How Many 100-Year-Old Films have You Seen?

I happened to mention a Georege Melies film in another thread, and went to IMdB to do a search of films made in 1902:;All;1902

I was surprised that I have seen nearly a dozen of these. Anyone else? I love some of the titles: “Boys Take Grandpa’s Cigars with Distressing Results,” “Foxy Grandpa and Polly in a Little Hilarity,” “Levi and Cohen, the Irish Comedians,” “Serving Potatoes, Undressed.” Along with, of course, the dreadful, cringe-making “coon” and “chink” references.

Anyone else ever seen ANY of these? Or was I all alone at the Zeotrope Theater that day?

I’ve seen an awful lot of those old shorts. You can get them on video, too (and probably DVD by now) at places like Video Yesteryear. VY claims to have copies of the films shown at the very first public film presentation (workers leaving a factory, train pulling into a station, etc…)

One film that fascinates me is one showing two guys dancing, along with another playing a violin. There is an Edison phonograph, with its huge trumpet, in the background. They used this clip at the beginning of The Celluloid Closet. The thing is, aside from questions of homoerotic overtones, you have a violin playing into an edison recording phonograph. Clearly they were making a sound recording at the time. Hell, since Edison was involved, it was sort of obvious to link the motion picture with the phonograph. So why isn’t this the first “sound movie”? Why do they call The Jazz Singer or the cartoon Leslie Cabarga notes in his book on the Fleischers the “first sound movie”? (And don’t tell me it’s a case f “synchronized sound”. The Jazz Singer used phonograph records!)

Sorry about that semi-hijack. Got carried away.

I saw “The Sneeze”, too.

Oh, golly, Cal, “talkies” existed back in the 19th-century—Sarah Bernhardt made a talkie of “Hamlet” in 1900! “The Jazz Singer” was just the first financially successful talkie, is all . . .

Well, I’m off for home now, gonna catch a showing of “The Whole Damm Family and the Damm Dog” . . .

Melies was immediately who I thought of when I read your thread title. And sadly, Voyage to the Moon is the only film on that list I’ve seen.

In a related note, if you ever make it out to L.A., Eve, you have to visit The Silent Movie Theater, supposedly the only remaining silent movie theater in the country. I’m sure you’ve heard of it in your line of work. I don’t go there nearly as much as I’d like, but I’ve seen some great films there. The films are usually accompanyed by a live organist doing the score. A few years ago, I saw The Battleship Potemkin there, and the guy who played the organ had actually played during the actual silent movie era. Neat stuff!

Sheesh! How old must the gent have been? Let’s assume he played in 1927, he might have been 17. So he was in his 90’s?

Eve This site indicates that the first all-talkie was Lights of New York in 1928. The distinction being that all films before that were only parly sound. Essentially, they were just experimenting before 1928.

Is this a correct assessment of what happened?

i’ve seen almost all of the Lumiere brothers’ movies, some of which were made in 1894, making them 108 years old. they (lumieres were french) actually invented the movies (at least in the form of projection instead of little crank-boxes). Don’t believe that Edison hype.
aging hipsters’ retirement home

The oldest film I have seen (or anyone for that matter) was a short 10 or so second run taken from an upstairs window overlooking Leeds Bridge.(in my home town)

The film maker was Louis le Prince, who solved some of the early problems such as stopping the film frame being exposed whilst yet continuing the the film feed from the roll.
He did this by having two loops of film so that as the frame shutter clamped the frame being exposed, the loops would take up the slack, until the frame was unclamped again.

This film was shot in about 1888 but the genius behind it went home to France and as far as I am aware he seems to have dissappeared from history.

What is remarkable is that you can still stand at the very same window that this pioneering fim was shot from, and the scene is virtually the same.

One thing I like to see in old films are familiar locations in city streets, just to see how uncluttered they look without all the street furniture, aerials, and general clutter that accompanies modern life.

Seeing as its you Eve politeness dictates I supply a link,

Ma’am, a link for your perusal

One of my favorite 100+ films is Melies’ **The Four Troublesome Heads**–absolutely hilarious. Naturally, I’ve seen dozens of his films, but Alice Guy & Ferdinand Zecca were also doing wonderful trick films at the time (Zecca’s riotous The Wonderful Chicken being just one, though sadly it’s one of many not listed on the IMDB).

I’ve also been in the unique position of seeing prints of a few 100+ year-old films struck from the original nitrate negatives, and the resolution, contrasts, and depths of field are truly miraculous. If only all films that age were in the position to look that good.

As for sound films, The Jazz Singer is credited as the first feature with synchronized dialogue (although the synchronization was part of a separate unit). All previous commercial synchronization efforts were in shorter forms (one- or two-reelers) and were not widely distributed, largely because the technology was still spotty at best and mass reproduction was not commercially viable. Before TJS, talking pictures were seen as gimmicks or novelties, while the Warner Bros. film represented a quantum shift in the industry. It should be noted that a year before TJS, Warners released Don Juan, which had a synchronized music track that was the first of its kind (meaning mass-distributed) as well.

Here’s a helpful timeline.

Eve says

Actually, if I’m not mistaken, this only had synchronized sound effects but no “talking”–given the technology at the time, I seriously doubt Ms. Bernhardt’s french accent would’ve been intelligible.

Ahhhhhhhhh, dozens of 'em. Totally unmemorable little novelties they were, too.

Start this thread NEXT year, and we can talk about Eddie Porter’s THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, the first flick to have an actual plot.
– Uke, standing by to be flamed by the Dopers who are ready to cite Ludwig von Schuhbaum’s “Eine Kleine Scheisskopf” and Jean-Luc Fromage-Sec’s “Les Grands Escaliers de Madame Parapluie” and any number of other pre-Porter narrative-driven auteur films he’s never heard of

One of the first DVD’s I bought was Landmarks of Early Film. It includes 26 films made before 1902. It also includes such later gems as Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), Melies’ Trip to the Moon (1902), that immortal classic The Whole Dam Family and The Dam Dog (1905), and Winsor McCay and His Moving Comics (1911) featuring yours truly.

I took an Intro to Film class at my local community college a few years ago and one week we watched a bunch of very old films. Saw A Trip to the Moon, of course, as well as The Great train Robbery. Also got to see a handful of old Lumiere Bros. films. Real mundane stuff like a minute or so of a beach scene. I remember one of firemen racing to a fire.

My favorites were the Mellier films though. Those were great. I remember one that was like 15 minutes long (which was a collossal and unheard-of length at the time) called, I believe, Kingdom fo the Fairies. Very interesting. A lot of primitive camera tricks got used to create some surprisingly decent special effects. My favorite was a filom called The Inn Where Nobody Sleeps. It runs maybe 5 minutes or so and depicts a man going to sleep in a room in an inn and during the night, thanks to the miracle of stop-motion photography, his shoes march across th floor by themselves, the dresser moves around, and the coatrack levitates. Very cool stuff.

Thanks, folks, for the information. I’ve never even heard of Sarah Bernhardt’s Hamlet. I’ll have to look that up. I only know that I read (as a kid) that The Jazz Singer was the first sound film, using records, and thought that was ridiculous – “Hey, I coulda thought of *that[/t]. What were they doing all those years? There *must * have been others!” I’ve since learned of some, but clearly not all.

I’ve seen some of the early cartoon efforts, such as Humorous Phases of Faces, and several Melies films. I’ve got a few Mccay caroons, but he’s post-1902. If you wanmt to go earlier, I’ve seen Eadeard Muybridge’s work. But most of the silent film I’ve seen has been post-1902.

“…and the Oscar for best Portrayal of the Moon, with a Space Ship in His Eye Goes To…”

Ike, my favorite part of “The Great Train Robbery” is the little pirouette the cashier does in the mail train as he’s shot. Bang! Up on toes, turn, turn, turn, splay to the floor in really dramatic fashion. Cut. Print it. That’s a wrap.

Wow! I thought this thread would drop like a rock to the bottom of the sea!

Archive Guy—great talkies background, thanks. I have seen a lot of the early sound films; people were experimenting with them from the very beginning, especially in France, but most of them involved playing a record during the film, so sound projection and timing usually screwed them up. By 1922, DeForest and a few others had sound-on-film down, and there were a lot of musical and newsreel short subjects playing in the few theaters equipped to show them.

Ana–I have heard of the Silent Movie Theater, but I rarely get out to L.A., and they always show films I’ve seen a million times . . .

Casdave—Have you read that Louis LePrince bio that came out about ten years ago? Fascinating! I would love to actually see what’s left of his films!

Ike–As much as I hate to disagree with The Master, there were lots of films with plots before “Train Robbery.” “Life of an American Fireman,” for one, and lots of shorter (half-reel) films, as well. And in Europe, they’d been making longer films with plots since at least 1902. Ever seen Cecil Hepworth’s “Rescued by Rover?”

A-HA! Further support for my theory that Ireland was settled by one of the Lost Tribes of Israel!

Well, I know it’s all Edison, but here are a number of films that are either over the century mark or just about there, and they’re all free to view by the general public. The only request I have of you is when you see the Boston Terrier, you must MST3K him by saying “Hey, is that a sausage?”

Olent—I LOVE that site, thanks for linking to it! Y’all MUST click onto “Aunt Sally’s Wonderful Bustle.”

I hear Cameron Crowe is doing a 15-million-dollar remake, with Ashely Judd and Matt Damon.

hijack Well explored in many books, including “Irish Ulysses”. Suposedly, a bunch of people take off from Ireland, wind up in Egypt. While in Egypt, they make friends with Moses and the Israelites and make the Exodus with them. They decide to keep going (and eventually wind up in Spain/Gibralter, from which they see Ireland and return to become the “black Irish” of Galway) but are promised a place in the Holy Land.
Unfortunately, haven’t seen any of these. :frowning:
Cyn ;j

REALLY? You mean it’s not just a lunacy I dreamt up based on circumstantial evidence like corned beef and names like Cohen/Cohan? Other people have dreamt up similar lunacies?

Somehow I find that less than reassuring. :eek: