The Biograph Company known as the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, was a motion picture company founded in 1895 and active until 1916. It was the first company in the United States devoted to film production and exhibition, for two decades was one of the most prolific, releasing over 3000 short films and 12 feature films. During the height of silent film as a medium, Biograph was America's most prominent film studio and one of the most respected and influential studios worldwide, only rivaled by Germany's UFA, Sweden's Svensk Filmindustri and France's Pathé; the company was home to pioneering director D. W. Griffith and such actors as Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore. An unrelated company, with the same name, was incorporated in California in 1991; as of 2012 its operations were suspended. The company was started by William Kennedy Dickson, an inventor at Thomas Edison's laboratory who helped pioneer the technology of capturing moving images on film. Dickson left Edison in April 1895, joining with inventors Herman Casler, Henry Marvin and businessman Elias Koopman to incorporate the American Mutoscope Company in New Jersey on December 30, 1895.
The firm manufactured the Mutoscope and made flip-card movies for it as a rival to Edison’s Kinetoscope for individual “peep shows”, making the company Edison’s chief competitor in the nickelodeon market. In the summer of 1896 the Biograph projector was released, offering superior image quality to Edison’s Vitascope projector; the company soon became a leader in the film industry, with distribution and production subsidiaries around the world, including the British Mutoscope Co. In 1899 it changed its name to the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, in 1908 to the Biograph Company. To avoid violating Edison’s motion picture patents, Biograph cameras from 1895-1902 used a large-format film, measuring 2-23/32 inches wide, with an image area of 2×2½ inches, four times that of Edison’s 35mm format; the camera used friction feed instead of Edison’s sprocket feed to guide the film to the aperture. The camera itself punched a sprocket hole on each side of the frame as the film was exposed at 30 frames per second.
A patent case victory in March 1902 allowed Biograph and other producers and distributors to use the less expensive 35 mm format without an Edison license, although Biograph did not phase out 68 mm production until autumn of 1903. Biograph offered prints in both formats to exhibitors until 1905, when it discontinued the larger format. Biograph films before 1903, were "actualities," documentary film footage of actual persons and events, each film less than two minutes long, such as the one of the Empire State Express, which premiered on October 12, 1896 in New York City; the occasional narrative film a comedy, was shot in one scene, with no editing. Spurred on by competition from Edison and British and European producers, Biograph production from 1903 onward was dominated by narratives; as the stories became more complex the films became longer, with multiple scenes to tell the story, although an individual scene was still presented in one shot without editing. Biograph's production of actualities ended by 1908 in favor of the narrative film.
The company's first studio was located on the roof of 841 Broadway at 13th St. in Manhattan, known as the Hackett Carhart Building and today as the Roosevelt Building. The set-up was similar to Thomas Edison's "Black Maria" in West Orange, NJ, with the studio itself being mounted on circular tracks to be able to get the best possible sunlight; the company moved in 1906 to a converted brownstone mansion at 11 East 14th St. near Union Square, a building, razed in the 1960s. This was Biograph's first indoor studio, the first movie studio in the world to rely on artificial light. Biograph moved again in 1913, as it entered feature film production, to a new state-of-the-art studio on 175th Street in the Bronx. There was the problem of the underground "duping" business, where people would illegally duplicate a copyrighted movie and remove the title screen with the company and copyright notice and sell it to theaters. In order to make the theater audience aware that they were watching an American Biograph movie the AB logo would be prominently placed in random parts of the movie.
Director D. W. Griffith joined Biograph in 1908 as a writer and actor, but within months became its principal director. In 1908 the company's head director Wallace McCutcheon grew ill, his son Wallace McCutcheon Jr. took his place but was not able to make a successful film for the company. As a result of these failed productions, studio head Henry Marvin gave the position of head director to Griffith, whose first film was The Adventures of Dollie. Griffith helped establish many of the conventions of narrative film, including cross-cutting to show events occurring in different places, the flashback, the fade-in/fade-out, the interposition of closeups within a scene, a moderated acting style more suitable for film. Although Griffith did not invent these techniques, he made them a regular part of the film vocabulary, his prolific output--often one new film a week--and willingness to experiment in many different genres helped the company become a major commercial success. Many early movie stars were Biograph performers, including Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Robert Harron, Arthur V. Johnson, Florence Auer, Robert G. Vignola, Owen Moore, Alan Hale, Sr. Florence Lawrence, Blanche Sweet, Harry Carey, James Kirkwood Sr. Mabel Normand, Henry B.
Walthall, Mae Marsh, Dorothy Davenport. Mack Sennett h
Nursing a Viper
Nursing a Viper is a 1909 American silent short film by pioneer director D. W. Griffith. A paper print of the film survives in the Library of Congress. Arthur V. Johnson as The Husband Marion Leonard as The Wife Frank Powell as The Viper Frank Evans as Man in Mob Ruth Hart as Woman James Kirkwood as Man in Mob Florence Lawrence Henry Lehrman as Man in Mob Owen Moore as Fleeing Aristocrat George Nichols as Man in Mob Anthony O'Sullivan as Man in Mob Billy Quirk as Fleeing Aristocrat Gertrude Robinson as Fleeing Aristocrat Mack Sennett as Man in Mob Mabel Trunnelle as Victimized Woman D. W. Griffith filmography Nursing a Viper on IMDb Nursing a Viper is available for free download at the Internet Archive Nursing a Viper.
A film called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, or photoplay, is a series of still images that, when shown on a screen, create the illusion of moving images. This optical illusion causes the audience to perceive continuous motion between separate objects viewed in rapid succession; the process of filmmaking is both an industry. A film is created by photographing actual scenes with a motion-picture camera, by photographing drawings or miniature models using traditional animation techniques, by means of CGI and computer animation, or by a combination of some or all of these techniques, other visual effects; the word "cinema", short for cinematography, is used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, to the art of filmmaking itself. The contemporary definition of cinema is the art of simulating experiences to communicate ideas, perceptions, beauty or atmosphere by the means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations. Films were recorded onto plastic film through a photochemical process and shown through a movie projector onto a large screen.
Contemporary films are now fully digital through the entire process of production and exhibition, while films recorded in a photochemical form traditionally included an analogous optical soundtrack. Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, they reflect those cultures. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment, a powerful medium for educating—or indoctrinating—citizens; the visual basis of film gives it a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions through the use of dubbing or subtitles to translate the dialog into other languages; the individual images that make up a film are called frames. In the projection of traditional celluloid films, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness as each frame, in turn, is moved into position to be projected, but the viewer does not notice the interruptions because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source disappears.
The perception of motion is due to a psychological effect called the phi phenomenon. The name "film" originates from the fact that photographic film has been the medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion-picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture and flick; the most common term in the United States is movie. Common terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the movies, cinema. In early years, the word sheet was sometimes used instead of screen. Preceding film in origin by thousands of years, early plays and dances had elements common to film: scripts, costumes, direction, audiences and scores. Much terminology used in film theory and criticism apply, such as mise en scène. Owing to the lack of any technology for doing so, the moving images and sounds could not be recorded for replaying as with film; the magic lantern created by Christiaan Huygens in the 1650s, could be used to project animation, achieved by various types of mechanical slides.
Two glass slides, one with the stationary part of the picture and the other with the part, to move, would be placed one on top of the other and projected together the moving slide would be hand-operated, either directly or by means of a lever or other mechanism. Chromotrope slides, which produced eye-dazzling displays of continuously cycling abstract geometrical patterns and colors, were operated by means of a small crank and pulley wheel that rotated a glass disc. In the mid-19th century, inventions such as Joseph Plateau's phenakistoscope and the zoetrope demonstrated that a designed sequence of drawings, showing phases of the changing appearance of objects in motion, would appear to show the objects moving if they were displayed one after the other at a sufficiently rapid rate; these devices relied on the phenomenon of persistence of vision to make the display appear continuous though the observer's view was blocked as each drawing rotated into the location where its predecessor had just been glimpsed.
Each sequence was limited to a small number of drawings twelve, so it could only show endlessly repeating cyclical motions. By the late 1880s, the last major device of this type, the praxinoscope, had been elaborated into a form that employed a long coiled band containing hundreds of images painted on glass and used the elements of a magic lantern to project them onto a screen; the use of sequences of photographs in such devices was limited to a few experiments with subjects photographed in a series of poses because the available emulsions were not sensitive enough to allow the short exposures needed to photograph subjects that were moving. The sensitivity was improved and in the late 1870s, Eadweard Muybridge created the first animated image sequences photographed in real-time. A row of cameras was used, each, in turn, capturing one image on a photographic glass plate, so the total number of images in each sequence was limited by the number of cameras, about two dozen at most. Muybridge used his system to analyze the movements of a wi
Gladys Louise Smith, known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-born American film actress and producer. With a career spanning 50 years, she was a co-founder of both the Pickford–Fairbanks Studio and the United Artists film studio, one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who present the yearly "Oscar" award ceremony. Pickford was known in her prime as "America's Sweetheart" and the "girl with the curls", she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Pickford was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name, was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies", she is credited as having defined the ingénue archetype in cinema. She was awarded the second Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound-film role in Coquette and received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in 1892 at 211 University Avenue, Ontario. Her father, John Charles Smith, was the son of English Methodist immigrants, worked a variety of odd jobs, her mother, Charlotte Hennessey, was of Irish Catholic descent and worked for a time as a seamstress. She had two younger siblings, called "Lottie", John Charles, called "Jack", who became actors. To please her husband's relatives, Pickford's mother baptized her children as Methodists, the religion of their father. John Charles Smith was an alcoholic; when Gladys was age four, her household was under a public health measure. Their devoutly Catholic maternal grandmother asked a visiting Roman Catholic priest to baptize the children. Pickford was at this time baptized as Gladys Marie Smith. After being widowed in 1899, Charlotte Smith began taking in boarders, one of whom was a Mr. Murphy, the theatrical stage manager for Cummings Stock Company, who soon suggested that Gladys age seven, Lotti age six, be given two small theatrical roles — Gladys portrayed a girl and a boy, while Lottie was cast in a silent part in the company's production of The Silver King at Toronto's Princess Theatre, while their mother played the organ.
Pickford subsequently acted in many melodramas with Toronto's Valentine Stock Company playing the major child role in its version of The Silver King. She capped her short career in Toronto with the starring role of Little Eva the Valentine production of Uncle Tom's Cabin, adapted from the 1852 novel. By the early 1900s, theatre had become a family enterprise. Gladys, her mother and two younger siblings toured the United States by rail, performing in third-rate companies and plays. After six impoverished years, Pickford allowed one more summer to land a leading role on Broadway, planning to quit acting if she failed. In 1906 Gladys and Jack Smith supported singer Chauncey Olcott on Broadway in Edmund Burke. Gladys landed a supporting role in a 1907 Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia; the play was written by William C. deMille, whose brother, appeared in the cast. David Belasco, the producer of the play, insisted that Gladys Smith assume the stage name Mary Pickford. After completing the Broadway run and touring the play, Pickford was again out of work.
On April 19, 1909, the Biograph Company director D. W. Griffith screen-tested her at the company's New York studio for a role in the nickelodeon film Pippa Passes; the role went to someone else but Griffith was taken with Pickford. She grasped that movie acting was simpler than the stylized stage acting of the day. Most Biograph actors earned $5 a day but, after Pickford's single day in the studio, Griffith agreed to pay her $10 a day against a guarantee of $40 a week. Pickford, like all actors at Biograph, played both bit parts and leading roles, including mothers, charwomen, slaves, Native Americans, spurned women, a prostitute; as Pickford said of her success at Biograph:I played scrubwomen and secretaries and women of all nationalities... I decided that if I could get into as many pictures as possible, I'd become known, there would be a demand for my work, she appeared in 51 films in 1909 – one a week. While at Biograph, she suggested to Florence La Badie to "try pictures", invited her to the studio and introduced her to D. W. Griffith, who launched La Badie's career.
In January 1910, Pickford traveled with a Biograph crew to Los Angeles. Many other film companies wintered on the West Coast, escaping the weak light and short days that hampered winter shooting in the East. Pickford added to her 1909 Biographs with films made in California. Actors were not listed in the credits in Griffith's company. Audiences identified Pickford within weeks of her first film appearance. Exhibitors, in turn, capitalized on her popularity by advertising on sandwich boards that a film featuring "The Girl with the Golden Curls", "Blondilocks", or "The Biograph Girl" was inside. Pickford left Biograph in December 1910; the following year, she starred in films at Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving
Mack Sennett was a Canadian-American film actor and producer, studio head, known as the King of Comedy. Born in Canada, he started in films in the Biograph company of New York, opened Keystone Studios in Edendale, California in 1912, it was the first enclosed film stage, Sennett became famous as the originator of slapstick routines such as pie-throwing and car-chases, as seen in the Keystone Cops films. He produced short features that displayed his Bathing Beauties, many of whom went on to develop successful acting careers. Sennett's work in sound-movies was less successful and he was bankrupted in 1933, he was presented with an honorary Academy Award for his contribution to film comedy. Born Michael Sinnott in Richmond Ste-Bibiane Parish, Canada, he was the son of Irish Catholic John Sinnott and Catherine Foy, married 1879 in Tingwick, Québec; the newlyweds moved the same year to Richmond. By 1883, when Michael's brother George was born, John Sinnott was working in Richmond as an innkeeper. John Sinnott and Catherine Foy had all their children and raised their family in Richmond a small Eastern Townships village.
At that time, Michael's grandparents were living in Québec. Michael Sinnott moved to Connecticut, he lived for a while in Northampton, where, according to his autobiography, Sennett first got the idea to become an opera singer after seeing a vaudeville show. He claimed that the most respected lawyer in town, Northampton mayor Calvin Coolidge, as well as Sennett's own mother, tried to talk him out of his musical ambitions. In New York City, Sennett became an actor, dancer, set designer, director for Biograph. A major distinction in his acting career overlooked, is the fact that Sennett played Sherlock Holmes 11 times, albeit as a parody, between 1911 and 1913. With financial backing from Adam Kessel and Charles O. Bauman of the New York Motion Picture Company, Michael "Mack" Sennett founded Keystone Studios in Edendale, California in 1912; the original main building, the first enclosed film stage and studio constructed, is still there today. Many important actors cemented their film careers with Sennett, including Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, Harry Langdon, Roscoe Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, Raymond Griffith, Gloria Swanson, Ford Sterling, Andy Clyde, Chester Conklin, Polly Moran, Louise Fazenda, The Keystone Cops, Bing Crosby, W. C.
Fields. Mack Sennett's slapstick comedies were noted for their wild car chases and custard pie warfare in the Keystone Cops series. Sennett's first female comedian was Mabel Normand, who became a major star under his direction and with whom he embarked on a tumultuous romantic relationship. Sennett developed the Kid Comedies, a forerunner of the Our Gang films, in a short time, his name became synonymous with screen comedy which were called "flickers" at the time. In 1915, Keystone Studios became an autonomous production unit of the ambitious Triangle Film Corporation, as Sennett joined forces with D. W. Griffith and Thomas Ince, both powerful figures in the film industry. Beginning in 1915, Sennett assembled a bevy of women known as the Sennett Bathing Beauties to appear in provocative bathing costumes in comedy short subjects, in promotional material, in promotional events such as Venice Beach beauty contests; the Sennett Bathing Beauties continued to appear through 1928. In 1917, Sennett gave up the Keystone trademark and organized his own company, Mack Sennett Comedies Corporation.
Sennett went on to produce more ambitious comedy a few feature-length films. During the 1920s, his short subjects were in much demand, featuring stars such as Louise Fazenda, Billy Bevan, Andy Clyde, Harry Gribbon, Vernon Dent, Alice Day, Ralph Graves, Charlie Murray, Harry Langdon, he produced several features with his brightest stars such as Mabel Normand. Many of Sennett's films of the early 1920s were inherited by Warner Bros. Studio. Warner Bros. merged with the original distributor, First National, added music and commentary to several of these short subjects. Many of the films of this period were destroyed due to inadequate storage; as a result, many of Sennett's films from his most productive and creative period no longer exist. In the mid-1920s, Sennett moved to Pathé Exchange distribution. Pathé had a huge market share, but made bad corporate decisions, such as attempting to sell too many comedies at once. In 1927, Paramount and MGM, which were Hollywood's two top studios at the time, took note of the profits being made by smaller companies such as Pathé Exchange and Educational Pictures.
So, Paramount and MGM decided to resume the distribution of short subjects. Hal Roach signed with MGM, but Mack Sennett remained with Pathé Exchange during hard times, which were brought on by the competition. Hundreds of other independent exhibitors and movie houses of this period had switched from Pathe' to the new MGM or Paramount films and short subjects. Sennett made a reasonably smooth transition to sound films, releasing them through Earle Hammons's Educational Pictures. Sennett experimented with color. Plus, he was the first to get a talkie short subject on the market in 1928. In 1932, he was nominated f
Florence Auer was an American theater and motion picture actress whose career spanned more than five decades. Born in Albany, New York, Auer began her career on East Coast stages at the turn of the 20th century, she began appearing in films shortly thereafter. W. Griffith. One of the original "Biograph Girls", Auer would appear alongside such notable future directors as Griffith, Thomas H. Ince, Robert G. Vignola, Harry Solter and Mack Sennett in their early careers as actors; these early associations would help ensure Auer's longevity in films when the former actors became notable directors and cast Auer in their films. During her early years as a motion picture actress, Auer would appear opposite such publicly popular actors of the early 20th century as: Florence Lawrence, Florence Turner, Maurice Costello, Owen Moore, Robert "Bobby" Harron and Julia Swayne Gordon. Auer would appear in motion pictures until the 1950s transitioning to television before retiring. One of her last film appearances was in the 1951 comedy Love Nest, which starred a young Marilyn Monroe.
Aside from acting, she was a screenwriter for three early silent films: 1916's Edwin Carewe directed drama Her Great Price starring Mabel Taliaferro, 1917's John G. Adolfi directed drama A Modern Cinderella starring June Caprice and 1921's Her Mad Bargain, directed by Edwin Carewe and starring Anita Stewart and Arthur Edmund Carewe, she died in New York City, New York in 1962 at the age of 82. The Beautiful City Black Angel State of the Union Knock on Any Door as Aunt Lena Silver Lode Florence Auer on IMDb Florence Auer at AllMovie "Images related to Florence Auer". NYPL Digital Gallery