American Cinema 1890-1909: Themes and Variations (Screen Decades: American Culture/American Cinema)
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The essays in American Cinema 1890-1909 explore and define how the making of motion pictures flowered into an industry that would finally become the central entertainment institution of the world. Beginning with all the early types of pictures that moved, this volume tells the story of the invention and consolidation of the various processes that gave rise to what we now call "cinema." By examining the battles over patents, production, exhibition, and the reception of film, readers learn how going to the movies became a social tradition in American society.
In the course of these two decades, cinema succeeded both in establishing itself among other entertainment and instructional media and in updating various forms of spectacle.
back to France to ensure maximum quality and worldwide distribution. The American Mutoscope Company, as its very name suggests, began its career by aggressively wrapping itself in the ﬂag of patriotism. When it was shown in the nation’s capital, according to one review, 1896–1897 — MOVIES AND THE BEGINNINGS OF CINEMA 57 American invention is bound to lead the world when it gets the opportunity, and it is the popular verdict that the biograph, a purely American invention and manufacture, leads
show, provided a relatively inexpensive way for small-time showmen far from major urban centers to try their fortunes in the new ﬁeld of motion picture entertainment. The most popular ﬁlms advertised in the Sears, Roebuck catalogue in 1898 were those from a variety of producers depicting scenes of Alaska and the Klondike gold ﬁelds, and the remarkably wide variety of reportorial ﬁlms relating to the Spanish-American War, the great international incident that dominated world news during the ﬁnal
(near South Main and Third Streets) as part of a fairly short-lived West Coast group of ﬁlm theaters,1 and although there were undoubtedly other theaters that featured ﬁlms as their primary fare in urban centers across the country, these years preceded the nickelodeon explosion. Vaudeville theaters remained the primary venue for ﬁlms, but ﬁlms were shown in a large number of places and situations. Traveling exhibitors offered ﬁlm shows in opera houses or other local and rural theaters, or in
tricks. The second shot is a double exposure of the gentleman, a swinging lamppost set in an exterior cityscape, and a background of panning, blurring New York City streets. As Charles Musser has written, “It suggested the subjective sensation of the ﬁend’s predicament without being a point-of-view shot” (Musser, Before 342). After cinematically establishing the ﬁend’s inebriated state, the ﬁlm depicts the man’s drunken adventures in his bedroom, a studio interior. First, his shoes appear to
image, and interruption and ﬂow. There were also ambient sounds associated with the visual movement forward into the landscape— wheels clattering, paddlewheels churning—punctuated by the announcements of whistles for braking and stopping, and bells or horns that served “as ﬁctional warnings” timed to coordinate with the visual appearances of pedestrians or animals on the street or tracks. The ﬁlms specially manufactured for Hale’s Tours, however, did not always maintain a strict cowcatcher point