Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

10. THE O'KALEMS

The idea of American companies shooting films on location abroad is not a new conception. Its genesis is with the Kalem Company's excursions, first to Ireland and then to the rest of Europe and the Middle East. Following closely on the heels of Kalem was the Vitagraph Company, which in December of 1912 sent Maurice Costello and others on a six- month trip around the world, shooting wherever locations seemed appropriate. Nor was there only a one-way traffic from America abroad; the Pathé Company and Gaston Méliès' Eclair Company were quick to seize the opportunity of setting up companies in the United States. One might almost go so far as to say that film-making was more international in the 'teens than at any other period in history, including the present.

It all began in the small, isolated County Kerry village of Beaufort, some seven miles from the Irish town of Killarney. Beaufort holds a special place in the history of the cinema, for it was here that the Kalem Company came when they first decided to produce films outside of the United States.

According to Terry Ramsaye's somewhat romanticized account in A Million and One Nights, Frank Marion, president of the Kalem Company, called director Sidney Olcott into his office at the Kodak Building on New York's West 23 Street in the Spring of 1910. On Marion's desk was a map of the world. He asked Olcott where he would like to go and make films; without hesitation, Olcott pointed to the country of his ancestors, Ireland. ( Olcott's mother was born in Dublin, and the director's first stage appearance had been as an Irish policeman in Joe Santley's company. As Gene Gauntier, Kalem's leading lady and scenario writer, once wrote of Olcott: "He was Irish and possessed all the sparkle and sentiment of that emotional race.")

In August 1910, Sidney Olcott, with Gene Gauntier,

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Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Dedication iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 6 - Mr. Edison and the Edison Company 63
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - The Evolution of the Film Star 1
  • 2 - Comediennes of the 'Teens 7
  • 3 - Child Stars of the 'Teens 16
  • 4 - Ethel Grandin 27
  • 5 - Forgotten Early Directors 36
  • 7 - Katherine Anne Porter and the Movies 65
  • 8 - The Thanhouser Company 68
  • 9 - The Paralta Company 79
  • 10 - The O'Kalems 87
  • 11 - Early Film Magazines: An Overview 98
  • 12 - The First Motion Picture Bibliography 105
  • 13 - Film History Can Also Be Fun 122
  • Appendices 135
  • Source Material 149
  • Index 153
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