Friday, July 13, 2012

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


A Joint Fundraiser: 1st Annual Orange County Silent Film Festival


$10, Adult, $5 under 12, per session, 4 sessions (Proceeds to benefit the two organizations)


Selections curated and introduced by Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation and Neversink Valley Institute of Early Film Studies Directors Seth Goldman and Gretchen Weerheim

Sunday, July 29, Session I, 1-3PM  

Seth Goldman introduces films by D.W.Griffith shot in Cuddebackville.

The Haunted Castle (1896)

Frankenstein (1910)

Sunday, July 29, Session II, 4-6PM

Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde (1912)

The Midnight Girl (1925)

Mon., July 30, Session III, Matinee, 12-2 PM, Session IV, Evening, 7-9PM

Introductions by Gretchen Weerheim

Mon., July 30, Session III, 12-2PM:

The Enchanted Drawing (1900)

Delivering Newspapers (1903)

Fantasmagorie (1908)

Little Nemo (1911)

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)

A Boy and His Elephant (1913)

Our Gang Short (1920s)

Felix the Cat (1920s)

Mon., Session IV, 7-9PM

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

The Bat (1926)

Piano music accompaniment 

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

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


Visit:, (845)754-8870

All donations are fully tax-deductible under IRS rule 501 (c )(3)

The Neversink Valley Museum of History and Innovation and its Institute for Early Film Studies  (26 Hoag Road, Cuddebackville, NY 12729) celebrates the contributions of such Hollywood legends as D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Mack Sennett, Florence Lawrence amongst others, who came to Orange County in the early years of the 20th Century to create films. Seth Goldman is the Executive Director of both the museum and institute, and Gretchen Weerheim is the museum educator and assistant director of the institute.
D.W. Griffith shot seventeen films in Cuddebackville: “I discovered Cuddebackville, the most beautiful, altogether the loveliest spot in America…there is a quality about the light there, particularly a twilight that I have never found elsewhere; it is transcendently illuminative for moving pictures.” A number of early motion picture companies and pioneers came to Cuddebackville to take advantage of the scenery and light, including the aforementioned and Cecil B. deMille, the Thanhouser Company and Pathe Freres and notable stars of the era Mabel Normand, James Kirkwood, James Young Deer and others. 

The festival is also in homage to Warwick’s own cinema palace, the Oakland Theatre, which served the community as a location for vaudeville, opera, music, and movies from the silent era until the 1970s. “For many the Oakland Theatre was the site of both their first movie and their first date; I, for one, savor 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.

Movie Summaries

Horror Movies

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

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.

Frankenstein ( 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).

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: R.L.Stevenson (book); Thomas Russell Sullivan (screenplay)
Studio: Thanhauser Company, New Rochelle, NY
Run Time: 11:31
Featuring: James Cruze (Jekyll & 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).

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 Midnight Girl
Released: February 15, 1925
Director: Wilfred Noy Writer: Jean Conover, Wilfred Noy, with the story by Garrett Fort
Studio: Chadwick Pictures Corporation
Run Time: 61 minutes
Featuring: Bela Lugosi (Nicholas Harmon), Lila Lee (Anna Meridoff), Gareth Hughes (Don Harmon), Ruby Blaine (Natalie Schuyler), Dolores Cassanelli (Mimi Divito), John D. Walsh (Victor Delski), William Harvey (Nifty Louis). Sidney Paxton (Joe the Café Owner), Signor N. Salerno (Opera Manager), Flora Finch (Landlady)

A melodrama thriller wherein a wealthy patron of music, Nicholas Harmon possesses a weakness for his mistress Nina whose operatic voice is in decline. He searches for a new talent to perhaps take her place. Meanwhile, Nicholas’ son Don, an orchestra conductor and unhappily engaged to a society girl, has a falling out with his wealthy father and leaves to prove himself. Stumbling upon an elderly music teacher and student who find themselves in a distressing situation, Don rescues the pair and invites them to meet his father, Nicholas, who instantly becomes attracted to the younger girl. Don also hires Anna in his night club, and she becomes the Midnight Girl, and much melodrama ensues.

This melodrama thriller might be pretty predictable, but it shows Bela Lugosi in alternative to the role as Dracula he would be typecast in most of his career. Lili Lee actually had top billing for the film, as she was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1920s. 

Children’s Movies:

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

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 that shows newspaper boys gathering up their copies of  the New York World to sell and a fight breaks out at the end. Takes place in New York City, most likely Union Square. It presents a glimpse at early twentieth urban life and childhood for some. 

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 hand painted 4000 cells.

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.  

Sci-Fi/Mystery Movies:

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: 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.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 that I saw during the last years of the Theatre’s existence.

Recently, a World War I era poster came to light 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 a shared movie experience, a seemingly rarer occasion these days.

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

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