Image

Production still from Georges Méliès’ Eclipse de soleil en pleine lune (1907), from Image vol. 34 (1991)

The number of digitised film journals on the Web remains very few, the number dedicated to silent film miniscule, and the number of those in English nanoscopically small. So it is terrific to be able to report that George Eastman House has published online most of Image, 1952-1997.

Image was the journal of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, for forty-seven years. It reported on and documented scholarship in photography and motion pictures, with particular reference to its own collections. Its distinguished contributors included photography historian and GEH’s first curator Beaumont Newhall, GEH’s first motion picture curator, James Card, George Pratt, author of one of the essential silent film books, Spellbound in Darkness, and more recently GEH curators Jan-Christopher Horak and Paolo Cherchi Usai. Today the name of Image lives on in part through Marshall Deutelbaum’s fine collection ‘Image’ on the Art and Evolution of the Film (1979).

Image covered photographic and motion picture history, so only a part of the journal run relates to silent film, but what is there is excellent, often with key historical or filmographic data published for the first time, and gorgeously illustrated. Below is a selection of some of the articles with links to web page for the individual issues (many of which are also reproduced in Deutelbaum’s book). Please note that the journal has been digitised volume-by-volume and each PDF file is 30MB or more in size. Be aware also that the journals are not arranged in complete chronological order, so one can find oneself jumping from the 1950s to the 1970s then back to the 50s in places. There do not seem to be many issues for the 1960s, for reasons that are not explained (it appears it just wasn;t published too often that decade).

  • Collecting Old Films: Article stressing the importance of motion picture archives and the need for a collective effort to preserve film history. IMAGE (1952. vol 1. issue 7.)
  • The Kammatograph: Description of the apparatus developed and patented by Leo Kramm in England, 1897. The Kammatograph, a camera and projector in one unit, recorded up to 550 images in a spiral pattern on a circular glass plate that could then be projected. IMAGE (1952. vol 1. issue 8.)
  • Silent Film Speed, by James Card. Discusses the factors in trying to determine correct projection speeds for silent films, as the speeds vary, sometimes even from scene to scene within a single film. The end of the article provides a list of 29 silent films and their correct projection speeds. IMAGE (1955. vol 4. issue 7.)
  • Eadweard Muybridge and the Motion Picture, by Beaumont Newhall. IMAGE (1956. vol 5. issue 1.)
  • Out of Pandora’s Box: New light on G. W. Pabst from his lost star, Louise Brooks, by James Card, and Mr. Pabst, by Louise Brooks. IMAGE (1956. vol 5. issue 7.)
  • The George K. Spoor Collection. Equipment and film recently given to the museum, by James Card. IMAGE (1956. vol 5. issue 8.)
  • Early Days of Movie Comedies: Reminiscences by a director in the early silent comedy days, by Clarence G. Badger. IMAGE (1957. vol 6. issue 5.)
  • Film Archives: Historians of the future might have had the rare privilege of consulting filmed documents of all the world events from the year 1898, by James Card. IMAGE (1958. vol 7. issue 6.)
  • The Posse is Ridin’ Like Mad: An account of Westerns and Western stars from 1907 through 1914, by George Pratt. IMAGE (1958. vol 7. issue 4.). Part II IMAGE (1958. vol 7. issue 7.)
  • The Films of Mary Pickford: On early screen legend Mary Pickford and her enduring appeal. With An Index to the Films of Mary Pickford. IMAGE (1959. vol 8. issue 4.)
  • The Jack-Rabbits of the Movie Business: On the prolific and profitable nickelodeon theatres of the early 1900s. IMAGE (1961. vol 10. issue 3.)
  • Firsting the Firsts. George Pratt posits that film projection on the Eidoloscope in America pre-dated the first public screenings by Lumière in France and Skladanowsky in Germany. IMAGE (1971. vol 14. issue 5–6.)
  • “”If You Beat Me, I Wept””: Alice Terry Reminisces About Silent Films. Excerpts from a taped interview with actress Alice Terry and veteran cameraman John Seitz conducted by George Pratt in 1958. IMAGE (1973. vol 16. issue 1.)
  • “”It’s Just Wonderful How Fate Works””: Ramon Novarro on his Film Career. Ramon Novarro, who played the title role in Ben Hur (1925), reminisces about his film career in this taped interview conducted by George Pratt. IMAGE (1973. vol 16. issue 4.)
  • The Most Important Factor was the ‘Spirit’: Leni Riefenstahl During the Filming of The Blue Light. IMAGE (1974. vol 17. issue 1.)
  • “Anything Can Happen—and Generally Did”. Buster Keaton gives a detailed account of his silent film career during a talk with an unnamed interviewer in Los Angeles in 1958. IMAGE (1974. vol 17. issue 4.)
  • “She Banked in her Stocking; or, Robbed of her All”: Mutoscopes Old and New. IMAGE (1976. vol 19. issue 1.)
  • Early Film Activities of William Fox. Excerpt from Paul C. Spehr’s book The Movies Begin: Making Movies in New Jersey. IMAGE (1977. vol 20. issue 3–4.)
  • Cue Sheets for Silent Films: On Theodore Huff’s collection of thematic cue sheets for silent films presented to George Eastman House in 1953. IMAGE (1982. vol 25. issue 1.)
  • The Color of Nitrate: Some Factual Observations on Tinting and Toning Manuals for Silent Films, by Paolo Cherchi Usai. IMAGE (1991. vol 34. issue 1–2.)
  • A Trip to the Movies: Georges Méliès, Filmmaker and Magician (1861-1938) by Paolo Cherchi Usai. IMAGE (1991. vol 34. issue 3–4.)

And that’s just a selection on what’s available on silent film. It’s such a treasure trove, and all word-searchable – do note, by the way, that once you have searched for a keyword, you must uncheck the box on the left which says ‘Search within results’, or else further keyword searches will only be within the results of the previous search. Also, search under More Options for browing by author, keyword, volume number and year.

Warm praise is due to George Eastman House for making the journal available in this way. Go explore.

4 responses

  1. Spellbound in Darkness has to be among my top ten great titles for film books. A great title doesn’t necessarly mean a great book, but Pratt’s book is that too. Off the top of my head, here are the other nine:

    Kafka Goes to the Movies (Hanns Zischler)
    The War the West and the Wilderness (Kevin Brownlow)
    Movies in the Age of Innocence (Edward Wagenknecht)
    The Dream that Kicks (Michael Chanan)
    Came the Dawn (Cecil Hepworth)
    Money into Light (John Boorman)
    My Indecision is Final (Jake Eberts and Terry Ilott)
    A Mirror for England (Raymond Durgnat)
    Le Grand Art de la Lumière et de l’Ombre (Laurent Mannoni – it just doesn’t work as well in English)
    A Million and One Nights (Terry Ramsaye)

    All of those are great books too – so perhaps there is a connection

  2. This is a great resource, as this journal is quite hard to find outside the US: runs of it in British libraries are incomplete. By the way, several of the unsigned articles about silent film are by George Pratt, and some (most?) of these are attributed in Herb Reynolds’ tribute to GP in Cinema Journal. Viz: Herbert Reynolds, ‘George C. Pratt: 1914-1988’, Cinema Journal 28, no. 3 (Spring 1989): 8-17.

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