Volume 3: Biographies

 

MOSES, Alfred H., Jr.

Cameraman (1910-1916)

Thanhouser Career Synopsis: Alfred H. Moses, Jr. was a cameraman with Thanhouser from early 1910 to 1916.

Biographical Notes: Alfred Huger Moses, Jr. was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1874, showed an early aptitude for mechanics, and was educated at Alabama Polytechnic and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For 17 years, beginning as a teenager in 1888, he worked in mechanical, electrical, and still photographic endeavors. Among his early technical accomplishments were the making of an enclosed arc electric lamp in 1888 and the production of several cameras and projectors, certain of which were marketed under the Alamo name.

His screen career is said to have begun in 1907 and included filming for Peerless (The Little Duchess), George Backer Film Corporation (The Sin Woman), Triangle-Fine Arts (The Social Secretary), six years with Thanhouser (of which he was particularly proud of Joseph in the Land of Egypt), Rolfe-Metro (Life's Shadows), Blaché (Who So Taketh a Wife), and, in 1917, for Norma Talmadge. An article in the January 20, 1912 issue of The Moving Picture News told of the departure of Thanhouser players to Florida to produce pictures there, and stated: "The photographic portion of the work will be entrusted to Mr. A.H. Moses, Jr., who has done so much of the creditable photography shown in the Thanhouser productions."

The cameraman was mentioned in Jean Darnell's "Studio Chat - From the Inside" column in the December 1913 issue of The Photoplay Magazine: "Al Moses, cameraman at the Thanhouser plant, says that, honestly, he has had so many 'visions and double exposures' lately in his work that he dreams about it; that Mrs. Moses awakened him the other night and asked him if he had gone crazy. He was saying, 'Come in on 18, see vision on 29, and fade out at 37.' Al says there is some hope yet, as he got a rest for a while by taking a straight comedy featuring the Thanhouser Twins, the little Misses Marion and Madeline Fairbanks." During the 1914 era A.H. Moses, Jr. lived in New Rochelle at 18 Pratt Street.

A 1915 Sketch: As part of a biographical series by William J. Kellette, the following appeared in The New Rochelle Pioneer, June 12, 1915: "Alfred Huger Moses, Jr., first saw the light of day at Louisville, Ky., June 18, 1874, so next Friday is the 41st anniversary of his birth. It was 100 years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, who founded historic Plymouth Colony, in Massachusetts, in 1620, that Al's progenitors came to America, and although The Century Dictionary only gives space to Moses, the great Jewish lawmaker and creator of destiny, American photographic annals will give credit to Alfred Huger Moses in lines photographic, because he's a great little specialist in things that make for good pictures.

"He was graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute in the class of 1891, and has always specialized, since the beginning of the film industry, in that branch of the trade. He worked on the first Lumiere Cinematograph brought to this country about 1892, for Keith's Theatre. He has worked in many branches of the moving picture industry and managed, in his short, gay life, three moving picture theatres. He has worked through all the branches of producing and manufacturing pictures, and has had about 8 years experience with the following brands: Powhatan, Gem, Columbia, Nestor, Centaur, Pantagraph, and is the dean of photographers at Thanhouser's, having the jump on Carl Louis Gregory by about two pictures.

"Most of Al's family were Southerners, and it is related that Al takes considerable pride in Morris, the financier of the American Revolution, because he was a member of the Moses family. Al lives on Pratt street, where he has a charming wife and two children. He has taken most of the big features at the studio in the olden days, and is connected with W. Eugene Moore, director. I'd go deeper into the family, but as his Dad's visiting here, this week, and is treated in another column, look there for the stock that Moses sprang from. He's some boy, mentally and physically, and is now at the head of the Cinema Club of New York, swinging the gavel as President of the rapidly growing organization. He is also a Mason."

His Talents: The Moving Picture World, August 7, 1915, told of his abilities: "The newer men who are entering the film industry as motion picture photographers who will do well to keep their eyes on the efficiency record hung up by Alfred H. Moses, Jr., the Thanhouser photographic expert. He joined the company in 1910 and all these years of his incessant work in all kinds of climates and lights there have not been four instances where retakes were necessary for reasons which might in the remotest way be laid to photography. In hanging up this record for other cameramen to shoot at, Mr. Moses injects an element of competitive endeavor into the work of all camera operators. His efficiency is the fruit of painstaking labor and thoroughness.

"He took to photography in 1888 and has given time to every branch of it. He is the inventor of the Multi-Exposure Camera, the Baby Simplex Projector, as well as all the articles now being manufactured by the Simplex Photo Products Company. He is an electrical expert as well as a machinist, having built and operated mechanisms from electric bells to power plants. Mr. Moses is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked on the original Lumiere Cinematograph in 1905, when Keith brought it over, and Moses was his technical expert.

"In speaking of Moses' record Edwin Thanhouser says: 'I've always been an admirer of consistency, and consistency is something I've always tried to practice. I can hardly think of a better example of consistency in a man's work than the efforts of Alfred Moses in motion picture photography. To be at all times dependable - to know that you can count upon a man's work and not only certain conditions but every single time - this is model efficiency, and the record of Mr. Moses is truly a remarkable one for consistency.'

"Mr. Moses is a Southerner hailing from Louisville, Kentucky. To him goes the credit of conceiving the automatic dissolve, and he is now at work on a natural color process which will undoubtedly revolutionize some phases of motion picture photography. He has always been the recognized technical expert of the Thanhouser Company and yet for all his accomplishments he is modest and unassuming. 'The value of work,' says Mr. Moses, 'lies in the satisfaction of having done it well.' That being the case, he must be enjoying plenty of satisfaction."

In early 1916 he was among the Thanhouser employees who worked at the Jacksonville studio. In addition to photographing regular films, he produced a private film, which featured Louise Emerald Bates, for Levy's, a Jacksonville store, which showed the latest fashions. The 1918 edition of the Motion Picture Studio Directory noted that A.H. Moses, Jr. (as his name usually appeared in credits) was 5'11" tall, weighed 215 pounds, and had brown hair and brown eyes. His home address at the time was 465 West 152nd Street, New York City, and he worked in the same city with the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation. Subsequently he moved to England and worked for two years as chief cameraman for the British and Colonial Kinematograph Company, after which he became chief cameraman for George Ridgwell productions at the Stoll Picture Company in Cricklewood, where he was situated in 1921.

Thanhouser Filmography:

1912: The Arab's Bride (3-1-1912), Flying to Fortune (3-12-1912), The Taming of Mary (3-22-1912), The Golf Caddie's Dog (3-22-1912), For Sale - A Life (3-26-1912), The Girl of the Grove (4-5-1912), A Love of Long Ago (4-9-1912), Into the Desert (4-19-1912), Rejuvenation (4-23-1912), Miss Arabella Snaith (5-3-1912), The Saleslady (5-7-1912), Love's Miracle (5-10-1912), Jilted (5-14-1912), Jess, Part 1 - A Sister's Sacrifice (5-21-1912), The Ring of a Spanish Grandee (5-24-1912), Jess, Part 2 - Through the Boer Lines (5-28-1912), Jess, Part 3 - Jess, the Avenger (5-28-1912), Whom God Hath Joined (5-31-1912), Pa's Medicine (7-9-1912), Hazers Hazed (7-9-1912)

1914: Joseph in the Land of Egypt (2-1-1914), When East Meets West (12-13-1914)

1915: Her Father's Gold (5-11-1916), God's Witness (5-20-1915), Milestones of Life (7-29-1915), The Price of Her Silence (9-30-1915)

1916: Levy's Fashion Exhibit (advertising film released privately circa February 10, 1916), The Oval Diamond (2-24-1916)

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Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.