Grand piano: Stephen Horne, [with Frank Bockius at percussions?], at Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), Pordenone, 9 Oct 2014
Vanessa Toulmin, Bryony Dixon (GCM catalog and website): "100 years ago, more or less, the film business became the cinema industry and the dominant form of mass entertainment before the arrival of television. Yet in the preceding two decades film had a more symbiotic relationship with other entertainment forms, and was in a unique position to record them."
"In Britain during these years film was itself a music hall act, on the bill of variety programmes of theatres as well as being a major attraction at fairgrounds up and down the land. With the propensity of early film-makers to film spectacle and celebrity one might expect considerable evidence of the myriad of Edwardian entertainments to have survived on film. This selection from the BFI National Archive shows traces of some of them. What doesn’t survive (with one small exception) are films of live performances inside music hall theatres – so there is no record of Marie Lloyd singing one of her suggestive songs, or of Dan Leno’s pantomime patter. What we do have however are the extraordinary films of Mitchell & Kenyon, capturing all aspects of street life in the first decade of the 1900s, overshadowing the handful of odd, fragmentary survivors from other pioneers and producing companies that also record, deliberately or incidentally, this vibrant entertainment scene."
"The range of entertainments on offer was a cornucopia of delights, including music hall and variety performers, fairs and circus shows, fairground rides, and seaside entertainment, pleasure gardens and hippodromes, pyrotechnic shows and fireworks, pageants, minstrels, pierrots and harlequinades; beach photographers, barrel jumpers, and comic sketches based on strip cartoons… All of these are captured in the films in this programme. Edwardian Britons also spent much of their leisure time in the streets, with outdoor shows, carnivals, and pageants a regular occurrence. Parades and processions offered a different type of leisure activity, a mixture of a local carnival parade with appearances by specialty and musical hall acts, interspersed with elaborate trade floats and community activities."
"The early 1900s saw the rise of leisure time, resulting in a greater diversity of places and venues solely concerned with purveying entertainment for the masses. Increased recreation time through reduced working hours and the extension of consecutive holidays stimulated an organized leisure industry aimed at the exploitation of this new mass market. A variety of entertainment industries competed for the working-class market, with local “wakes” fairs and agricultural shows, which in mid-Victorian times had primarily centred on trading and economic activities, but in the early 20th century were transformed into high-tech carnivals of fun with the latest modern attractions."
"The music hall and variety theatre, although originally embracing the cinematograph, became increasingly threatened by the growing popularity of the cinema as the first decade of the century progressed. By the start of the First World War, cinema had overtaken the music hall as the most popular mass-entertainment medium; Manchester alone had 78 cinemas. But in that first period of film’s history, cinema existed as part of an astonishing range of amusements, which demonstrates that cultural bricolage is not a solely modern phenomenon. The Edwardian era was a golden age for the development of popular entertainments such as fairgrounds, circuses, and theatres, all of which adapted and incorporated the latest novelties and attractions to capture the attention of an ever-receptive audience. G.J. Goodrick, writing in his book Tableaux Vivants and Living Waxworks (1895), stated: “There always are, always have been, always will be, people who are willing to be ‘entertained’, i.e., amused, by a ‘show’ of some kind. Not only willing are they, but eager for such amusement. And they will travel miles and part from their money with no other object than to view.”"
"The wonder of this film material is that perhaps for the first time it allows us to see both the spectators and the entertainments that they were relishing."
"This programme commemorates the 20th anniversary of the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive along with the 10th anniversary of the release to the general public of the Mitchell & Kenyon Collection, thanks to a three-year partnership (2001-2004) between the NFA and the BFI. The greater part of the collection had its international premiere in a series of four programmes at the Giornate del Cinema Muto between 2001 and 2004. Since then the collection has had wide exposure, and is now available online on the BFI Player. The Mitchell & Kenyon Collection has been described as filmic time travel to a lost world – the world before the shadow of
the First World War fell across British society along with the rest of Europe." – Vanessa Toulmin, Bryony Dixon
All films except the very first one in the programme are from the BFI National Archive, London. None of the prints have intertitles.
The order was changed in the screening from the printed programme to the following. Little Tich was screened last.
GRAND DISPLAY OF BROCK’S FIREWORKS AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE (Festa pirotecnica nel cielo di Londra) (Charles Urban Trading Company – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 269 ft, 4'29" (16 fps), col. (tinting & hand-colouring); main title: ITA; print source: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Torino. Brock’s, the fireworks manufacturers, celebrated their 40th anniversary with this grand display at London’s Crystal Palace. The pyrotechnic display ends with a portrait in fire of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra that Brock’s had developed for the Coronation of 1902, which inaugurated the Edwardian era. – Bryony Dixon
AA: Splendid hand-colouring in the Edwardian fireworks.
Famous music halls
ENTRÉE DU CINÉMATOGRAPHE (Lumière – FR 1896) D: ?; DP: Charles Moisson; 35 mm, 40 ft, 40" (16 fps). Exterior of the Empire Leicester Square, London’s most famous music hall, showing the poster for the Lumière cinématographe show. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A beautiful view of life, the urban bustle at Leicester Square. Fine visual quality.
THE CROWD ENTERING ST. GEORGE’S HALL, BRADFORD (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 35 ft, 35" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 637. Scenes shot outside the theatre on 23 February 1901 by A.D. Thomas as the crowd waits for the afternoon show of local views and Boer War subjects. This film was screened that evening, four hours later. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Lively faces in the crowd - Mitchell & Kenyon caught the individuals, including children. They caught the life of the crowd. It is not a mass, not even "a lonely crowd". Fine visual quality.
THE COLLAPSING BRIDGE (Gibbons Bio-tableaux? – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 87 ft, 1'27" (16 fps). The only example of a theatrical show taken inside a theatre building, this records a water spectacular at a Hippodrome theatre, featuring Hengler’s diving horses. The show is “The Bandits”, which we know was performed at the London Hippodrome, but Walter Gibbons’ press story about filming at the theatre concerns another production. Of all the films here, this gives us the closest sense of being in the presence of Edwardian theatre at its most extravagant. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A straight record of the performance, priceless. The scene of horses at waterfalls is astounding. Visual quality: low definition, could this be from a paper print?
Numeri comici / Acts
COMIC COSTUME RACE (Paul’s Animatograph Works – GB 1896) D: ?; 35 mm, 43 ft, 43" (16 fps). This sports day took place every year at Herne Hill, in south London, to raise money for musical hall charities. All the celebrities attended, including the famous comedian Dan Leno, who was later filmed at the event by A.D. Thomas of Mitchell & Kenyon fame, but that film unfortunately doesn’t survive. R.W. Paul’s film shows a race in fancy dress. This film was included in a programme that Paul showed to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 23 November 1896. Bryony Dixon
AA: Fun record of the race in fancy dress. Shot in exteriors. A duped visual quality.
HERBERT CAMPBELL AS LITTLE BOBBY. (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 48 ft, 48" (16 fps). Herbert Campbell was the professional partner of Dan Leno, and performed with him in a series of Drury Lane pantomimes from 1888 until Leno’s death in 1904. Here he plays the character of “Little Bobby” in Cinderella. The film is operating on several levels: as a news item, as an advertisement for the pantomime, and as a “facial” comedy. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A comic scene: Little Bobby is a big gourmand who devours food and downs a huge mug of beer in one gulp. In medium shot.
WILL EVANS THE MUSICAL ECCENTRIC (Warwick Trading Company – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 67 ft, 1'07" (16 fps). The famous music hall performer, on an open-air stage, does his act, involving tumbling while singing and playing a mandolin. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A record of an acrobatic performance. Visual quality: duped from a challenging source.
// here the order of the films was changed, and I had difficulty with my notes //
KITTY MAHONE (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 118 ft, 1'57" (16 fps). Lil Hawthorne, the popular comedienne and singer, performs her signature song “Kitty Mahone”. Lil was American, but spent most of her professional life on the music hall stage in Britain, and is most famous now as the woman who reported the notorious murderer Dr. Crippen to the police. – Bryony Dixon
AA: If my notes are correct, this was a sonorized version of a straight stage performance record. The song is barely audible.
ALGIE’S CIRCUS IN CARLISLE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 31 ft + 32 ft [63 ft], 1'03" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 675, 677. Algie’s Circus parade, captured in December 1901 in Carlisle, where it was appearing with a mixed bill of horse acts, a dog and monkey circus, sleight-of-hand “manipulation”, and a cinematograph in a semi-permanent corrugated-iron building owned by Albert Comley, the proprietor of the show. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A delightful record of the circus coming to town.
DEONZO BROTHERS (Paul’s Animatograph Works – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps). The Deonzo Brothers were famous barrel jumpers from Hamilton, Ohio. They performed their novelty act in all the great music halls of the era. The triumphant climax of the act is unfortunately cut short. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A record of incredible barrel jumping feats, also with eyes tied. Ok visual quality.
LEEDS ATHLETIC AND CYCLING CLUB CARNIVAL AT HEADINGLEY (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 90 ft + 42 ft [132 ft], 2'11" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 552, 553. Rare footage of an amazing novelty act, the Mazondas – barrel-jumping champions of the world – who were appearing at the Tivoli Theatre on 12 July 1902. This was filmed earlier in the day as part of the Leeds Athletic Club’s annual carnival held at the local cricket ground. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: More incredible barrel jumping achievements, now in exteriors. In long shot with a clumsy pan. Visual quality mediocre.
LIZARS EDINBURGH (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 91 ft , 1'31" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 692. The identity of this seasoned performer, filmed at Lizars Theatre in Edinburgh on 12 December 1904, is still a mystery. Here he is performing a comedy sketch involving a dispute or miscommunication on the telephone, then still a novel form of communication. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A farcical scene of a guy sporting a turban, frustrated over the call, smashing the telephone on the floor. In medium shot.
Fiere, parchi dei divertimenti, mostre, parate
Fairgrounds, Pleasure Gardens, Exhibitions, Street Parades
MANCHESTER AND SALFORD HARRIERS’ CYCLISTS PROCESSION (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 22 ft + 91 ft [113 ft], 1'53" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 428, 429. Part of the Fancy Dress Cyclist procession filmed on 22 June 1901 for A.D. Thomas at the Broughton Rangers football ground. The parade features costumes ranging from cavaliers, American cowboys, and tramps, to ladies in waiting, and scenes from the American prairie. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Exciting dresses. A straight record of the parade, lively faces. Good visual quality. *
BAILEY’S ROYAL BUXTON PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW IN HALIFAX (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 120 ft, 2' (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 608. Professor Bailey’s Punch and Judy show filmed in October 1901 is one of the most interesting films in the collection, showing as it does no spectators but purely a rare glimpse of the performance, with the town of Halifax in the vale below. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Fascinating to see the epic industrial vista as the background to the Punch and Judy show outdoors. Ok visual quality.
THE BARBER SAW THE JOKE (British Mutoscope & Biograph Company – GB, c.1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 50 ft, 50" (16 fps). A barber cutting a man’s hair reads an Ally Sloper comic over his client’s shoulder. He is laughing so hard he cuts the customer’s ear with his razor. Barbershops were a stock location or “situation” for comic sketches in pantomime and the music hall. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A comedy with a dark Van Gogh twist. Laughter can be infectuous. Medium shot. Ok visual quality.
SEDGWICK’S BIOSCOPE SHOWFRONT AT PENDLEBURY WAKES (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 108 ft, 1'48" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 772. A beautiful film of the front of a fairground cinematograph show, shot on 18 August 1901, with showmen enacting a comic sketch of a visit to a barbershop, perhaps hinting at the film show inside. We also catch James Kenyon making a rare appearance on the showfront, next to the showman Albert Sedgwick. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: The barber connection in the programming. A boisterous view by Mitchell & Kenyon. Good visual quality.
TRIP TO SUNNY VALE GARDENS AT HIPPERHOLME (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 118 ft + 119 ft + 93 ft [330 ft], 5'30" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 588, 589, 590. Sunny Vale Gardens was one of many burgeoning pleasure gardens that flourished in the North of England at this time. The threepart sequence starts with the showman proprietor Mr. Joseph Bunce opening the gates for the spectators, to be filmed in the manner of a factory-gate film. Made in July 1901, it includes actuality shots, staged incidents for the camera, a wonderful ride on the scenic railway, and footage of the two boating lakes, tea rooms, swing boats, and vistas of the gardens. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A record of the many merry entertainments at Sunny Vale Gardens. Multi-shot. Ok visual quality.
PANORAMA OF CORK EXHIBITION GROUNDS (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 703. The opening of the Cork International Exhibition on 20 April 1902 attracted the cream of Anglo-Irish society, with this film part of a larger group consisting of the civic opening. The whole span of the grounds is included in this panoramic shot, which also shows the range of temporary venues built for this international exposition. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A holiday by the lake - with swings, pleasure rails, horses, and donkeys. A lady falls from a donkey. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //
HULL FAIR (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft + 77 ft [200 ft], 3'20" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 651, 652. Continuous shots of the show row at Hull Fair, one of the largest and oldest travelling fairgrounds in the United Kingdom, still held every October. The shows in view include William’s Cinematograph, Bailey’s Circus, complete with acrobats, Wombwell’s travelling menagerie, and close-ups of Hughes’ boxing academy. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Pleasure vessels at sea. Camera looks. Dances. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //
// the order of the screening was changed, and there were no title cards --- here was a long pan from right to left, covering also rooftops. Ok visual quality. --- Panorama of Cork Exhibition Grounds? //
ARMLEY & WORTLEY CARNIVAL (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 119 ft, 1'59" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 577. Shot on 4 June 1904, the delights of the local carnival are filmed, including scenes of the procession, children in fancy dress, and the crowning of the local Carnival Queen on a slightly precarious platform especially erected for the occasion. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Another long pan full of life. Ok visual quality. // I may have caught the wrong film here //
BUXTON WELL DRESSING (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1904) D: ?; 35 mm, 84 ft, 1'24" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 540. Beautiful shots of the front of President Kemp’s cinematograph show, appearing at the local well dressing as part of the fairground attractions, on 30 June 1904. President Kemp can be seen in the large white hat, with a beautiful shot of maypole dancers performing on the front of the show. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A lively parade, a merry celebration. Ok visual quality.
LEYLAND MAY FESTIVAL (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 58 ft, 58" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 293. Filmed on 25 May 1905, for fairground showman George Green to show in his cinematograph booth, the recently-formed carnival Morris team can be seen performing their new dances as part of the procession to mark the crowning of the May Queen. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Not this film? A children's ring dance, a band, in long shot. Good visual quality.
GREEN’S RACING BANTAMS AT PRESTON WHIT FAIR (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1906)
D: ?; 35 mm, 54 ft, 54" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 771. Filmed in early June 1906, this shows the thrills of a white-knuckle fairground ride, part of the annual Preston Whit Fair held in the market-place. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: The fairground, the carousel, in long shot, in ok visual quality.
CREWE HOSPITAL PROCESSION AND PAGEANT (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1907)
D: ?; 35 mm, 485 ft, 8'04" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 484. This heavily-edited 8-minute sequence presents the highlights of the annual carnival procession held in Crewe on 10 August 1907. All the participants, including the different “minstrel” troupes, were workers at the local London North Western Railway Company, who were raising money for their local hospital. Featuring minstrel troupes, “customs of the world”, and other exotic themes. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A parade in long shot with swordsmen, acrobats on giant walking sticks, minstrels, historical characters, indians, a brass band, incredible dancers, suffragettes. Ok visual quality.
WHITE CITY FRANCO-BRITISH EXHIBITION (British Alpha Films – GB 1908) D: ?; 35 mm, 119 ft, 1'59" (16 fps). This international exposition to celebrate the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France featured many cutting-edge entertainments, such as the legendary Flip-Flap (unfortunately not seen), dodgems, and a scenic railway. There is also a brief shot of a cinematograph show. Bryony Dixon
AA: People emerging from a train, enjoying the performances at the show and the scenic railway. Ok visual quality.
Al mare / Seaside
E. WILLIAMS AND HIS MERRY MEN (Arthur Cheetham – GB 1899) D: ?; 35 mm, 140 ft, 2'20" (16 fps). The minstrel show was immensely popular in Britain from the mid-19th century. White men in black face perform the traditional three-act show, a combination of music, dance, and comic skits, with the “endmen” keeping up a flow of comic patter. E. H. Williams’ Merrie Men were a fixture on the beach at Rhyl in Wales in the holiday season. – Bryony Dixon
AA: Slapstick at full blast, eight performers, literally wielding slapsticks, a chase farce with dancing elements. In exteriors. A duped quality from partly visually bad sources.
COMICAL CHRIS (William Henry Youdale – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 63 ft, 1'03" (16 fps).
A small troupe entertains holiday-makers at Morecambe in Lancashire, with a ventriloquist and a comedian dressed as a jockey on a hobby-horse. – Bryony Dixon
AA: Thrilling clownery involving horses. Wild and breezy. Bad visual quality, low contrast.
TYNEMOUTH SWIMMING GALA IN THE HAVEN, NORTH SHIELDS (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 110 ft, 1'50" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 685. This event demonstrates the crossover that existed between sport and entertainment culture at the time. The competitors swam the first 30 yards in “ordinary costume, tall hat and gloves”, and completed the final 30 yards wearing a coat, vest, and trousers, and carrying an umbrella! Filmed on 31 August 1901, in anticipation of the Coronation celebrations of Edward VII. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A goofy swimming contest in full costume. Mediocre visual quality.
PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE MORECAMBE SEA FRONT (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901)
D: ?; 35 mm, 116 ft + 74 ft [190 ft], 3'09" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 251, 254.
Shot in early June 1901, as part of the film shows at the Winter Gardens Theatre in Morecambe, Lancashire. Taken from a horse-drawn tram as it traversed the promenade, the film includes shots of the holiday-makers, and is a beautiful snapshot of the seaside as a place of leisure and recreation. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A beautiful, very steady tracking shot from the horse-drawn tram. One of the best films of the show. Ok visual quality. *
PARADE ON WEST END PIER, MORECAMBE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1901) D: ?; 35 mm, 104 ft + 77 ft [181 ft], 3' (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 247, 253. This film showing people promenading on the now-lost West End pier, for a two-hour film show at the Winter Gardens Theatre presented by A.D.Thomas. Thomas had a prolific season in Morecambe; this was shown alongside the previous film (Panoramic View of the Morecambe Sea Front) in his main touring programme. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A charming full shot of the crowd, with a ring dance. Visual quality ok to good.
SCENES BY THE STONE JETTY, MORECAMBE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 124 ft, 2'04" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 754. The varied range of amusements on show in this film include a phrenologist, a wonderful group of mutoscopes, and a strange character selling animal skins. It is one of the most beautifully shot films in the collection. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A multi-event view from the Stone Jetty. The people are aware of the camera and look at it. Full shot. Good visual quality. *
PARADE ON MORECAMBE CENTRAL PIER (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft, 2'03" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 250. Shot in the Summer of 1902, this film shows a more respectable group of holiday-makers on Morecambe’s second and more elite pier. A more regimented approach to filming than the previous year, it includes a scene of the showman holding up a copy for the camera of The Era, the principal trade paper for the theatre and music hall. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A straight record of a parade. The passers-by greet the camera. Visual quality: low contrast, a duped look. // I wonder if these notes belong to this title. //
PANORAMIC VIEW OF SOUTHPORT PROMENADE (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1902) D: ?; 35 mm, 109 ft, 1'49" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 384. Southport, the second of the North West seaside resorts, is captured here with footage of the local variety company’s day out on South Drive and the promenade taken in May that year from the front of a horse-drawn tram. – Vanessssa Toulmin
AA: A phantom ride from the driver's seat at the horse-drawn tram. Visual quality: a bit stuffy.
BLACKPOOL NORTH PIER (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 125 ft, 2'05" (16 fps); Mitchell & Kenyon n. 205. The earliest and most beautiful of all the piers in the North of England was filmed as part of the Easter Sunday parade on the promenade. The North Pier was an exclusive venue, as reflected in the top hats and dress coats on display. The panoramic shot which finishes the sequence includes the skyline of Blackpool at that time, including the Alhambra music hall and the Big Wheel. – Vanessa Toulmin
AA: A big crowd, well-dressed people, an impressive pan to the coast. Good visual quality.
Pantomime e intemezzi
Pantomime and Entr’acte Films
// changed order: Mr. Moon was the last in the printed programme, moved here: //
MR. MOON (Mitchell & Kenyon – GB 1900) D: ?; 35 mm, 106 ft, 1'46" (16 fps). This film was commissioned for Honri’s musical show, which consisted of a series of acts interspersed with quick changes covered by film. Mr. Moon is described in the show synopsis in The Era as “Quick Change to ‘The Newest Dandy’, introducing the Great Cinematograph Novelty of the Age, Oh Mister Moon”. The trick film shows Percy Honri’s disembodied head as the man in the moon, with a tiny body which attaches itself to the head as the hands play a banjo. Vanessa Toulmin
AA: Against a black background, the huge face appears, mugging and grinning.
LETTY LIMELIGHT IN HER LAIR (Miss Bayley) (G.A. Smith – GB 1903) D: G.A. Smith; cast: Laura Bayley; 35 mm, 43 ft, 43" (16 fps). An entr’acte film, in which Smith’s wife, actress Laura Bayley, is making up in a mirror as if between acts in a show. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A nice quick record. Visual quality: bad, duped, perforation visible.
QUICK CHANGE ACT (Charles Urban Trading Company – GB 1906) D: ?; 35 mm, 117 ft, 1'56" (16 fps). An entr’acte film starring Percy Honri, a virtuoso concertina and musical theatre performer who had a show called Concordia. The film shows him doing a rapid costume change. Sometimes these entr’acte films were shown on a pull-down screen during the show to cover the costume change. – Bryony Dixon
AA: A goofy little number. Ok visual quality.
// the order was changed and this film, second to last in the printed programme, was screened here //
ROBINSON CRUSOE (G. A. Smith – GB 1902) D: G. A. Smith; cast: Laura Bayley; 35 mm, 225 ft, 3'45" (16 fps). Fragment of a film based on a pantomime with Laura Bayley in the principal role. – Bryony Dixon
AA: This number has nothing to do with the title. First four maidens, then many more are dancing. Turns into a farce. Visual quality: duped, bad.
MUSIC HALL ACT (? – GB, c.1910) D: ?; 35 mm, 90 ft, 1'30" (16 fps). An unidentified Harlequinade scene with its stock characters: Harlequin and Columbine, Pantaloon, Clown, and Policeman. They enact a scene involving a sausage-making machine, a favourite comic device of the pantomime, and finish with a classic tableau shot. Bryony Dixon
AA: Slapstick in the literal sense: the origin of slapstick in commedia dell'arte. Even splatter comedy as they turn adversaries into sausage. Ok visual quality.
MOTHER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (G.A. Smith – GB 1902) D: G. A. Smith; cast: Tom Green; 35 mm, 38 ft, 38" (16 fps). Fragment of a series of films based on the pantomime of the 1901/02 holiday season at the Eden Theatre in Brighton, Mother Goose and the Golden Eggs. – Bryony Dixon
AA: Visual quality: bad, duped, at times barely visible, partly in high contrast. // I may mix films here, as the order was changed. //
LITTLE TICH ET SES BIG BOOTS (Paul Decauville, S.A. du Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre – FR 1900)Prod: Paul Decauville; DP: Clément Maurice Gratioulet; artistic dir: Marguerite Vrignault; 35 mm, 173 ft, 1'55" (24 fps), sd. Harry Relph performs his most famous routine, the big boots dance. As Little Tich, he was one of the most famous British music hall artistes of all time, and an international celebrity. The source of the footage being shown is the French compilation film Cinéma Parlant 1900 (1952, Jacques de Casembroot). – Bryony Dixon
AA: Film number eight in the printed programme, Little Tich, the best film of the show, was understandably switched to the end. It is a delightful record of the routine of the legendary performer. Visual quality: duped, yet conveying the rich quality of the record.
The live musical accompaniment of Stephen Horne was rich and varied, reacting to the changing modes of the 41 films and conveying an impressive period feeling.
A splendid work of curatorship, Edwardian Entertainment should be edited onto a compilation DCP, complete with a Stephen Horne score.
The programme is of high value for studies of performing arts.
I have seen several shows of Mitchell & Kenyon films before, but this kind of intelligent programming elevates the fascinating views to something more, a bigger and more general view of life before the First World War. We can feel a connection with these people who lived over a century ago. We feel a connection with their joy of life.
Edwardian Entertainment belongs to a remarkable continuum in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto together with the unforgettable Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre reconstruction a couple of years ago, and with the Tonbilder compilation seen here this year.