Monday, October 03, 2011

The Corrick Collection, Vol. 5, Prog. 1

Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Philip C. Carli, 3 Oct 2011. Total duration 72'50"

TORPEDO ATTACK ON H.M.S. “DREADNOUGHT” (Charles Urban Trading Co., GB 1907) D: Charles Urban; 35 mm, 183 ft, 3'03" (16 fps); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #3). No intertitles.
Leslie Anne Lewis (GCM Catalogue): "The Charles Urban Trading Company’s advertisements touted their films taken during a visit of the Colonial Premiers to Portsmouth as “a sight that, for grandeur and special effect, will live in memory forever.” Torpedo Attack on H.M.S. “Dreadnought” is the second film in the series and captures a mock-attack on the premier submarine of the British Navy. This fragment comprises just over half of the original film and features a parade of partially-submerged submarines and destroyers launching torpedoes into netting rigged alongside the Dreadnought. A Corrick reviewer in Ceylon noted, “The evolutions of warships, including destroyers, torpedo-boats, and submarines – the latter with only the conning tower visible – afforded an object-lesson as to the means by which Britain’s naval supremacy is maintained.”"
"This is the third and final of Urban’s films documenting the Portsmouth Naval Exercises to screen at the Giornate as part of the Corrick Collection programs, following Naval Attack on Portsmouth in 2007 and Visit of the Colonial Premiers to Portsmouth in 2009." LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction, a basic record on the British navy, reflecting imperial might, with magnificent explosions.

VOYAGE EN SUISSE – L’ENGADINE (A Trip Through Switzerland - Engadin Valley) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 247 ft, 4'07" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #122). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"This scenic proto-travelogue is a filmic attempt to replicate the experience of travelling the route between Chamonix and Mont Blanc by train. The train rocks back and forth as it takes the viewer along Switzerland’s Engadin Valley, and includes shots from both the front and back of the train as it takes the viewer through tunnels and alongside snowy mountains and steep ravines." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction, a phantom ride, a single dolly shot forward with the train engine as the dolly. It is winter, the landscapes are beautiful and constantly changing, tunnels are passed.

SPORTS D’HIVER: 1. LE TOBOGAN (Tobogganing) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 186 ft, 3'03" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #107). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"The daring skeleton-sledding racers along the now-legendary Cresta Run at St. Moritz took their lives into their own hands as they attempted to race the dangerous, icy course – the first of its kind – travelling at speeds of 40-50 miles per hour while lying face-down on a low-riding sled. Included are views of the speedometer device used by officials as each rider completes the course, spectators standing just feet from the flying sleds and a few points in which riders lose control while negotiating hairpin turns."
"One of only four deaths on the Cresta Run occurred just two years later while Pathé was filming another film on the same subject after the popularity of this title. Shooting had to be stopped when British Army Captain Henry Pennell slipped off his sled mid-run into hardpacked snow and rocks, suffering a broken spine and internal injuries that led to his death."
"The course is shown from start to finish, beginning at the lodge at St. Moritz. As the rules of the track dictated that only one tobogganer was allowed on the track at a time, scenes at each turn were edited so that the men follow each other in quick succession." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction. The movie catches the speed and the danger of the tobogganing on the Cresta Run very effectively.

CONCOURS DE SKIS (Ski Running) (Pathé, FR 1905) D: ?; 35 mm, 123 ft, 2'03" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #107). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"This title and the one that follows (Sports d’hiver: Le Tobogan) were filmed at Switzerland’s St. Moritz resort in the Engadin Valley. Included here are long shots of men and women coasting (and occasionally tumbling) down the slopes in small groups, followed by a number of skiers launching themselves off a small ski-jump as onlookers stand nearby." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction. Playful winter sports, coasting, slalom, falling down.

[SAILOR AND COP IN CARPET] (?, ca. 1904?) D: ?; 35 mm, 222 ft, 3'42" (16 fps); from:
National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #101). No intertitles.
"This unidentified fragment begins with a run-in between a sailor and a policeman. After evading the cop, the sailor comes across a maid beating a carpet hung over a clothesline. As they socialize, the policeman sneaks up and hides behind the carpet. When the couple discover the cop, they beat the carpet (and the cop) until the line breaks." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Farce. Broad proceedings: immediately the sailor gets to kiss the woman, voluminous dust clouds emerge from the huge mat being beaten, the sneaking cop gets his share as he tries to hid inside the carpet.

LE COUP DE VENT (The Stormy Winds Do Blow) (Gaumont, FR 1906) D: Étienne Arnaud?; SC: Louis Feuillade; cast: Roméo Bosetti?; 35 mm, 272 ft, 4'32" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #100). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"A gust of wind leads a man on a merry chase through the city, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake as he pursues his errant hat. This was the first of Louis Feuillade’s films at Gaumont; he was hired as the studio’s principal writer after Alice Guy viewed the film. However, just who directed the film is a bit of a question – some sources cite this as the first film directed by Étienne Arnaud, while Feuillade later claimed to have directed it himself." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Farce. A clownish man chases his hat through the city, episodes involving chalice, the wagon of a crane, a hill of charcoal, a tram, a fountain with a staircase, a sewer, and a rooftop.

ON THE WESTERN FRONTIER (Edison, US 1909) D: Edwin S. Porter; 35 mm, 989 ft, 16'29" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #126). English intertitles.
"The New York Daily Mirror’s April 1909 review of this dramatic Western might best be described as damning the film with faint praise: “Elaborate studio settings are shown in this picture, and there is some fairly good outdoor horsemanship. There is also a story that we can manage to make out, although it lacks plausibility in a number of parts, chiefly when we are asked to believe that a girl of short statue [sic] could pass herself off as the tall orderly who is being held prisoner by her father. Later the girl’s brother … disguises himself in the same sergeant’s uniform and successfully passes the guard and eludes arrest. However the picture is some improvement over recent Edison issues, and as such we welcome it.”" – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: A Western. There is a Mexican standoff at the Lone Coin saloon. The plot gets complicated twixt love and duty as the girl spikes a drink at her place, discovers her brother's guilt, and there is a series of masquerades. An interesting Edwin S. Porter film that I don't remember seeing. It was not included in the Edison dvd collection five years ago. A beautiful print in colour.

ÉCHAPPÉ DE SA CAGE (Escape from the Cage) (Pathé, FR 1906) D: ?; 35 mm, 296 ft, 4'56" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #44). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"Though cast in the pattern of innumerable chase films, Échappé de sa cage gives the formula a twist, here following the adventures of a rogue monkey. As in the tradition of animal-centric films that bank on man’s amusement at seeing animals behave like humans (such as seen in last year’s Corrick Collection film Le Singe Adam II, 1909, featuring a similarly anthropomorphized monkey), Échappé de sa cage depicts the chaos at a circus following an ape’s untimely escape. After frightening the audience and successfully eluding its trainer, the animal is finally undone after settling in at a café and imbibing a number of cocktails abandoned by the terrified patrons." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: A farce. A human actor performs as the escaped monkey who wreaks havoc in the city. The monkey thrashes everything, harasses the policeman in the park, gets chased into a tree, eats cones. Ok print.

[DIGNITARIES ARRIVE AT EQUESTRIAN EVENT] (?, ca. 1907) (fragment) D: ?; 35 mm, 35 ft, 35" (16 fps); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #85). No intertitles.
"A fragment of non-fiction footage documenting the arrival of dignitaries at an equestrian event. The long-shot taken from above shows the carriage making a turn and disappearing into a large tent. This may be part of a film that was frequently mentioned in reviews and advertisements starting in 1907, His Majesty the King at the International Horse Show." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction, a basic record.

ELEPHANTS WORKING IN A BURMESE FOREST (Corrick, AU 1908) D: ?; 35 mm, 383 ft, 6'23" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #134). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"Shot during their tour of Southeast Asia, the Corricks aggressively promoted this film taken during a visit to a teak forest near Rangoon: “A triumph in animated photography: A BURMESE FOREST. This Wonderful Moving Picture was taken in the midst of an almost impenetrable jungle, showing methods of clearing the vegetation, chopping the immense trees, transporting logs by teams of elephants. Intensely interesting. The series of pictures was taken at great expense, and brings vividly before our patrons wonderful phases of life in a different quarter of the globe.
The Corrick Catalogue compiled by Leonard Corrick’s son John to accompany the films upon their deposit at the NFSA relates this (somewhat graphic) family legend recounting the film’s first screening. Apocryphal or not, the tale highlights the occasional peril of screening films soon after shooting without careful review, a habit common to many itinerant filmmakers: “The usual procedure was to film local scenery during the day, process and have ready to screen as part of the film segment of Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures. This gave little or no time for previewing; on the first night this film was screened, the audience burst into laughter and on investigation, it was realized that the elephant’s trunk was not the only part of his anatomy swinging freely. Needless to say, this section of the film was cut out before the next screening.” (Corrick Collection Catalogue #134) The shot referred to does not exist in this copy or in the NFSA’s collection. This is one of two very similar films in the Corrick Collection; the other, Éléphants au travail aux Indes, follows in this program." LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction, impressive about the giant logs and the power of the elephants. 

ÉLÉPHANTS AU TRAVAIL AUX INDES (Working Elephants) (Pathé, FR 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 102 ft, 1'42" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #128). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"Éléphants au travail aux Indes is one of two very similar films in the Corrick Collection, the other being Elephants Working in a Burmese Forest (produced by the Corricks themselves while on tour in the region). At some point before entering the NFSA’s collection the two films were intercut. There is some indication from contemporary reviews recounting the sequence of images in the film that this might have been done by the Corricks themselves, interspersing the Pathé footage with their own. However, as Leonard Corrick’s children were fond of using the family films in shows held in a make-shift backyard theatre for neighborhood kids, they could have made any number of changes. Both films depict elephants hard at work, moving logs and performing other back-breaking labor under the watchful eyes of their handlers, “showing elephants at work…from forest to wharf, an amazing demonstration of enormous strength united to profound sagacity.” (The Ceylon Independent, 3 October 1907)." LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Non-fiction, like continuing directly from the above, althought the country has changed. Enormous logs are removed.

THE FAKIR AND THE FOOTPADS (R.W. Paul, GB 1906) D: J.H. Martin?; 35 mm, 281 ft, 4'41" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #40). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"Camera effects are used to enhance the fantastic elements of this R.W. Paul trick film. Two ruffians find themselves taking an unexpected journey after stealing a magic top hat from a mysterious (and mischievous) gentleman. This is one of three R.W. Paul-produced films in the Corrick Collection, along with The Hand of the Artist (1906) and The Doctored Beer, or How the Copper was Copped (1906)." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Comedy-féerie. The fakir gets the table to disappear, and disappears himself. Two villains rob the fakir but the magic hat turns against them (a chicken's leg turns into a chicken, a wine bottle turns into a fountain), and the villains are darted into the orbit. - A footpad = a thief on foot who robs travellers on the road.

PERSONAL (Biograph, US 1904) D: Wallace McCutcheon; DP: G.W. Bitzer; 35 mm, 374 ft, 6'14" (16 fps); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #92). No intertitles.
"Wallace McCutcheon’s much-lauded film – in which a man quickly comes to regret placing a personal ad to find a wife – was imitated by many, including Biograph’s studio rival Edison, which quickly released the ponderously titled How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the ‘New York Herald’ Personal Columns. Personal was one of several McCutcheon “chase” films that capitalize on the premise of a gaggle of misbehaving young women involved in a chase with one or more hapless men; two others from the same year – Down on the Farm and A Winter Straw Ride – are also part of the Corrick Collection." LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Farce. Was this the original version of a favourite comedy plot, the most famous version of which is Buster Keaton's Seven Chances? This one is boring, as is the Edison version.

MÉSAVENTURES DE CHASSE (Shooting Expedition Accident) (Pathé, FR 1906) D: ?; 35 mm, 362 ft, 6'02" (16 fps), col. (tinted); from: National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra (Corrick Collection #103). Main title in English, no intertitles.
"The comedic misadventures of an unfortunate hunter end with a vision of the man’s head mounted on a wall in the fashion of a hunting trophy – complete with antlers. Unwilling to go home empty-handed after an unsuccessful day of hunting, a man purchases a hare in a shop and heads home on the train. While he sleeps, the woman sitting beside him steals the animal and substitutes an old fur stole. After he arrives home, the hunter’s suspicious wife quickly jumps to the wrong conclusion when she finds another woman’s clothing in her husband’s bag." – LESLIE ANNE LEWIS
AA: Farce. The inept hunter has difficulty retrieving the bird he's shot from the tree branch. A rascally boy steals his catch. The frustrated hunter buys a rabbit from the store, but even it is stolen from him on a train by a woman who leaves her muff instead. At home the wife is furious although she has been dallying with her lover during the hunter's trip. Finally it is the hunter-husband's horned head that is displayed on the living room wall. Not so great.

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