – and all the others just as much. For the remaining articles, do visit the relevant MUP web page. If a journal does have to fold, this is a noble way of keeping its contents available, especially for those without easy access to academic libraries, so plaudits to MUP, and hopefully it’s a model that others will follow (though of course we’d rather not have any more film journals fold, of course).

Cinecon 45


Photographs from last year’s Cinecon 44

Cinecon, the classic film festival, takes place 3-7 September over Labor Day weekend, at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, Hollywood Blvd. Cinecon describes itself as is a five day celebration of the movies, with screenings of nearly thirty rare silent and early sound feature films and as many short subjects from leading film archives and Hollywood studio vaults. It is dedicated to showcasing unusual films that are rarely given public screenings, mostly on 35mm, with live piano accompaniment for silents. There are celebrity guests and opportunities to buy movie memorabilia in six dealers’ rooms. Titles to be screened won’t be announced until a month before the event, but these are the film screening hours:

Thursday Sep. 3 7 pm – midnight
Friday Sep. 4 9 am – midnight
Saturday Sep. 5 9 am – midnight
Sunday Sep. 6 9 am – 6:30 pm
Monday Sep. 7 9 am – 6:00 pm

To attend the Cinecon Classic Film Festival you need to become a Cinecon member. Membership is included when you buy a full festival pass or a single day pass. No admissions to individual films are sold. Passes also include free entrance to the memorabilia dealers’ rooms but for those who only want to shop they offer a separate dealers-room-only admission. Background information and registration details are available on the Cinecon site.

Silents from Sulphur Springs


Georges Méliès’ La Clownesse fantôme (1902)

The Bioscope returns from its travels in Ireland and Wales (about which you will learn something in due course) to report once more on what’s been happening in the world of early and silent cinema. Kicking things off, the Sulphur Springs Collection of Pre-Nickelodeon Films is a collection of early American films recently published online. The collection is part of the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection (formerly the Southwest Film/Video Archive) held by Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas, Texas. Twenty-nine of the thirty-three films, dating 1898-1906, have been published as part of SMU’s Central University Libraries (CUL) Digital Collections.

Below is a list the films being made available. Highlights include a Lubin imitation of Edison’s Life of an American Fireman (Lubin was notorious for borrowing other companies’ good ideas), several Edison panoramic films of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, an atavistic chase film Tracked By Bloodhounds, or A Lynching in Cripple Creek (the victim is not black), and the otherwise lost Georges Méliès film, La Clownesse fantôme.

1. A Shocking Accident (Lubin, 1904)
2. [Couple Feeding Barnyard Fowl] (unidentified, 1903)
3. Earthquake ruins new Majestic Theater and City Hall (Edison,1906)
4. Epopée napoléonienne: Crossing Mt. St. Bernard (Pathé Frères, 1903-04)
5. [Feeding Fowl on a Country Path] (unidentified, no date)
6. [Gymnastics] (unidentified, no date)
7. Inexhaustible Cab (Lubin, 1901)
8. Japs Loading and Firing a Gun on Battleship ‘Asam’ (Edison, 1904?)
9. La Clownesse fantôme (The Shadow-Girl) (Star Films, 1902)
10. Le Laveur de devantures (The window cleaner) (Pathé Frères, 1903)
11. Life Of An American Fireman (Lubin, 1905)
12. Love in a Railroad Train (Lubin, 1902)
13. The Maniac Barber (American Mutoscope and Biograph Co., 1899)
14. Panorama City Hall, Van Ness Ave., and College of St. Ignatius (Edison, 1906)
15. Panorama Nob Hill and ruins of millionaire residences (Edison,1906)
16. Panorama notorious ‘Barbary Coast’ (Edison, 1906)
17. Panorama ruins, aristocratic apartments (Edison, 1906)
18. [Pillow Fight Scene] (unidentified, no date)
19. Ruins of Chinatown (Edison, 1906)
20. S.S. ‘Coptic’ (Edison, 1898)
21. The Counterfeiters (Lubin, 1905)
22. The Farmer’s Troubles in a Hotel (Lubin, 1902)
23. The Fight on the Bridge for Supremacy (Lubin, 1904)
24. The Golf Girls and the Tramp (Edison, 1902)
25. The Goose Takes a Trolley Ride (Lubin, 1903)
26. Tracked By Bloodhounds, or A Lynching in Cripple Creek (Selig, 1904)
27. [Trio of Acrobats] (unidentified, 1901)
28. Two Rubes at the Theater (Lubin, 1901)
29. Vertical panorama City Hall and surroundings (Edison, 1906)

The films are available in QuickTime format, and each is catalogued in much hyperlinked detail. The image quality is fine, and the original films look in good conditions, with just some touches of nitrate decomposition here and there. The website provides this statement regarding usage:

The files in this collection are protected by copyright law. No commercial reproduction or distribution of these files is permitted without the written permission of Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries. These files may be freely used for educational purposes, provided they are not altered in any way, and Southern Methodist University is cited.

So now you know. It’s an excellent collection, ranging from single-shot actualities to multi-shot narratives, informative, coherent and illuminating. You can find out more about the collection, with background on all of the films, including the four not included online)) in Rick Worland, ‘The Sulphur Springs, Texas early films discovery‘, Journal of Film Preservation 51 (1995), pp. 56-64, available in PDF format from the FIAF site. It will get added to the Bioscope’s list of video sources. Go explore.

Travelling time


Things are likely to be a little quiet here for the next week or so as The Bioscope hits the conference trail. It’s off to Dublin for the James Joyce Summer School, then Aberystwyth for the Iamhist conference on Social Fears and Moral Panics, then to Bristol for the Colour and the Moving Image conference. A pause for breath, then off to Cambridge to speak on Olympic films for the Sport in Modern Europe academic network. I shall report along the way where I can, and certainly on my return.

The Italian scene


Francesca Bertini and Mario Parpagnoli in L’ultimo Sogno, from Al Cinema, January 1923

From Brazil to Italy. Our second non-English language online resource with digitised silent film era journals is Teca Digitale piemontese. This is a collection of digitised resources from Italian libraries and archives. To find the film journals, select ‘Selezionare la tipologia del materiale che si intende consultare’ from the top menu, and ‘Museo Nazionle del Cinema’ from the second menu. Click on ‘Ricerca per Ente’. You will get this list of digitised journals:

  • Bollettino di informazioni cinematografiche – 1924-1925
  • Bollettino edizioni Pittaluga – 1928-1929
  • Bollettino staffetta dell’ufficio stampa della anonima pittaluga – 1929-1931
  • Cine Mondo: rivista quindicinale illustrata de cinema – 1927-1931
  • Al cinema: settimanale di cinematografia e varietà – 1922-1930
  • Eco film: periodico quindicinale cinematografico – 1913
  • Figure mute: rivista cinematografica – 1919
  • Films Pittaluga: rivista di notizie cinematografiche: pubblicazione quindicinale – 1923-1925
  • Il Maggese cinematografico: periodico quindicinale – 1913-1915
  • Rassegna delle programmazioni – 1925-1926

There are two icons beside each title. Clicking on that on the far left gives information on the publication. The adjacent icon leads to a list of years for that journal, then click on the blue circle to find the issues within that year (this part of the site requires Java to be installed). Double-clicking on a title opens up the full issue with a menu of pages. There is a suite of tools to resize, rotate or otherwise interrogate the individual pages. There is also a word-search facility, though I had limited success finding things that way (no results for the search term ‘maciste’? Surely not).

The journals are all, of course, in Italian. Content-wise the bias seems to be strongly towards Italian production, though there is plenty of coverage of American production. Photographs are thin on the ground, though do check out Figure mute: rivista cinematografica for a succession of striking colour advertisements. As a range of written resources for the study of silent film on one site, this may well have no equal, even if it’s a bit of a business drilling down to any one page. As indicated, all the journals come from the collection of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin.

My thanks once again to Teresa Antolin for alerting me to this site. Any other non-English silent film journal sites out there (or English ones for that matter)? Do let me know.