The Cine Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896-1914, Updated and Expanded Edition / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.92
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 93%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $2.92   
  • New (3) from $49.89   
  • Used (10) from $2.92   


Richard Abel's magisterial new book radically rewrites the history of French cinema between 1896 and 1914, particularly during the years when Pathé-Frères, the first major corporation in the new industry, led the world in film production and distribution. Based on extensive investigation of rare archival films and documents, and drawing on recent social and cultural histories of turn-of-the-century France and the United States, his book provides new insights into the earliest history of the cinema.

Abel tells how early French film entertainment changed from a cinema of attractions to the narrative format that Hollywood would so successfully exploit. He describes the popular genres of the era—comic chases, trick films and féeries, historical and biblical stories, family melodramas and grand guignol tales, crime and detective films—and shows the shift from short subjects to feature-length films. Cinema venues evolved along with the films as live music, color effects, and other new exhibiting techniques and practices drew larger and larger audiences. Abel explores the ways these early films mapped significant differences in French social life, helping to produce thoroughly bourgeois citizens for Third Republic France.

The Ciné Goes to Town recovers early French cinema's unique contribution to the development of the mass culture industry. As the one-hundredth anniversary of cinema approaches, this compelling demonstration of film's role in the formation of social and national identity will attract a wide audience of film scholars, social and cultural historians, and film enthusiasts.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520079366
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 574
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Abel is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of English at Drake University. His books include French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915-1929 (1984), winner of the Theatre Library Association Award, and French Film Theory and Criticism: A History/Anthology, 1907-1939 (1988), winner of the Jay Leyda Prize in Cinema Studies.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Note to the 1998 Edition
Note on Terms
1 Turn-of-the-Century France 1
2 The French Cinema Industry, 1896-1914 9
The Big Four, 1896-1902 10
Pathe Comes to Power, 1902-1907 19
Strategies of Dominance, 1907-1911 25
Strategies of Survival, 1911-1914 46
3 The Cinema of Attractions, 1896-1904 59
Trick Films and Feeries 61
Comic Films 87
Diverging Paths: From Actualites to Historical and Realist Films 91
4 The Transition to a Narrative Cinema, 1904-1907 102
The Bricolage Model 105
The Comic Chase Film and Company 109
The Pleasure and Pain of Just Looking: Erotic Films and Others 117
The Dramatic and Realist Films 121
Dissemination and Difference 136
The Cinema of Attractions (continued) 156
5 The Pre-Feature, Single-Reel Story Film, 1907-1911 179
Contemporary Melodramas: Light and Dark Variants 183
Comics Come in Series 215
Film d'Art and Films d'Art: The Historical Film and the Literary Adaptation 246
Trick Films and Feeries 278
6 The Rise of the Feature Film, 1911-1914 298
The Historical Film Comes of Age 302
Life As It Is: In and Out of Fashion 326
Crime Pays: Detectives Versus Criminals 354
The Comic Series in Full Swing 388
Afterword 429
Filmography 433
Notes 463
Bibliography 537
Index 547
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2002

    Comprehensive History of early French silent Film

    Richard Abel has done a massive reasearch job, and impressively documented French silent films from their first showing until the outbreak of World War I. French films were the most popular in the world until the War wiped out the film-making industry for a few years. By then, the American film industry was the world leader. Abel viewed hundreds of still-existing early films in writing this book. The appendix includes a very useful filmography that lists existing French silent films, the archive that holds them, and lists contemporary magazine reviews of the films. This book has very detailed endnotes of his sources. There are quite a few photos from the films that Abel describes. The book is broken up into five parts. The first part documents a history of the French film industry up to 1914, and the audiencies of the time. The next section documents "The Cinema of Attractions (1896-1904), when George Melies was the most popular filmmaker with his "trick" films. Also, the Lumiere Brothers specialized in "actuality" films, and the Pathe company was growing. The next section covers "The Transition to a Narrative Cinema (1904-1907)", where short story films were king. Pathe and Gaumont were the dominant film companies, and Melies was not popular much longer. Next, "The Pre-Feature Single-Reel Story Film" documents the rise of comedies, historical films and even cartoons. Finally, "The Rise of the Feature Film (1911-1914) covers historical epics that were much longer, crime and detective films, and comedies featuring comedians like Max Linder and Andre Deed. The book also explains how both serious films and comedies both affirmed and satirized contemporary French society. If you are new to the study of film history, this book will be way over your head. On the other hand, if you are interested in the development of film narrative and editing, you will be fascinated by this book. My only complaint is that Abel describes so many different examples of films, that it is tough to read a large chunk of this book at one sitting. After an hour or so, all of the plot-lines and camera-work and editing that he describes starts to blur together in your mind. I think that the book might have benefited from more section breaks. Still, this is a fascinating book for the serious silent film fan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)