Recent releases of Alice Guy-Blaché films (1897-1918)

One of the world’s first film directors has been receiving some much-deserved attention lately, due to the 2018 documentary Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968). Here is a list of just over 100 of her films that you can find pretty easily today on DVD or Blu-ray disc.

Alice Guy, 1906 (source)
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Changes in the Hollywood Production Code

Sex perversion. White slavery. Childbirth. Miscegenation. Obscenity. Salacious titles. These are just a few of the subjects that were forbidden by the “Production Code” that governed Hollywood on-screen morality from 1930 through 1968. It’s been a challenge to find a good summary of the changes in the Code, so included here are links to original sources as well as a downloadable quick-guide I created showing the three major changes to the code before it was strictly enforced in 1934.

Text of the 1934 Production Code
1934 Production Code from the Motion Picture Herald
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Video clips and history of world cinema: 1918-1927

10 Years 10 Films (10Y10F) is a project to display embedded YouTube selections of cinema history. This is Part IV of a series that gives the viewer a quick time-lapse view of how movie technology and style has developed throughout the world – one clip each year – from 1888 through 2017, starting with the foundations to see how filmmakers build or deconstruct them.

World cinema 1918-1927

As “the war to end all wars” came to a close in 1918, the destruction in Europe shifted the center of the film world to Hollywood. By 1928, the “Big Five” studios had been established and they dominated the artistic and economic production of films in the United States.[1] This was particularly stifling for women directors as alpha males created a toxic environment on set.[2]

Despite – or perhaps because of – their lack of resources, German filmmakers in particular were especially creative during this time. Foreign language films were rarely exhibited in the States, but as the political situation worsened, several directors from Europe and Russia were recruited to Hollywood.

This is an era that continues to be revered today, with frequent exhibitions of classics like Metropolis, Within Our Gates, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, The Gold Rush, Battleship Potemkin, Nosferatu, and The Mark of Zorro to name a few. Read more Video clips and history of world cinema: 1918-1927

114 Lumière shorts now on Amazon Prime

It’s been more than 20 years since we’ve seen a home video release of the inventors of cinema, Auguste and Louis Lumière. Their catalogue was produced between 1895 and 1905, so what could have changed in the past 20 years? In 2015, the Institut Lumière led an effort to release many of their films through new 4K scans (nearly 4 times the detail of Blu-ray, and 24 times the detail of DVD), now that the technology is more affordable. The fruits of their effort has finally come to Amazon Prime streaming (in 1080p), with English subtitles for the commentary. Simply entitled Lumière!

Baby’s Tea Time (Louis Lumière on left)
Read more 114 Lumière shorts now on Amazon Prime

Video clips and history of world cinema: 1908-1917

10 Years 10 Films (10Y10F) is a project to display embedded YouTube selections of cinema history. This is Part III of a series that gives the viewer a quick time-lapse view of how movie technology and style has developed throughout the world – one clip each year – from 1888 through 2017, starting with the foundations to see how filmmakers build upon or deconstruct them.

World cinema 1908-1917

1908 to 1917 was a decade of major change in the film business. Here are a few highlights:

American cinema saw an expansion out of New Jersey and New York, into Jacksonville, Florida, for warmer weather; it then took hold in Hollywood, California, between 1909 and 1915. “One-reeler” films (1000ft in length, or about 10 to 12 minutes of runtime) gave way to feature-length epics, tinted with different colors to match the mood of each scene. Intertitles containing lines of dialogue began to be used consistently from 1908 onward. Studio cameras became more portable, and 35mm film was accepted as an industry standard.

The “star system” began in 1909, emphasizing actors over plot lines to promote films. African-American movie makers entered the market, as well as more women directors. Film-making also began to take hold in Russia, India, and Latin America. 1917 marks the beginning of the Classical Hollywood era with films characterized by a formulaic narrative and style, particularly through major film studios like Universal and Paramount. Read more Video clips and history of world cinema: 1908-1917

Video clips and history of world cinema: 1898-1907

10 Years 10 Films (10Y10F) is a project to display embedded YouTube selections of early cinema. This is Part II of a series that gives the viewer a quick time-lapse view of how movie technology and style has developed throughout the world – one clip each year – from 1888 through 2017, starting with the foundations to see how filmmakers build upon or deconstruct them.

World cinema 1898-1907

The ten years here in Part II continue what Tom Gunning referred to as a “cinema of attractions”[1], where directors were focused on providing a spectacle (of effects or places around the world) for the viewer, in contrast to telling a unique story with character development and cultural criticism (which became more common as film length increased, around 1906). The merging of vaudeville theaters and Nickelodeons from 1905 to around 1912 brought movies to the masses – in Part III, we’ll see the adoption of the movie “star system,” the feature film business, African American movie makers, and more women directors. Read more Video clips and history of world cinema: 1898-1907