1. Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.

    The Voice of Conscience: One reel of approximately 1,000 feet, September 3, 1912

    Two girls fall in love with the same man. Out motoring one day they are thrown from the machine and carried to the hospital. One of the girls poisons the other. The story swings into a very pleasant finish.

    Print source: George Eastman House, 14 minutes 22 seconds.
    Cast: Edmond J. Hayes (dying father), Jean Darnell (orphan), Florence LaBadie (visiting girl), Harry Benham (suitor), Justice Barnes (doctor).
    Original music composed and performed by Ben Model (silentfilmmusic.com/).

    The shackles of studio filming are largely broken in The Voice of Conscience, filmed in a variety of New Rochelle locations. The freedom is also evident in the cinematography which uses subtle panning and tilting in several shots, plus one trick shot and one unusual composition.

    This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Film Company Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org

    # vimeo.com/20938295 Uploaded 559 Plays 0 Comments
  2. Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.
    Crossed Wires: Two reels, released June 29, 1915.
    Directed by Frederick R. Sullivan. Scenario by Philip Lonergan.

    Popular suspense drama in two reels with innovative camera technique, with Florence LaBadie and Morris Foster.

    Print source: British Film Institute National Film and Television Archive, 30 minutes, 58 seconds.
    Cast: Inda Palmer (Mrs. Angell, an old woman), Morris Foster (Will Drake, her nephew), Florence LaBadie (Flo Drake, his sister), Boyd Marshall (Benton, a civil engineer), Ina Hammer (Susan Watson, the housekeeper), Morgan Jones, Ernest Warde.
    Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)

    In the spirit of the enormously popular mystery and crime pulps of the day, Crossed Wires is a suspense picture with a flair for good storytelling and stylistic innovation, strikingly similar to the later filmmaking style of Hitchcock.

    An innocent man is accused and convicted of murder, and when the facts finally surface, the innocent man's sister sets about trapping the guilty party. The courtroom scene, though not unusual, includes a dramatic pan between two close-ups for purely psychological effect. Other advances in cinematography are a close-up reaction shot and two insert shots of objects. The surprise psychological climax is also novel. Stylistically, lighting effects for the dark house scenes are very effective, and in one scene a flashlight, the only illumination on the set, is actually shined into the camera. This treatment is decades ahead of its time.

    This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.

    # vimeo.com/20029340 Uploaded 655 Plays 0 Comments
  3. Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.
    Petticoat Camp: One reel of approximately 1,000 feet, released November 3, 1912.

    Early "women's lib" with a comedy twist, with Florence LaBadie, William Russell and William Garwood.

    Print source: Library of Congress, 14 minutes, 50 seconds
    Cast: Florence LaBadie, William Garwood, the Jordan Sisters (divers).
    Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)

    This comedy capitalizes on the booming pastime of a newly mobile American middle class — fishing and camping. Not only is the woodsy lakeside photogenic, but it also provides a charming locale for a light-handed battle-of-the-sexes comedy.

    With a fresh and energetic attitude, the story portrays several married couples vacationing on an island. The boys play and the girls work. The girls rebel and move to an island of their own. The boys scheme to show how necessary they are as protectors, but the plan backfires and a truce is reached.

    The accomplished swimmers in one commercially appealing scene were non-actress stand-ins who performed as the Jordan Sisters in aquatic shows.

    This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.

    # vimeo.com/20024996 Uploaded 1,505 Plays 0 Comments
  4. Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.
    Cinderella: One reel of approximately 900 feet, December 22, 1911.

    Energetic cinematic pacing and intimacy show rapidly improving narrative technique and realism well beyond the limitations of the stage.

    Adapted from the fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Directed by George O. Nichols.
    Print source: British Film Institute/National Film and Television Archive, 14 minutes, 23 seconds.
    Cast: Florence LaBadie (Cinderella), Harry Benham (the prince), Anna Rosemond, Frank H. Crane, Alphonse Ethier, Isabelle Daintry.
    Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)

    An elaborately mounted version of the well-known fairy tale is interrupted by just a few summarizing intertitles. Although in-camera trick photography is important for the story, it is rather conventional, having been introduced over ten years earlier by French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Costumes, sets, and locations make it a visual feast, and some stylistic skill is used with brief shots and cross cutting to quicken the pace as Cinderella flees at midnight.

    The intense competition between film producers of the time is indicated by the near-simultaneous release of this one-reel version by Thanhouser, and the release, one week later, of a three-reel version by Selig. A holiday release was just as important then as now — Cinderella was produced the previous summer but released at Christmas.

    The next step for Thanhouser was the move to multi-reel features. The release following Cinderella was an adaptation of Rider Haggard's She, Thanhouser's first two-reel release.

    This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.

    # vimeo.com/20024254 Uploaded 4,829 Plays 0 Comments
  5. Visit thanhouser.org to learn more about Thanhouser silent films.
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: One reel of approximately 1,000 feet, January 16, 1912.

    James Cruze featured as Jekyll/Hyde in this second U.S. film version of the classic novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

    Based on the Thomas Russell Sullivan stage adaptation (with romantic story added) for Richard Mansfield, of the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Directed by Lucius Henderson.
    Print source: Blackhawk Films, 11 minutes, 31 seconds
    Cast: James Cruze (Jekyll/Hyde), Harry Benham (Hyde in several scenes), Florence LaBadie (his sweetheart), Marie Eline (little girl knocked down by Hyde).
    Original music composed and performed by Andrew Crow (thanhouser.org/people/crowa.htm.)

    This famous tale, made even more sensational by Richard Mansfield's stage performance, was filmed in at least nine silent versions. Thanhouser's was the second U. S. film version, after Selig in 1908, but was the first based on the stage adaptation.

    The Thanhouser version downplays the horror element in favor of the thematic conflict between the good and evil sides of one personality. Perhaps unique among all Jekyll/Hyde adaptations is using two actors to portray the two aspects of the same character. The credits list James Cruze in both parts, but Harry Benham played the crazed Hyde in several scenes, simplifying production. Transformation trickery was done with careful cuts and quick in-camera dissolves with no changes in lighting.

    This film is available on DVD from Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. at thanhouser.org.

    # vimeo.com/20026199 Uploaded 3,895 Plays 1 Comment

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