The Pre-1920s List (Decade Project Vol. 4)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
User avatar
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#276 Post by knives » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:57 pm

I guess now is a good time to (re)mention a genuinely good film on the topic, 80 Million Women Want. If you have access to Kanopy it is on there.

User avatar
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#277 Post by Minkin » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:08 pm

I will certainly be submitting a list, but I'm rapidly trying to see as much as I can still, so I'll submit on the final day (sorry Swo).

I'm sure my list will mostly be shorts from the early 1900s, as I have a great love for those. It was Melies (and Nosferatu) that led to the start of my exploration of cinema - and becoming a cinephile.
Here's something rather interesting: there are five films about the eruption of Mt Pelee all from 1902! I watched the Melies version, and was looking for a better quality link, when I noticed that there was a completely different film uploaded! I'll list them below + give Youtube links

1) Eruption volcanique a la Martinique (1902) - by Georges Melies
Of all the versions of this event, this is by far the best one. It is the most visually impressive and it gives the greatest scale to the tragedy. The eruption looks the best - and is the only one to make it look like the great catastrophe that it was (30,000 people died!). Melies adds some nice fire effects and I also like the depth of the backdrop. It also seems the most accurate - with all of the volcanic lahars (looking like waterfalls here) pouring down and heading towards the city. This would be the most shocking in 1902 of the various versions - and really gives a fantastic sense of the destruction and loss of life that would've happened on the island. This one will be making my list.

2) La catastrophe de la Martinique (1902) - Ferdinand Zecca
This one is just pathetic. I really like the model city that they made, and the use of actual water is a nice touch. But the film ends before we even see any of the eruption! Right as the ash is about the hit the city, the film ends. I suppose the narrator could then fill in with the gruesome details, but why even bother to create that entire model city, if your aren't going to show it being destroyed?

3) Edison's company made three versions of this film! Apparently the whole thing was turned into a program, which included actual footage of the aftermath of the destruction on the island. No idea if that extra footage survives though.

3A) Mt. Pelee Smoking Before Eruption
Its interesting that the Edison company decided to break the events into three parts, but the results aren't really very interesting. Its true that Volcanoes usually release alot of gas/smoke prior to eruption (typically giving you a good warning before the main blast), but this doesn't exactly translate into compelling cinema. Here we get what looks like the same five second shot on repeat of Mt Pelee just billowing smoke. Thats it. Move along.

3B) Mt. Pelee in Eruption and Destruction of St. Pierre
Finally, we get to see the eruption here, but the Youtube link is rather odd. It starts off with the eruption, then there's a cut and all of the lahars are now missing, but the town is on fire! Odd. Apparently the eruption was made by exposing a keg of beer to direct sunlight, which I guess caused it to ooze out. I suppose the 1st grade baking soda science experiment wasn't known just yet (honestly, the eruption does just look like a baking soda volcano). Funny to think thats beer inundating the model city! Then we get the city ablaze, while Mt Pelee just sorta smokes in the background. A few of the buildings even collapse, which is a nice effect. I suppose its accurate - as the 1000+ degree gases inundated the city and set everything on fire / killed everyone, but its not as dramatic seeing a little model village sorta smolder. That said, its also odd that the entire city was completely destroyed in less time than this short film lasts (took less than a minute for the gases to reach the town and vaporize everything).

3C) Burning of St. Pierre
I can't find this one online, but the description at Silent Era makes it sound identical to 3B, thus I wonder if either 3C never existed in the first place, or if the Youtube link for 3B actually includes 3C on it as well. Might anyone be able to shed more like on this subject?

So there's your coverage of the eruption of Mt Pelee. I suppose you can consider this the precursor to news films. I'm sure people were wanting to know what an erupting volcano looked like / know what happened on Martinique. I suppose a volcano lends itself to exciting coverage. When Mt Lassen erupted a few years later, it became a National Park. Or people still talk about Mt St Helens in the Pacific Northwest. You trade the beauty of the mountain against the knowledge that it could one day kill you and destroy everything around it (perhaps think twice before moving to Naples or South-East Seattle).

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#278 Post by swo17 » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:33 pm

No apologies necessary for waiting until the last day to submit. The only reason I was a little concerned was that I know from experience that few submissions early on can suggest a lack of general interest. I have now received five lists.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#279 Post by Sloper » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:46 am

I won't be submitting a list, as I just haven't had time to re-visit many pre-20s films, and looking at my 2010 list I've actually forgotten quite a few of the ones listed there...which is kind of sad. But I've enjoyed following this thread - lots of great write-ups, especially from matrix.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#280 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:34 am

Chaplin Mutuals

I'm going to try and watch the pre-1920 First Nationals too, though I don't think I'll get to the Esssanays.

The Floorwalker

Chaplin starts off strong with this one. It doesn't have the split structure a lot of these do- we get into the store and stay there, which means that Chaplin winds up using some pieces of business (the escalator especially) over and over throughout the short, but it holds up. This one features an early iteration of the Duck Soup mirror bit, a lot of him running both from detectives (who have unusually little reason to be after him) and from his go to nemesis in the period, Eric Campbell (the giant with the crazy beard and eyebrows.) Apart from the mirror bit, this one didn't feel especially inspired, but it's solid throughout.

The Fireman

This one was, I think, the weakest of the period- Chaplin's character goes over the line from charmingly irritating to kind of awful (sleeping through one fire alarm and silencing another) and despite it still being Chaplin, I'm never as much on his side as I usually am. It does have the split structure, with the first half being basically all him irritating Campbell and Campbell beating the shit out of him, while the second gets them out of the station and sort of fighting a fire. It doesn't feel like you ever get the moments of surreal grace that usually elevate Chaplin, nor does it really escalate- it's the rare Chaplin that feels like it could have been done just as well by a lesser comic.

The Vagabond

This one starts to get into the emotional side of Chaplin's storytelling- after a shortened first act in which he busks with a violin in competition with a brass band, Chaplin winds up rescuing a kidnapped girl from the hands of 'gypsies' (portrayed in an unrelentingly hostile way- Campbell here spends most of his time literally whipping the girl, with an actual whip) and they set up a pleasant little home. Chaplin becomes jealous of a painter, and amusingly tries to show he too can draw (his portrait is charmingly like something a 5th grader would make) and then decides to surrender the girl when her real family comes for her- though at the last moment, she comes back for him. Not the most fun of these, but maybe the closest to the emotional tone of Chaplin's feature length work.

One A.M.

This one's interestingly minimalist- it's essentially a single hander, with the only other person in it hardly moving and leaving after the first few minutes. The great majority is given to Chaplin, drunk, trying to get to bed, and fighting against such enemies as rugs and stairs. It feels Langdon-esque; not only is Chaplin's basic competence taken away, but he also repeatedly blurs the line between animate and inanimate objects, and shows flashes of grace only in the particular way he takes tumbles (and near the end, in his particular glee in sliding across the floor on a particular rug.) It's a tour de force, though it's perhaps more impressive than outright funny.

The Pawnshop

This is another one that's basically just a series of individual gags in a place, but the gags are all pretty great. It pleasantly dodged the anti-Semitic caricature I was afraid it would feature from the title- it's not clear if Chaplin's boss is Jewish, but regardless, he's actually one of the least unpleasant people Chaplin works for, and doesn't especially feel like an ugly stereotype- and features an interesting magical realism bit wherein Chaplin takes apart a clock that keeps moving after it's nothing but scrap, apparently done with stop motion or animation or something. It's fun.

Behind the Screen

This one's really interesting, if only for the glimpse into what conveyed 'filmmaking' to the public this early on- already we have the stereotypes of the girl who wants to be on film and the sound (silent?) stage that's filming nine different kinds of genre piece at once. Chaplin gets a lot of mileage out of a trap door, and the short features an extensive pie fight, in a context that implies that even then it was understood as representing lowbrow slapstick. It also has a fun note of gender fluidity, when Chaplin starts flirting with Edna Purviance while she's in drag, realizes she's a woman, and then keeps on flirting with her- a beat followed by Eric Campbell seeing Chaplin kissing what appears to be a dude and doing a mocking, mincing fairy walk- yet another stereotype I wouldn't have known existed at this point. It's pleasant that the attitude there is associated with the character who is most unambigiously villainous.

The Rink

This one is obviously built around giving Chaplin a chance to show off his astonishing elegance as a roller skater, though there's a lot of good business with him as a waiter first. It thus has the two part structure again, but this one isn't so simply reel 1 is one part and reel 2 the other- here, the two halves intertwine, and Chaplin actually winds up showing off in two different skating contexts, which makes it almost a sort of foreshortened three act structure. It's another fun one, particularly if you enjoy Chaplin getting to look extremely competent and dexterous, which mode he is in more or less throughout this one.

Easy Street

Chaplin is tempted by a girl into first sitting through a mission church service- a sequence that is unusually minutely observed for this series- and then taking a job as a cop in a bad-part-of-town beat. Chaplin here actually defeats his foe instead of just running away (beautifully) or setting him up for someone else to take him, and the tonal difference between the two halves (the first part is far less surreal than the second) serves to make them both work better, as different kind of jokes wind up landing. The cop half prefigures some parts of The Kid, and the joke construction seems to have evolved past Chaplin just finding things and then figuring out ways to mess with them- it's not the clockwork machinery Buster Keaton would later bring, but it does feel like each element is planned and has a particular purpose. This one's really excellent.

The Cure

Chaplin's a drunk again, here taking the waters at a health resort. This drunk isn't quite so far gone as his character in One A.M.- though he has a liquor collection that would make Hunter S. Thompson blush- and this one has a sort of Tati vibe, as Chaplin pulls the entire establishment out of its staid, pointless routine and gets them all drunk and silly.

The Immigrant

This one felt like something of a regression to me- it's split into halves, with the two parts having virtually nothing to do with one another, except continuing characters. The first, aboard a ship coming to the US, has the ship rocking outrageously back and forth in a way I assumed was originally done by tilting the camera, but judging by the moving objects on screen must have been done by literally moving the set. I'm not prone to seasickness, yet it made me queasy to watch, so I can only imagine what it would have been like to film. It's another string of incidents thing in both halves, though the second has more of a solid throughline- Chaplin is in a restaurant at the end of his meal without money to pay, and the short makes a lot both of the meal and of his attempts to pay afterwards- it still feels somewhat ramshackle.

The Adventurer

This might be my favorite of the set. It's still Chaplin running away- here from cops, as he's escaped from prison- but the necessity of having him continually escape and escape and escape for as long as he does leads to a lot of really inventive setups. The second half of this one seems at first unrelated, as he winds up at a party in a rich household, but eventually the cops catch up with him there, and we get great stuff of him using the architecture of the house (which he's been showing us without us noticing for the first half of the reel) to outmanuever them and his rival at the same time. It's hard to put into words why one thing or another is especially funny, but this one had me sick with laughter, even watching by myself.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#281 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:09 pm

The Wishing Ring

For whatever reason, thought this was going to be another Maurice Tourneur fantasia like The Blue Bird, which it's not- it's a sort of period piece romantic comedy. The basic line of action is that an aristocratic young man (I wasn't clear on exactly how young- he seems sometimes in his mid teens, sometimes perhaps in his mid 20s) in what looks to be the England of the 1700s or so gets kicked out of school for acting like a jackass, then kicked out of his home for continuing to act like a jackass (and irritating his gout-ridden father.) He winds up working as gardener for his godfather's estate while his godfather is away on some errand, falls in love with a local poor girl, and after some contretemps, they wind up together.

The titular wishing ring hardly enters into it- it's a sort of tool by which the movie enables the girl to indulge in Amelie like personal superstitions, and the boy to slip her some fancy things without her realizing he's doing it. One would expect this movie to make a lot of the whole princeling in disguise element, but that's never really the focus- after he falls for her and she finds out his status, she's neither shy nor betrayed by his duplicity, but dedicates herself to mending the breach between him and his father. There's a lot of business like that, where it feels like melodrama/fairy tale stuff is in the movie, but is mostly shrugged off in favor of more real-feeling human interactions; the boy and girl fall in love because they like one another and make one another happy, and the father fundamentally forgives his son because his son has become a better man (though there's some business with him earning a half crown that doesn't really scan.) The girl is great- rather than the sort of perfect angel vibe one might expect in a Griffith movie of this material, she kind of resembles an Amelie type, charmingly making a nuisance of herself and choosing to ignore laws and social conventions she considers unimportant. She has a lust for life, too, devouring her food and throwing herself into things. The climax of the movie has her falling off a cliff, and had it killed her, it would have felt rather gross- sacrificing her for the relationship between the two men- but instead, she recovers nicely, and seems fine by the next day, and one gets the impression it's in part because the girl is rather tough, and can take the kind of things that shatter more delicate heroines.

The movie in general isn't as visually impressive as the other Tourneurs I've seen- it lacks the imagination of The Blue Bird or the spectacularly conceived sequence that sets Alias Jimmy Valentine (which I'll write about if I get the chance) apart- but it's nonethelss one that I think very valuable and worth seeing. My girlfriend, who hasn't been pushing herself on these as hard as I have, watched it with me, and noted that it's a super easy watch for something as early as it is- one gets fully involved, without the sort of veil of 'well it's good for the time' that sometimes falls over even the best of them.

User avatar
The Untamed One
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:22 am

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#282 Post by Shrew » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:22 pm

The Suffragette (Urban Gad) -As Satori said, the big, gag-inducing problem here is the ending. The rest of the film is… okay, but rather lifeless. The central “romance” and its pastoral prologue never gels with the rest of the film. It doesn’t help that the reconstruction is missing fragments that seem more interesting, like Asta Nielsen breaking store windows. But then it all comes down to that ending. The part Satori spoilered is infuriating, but I actually found the scene before far more offensive.
Having tried to blow up and then deciding to save her lover/politician blocking women’s suffrage, Nielsen and the would-be smithereens retire to a small office. Sitting down, Nielsen’s body language starts fluctuating between nervous flirting and a case of the vapors. The man towers over her, serenely nodding his head. It is about the most patronizing image I can imagine.
The Birth of a Nation- Yep, it’s racist af, though more insidious than I imagined. Aside from the biracial maid, the first half could fit along with Gone with the Wind or North and South as “clean” representations of the Civil War. But then comes Reconstruction and the overwhelming horror of the film’s horror at miscegenation. The fucked up logic of the film (and the movements it fed and spurred) is best encapsulated by the image of black soldiers forming a ring to protect black civilians from the klan—a moment in which even the film seems to cave into the “wrongness” of. There’s also the notable use of the Confederate flag rather than the battle flag, which only becomes a thing in the film once the Klan gets going. It’s a film so intent on mythologizing the Klan that it exposes aspects of it that have since been normalized and forgotten. Perhaps that’s an argument for why it should be seen more.
Griffith’s technique and accomplishment can be lauded—the final attack on the cabin is terrible tour-de-force of intercutting, one that Ford will eventually rebuke in Stagecoach—but thankfully he one-upped himself in nearly every level in his next film, so it’s easy not to vote for this.

Intolerance- I enjoyed the film the first time I saw it, but rewatching this on the Cohen bluray really sold just how stunning it is. It is in almost every way--technically, aesthetically, and not just morally--an improvement on and refinement of its predecessor. Even the oft forgotten St. Bartholomew’s plot has at its heart a clearer rendering of Birth’s flawed ‘both sides were intolerant and doomed to conflict’ philosophy (also a man with a fanny pack full of kittens).

I also went through the Arbuckle and Keaton films on the Keaton Shorts set. Like the Chaplins, most of these get pretty routine, but Arbuckle is a fun presence. His manner feels closer to Harold Lloyd than his apprentice, but that’s not a bad thing. Here are some notes on some of the films that stood out.
The Butcher Boy-This might be my favorite of the Arbuckle Keaton’s. Admittedly, that may be because it’s the first, and it’s not Chaplin. The bifurcation seen in most of these early comedies is particularly severe here—first we have antics in a country shop, then somehow get to cross-dressing shenanigans. But the strong break actually helps rejuvenate the film, and both halves are fairly strong. This also may be one of the better cross-dressing comedies ever made—the aim here isn’t to fool some girl into loving the hero, but to slip by the authorities, and everyone else is in on the sham. Keaton acquits himself well in his first role, but this is very much Arbuckle’s film. I wonder if that’s why this didn’t get any votes last time around? Or do people just not care for it?

The Rough House-Maybe the most purely slapstick of this series, but it runs out of steam as it goes along. Still, the whole bed on fire sequence is a great gag.

Moonshine—This one is pretty slapdash, but the breaking of the fourth wall is fun, so it stands out among the rest.

The Cook—Here’s one that really suffers from bifurcation. The first half in the restaurant is a great showcase for both Arbuckle and Keaton. The second… I don’t remember. I had even forgotten there was a ladder-climbing dog until I looked up some reviews to refresh my memory.

The Hayseed—This was the… fourth or fifth film I’ve watched for this project with a joke about eating green onions. Otherwise, this is a so-so outing with some fun bits and some dull ones. But man, why were the 1910s so down on onions (was it immigrants? It was immigrants, wasn’t it?).
Last edited by Shrew on Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Intolerance (of onions)

#283 Post by Gregory » Fri Oct 13, 2017 5:48 pm


User avatar
the preacher
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:07 pm
Location: Spain

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#284 Post by the preacher » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:57 am

Just submitted my ballot. Directors not in the previous top 100: Albert Capellani (x2), Alfred Machin (x2), José de Togores, George Loane Tucker and Gustavo Serena.

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#285 Post by swo17 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:12 am

Nine lists in and there is currently a tie for the #1 spot! Also, there are four films that have appeared on every single list (currently comprising the top four).

User avatar
Michael Kerpan
Spelling Bee Champeen
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#286 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:16 pm

Alas, I did not feel qualified to participate (not a big enough universe of films seen).

User avatar
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#287 Post by TMDaines » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:18 pm

I've actually enjoyed my cramming this week and now am hungry to watch more! Hint: don't watch Chaplin chronologically.

I'll submit a list tomorrow AM before you wake, swo.

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#288 Post by swo17 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:22 pm

Okay, I'll look out for it.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#289 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:22 pm

I've got two more Fairbanks things I want to watch before finalizing my list, but I'll send it tonight. I skipped everything up to the mutual era with Chaplin, and while I wish I'd gotten to fit the Essanays in, I think I made the best use of my time.

User avatar
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#290 Post by knives » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:17 pm

I'll save you time on the Essanays: They're awful, but not Keystone awful.

I had a lot of fun with this list, but it also has exhausted the hell out of me. With the New Wave list to keep me rejuvenated I don't think I could have gotten through as many of the Melies films as I did.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#291 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:29 pm

I didn't get through as many of the Méliès as I would have liked, but I got to enough to find things I really enjoyed- and I figured that with those, it's such a crap shoot that I'll probably wind up catching some of the best ones in the orphan rescue round. Having finished my final watch before then, it honestly feels like a weight has been lifted off my back- while the 20s list will also be a challenge, I think there are a lot more masterpieces to be found (at least to my eyes) and I'll go in having watched at least a few dozen things, not essentially zero the way I did here.

User avatar
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#292 Post by TMDaines » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:47 am

Do we all agree this is Émile Cohl's Mobilier fidèle (1910) and that this is Romeo Bosetti's Le garde-meubles automatique (1912). There's an awful lot of confusion out there and I'm not sure why. The titles certainly match the two films, but are the corresponding directors and years right?

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#293 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:31 am

That seems to be probably right. Last time they were counted as a single film attributable to either Cohl or Bosetti. zedz also voted for this (the 1912 Bosetti one). Can he confirm?

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#294 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:03 pm


Thanks everyone for your participation so far! Below I will present some preliminary results from voting. If anything you see here prompts you to defend your picks, to watch some more films, and/or to revise your list in any way, go ahead and do that. If you did not submit a list yet and have since decided that you do want to participate, go ahead and do that. If you have no interest in revisiting your list or changing anything, go ahead and do nothing. I will count all lists submitted so far including any changes or new lists submitted this week in the final tally.

Orphans (by director)

The Torture of Silence (Abel Gance, 1917) 29
L'Assommoir (Albert Capellani, 1908) 16
Lulu (Alexander Antalffy, 1917) 45

Take a Chance (Alfred Goulding, 1918) 18
Look Pleasant, Please (Alfred Goulding, 1918) 14
A Gasoline Wedding (Alfred Goulding, 1918) 23

Le Moulin maudit (Alfred Machin, 1909) 39
War Is Hell (Alfred Machin, 1914) 10

Avenue de l'opéra (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1900) 38
At the Bal de Flore (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1900) 47
Les Chiens savants (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1902) 5
The Consequences of Feminism (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906) 48
La Vie du Christ (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906) 49
Alice Guy tourne une phonoscène (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1907) 26
Making an American Citizen (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1912) 36

He Comes Up Smiling (Allan Dwan, 1918) 31
Carnevalesca (Amleto Palermi, 1918) 32
Thais (Anton Giulio Bragaglia, 1917) 28
One Touch of Nature (Ashley Miller, 1914) 18
Ladies' Skirts Nailed to a Fence (Bamforth Films, 1899) 49
Richard Wagner (Carl Froelich & William Wauer, 1913) 38

The Captive (Cecil B. DeMille, 1915) 34
The Golden Chance (Cecil B. DeMille, 1915) 47
Joan the Woman (Cecil B. DeMille, 1916) 31
Old Wives for New (Cecil B. DeMille, 1918) 11
The Whispering Chorus (Cecil B. DeMille, 1918) 28

Explosion of a Motor Car (Cecil Hepworth, 1900) 39

The New Janitor (Charles Chaplin, 1914) 36
His Prehistoric Past (Charles Chaplin, 1914) 32
The Face on the Barroom Floor (Charles Chaplin, 1914) 43
The Property Man (Charles Chaplin, 1914) 45
A Burlesque on Carmen (Charles Chaplin, 1915) 28
A Woman (Charles Chaplin, 1915) 41
A Night Out (Charles Chaplin, 1915) 43
By the Sea (Charles Chaplin, 1915) 46
The Champion (Charles Chaplin, 1915) 47
The Pawnshop (Charles Chaplin, 1916) 27
The Fireman (Charles Chaplin, 1916) 37
The Floorwalker (Charles Chaplin, 1916) 38
Behind the Screen (Charles Chaplin, 1916) 42
Sunnyside (Charles Chaplin, 1919) 18
A Day's Pleasure (Charles Chaplin, 1919) 48

Lady Helen's Escapade (D.W. Griffith, 1909) 26
The Unchanging Sea (D.W. Griffith, 1910) 14
An Unseen Enemy (D.W. Griffith, 1912) 25

In the Land of the War Canoes (Edward Curtis, 1914) 50
Algie the Miner (Edward Warren, 1912) 35

Pan-American Exposition by Night (Edwin Porter, 1901) 5
Life of an American Fireman (Edwin Porter, 1903) 24
Dog Factory (Edwin Porter, 1904) 10
The Kleptomaniac (Edwin Porter, 1905) 11
Trapeze Disrobing Act (Edwin Porter & George Fleming, 1901) 50
A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus (Edwin Porter & J. Searle Dawley, 1907) 41
Three American Beauties (Edwin Porter & Wallace McCutcheon, 1906) 38
The Terrible Kids (Edwin Porter & Wallace McCutcheon, 1906) 44
The 'Teddy' Bears (Edwin Porter & Wallace McCutcheon, 1907) 30

The Magic Hoop (Émile Cohl, 1908) 48
Mobilier fidèle (Émile Cohl, 1910) 48

Als ich tot war (Ernst Lubitsch, 1916) 14
Lake Tahoe, Cal. (Essanay Co., 1916) 45
Il fauno (Febo Mari, 1917) 40
The Invaders (Francis Ford & Thomas Ince, 1912) 11
Fräulein Piccolo (Franz Hofer, 1915) 47
The Adventures of Pimple: The Battle of Waterloo (Fred & Joe Evans, 1913) 15

Demolishing and Building Up the Star Theatre (Frederick Armitage, 1901) 15
The Ghost Train (Frederick Armitage, 1903) 44

Harakiri (Fritz Lang, 1919) 46

The Kiss in the Tunnel (G.A. Smith, 1899) 8
The Sick Kitten (G.A. Smith, 1903) 47

Girls Taking Time Checks (G.W. Bitzer, 1904) 3
San Francisco: Aftermath of Earthquake (G.W. Bitzer, 1906) 33

Namo Village, Panorama Taken from a Rickshaw (Gabriel Veyre, 1900) 18
Traffic in Souls (George Tucker, 1913) 40

Le Manoir du diable (Georges Méliès, 1896) 44
La Lune à un mètre (Georges Méliès, 1898) 13
The Temptation of St. Anthony (Georges Méliès, 1898) 34
Un homme de têtes (Georges Méliès, 1898) 47
Le Diable au couvent (Georges Méliès, 1899) 40
Addition and Subtraction (Georges Méliès, 1900) 3
Going to Bed Under Difficulties (Georges Méliès, 1900) 29
The One-Man Band (Georges Méliès, 1900) 32
The Famous Box Trick (Georges Méliès, 1900) 33
Éruption volcanique à la Martinique (Georges Méliès, 1902) 30
The Music Lover (Georges Méliès, 1903) 17
Le Diable noir (Georges Méliès, 1905) 16
The Mermaid (Georges Méliès, 1905) 50
Tunneling the English Channel (Georges Méliès, 1907) 9
The Eclipse: The Courtship of the Sun and Moon (Georges Méliès, 1907) 41
Whimsical Illusions (Georges Méliès, 1910) 36

Maciste alpino (Giovanni Pastrone, 1916) 5
La signora delle camelie (Gustavo Serena, 1915) 30
Young Mr. Jazz (Hal Roach, 1919) 4

The Grim Game (Irvin Willat, 1919) 35
Behind the Door (Irvin Willat, 1919) 35

The Thieving Hand (J. Stuart Blackton, 1908) 2
Winsor McCay, the Famous Cartoonist of the N.Y. Herald and His Moving Comics (J. Stuart Blackton & Winsor McCay, 1911) 32

Le Pied qui étreint (Jacques Feyder, 1916) 49
Cinderella (James Kirkwood, 1914) 49
Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory (James White, 1897) 21
White Fawn's Devotion (James Young Deer, 1910) 40
Repression of the Macedonian People (Janaki & Milton Manaki, 1905) 12
Onésime vs. Onésime (Jean Durand, 1912) 45
Hilde Warren and Death (Joe May, 1917) 34

Wild and Woolly (John Emerson, 1917) 16
Reaching for the Moon (John Emerson, 1917) 34
Her Crowning Glory (John Emerson, 1917) 42

Bucking Broadway (John Ford, 1917) 33
El golfo (José de Togores, 1917) 22
The Dull Sword (Jun'ichi Kōuchi, 1917) 48
The Confederate Ironclad (Kenean Buel, 1912) 46
That Fatal Sneeze (Lewin Fitzhamon, 1907) 21
Where Are My Children? (Lois Weber & Phillips Smalley, 1916) 8

A Baby's Meal (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1895) 28
Quai de l'Archevêché (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1896) 35
Autruches (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1896) 36
Querelle enfantine (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1896) 43
Passage Through a Railway Tunnel (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1898) 27
The Moving Pavement and the Electric Train (Louis & Auguste Lumière, 1900) 16

The Heart and Money (Louis Feuillade, 1912) 46
L'Agonie de Byzance (Louis Feuillade, 1913) 47
Vendémiaire (Louis Feuillade, 1918) 23

Maciste (Luigi Romano Borgnetto & Vincenzo Denizot, 1915) 31
Caught in a Cabaret (Mabel Normand, 1914) 47
Tillie's Punctured Romance (Mack Sennett, 1914) 42
The Star Prince (Madeline Brandeis, 1918) 50
Rose-France (Marcel L'Herbier, 1919) 43
Love Everlasting (Mario Caserini, 1914) 13

Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley (Marshall Neilan, 1918) 40
Stella Maris (Marshall Neilan, 1918) 7

Love and Journalism (Mauritz Stiller, 1916) 7
Thomas Graal's Best Film (Mauritz Stiller, 1917) 44
Song of the Scarlet Flower (Mauritz Stiller, 1919) 20

Der Andere (Max Mack, 1913) 32
The Undesirable (Michael Curtiz, 1915) 45
The Passer-By (Oscar Apfel, 1912) 37
The Dancing Pig (Pathé co., 1907) 10
The Matrimaniac (Paul Powell, 1916) 49
A Chess Dispute (R.W. Paul, 1903) 42
Tales of Hoffmann (Richard Oswald, 1916) 4
The Delicious Little Devil (Robert Leonard, 1919) 32

Oh Doctor! (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1917) 14
Coney Island (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1917) 34
Moonshine (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1918) 47
Out West (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1918) 36
Back Stage (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1919) 38

'49-'17 (Ruth Ann Baldwin, 1917) 29
Tram Rides Through Nottingham (Sagar Mitchell & James Kenyon, 1902) 6

The House of Ghosts (Segundo de Chomón, 1908) 20
El hotel eléctrico (Segundo de Chomón, 1908) 37
The Legend of a Ghost (Segundo de Chomón, 1908) 24
Une excursion incohérente (Segundo de Chomón, 1909) 33
Métamorphoses (Segundo de Chomón, 1912) 27

Un amore selvaggio (Società Italiana Co., 1912) 16
Il fascino della violenza (Società Italiana Co., 1912) 28

The Heart of an Indian (Thomas Ince, 1912) 44
Civilization (Thomas Ince, Reginald Barker & Raymond West, 1915) 26

The Black Dream (Urban Gad, 1911) 42
Die Suffragette (Urban Gad, 1913) 37
Engelein (Urban Gad, 1914) 41

Girl from Stormy Croft (Victor Sjöström, 1917) 34
Ingmar's Sons (Victor Sjöström, 1919) 25

Turning the Tables or: Waiting on the Waiter (Vitagraph Co., 1908) 17
How They Rob Men in Chicago (Wallace McCutcheon, 1900) 45
The Airship Destroyer (Walter Booth, 1909) 29
Das Eskimobaby (Walter Schmidthässler, 1918) 29
The Return of Draw Egan (William Hart, 1916) 41
So rächt sich die Sonne (William Wauer, 1915) 23

The Dragonfly and the Ant (Władysław Starewicz, 1913) 43
The Lily of Belgium (Władysław Starewicz, 1915) 9

New Votes

The following films received no votes during the last round of the lists project but currently have two or more votes. Perhaps they were not on your radar before...

Germinal (Albert Capellani, 1913)
A Modern Musketeer (Allan Dwan, 1917)
Male and Female (Cecil B. DeMille, 1919)
The Knockout (Charles Chaplin, 1914)
The Tramp (Charles Chaplin, 1915)
The Rink (Charles Chaplin, 1916)
The Adventurer (Charles Chaplin, 1917)
What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (Edwin Porter & George Fleming, 1901)
The Merry Jail (Ernst Lubitsch, 1917)
Grand Display of Brock's Fireworks (G.A. Smith, 1904)
The Devilish Tenant (Georges Méliès, 1909)
The Conquest of the Pole (Georges Méliès, 1912)
La Cigarette (Germaine Dulac, 1919)
The War and the Dream of Momi (Giovanni Pastrone & Segundo de Chomón, 1917)
A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire (Harry, Herbert, Joseph & Earle Miles, 1906)
Kid Auto Races at Venice (Henry Lehrman, 1914)
Princess Nicotine, or: The Smoke Fairy (J. Stuart Blackton, 1909)
Wagon Tracks (Lambert Hillyer, 1919)
Saturnino Farandola (Marcel Fabre & Luigi Maggi, 1914)
Filibus (Mario Roncoroni, 1915)
Wintergartenprogramm (Max Skladanowsky, 1895)
Die Pest in Florenz (Otto Rippert, 1919)
The Bargain (Reginald Barker, 1914)
Le Garde-meubles automatique (Romeo Bosetti, 1912)
The Butcher Boy (Roscoe Arbuckle, 1917)
The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton's) (William Dickson & William Heise, 1894)
How a Mosquito Operates (Winsor McCay, 1912)
The Queen of Spades (Yakov Protazanov, 1916)

User avatar
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#295 Post by knives » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:17 pm

Thanks Swo, though it looks like now I have to watch those two DeMille's I've been putting off.

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#296 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:22 pm

Allow me to start defending a couple orphans by merely making them available for viewing. They're pretty straightforward actualities from the Lumière brothers, so you either connect with them or not:

The Moving Pavement and the Electric Train (1900) - Showcases two attractions from the 1900 World's Fair in Paris at once. Pedestrians and the walkway railing shoot by in the foreground from left to right, while the train approaches from behind on a curve heading in the opposite direction.
Passage Through a Railway Tunnel (1896) - Just like your eyes, the camera takes a moment to adjust to sudden contrasts between darkness and light.

And while I'm on the subject, these aren't orphans but...

Danse serpentine (1896) - Lovely tinting experiment
Washerwomen on the River (1897) - A living portrait of class distinctions

User avatar
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#297 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:56 pm

swo17 wrote:That seems to be probably right. Last time they were counted as a single film attributable to either Cohl or Bosetti. zedz also voted for this (the 1912 Bosetti one). Can he confirm?
Yes, my vote was for the Bossetti linked above.

User avatar
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#298 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:11 pm

Of the orphans above, there are only two I feel especially passionate about:

The Mitchell and Kenyon Tram Rides Through Nottingham. It's not on any of their compilations, but can be seen on YouTube:" onclick=";return false;

A trippy, casually avant garde phantom ride.

The other one is Stiller's Love and Journalism, which I don't think is available anywhere, and I haven't seen for more than twenty years. It might be much less impressive to me now, but at the time I was astonished at how sophisticated such an early feature could be. I saw it in a brief season with The Outlaw and His Wife and Sir Arne's Treasure and ranked it in between those two at the time, so I preserved that ranking in my list.

Stiller's Erotikon and Sjostrom's The Phantom Carriage, not eligible this time around, were the other films I saw at that point. Erotikon was about even with Love and Journalism, above Sir Arne's Treasure, and The Phantom Carriage I liked the least, and it's still a great film, so that should give you some idea of how strong those early Scandinavians were.

User avatar
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#299 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:29 pm

I actually just watched Love and Journalism last night and am toying with making room for it. The acting and tone feel so much more advanced (along the lines of like a '30s Lubitsch film) than its release year would indicate. It's available through backchannels.

As for the M&K film, when I brought it up earlier, there seemed to be some question as to that trippy version's authenticity.

User avatar
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Pre-1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#300 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:42 pm

I only wound up with six orphans, and of those, three were in my bottom five- as much as I enjoyed The Star Prince, it's very much a slot number 50 movie, and I'm fine with it getting abandoned. Of the other three, I don't think I actually wrote any of them up, so let me give it a shot-

The Captive

This one is enjoyably strange, with a social dynamic that recalls an inverted La Silence de la Mer , if it were a overt love story- though the Turks here come off as sort of standard fantasy barbarian level vilainy, rather than the unspeakable evil of the Nazis. In a war between Montenegro and Turkey, the man of a household is killed, and a noble Turkish prisoner is made to take his place, acting as a sort of forced farmhand for the dead man's sister and little brother. In the course of doing day to day labor, the nobleman becomes a better man and a renegade, and after a bunch of reversals, everything gets burned down, and the three of them walk off to find a new life. It's surprisingly delicate, and doesn't feel too overtly racist, and it moves very nicely.

Bucking Broadway

I'm kind of surprised this one was orphaned, if only because it's presumably one of the easiest to watch- it's on Criterion's Stagecoach release. It's quick and punchy, a Westerner falls in love with a girl, sees her stolen by a city slicker, finds out he's making her miserable, and rescues her in a protracted cowboys-vs-boulevardiers battle. It's another one that feels like a programmer, but a good programmer, and one I genuinely enjoyed- and frankly, Ford's use of broad humor here works better for me than it does in a lot of his later masterpieces. It's also interesting as being a movie which is part western where the western part is set very explicitly in the present tense- something that seems unimaginable in Ford's later work.

Whimsical Illusions

Broadly, I think I enjoy Méliès the most when his shorts have the best cool/crazy shit to plot ratio, and this one is all cool/crazy shit- it's a relatively late one, so his camera trickery and setups are more sophisticated than his earliest work, but it's not bogged down by his (imo) weaker storytelling, and Méliès' own delight in his work shines through with wonderful strength.

Post Reply