Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Corrick Collection 7, Programme 1 (National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra, introductions by Leslie Anne Lewis)

PREMIÈRE SORTIE D’UNE CYCLISTE (FR 1907). Photo: National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra.
The Corrick Collection - 7. Prog. 1 (40'). Teatro Verdi (Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone), with e-titles in English and Italian, grand piano: Philip C. Carli, 8 Oct 2013

Leslie Anne Lewis: The Corrick Collection, 7 (general introduction) 

 “To-Night, To-Night – Farewell, Farewell – to THE CORRICKS and LEONARD’S BEAUTIFUL PICTURES. Positively their Last Performance! Don’t miss this absolutely final Entertainment. A Grand Double Programme – Every Item New!” (Corrick Advertisement, 1907)

"After seven years of screening the Corrick Collection films in Pordenone, the story of Professor Albert Corrick – the adventurous soul who recognized in “his hereditarily musical family … a small goldmine”, forming them into a remarkable troupe of travelling singers, bell-ringers, and “biograph experts” – is finally coming to a close."

"As we’ve learned, the Corrick family – Albert and his wife Sarah, their seven daughters and one son (Leonard, the family projectionist) – began touring New Zealand in the late 19th century, adding moving pictures to their repertoire in 1901. Upon returning to their adopted home of Australia after their 1907-09 international tour, the family found themselves in even greater demand. Night after night they filled venues in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth that seated thousands, as well as touring the smaller cities and towns of Australia in their fleet of Ford motorcars. Continuing at the same pace they had kept up for nearly a decade, they performed almost nightly, appearing in up to four venues each week. They continued to collect films and screen them as half of their nightly 3-hour programs; about one-quarter of the films that exist in the Corrick Collection today date from this period."

"Inevitably, however, in their final years of touring things began to change. The children who were teenagers or younger when they began their travels were now in their 20s and early 30s. Daughter Ethyl (“violinist and comedienne”) married the group’s tour manager Harold Coulter in 1912 and retired to Fremantle, outside Perth; her sister Alice (“the famous dramatic Soprano”) followed in her footsteps a year later, settling in Launceston, Tasmania."

"But the most significant event that dictated the future of the group was the death of Albert, the troupe’s driving force, in March 1914. The previous September, Albert had taken ill while the family was performing in Adelaide. While he convalesced at his daughter’s home in Launceston, five of the children continued the tour in his absence. Having raised consummate performers, only weeks after his funeral they were back on the road, picking up the tour where they had left off. There is some evidence of short tours in Australia and New Zealand and isolated charity performances after 1914, but the zeal that had enveloped the troupe while Professor Corrick was alive had gone."

"Most of the family followed Alice’s lead and settled in Tasmania. They set up a studio to teach music in Launceston and accompanied silent film screenings at the Majestic and Princess Theatres in town. Having discovered a love for all things mechanical during his stint as the family’s projectionist, Leonard opened a garage selling and repairing Studebakers and continued to film local events, before eventually joining an orchestra in Sydney. It was he who instilled in his son, John, a love for the films that his family had shown to audiences all over the world, and it was John who later saw those films safely into the hands of Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive."

"Through their amazing and unique collection of films and related ephemera, the Corricks have provided us with a case study in early itinerant film exhibition that has few equals in the world of early cinema. Thanks to its depth, documented provenance, and vast amounts of accompanying contextual information, it gives viewers today the chance to come one step closer to channeling the experience of audiences who viewed these films when they were first released. Many thanks to the Giornate for providing the opportunity to bring them to an appreciative audience, and to the Giornate audience for such a warm reception."

"This last installment in the Corrick Collection series is made up of 20 films that run the gamut from candy-colored fantasies to straightforward actualities, the work of amateurs and that of masters, familiar favorites and new discoveries. Highlights include the wild twists and turns of the 1907 French Grand Prix at Dieppe, an often- referenced historical drama by Louis Feuillade that was long thought to be missing, and images of a number of world sites, including views taken in Japan, Africa, and the Middle East. We are also screening three unidentified or tentatively-identified films; any information that the Giornate’s collective wealth of knowledge can provide would be more than welcome." – Leslie Anne Lewis

PREMIÈRE SORTIE D’UNE CYCLISTE (Her First Bike Ride) (Pathé, FR 1907) D: ?; 35 mm, 165 ft, 2'45" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #56). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"A flock of spectators enjoy a female cyclist’s misadventures, following along to see just how much trouble she can get herself into. After colliding with a cab, a flock of sheep, and a group of policemen, she ends her ill-fated jaunt with a dive off a bridge. The antics resulting from technology landing in the hands of inept users was a common theme in early film, and the sub-genre was apparently popular with Corrick audiences: in addition to Première Sortie d’une cycliste, the family had two similar films in their collection, The Short Sighted Cyclist (Eclipse, 1907) and Les Débuts d’un chauffeur (Pathé, 1906)." Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: A Pathé farce with a sense of awe about "perishing utterly". The cyclist brings mayhem to everybody: to a baker, to a mother, to painters. Everybody turns against her, and the cyclist is persecuted by an entire crowd. This is a wild and crazy chase movie. When the cyclist falls from a bridge into a river, the chase continues even there.

Shown second: JAPONAISES PRENANT LE THÉ (A Japanese Tea House) (Pathé, FR 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 50 ft, 50" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #113). English intertitles.

Shown third: DANSE JAPONAISE (Dance of the Geishas) (Pathé, FR 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 70 ft, 1'10" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #113). English intertitles.

Shown fourth: RUE À TOKIO (Street Scenes at Tokio) (Pathé, FR 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 64 ft, 1'04" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #113). Main title in English, no intertitles.

Shown first: RUES À CANTON (Street Scenes in Canton China) (Pathé, FR 1903) D: ?; 35 mm, 111 ft, 1'51" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #113). Main title in English, no intertitles.

"These four short scenic films – three shot in Japan, one in China – were released as part of a larger world-travel series by Pathé in 1903, most of which appear to feature street views along with the “typical” sights of various regions. In addition to the locales featured in these four films, other countries in the series included Tunisia, Algeria, India, Switzerland, and Spain. The Corricks included these titles in the rotation of films that made up their “Trip Round the World” or “The World from Pole to Pole” program, a mainstay of their shows throughout the years. Featuring not only Pathé titles, but also shorts from Urban, Edison, Biograph, and films they shot themselves while on tour, often one of the two 45-minute film programs presented at each show would be made up entirely of scenic views from around the world, creating for their audiences “A Pictorial Trip from Australia to Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and back again”." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Non-fiction views, with a sense of realistic density of observation in the screet scenes.

screened after the next title: [BOSTOCK AND WOMBWELL’S MENAGERIE ON TOUR] (?, GB, c.1906) (fragment) D: ?; 35 mm, 20 ft, 20" (16 fps); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #2). No intertitles.

"This short fragment features glimpses of the famous Bostock and Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie. The earliest known Corrick screening of this footage was in December 1906, and while the actual release title has not been concretely identified, it was referred to in Corrick reviews as “Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie on Tour in England” and “Bostock and Wombwell’s Performing Menagerie.”" – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Zoo animals: camels, feline beasts, cubs. Ok print.

screened before the previous title: DISTRACTION ET SPORT À BATAVIA (Sports and Pastimes in Batavia [Java]) (Pathé, FR 1909) D: ?; DCP, 4'16" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #118). English intertitles.

"Sports and Pastimes in Batavia features a demonstration of Javanese fighting techniques and archery, and battling rams and aggressive fighting quail. Unfortunately the original nitrate print was lost to decomposition, so we are screening a digital copy of the only version of the Corricks’ material now available, a video transfer." Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Scenes of a ram fight, Malay fights with daggers and sticks, contact sports with hands, not fists, archery, Quar fight. Ok print.

AUX LIONS LES CHRÉTIENS / Thrown to the Lions (The Christian Martyrs) (Gaumont, FR 1911) D: Louis Feuillade; P: Léon Gaumont; AD: Ben Carré; C: René Navarre, Renée Carl; 35 mm, 682 ft, 11'22" (16 fps), col. (pochoir/stencil-colour); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #83). English intertitles.

"Three poor Christians are captured while collecting wood in the forest outside their village. Sentenced to die in the amphitheatre before Nero himself, the martyrs can only pray for divine intervention. Featuring two of the future stars of Feuillade’s acclaimed Fantômas, live animals, and elaborate sets, this biblical drama also uses full stencilling to enhance the onscreen spectacle, adding another colorful page to the already rich biography of this famed director." Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: A Christian tames a lion feeding it with milk. Romans attack the catacombs. The Christians are brought to the amphitheatre. The Christians sing while hungry lions wait behind bars. The crowd has just acclaimed the Tamars. The hero meets again the familiar lion, and the lions refuse to attack the Christians. Nero grants amnesty to the Christians. Early cinema mode, interesting pochoir colour, the colour at times quite fine.

NUIT DE CARNAVAL (Pathé, FR 1906) D: ?; 35 mm, 250 ft, 4'10" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #30). Senza didascalie; titolo di testa mancante / No intertitles; missing opening title.

"This Pathé drama is relatively short, but packed with pathos. After reluctantly agreeing to accompany his wife to a masked ball, a husband catches her meeting her lover – his best friend – in a secluded room. Blinded with anger and ignoring the pleas of his wife, he insists a duel to the death is the only way to restore his honor. Tragically, the wife turns out to be the only casualty when she is stabbed by her lover’s sword and falls injured into her husband’s arms. The Corricks advertised this film as Scene at a Carnival." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: Tragedy in early cinema mode with grand gestures and lightning fast reactions. There is a sense of urgency in the duel sequence, fought with swords. Beautiful long shots, impressive rococo costumes, desolate views of the wintry, snowless forest. The sepia toning is beautiful, as is the blue colour. There are some marks of nitrate or water damage.

VICTORIA FALLS ZAMBESI RIVER RHODESIA S. AFRICA (Charles Urban Trading Co., GB 1907) D: ?; 35 mm (from 16 mm), 410 ft, 6'50" (16 fps), col. (tinted); print source: National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (Corrick Collection #121). English intertitles.

"First screened by the Corricks in September 1907 while in Ceylon, this film was singled out by the Daily Post’s reviewer: “Among so many good pictures it is hard to pick out one for special praise, but we think that the consensus of opinion was in favour of the scenes depicting the Zambesi Falls. The falls were viewed by aid of the lantern by nearly half a hundred points, and the very natural effects displayed interested the spectators greatly.” European settlement and the development of a tourist industry in the Victoria Falls area had started just a few years before, so it isn’t surprising that this remarkable sight, previously unknown to most viewers, was so popular even with colonial audiences who had travelled the world."

"Among the “half a hundred” views are images taken from both the shore and on board a tourist boat, passing the Falls and approaching the then-two-year-old Victoria Falls Bridge. Images of the whirlpools and shots taken from cliffs halfway up the Falls that encompass the entire 1700-metre expanse of water thundering past at a rate of 2.4 million gallons each second convey the magnitude of the force that carved the fantastic surrounding gorge."

"While the original nitrate has been lost to decomposition, the NFSA has restored the film to 35 mm from a 16 mm reversal print struck in the 1980s." – Leslie Anne Lewis

AA: This non-fiction view proceeds from little whirlpools toward grand vortexes and to a stunning general long shot of the magnificent railroad bridge. Beautiful monochrome, at times soft, with occasional marks of water or nitrate damage.

NUIT DE CARNAVAL (FR 1906). Photo: National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra.
JAPONAISES PRENANT LE THÉ (FR 1903). Photo: National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra.
AUX LIONS LES CHRÉTIENS (FR 1911). Louis Feuillade. Photo: National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra.

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