Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer

By Brian Taves | Go to book overview

5
Generic Experimentation

Ince’s willingness to tackle subjects usually avoided by others, and unhesitatingly to do so with skill, was noted by reviewers of the time. One reviewer remarked, “When Mr. Ince has anything to say in pictures he has always gone ahead and said it, even in his two reel Bronchos and KayBee. He has said very daring things and put them across without absurdity, ridiculousness, or mawkishness, and he has made observers marvel at his sheer audacity.”1 Because of this willingness, he became one of the first pioneers in the film business to foreground ethnicity, claiming, “Naturalness is even more essential on the screen than on the stage, because everything is real in a picture—real scenery, real properties, real atmosphere. Personal artificiality glares in contrast with such background.”2

Ince noticed a demand for realism on the part of audiences that many of his contemporaries overlooked, as he explained in a 1915 article titled “Troubles of a Motion Picture Producer” for Motion Picture Magazine. Whether in the two-reel film or the feature, the slightest detail was noticed by the audience, so that artifice must be avoided—for instance, by employing a real doctor for an injection in a medical scene in The Darkening Trail (1915).3 Just as the Sioux Indians of the 101 had provided authenticity in his westerns, “public preference runs toward real Chinese, or real Japanese, or real Hindus, to the exclusion of the ‘made-up’ brand.”4 This did not apply just to race. “In the production of an Italian play,” Ince recalled, “it was necessary to send a complete company to San Francisco, four hundred miles distant, in order to secure

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Thomas Ince: Hollywood's Independent Pioneer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Screen Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - Beginnings, 1880–1912 15
  • 1 - Stage Apprenticeship 17
  • 2 - Starting in Films 23
  • Part 2 - Making a Reputation, 1912–1915 39
  • 3 - The Job of a Producer 41
  • 4 - Establishing a Studio 53
  • Part 3 - Innovations, 1914–1917 73
  • 5 - Generic Experimentation 75
  • 6 - The Prescient Failure 89
  • Part 4 - Paramount, 1917–1921 109
  • 7 - A Fresh Start 111
  • 8 - The Star Series 119
  • 9 - World War I and Specials 143
  • Part 5 - The Perils of An Independent, 1919–1924 159
  • 10 - Associated Producers, 1919–1921 161
  • 11 - The Inevitable Merger, 1921–1922 177
  • 12 - War with First National, 1922 189
  • 13 - The Studio Resumes Production, 1922–1923 199
  • 14 - Case Study of a Production and Its Personnel- Her Reputation, 1922–1923 211
  • 15 - Initial Distribution beyond First National, 1923 231
  • 16 - At the Crossroads, 1923–1924 247
  • 17 - The Steady Hum of Independent Production, 1924 255
  • Epilogue 271
  • Notes 283
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 355
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