Volume II: Filmography


Thanhouser Filmography - 1911



Toward the end of 1910 and in early 1911, the Thanhouser Company identified its key players as (Mr.) G.W. Abbe, Justus D. Barnes, Frank H. Crane, Irene Crane, Marie Eline (the Thanhouser Kid), Violet Heming, Martin J. Faust, Thomas Fortune, George Middleton, Grace Moore, John W. Noble, and Mrs. George Walters.

A year later, at the end of 1911 and in early 1912, its key personalities included the following: directors: Barry O'Neil, Lucius J. Henderson, and George O. Nichols (also spelled Nicholls); stage managers: Jack Noble and Calvin Dix; cameramen: Carl Louis Gregory and A.H. Moses, Jr.; players: Viola Alberti, Mignon Anderson, Justus D. Barnes, Harry Benham, James Cruze, Marie Eline (the Thanhouser Kid), Joseph Graybill, Florence LaBadie, Inda Palmer, William Russell, Marguerite Snow, and David H. Thompson; and scenario writer: Lloyd F. Lonergan.


Synopses and Reviews

The Billboard: In its December 3, 1910 issue, The Billboard announced that beginning January 7, 1911, there "will be instituted a department for review and comment on the new releases of motion picture films. The object of this department is to present to the exhibitor a true and unbiased statement of the merits of each new film released, in addition to its story and the nature of the subject contained in the manufacturer's synopsis, which department will be continued as heretofore in connection with the new one to be opened." The debut of the critical reviews was subsequently postponed to January 14, 1911, upon which date, and later, critical reviews of certain films appeared, apparently on a space-available basis. Reviews were continued until the issue of September 2, 1911, when they were discontinued. Plot synopses similar to those carried in Moving Picture World, but often paraphrased or considerably shortened, were run each week.

From September 2, 1911 through the end of the year, the publication printed occasional articles on various films, on a space-available basis, an article about the David Copperfield series of films being an example. The reviewer for the publication apparently was not aware of the identities of the Thanhouser players, for, with the occasional exception of Marie Eline (the Thanhouser Kid), they are not mentioned by name. The typical review was apt to praise the acting and especially the photography, but find fault with the scenario. As in previous years, the primary editorial emphasis of The Billboard was on stage, vaudeville, and traveling shows, not films.

The Morning Telegraph, published in New York City, provided detailed reviews of many Thanhouser films, often written with a different perspective and with a greater degree of criticism than found in the trade periodicals. These reviews give a valuable insight into the staging and acting of Thanhouser films of the period. Reviews were not printed in this newspaper from September 1910 until February 19, 1911, when a full-page film section titled "In the Moving Picture World" commenced. Under the title "Gossip of Moving Picture Makers" certain personal and company notes were printed.

Motography: See The Nickelodeon.

The Moving Picture News, which proclaimed itself to be the "official organ of the Independent manufacturers," published detailed plot synopses as furnished by the studios. Early in 1911, the "Seen on the Curtain" column, bylined "Walton," featured short reviews of films, usually of a complimentary nature, but occasionally pointing out flaws. "Walton" had reviewed many films during the preceding year, 1910. Beginning with the issue of April 29, 1911, a new column, "Film Charts," arranged in a tabular manner as in a horse racing chart, gave brief comments concerning films. The reviewer watched films at the Unique, Comedy, and other New York City theatres and included the reaction of the audiences in his commentary. This column was soon dropped, and for the balance of the year occasional reviews of Thanhouser films appeared in the form of articles. All throughout the year this periodical was constantly changing editorial direction in what seemed to be a quest for a significant market niche.

The Moving Picture World continued its policy of reprinting plot synopses provided by the film manufacturers, many of which are given here. Many these synopses were slightly edited, as compared to expanded versions in The Moving Picture News. In addition, reviews were given of many Thanhouser films, such reviews of Thanhouser and other films being more analytical and critical than they had been the year before. By June, the periodical was running "mild" reviews in its "Comments on the Films" column, and occasional acidic reviews in other columns, such reviews being a sharp departure from the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" philosophy of the year before. The reviewer was not familiar with the names of Thanhouser cast players, with the exception of Marie Eline, who was mentioned frequently. During the year 1911, this periodical ran more Thanhouser plot synopses and other information than did any other trade magazine.

The New York Dramatic Mirror began the year as the only trade journal carrying detailed critical reviews of films. Although the periodical had a strong bias toward Licensed companies, and the business and personalities of the Licensed companies dominated the news, advertising, and illustrations, the films of the Independent producers were analyzed, and much valuable technical information was presented, with the criticisms being especially detailed in many instances. "The Spectator," the journal's otherwise unidentified observer (Frank E. Woods) of the film scene, replied to readers' questions and gave information concerning the identities of cast members, anecdotes about film production, and other "human interest" items, all in a chatty, irreverent, and quite informal manner; a style later copied by The Billboard (for a short time) and, still later, by Motion Picture Story Magazine.

The New York Clipper in 1911 was devoted mainly to stage productions, and only brief items were carried about motion pictures, primarily those of Licensed companies.

The Nickelodeon, which early in 1911 changed its name to Motography, was primarily a publication oriented toward motion picture theatre operators. Most stories and news articles were about Licensed film companies, although occasional mention was made of the Independents. A schedule of weekly film releases, Licensed and Independent, was run. Headquartered in Chicago, the magazine emphasized Chicago film companies, notably Selig and Essanay, and later American, the latter being an Independent. The periodical seemed to lack an editorial plan, and reviews and other features were not published on a consistent basis. Of the reviews that did appear, most were of Licensed films. Only a few reviews of Thanhouser productions were given.

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