The Transformation of Cinema: 1907-1915

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Eileen Bowser chronicles the history of the American film business from the days of storefront nickelodeons to the premiere of D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation. The effect of the surroundings—the size of the hall; whether the film was shown alone or along with vaudeville entertainment; and the size, quality, and relevance of the musical background—are all examined for their impact on the filmgoing experience.
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Editorial Reviews

See preceding entries. Volume two examines the contributions of the countless film figures who helped to shape the industry and to establish Hollywood as the film capital. In this period, the star system developed and the silent film became a full-fledged art form with its own place in the world of business. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684184142
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/1990
  • Series: History of the American Cinema Series, #2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.26 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2002

    Thorough examination of American Film History from 1907-1915

    Ms. Bowser has written a detailed history of this film period, using her extensive research from early film trade magazines and the court records for the Patent War trial proceedings. The Patent litigation can be very confusing, but she does a good job of pointing out the important highlights. Besides the Patent War, the Patents Company also lost the economic war with the independent film producers and distributors. She describes the rise of the nickelodeon theatres, and the backlash against films by some moral 'authorities' of the time. She shows many examples of films where the camera creeped closer to the actors than just a full shot of their body, and the early attempts to tell a story better by editing different shots together. This period was the very beginning of the 'star' system. Many studios resisted releasing the names of their actors, but others (including a few licensed producers) were happy to do so. With the coming of feature films came bigger, more elaborate movie palaces. And although Hollywood started booming in this period, films were being made in New York City, New Jersey, Florida, San Antonio, Chicago, Ireland, Cuba, and many other places. Because this book convers only American films, the reader will miss out on film history being made in Europe and the rest of the world. However, it does explain how Italian spectacles in 1913-1914 influenced certain American filmmakers. And Pathe Freres in France had some influence over distribution patterns in the USA before World War I. The main reason that I didn't give this book 5 stars is that it only describes major films as to their editing techniques or social content. There is no analysis as a whole of major films like THE ITALIAN, MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY and others. Also, short comedies like the Mack Sennett Keystones only have a couple of pages, and Charlie Chaplin (who started working in 1914) and Sidney Drew barely have a mention.

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