Saturday, June 23, 2012

1st Annual Orange County Silent Film Festival

The Warwick Historical Society and the Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation Present

1st Annual Orange County Silent Film Festival

This program was curated by Seth Goldman, Executive Director of the Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation and Director of the Neversink Valley Institute of Early Film Studies (located at 26 Hoag Road, Cuddebackville, NY 12729) and Gretchen Weerheim, Education Director of the Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation and Associate Director of the Neversink Valley Institute of Early Film Studies.
An introduction by Seth Goldman includes a film short done in Cuddebackville by D.W. Griffith.

The festival also calls attention to Warwick’s own cinema palace, the Oakland Theatre, which served the community as a location for vaudeville, opera, music, and film from the silent era until the 1970s when the structure was demolished.      

“For many, the Oakland Theatre was the site of both their first movie and their first date; I, for one, savior memories of B horror movies starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee I saw during the last years of the Theatre’s existence. Recently, I acquired a World War I era poster advertizing a concert for the “Permanent Blind Relief War Fund For Soldiers and Sailors at the Oakland Theatre”, which exemplifies the integral civic role these early opera houses and cinema palaces played in communities like Warwick and others in addition to providing a public space for “movie going”, a seemingly rarer occasion these days. 

We want to contribute to bringing a little bit more of that back from the past at the A.W. Buckbee Center,” said Dr. Robert Schmick, Executive Director of the Historical Society.

Sunday, July 29, 7-9PM

I. Seth Goldman presents selections of local films by D.W.Griffith shot in Cuddebackville, NY.

II. Horror Selections:

The Haunted Castle (1896)
Frankenstein (1910)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde (1912)
The Avenging Conscience (1914)

Monday, July 30, 12-2PM Matinee

I. The Enchanted Drawing (1900)
II. Delivering Newspapers (1903)
III. Fantasmagorie (1908)
IV. Little Nemo (1911)
V. Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
VI. A Boy and His Elephant (1913)
VII. Our Gang Short (1920s)
VIII. Felix the Cat (1920s)
IX. A Trip to the Moon (1902)
X. The Bat

Piano music accompaniment

Tickets: $10 ( per day )

Where: A.W. Buckbee Center, 2 Colonial Ave., Warwick, NY

For more information, call: 845-781-3729    Email:


Le Manior du Diable ( The Haunted Castle)
Released: December 24, 1896, Paris, France
Directed and Written: Georges Melies
Studio: Star-Film Run
Time: 3:00
Featuring: Georges Melies, Jeanne d’Alcy

Plot Summary: A large bat flies into a medieval castle, circling and flapping its wings before suddenly changing into Mephistopheles(Georges Melies). He prepares a bubbling cauldron that produces symbols of evil: skeletons, witches, ghosts before one of the summoned underworld cavaliers holds up a crucifix, sending Mephistopheles back to Hell in a puff of smoke. This early film uses traditional pantomime elements seen in stage productions, common for the time. The action takes place on a basic set with camera tricks to give the illusions of appearance and disappearance. This film initially was meant to amuse, not frighten, but is considered by Many scholars to be the first horror film.

Released : March 18, 1910
Directed and Written: J. Searle Dawley
Studio: Edison Manufacturing Company, Bronx, NY
Run Time: 16 minutes
Featuring: Charles Stanton Ogle (The monster), Augustus Phillips (Frankenstein), Mary Fuller (Dr. Frankenstein’s Bride).

Plot Summary: Frankenstein, a young student, bids farewell to his father and fiancée as he leaves to enter college to study the sciences. He becomes Absorbed in the mysteries of life and death and resolves to create a human being. His grand experiment results in the creation of a hideous monster. which frightens Frankenstein. The experiment takes a great toll on Frankenstein’s health and he returns home. The monster follows him home and reveals his presence, insanely jealous of anyone else who may be in Frankenstein’s life. Terrorized, a scuffle ensues wherein Frankenstein casts the monster to the floor, who sees his reflection for the first time in a mirror. The monster is appalled by his reflected image and leaves, only to eventually return on Frankenstein’s wedding day. Still, the monster believes his only place is beside his creator and goes into the bride’s room to find the cause of his jealousy. She rushes out and faints at Frankenstein’s feet. Eventually, Frankenstein’s own power of good over evil rids the home of his horrific creation and Frankenstein and his bride embrace.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Released: January 16, 1912
Director: Lucius Henderson
Writer: Robert Lewis Stevenson (book); Thomas Russell Sullivan (screenplay)
Studio: Thanhauser Company, New Rochelle, NY
Run Time: 11:31
Featuring: James Cruze ( Jekyll and Hyde), Harry Benham (Hyde, some scenes), Florence La Badie (Jekyll’s sweetheart), Marie Eline (Little Girl knocked down by Hyde), Jane Gall (extra), Marguerite Snow (extra).

Plot Summary: Dr. Jekyll has secretly locked himself in his laboratory, taking a drug of his own creation. One it takes effect, he slumps in his chair, only to awaken as his evil alter ego. Mr. Hyde. A hideous beast, after using the drug repeatedly, Dr. Jekyll can no longer control Mr. Hyde’s emergence, who goes on to commit evil. Mr. Hyde discovers that the antidote is finished, and he will remain his evil personality forever. A policeman breaks down Dr. Jekyll’s door to find the doctor dead after taking poison.

The Avenging Conscience
Released: August 14, 1914
Directed and Written: D.W. Griffith, based on Poe’s “the Tell-Tale Heart” and “Annabel Lee”. Studio: Majestic Motion Picture Company
Run Time: 56 minutes
Featuring: Henry B. Walthall (Nephew), Blance Sweet (Sweetheart), Spottiswoode Aitken (uncle), George Siegmann (The Italian), Ralph Lewis (The Detective), Mae Marsh (The Maid), Robert Harron (Grocery Boy) George Beranger A young man falls in love with a beautiful woman, but his uncle disapproves of her. Because his passion for her is strong, the young man kills his uncle and hides him behind a wall he builds. Guilt torments him over this murder and he begins to hear noises, and eventually his uncle appears to him as a ghost. The nephew loses his grip on reality as the police figure out what he’s done and close in on him. It all turns out to be a nasty dream and his uncle is really still alive.

Children’s Films:

The Enchanted Drawing
Released; November 16, 1900
Studio: Vitagraph Studios/ Edison Studios
Run Time: 2 minutes
Featuring: J. Stuart Blackton

Plot Summary: This short features a combination of animation and live action showing a man drawing a cartoon face on an easel. First he draws a hat on the head, then a bottle, then more. The cartoon man seems to have a life of his own and reacts to whatever the artist draws and does.

Our Gang Short
Released: 1920s
Run Time: Various, 10-15 minutes

Short to be named. These are the classic shorts that eventually became known as the Little Rascals when sound took over in the 1930s. They are timeless and need little explanation!

Felix the Cat
Released: 1920s
Run Time: Various, 5-7 minutes

Delivering Newspapers
Released: 1903
Created: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company
Run Time: 56 seconds (will show twice)

Very short film showing newspaper boys gathering up their copies of New York World to sell and fight breaks out at the end. Take place in New York City , most likely Union Square. An early glimpse of what children used to do.

Released: August 17, 1908
Created: Emile Cohl
Studio: Societe des Etablissements L. Gaumont
Run time: 1 minute, 20 seconds

Meant to recreate a chalk figure on a blackboard, this animation shows a variety of objects morphing from one object to another. The main characters are a clown and a man and are drawn by a man’s hand on camera. The title is a reference to the fantasmograph, a mid 19th-century variant of the magic lantern that projected images on walls for audiences to enjoy.

Little Nemo
Released: April 8, 1911
Created: Windsor McCay and James S. Blackton
Run Time: 10:34
Featuring: Windsor McCay

Windsor McKay tells his friends that he will create an animated film using 4000 pages of drawings. The film shows how he goes about the process, albeit comically. The last two minutes of the film are the Little Nemo animation. It is remarkable for its beauty as well as each of the 4000 cells are hand-painted.

Gertie the Dinosaur
Released: September 14, 1914
Created: Windsor McKay
Run Time: 12:00
Featuring: Windsor McKay, George McManus, Roy McCardell, Max Fleischer Windsor McKay interacts with Gertie, a brontosaurus, who does tricks on command. When she misbehaves, McKay scolds her and she cries. McKay and Gertie ride off together at the end of the cartoon. This is the first cartoon to feature a character with a personality and was the first to use key frame animation, or drawing that defines the starting and ending points of transition. McKay also drew each frame himself, on individual 6.5” x 8.5” sheets of rice paper, and hired John A. Fitzsimmons to draw the backgrounds.

A Boy and His Elephant
Released: 1913
Directed: Louise Feuillade
Run Time: 9:17

A little boy steals a little elephant from a band of gypsies and together they have a series of misadventures. Charming French film that anyone could enjoy and is reminiscent of Our Gang features.


A Trip to the Moon (La Voyage dans la lune)
Released: September 1, 1902, France
Directed and Written: Georges Melies
Studio: Gaston Melies Films
Run Time: 11:18
Featuring: Georges Melies, Jeanne d’Alcy

Color Version: Six astronomers agree to build a space capsule in the shape of a bullet, put it in a cannon and shoot it to the moon. Landing safely, the astronomers have all sorts of adventures but make it home to tell the tale at a great celebration. The color version was thought to be lost but one was discovered in 1993 in a near decomposed state. A hand frame-by-frame restoration was launched in 1999 and completed in 2010.

The Bat
Released: March 14, 1926 Produced, Directed and Written by: Roland West
Run Time: 85:36
Studio: United Artists
Featuring: George Beranger (Gideon Bell), Charles Hartzinger (Cortleigh Fleming), Emilyu Fitzroy (Cornelia Van Gorder), Louise Fazenda (Lizzie Allen), Arthur Housman (Richard Flemming), Robert McKim (Dr. Wells), Jack Pickford (Brooks Bailey), Jewel Carmen (Dale Ogden), Kamiyama Sôjin (Billy the Butler), Tullio Carminati (Detective Moletti), Eddie Gribbon (Detective Anderson), Lee Shumway (The Unknown)

A silent film based upon the Broadway Play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood. The Bat, a masked criminal, terrorizes a mansion filled with the guests of a mystery writer. This mansion has hidden within it $20,000 of stolen money. The guests, along with a detective, search for the clues to the identity of The Bat. Interestingly, this film was remade twice: Roland West remade the film with sound in 1930 and released it as The Bat Whispers with Chester Morris and Una Merkilin 1958 with Vincent Price and this is also the film where Bob Kane got the inspiration for the comic superhero “Batman”; there is a bat-signal used in the film to frighten the guests before the attacks. Jack Pickford is also a star in this film and if his last name sounds familiar, you might think of his older sister Mary, perhaps one of the most famous film stars of all time.

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