Volume II: Filmography


Thanhouser Filmography - 1910 .


Film Length and Classification

Among 1910 releases, most films were of standard one-reel length, or 1,000 feet, or slightly less than this. There were several split-reel releases with two subjects, typically of different lengths, with the first being the longer. A typical split reel subject pair can be found in A 29-Cent Robbery, a subject 750 feet in length, which was paired with The Old Shoe Came Back, a subject 250 feet in length at the end of the same reel.

Edwin Thanhouser called various pictures "classics," especially if they were dramatizations of famous plays or novels. Similarly, many pictures, including one-reel subjects, were called "features;" this classification being somewhat arbitrary. Elsewhere in the industry, the term "feature" was typically applied to a longer production, of two or more reels in length, and of dramatic (as opposed to comedy, documentary, or scenic) content. Terms were not well defined in the early years, and, for example, whether to call a film dramatization a photoplay, photo-play, photo-drama, or a "movie" (usually in quotation marks back then) was endlessly debated.

Among Thanhouser films of the 1910 year, one subject, publicized as Roosevelt's Return, scheduled to be photographed on June 18, 1910, apparently was never released, and it is not known if it was actually filmed.


Scheduling in 1910

From the outset, Thanhouser films were released on each Tuesday. The schedule was changed to Friday beginning on April 15, 1910, and then to Tuesday and Friday beginning on June 7, 1910. The two-a-week schedule was noted as "2-4-U" in many advertisements.


Personalities in 1910

In 1910, Thanhouser identified very few personalities in its advertisements and news releases, thus the identities of players, directors, and others are taken mainly from news articles, reviews, and trade journal commentaries.

The most important leading ladies in 1910 were Anna Rosemond and Violet Heming, and the most prominent leading man was Frank H. Crane. William Russell, who signed with Thanhouser later, was to become prominent in years to come. Toward the end of 1910, Thanhouser 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. This listing did not include Anne Rosemond, and it is believed that she departed from the studio by December. Of the players listed, Marie Eline received the lion's share of publicity during 1910.

Directors in 1910 included Barry O'Neil, Lloyd B. Carleton, and, joining later in the year, Lucius J. Henderson. John Noble was an assistant director. Cameramen included Blair Smith, Carl Louis Gregory, and Alfred H. Moses, Jr.

In instances in the following filmographies where just one, two, or several players are listed, there may have been other cast members, and they may have been just as important as those listed. Information concerning players in Thanhouser films for the first several years is fragmentary. Lloyd F. Lonergan probably wrote nearly all the scripts for films released in 1910, but in the absence of specific verification, no such assumptions have been made. Besides, it is known that Gertrude Thanhouser, wife of Edwin, wrote some scripts during this time.


Synopses and Reviews - 1910

Plot synopses are reprinted from various trade journals. In 1910 many reviews in trade journals simply paraphrased the synopses provided by Thanhouser. In many such instances it is evident that the reviewer did not actually see the film, or if he did, he had little original to report concerning it.

The Billboard: Information concerning specific Thanhouser films mentioned in 1910 was limited to plot synopses furnished by the manufacturer. The synopses were often abbreviated versions (in comparison to the full versions printed in Moving Picture News), and numerous films were not included. Film notes were secondary to vaudeville, circus, theatre, and other performing arts news, and information concerning pictures seems to have been run on a space-available basis. For much of July and August 1910, The Billboard informed its readers, as part of the weekly schedule of releases, that Thanhouser released in June 1910 Her Portrait, Oh! That Indian, His Revenge, The Amateur Hypnotist, and The Crack Shot; this information is erroneous, as these were Powers, not Thanhouser, pictures; however, the errors ran uncorrected for many weeks.

The Film Index: This journal was but a house organ of the Trust, and the films of Thanhouser and other Independents were not reviewed.

The Morning Telegraph, a New York city newspaper, included film items in a special section, "In the Moving Picture Field." Various Thanhouser films were reviewed with specific criticisms and insights not equalled elsewhere in journalism at the time. In terms of candid commentary in 1910, this newspaper outdid the trade journal, The New York Dramatic Mirror. In September 1910, reviews were discontinued, and they did not reappear until February 19, 1911.

The Moving Picture News: This weekly journal emphasized releases of the Independents. Articles were primarily of the paraphase-the-synopsis type, and in general were similar to those found in The Moving Picture World and other periodicals. Synopses tended to be slightly longer in many instances than those published in The Moving Picture World; this added length was often caused by an extra sentence or two at the beginning or end. Reviews by "Colin" appeared part way through the year, after which they were replaced by reviews by "Walton." While most of these reviews were mild, some were scathing. Few gave specific commentaries concerning players, sets, or other details. Toward the end of the year, reviews were discontinued. The magazine seemed to be groping for what its format should be, and various departments came and went. As of May 21, 1910 the publisher claimed the circulation of the magazine to be 10,120.

The Moving Picture World: Articles in this weekly publication were primarily of the paraphrase-the-synopsis type, but in instances in which it seems that the reviewer actually saw the film, the articles nearly always overlooked the faults and concentrated on the positive aspects. Such articles seem little different from advertisements, perhaps because Thanhouser was a full-page (or nearly so) advertiser in each issue and thus was a major source of revenue for the periodical. Reviews in the same periodical tended to be brief and complimentary, although there were exceptions. The Moving Picture World was a true promoter of motion pictures, and, in general, "if it couldn't say something nice, it didn't say anything at all." During the next year, 1911, reviews became more perceptive and critical.

The New York Clipper: In 1910 this publication ran few reviews of Independent films.

The New York Dramatic Mirror: Among the most perceptive views of Thanhouser films for the year 1910 are the commentaries in The New York Dramatic Mirror, seemingly the only trade journal which printed reviews worthy of the name, although the journal had a strong editorial bias toward Licensed films, with the products of Biograph and Vitagraph in particular drawing much praise. "The Spectator," the nom de plume of the author of the motion picture section of the magazine, was not otherwise identified in print, although he was Frank E. Woods, who was on the staff of American Biograph, a Licensed company. As might be expected, he illustrated most of his articles with scenes from Licensed pictures and portraits of Licensed players. Even so, and despite the preponderance of advertising carried in its pages from Licensed companies, an effort was made to carry information, though slanted, concerning the Independents as well.

That its writers actually saw most of the films reviewed was the topic of a commentary in the August 13, 1910 issue: "Nearly all the film pictures released for exhibition in America during July have been seen by Mirror reviewers and can be classified with some accuracy, and in the case of those few films that Mirror reviewers have not seen personally (in nearly all instances Independent films of limited circulation), recourse has been had to the bulletin descriptions furnished by the manufacturers to determine their character and classification."

The reviews printed in The New York Dramatic Mirror in 1910 serve as an insight into acting, production quality, and camera technique available in few places elsewhere, except for the New York Morning Telegraph. In general, the reviews of the Mirror directed most criticism toward the script, plot, or photography. In general, the acting was found to be of a high order of excellence. The New York Dramatic Mirror was not without its own detractors, and in its issue of March 25, 1911 The Moving Picture World published a scathing editorial about the Mirror, noting that it was a tool of the Trust companies, was biased against the Independents, and, being a general journal of the entire entertainment industry, had little in the way of factual information concerning the specialized field of films.

The Nickelodeon (name changed in early 1911 to Motography): Reviews of Thanhouser films were few and far between, for the periodical was devoted primarily to the releases of Licensed (Patents or Trust) companies, not Independents.

The Thanhouser News: Issued weekly, this leaflet typically illustrated scenes from films, provided release dates, and gave plot synopses. The information was generally the same as was given to the various trade publications, The Moving Picture World for example.

Variety: This weekly trade paper, which in later years was an important reviewer of films, ran only scattered brief mentions of films in 1910, and no reviews were printed.


British Synopses and Reviews

The Bioscope in 1910 printed synopses of various Thanhouser films, usually verbatim from the standard text provided by Thanhouser and printed in certain American publications, The Moving Picture World, for example. However, occasionally the synopses were different. In 1910 The Bioscope did not print reviews. The first Thanhouser film released in England was The Governor's Daughter, which was first publicly screened on October 6 (or 10; accounts vary), 1910, shortly after the Gaumont Company acquired the Thanhouser agency. The same film had been released months earlier in the United States, on June 24, 1910. From October 10th through the end of the year, other Thanhouser films were released in England by Gaumont, with the release dates lagging considerably behind those in the United States. British release dates are given in an appendix to the present work.

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