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The Film Parade (1933); Vitagraph Treasures

Vitagraph Film
March 18, 2009 - 7:30 pm
Robert Gitt, Preservation Officer, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Years before he began work on his groundbreaking The Film Parade, J. Stuart Blackton had previously etched his name in cinematic history as a founder of the Vitagraph Company of America. The Archive has preserved a number of the surviving Vitagraph films, including the two titles selected for this program.

Preservation funded by The Stanford Theatre Foundation

The Film Parade (1934)

Directed by J. Stuart Blackton

Pioneer filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton was intrigued by the idea of a film about the history of the movies as early as 1915. He finally released a 52-minute feature called The Film Parade that was shown in New York and favorably reviewed by "Variety" in 1933. He continued tinkering with the film for the rest of the decade, and later filmmakers and distributors used Blackton's footage for stock or to produce their own variously titled and truncated versions. The Archive has completed restoration of the original 1933 version in 35mm, with tinted sequences and Blackton's heartfelt narration.

Screenplay: J. Stuart Blackton. Cast: Marian Blackton, Violet Blackton, Margerie Bonner, J. Stuart Blackton Jr., J. Stuart Blackton.

35mm, 70 min.

Preservation funded by the American Film Institute/National Endowment for the Arts Film Preservation Grants Program

Her Crowning Glory (1911)

Directed by Laurence Trimble

An early entry in the series of John Bunny/Flora Finch comedy vehicles, Her Crowning Glory derives its plot from a facetious twist of the Samson and Delilah story.

Vitagraph. Cast: John Bunny, Flora Finch, Helene Costello, Mae Costello, Edith Halleran.

35mm, silent, 16 min.

Preservation funded by Cinema 89

A Tale of Two Cities (1911)

Directed by William Humphrey

A Tale of Two Cities (1911) was one of several pioneering efforts by the Vitagraph, a.k.a. "Big V," to break away from the then industry-standard one-reeler to produce films of feature length. The studio successfully released the film in one-reel parts over the span of a week to test the public's appetite for longer and more complex narrative fare. Critics of the day lauded their efforts and suggested to theatre owners that the three parts be shown together, spurring Vitagraph to release their next three-reel literary adaptation (Vanity Fair, 1911) as one contiguous feature film. A Tale of Two Cities stars Maurice Costello (whose daughter plays the mischievous little girl in Her Crowning Glory) and Florence Turner, and helped launch the careers of Norma Talmadge, James Morrison and Lillian Walker.

Vitagraph. Based on the novel by Charles Dickens. Screenplay: Eugene Mullin. Cast: Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Leo Delaney, Charles Kent, William Humphrey.

35mm, silent, 53 min.