Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

Excerpt

This slim volume of essays will, I hope, supplement my first book on the pioneering years of the American film industry, Early American Cinema. I have tried to record here many of the lesser-known aspects of the American cinema prior to 1920; the work of forgotten film companies such as Thanhouser and Paralta, the evolution of the star system, the first child actors of the screen, etc. This is not a book for the casual browser who has only a slight interest in film history. I have assumed that my reader has a fairly detailed knowledge of the American film industry, and that my research will take him or her into nooks and crannies of the industry's past that have not been visited in recent years by other film historians.

I am aware that through the years my books and periodical articles have come to deal with more and more obscure subjects. I make no apologies for this. I rather delight in it. I do not believe I will ever write a general history of the cinema. In fact, at this point of time, I feel it unwise of any historian or scholar, however knowledgeable, to undertake such a task. President John Adams, in 1807, commented that a complete history of the American Revolution could not be written until all the state histories were known. It is my firm belief that much the same statement could be applied to the history of the American cinema today. There can be no complete history until the work of every company, however obscure, every technician, and every actor has been examined and recorded.

There is one publication, Films in Review, which has through the years attempted to do just this. It has become fashionable in certain circles to sneer at Films in Review; as one wit had it, the magazine knew the credits of everything and the value of nothing. That is an evaluation that I do not accept. When the definitive history of the cinema comes to be written, one of the basic resources will be, and must be, Films in Review.

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