Retrospective documentary tracing the development of moving pictures.
Reel 1. Check copyright for this material.
Opening credits: Anglo-American Film Corporation Ltd. Presents Charles B. Cochran's Flashbacks - the Evolution of the Movies. With additions & re-editing by K. Sternberg. Narration by R.E. Jeffries. Commentary - Lester Powell, A. Barr-Smith. Musical Direction - W. Hodgson. Sound F. McNally. The Producers acknowledge with thanks the co-operation received from the National Film Library of the National Film Institute, London.
"Comical and Historical Moments from the Magic Lantern's development into Modern Movies" Various colour magic lantern slides are flashed onto the screen. "Here are Magic Lantern slides, a hundred years old, to show how "The pictures" first began to move." Various moving lantern slides are shown which feature men fighting, a man swallowing mice in his sleep and swimming fish. Dover to Calais crossing shown by moving slide. Sarcastic voiceover "How was it done? The boys at the vicarage were astounded."
"Six Movements" - narrator describes the new innovation of Beale's Choreutoscope which facilitated a sequence of 6 movements on screen. In 1872 seven movements became possible thanks to the Bio-Phantoscope - a sequence is shown where a man seems to take off his head and hold it in his hand.
"The First Film" - a section of paper film is held up to the camera. "Slow Motion" - Thomas Edison film of men working at an anvil filmed in slow motion. It is claimed that the first film to be printed on celluloid was called "Chapeaugraphy" and we see the film - a man (Felician Trewey) puts a hat on in various different ways. "This man changes his hat as often as a woman" quips the narrator.
Narrator states that about the time of "Chapeaugraphy", cinemas began to use piano accompaniment.
"London Bridge 1895" - narrator makes jokes about crowds of people rushing to work as we see pedestrians and traffic meander across the bridge.
[note that this is probably Blackfriars Bridge from 1896]
"London Fire Brigade" - Victorian London Fire Brigade film. Good shots of the horse drawn engines emerging from the fire station and tall ladder being wheeled past the camera. "The Derby" - Persimmon (?) wins for the Prince of Wales. "Ascot" - Various shots of the great and good dressed in top hat and tails and glamourous frocks - late 1800s. "Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee." - shots missing. "The funeral of the Great Queen." - 1901 shot of the funeral procession.
"The camera cannot lie was a firm belief of the "Age of Progress" until trick photography was demonstrated by "Dancing on the Ceiling" in the programmes of 1900." Trick film is shown where a magician disappears, then people are seen apparently dancing on the ceiling.
Note: this is probably "Upside Down" or "The Human Flies" 1898 directed by Robert W. Paul.
"Trip to the Moon" (Le Voyage Dans La Lune) 1902 - the Melies film is shown (possibly all of it). Narrator makes sarcastic statements about the acting skills of the people appearing in the film. The women appearing are compared to "Cochran's young ladies". Music and sound effects are added to the film as well as the silly commentary. Magical transformations and trick effects abound. Lovely!
"Another age begins with the Coronation of King Edward VII" - footage of the Coronation parade in 1901.
"Chas Peace at Home" - narrator claims this to be "the first gangster film." Funny sound effects, dramatic music and jokey voiceover by narrator. Charles Peace dances with his "molls", disguises himself as a woman, fights with policemen, etc.
Note: this is the first section of the film "The Life of Charles Peace" 1905 - directed by Walter Haggar.
"The Invisible Thief" - French trick film. C/U of Wells' book "L'Homme Invisible". He climbs several flights of stairs to an attic room. The man (wearing a loud checked suit) prepares a coctail of liquids, drinks it from a cup then parts of his body appear to disappear as he undresses. Other scenes are shown where our invisible man does all sorts of tricks. Objects appear to move as if by telekinesis - stop frame animation. Our invisible man steals silver items from the appartment below his then brings them back up to the attic. He then puts his clothes back on as well as a mask. He goes out into the street and picks the pockets of two people looking into a shop window. They hail two policemen and a chase ensues. The man runs up the stairs of his house followed by the policemen. He barricades himself into his room and when the police burst in and grab him, he disappears. Slapstick routine ensues with chairs flying around the room and the police being attacked and chased down the stairs by an invisible force.
Note: this is the 1909 Pathe Freres film "Le Voleur Invisible" probably directed by Ferdinand Zecca. See other reels.