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HISTORY

In addition to the scenes listed above, footage exists of a short scene showing J. Stuart Blackton in a room filled with photographs of film people. In this scene, Blackton speaks about the coming of sound and then greets actress Mathilde Comont. A number of scenes from early films were re-created for this film, including Fred Ott's Sneeze (copyrighted as Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, January 7, 1894 ), A Visit to the Spiritualist (which is called A Visit to the Magician in this film) and His Sister's Beau . The re-creations, however, are not identified as such in the narration and are described as if they are the original films. A 1939 article on the film states that many of the scenes used were once the property of Thomas Edison's son Charles, who willed them to Blackton.
       A 13 Feb 1933 LAT article states that Blackton had finished making the film by that time. FD noted in a 20 Feb 1933 news item that the film had been shown at a meeting of the Sound Section of AMPAS held the previous week. According to an advertisement in the London Daily Mail , by 1935 the film had shown "at the most important cinemas in the three great metropolises of the world--Covent Garden Opera House, London; the Gaumont Hippodrome, Paris; and the Capitol, New York." Blackton re-issued the film a number of times in various versions and under other titles before his death in Aug 1941. In many of the showings, Blackton narrated the film in person. Later showings contained ... More Less

In addition to the scenes listed above, footage exists of a short scene showing J. Stuart Blackton in a room filled with photographs of film people. In this scene, Blackton speaks about the coming of sound and then greets actress Mathilde Comont. A number of scenes from early films were re-created for this film, including Fred Ott's Sneeze (copyrighted as Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, January 7, 1894 ), A Visit to the Spiritualist (which is called A Visit to the Magician in this film) and His Sister's Beau . The re-creations, however, are not identified as such in the narration and are described as if they are the original films. A 1939 article on the film states that many of the scenes used were once the property of Thomas Edison's son Charles, who willed them to Blackton.
       A 13 Feb 1933 LAT article states that Blackton had finished making the film by that time. FD noted in a 20 Feb 1933 news item that the film had been shown at a meeting of the Sound Section of AMPAS held the previous week. According to an advertisement in the London Daily Mail , by 1935 the film had shown "at the most important cinemas in the three great metropolises of the world--Covent Garden Opera House, London; the Gaumont Hippodrome, Paris; and the Capitol, New York." Blackton re-issued the film a number of times in various versions and under other titles before his death in Aug 1941. In many of the showings, Blackton narrated the film in person. Later showings contained additional and reordered scenes. In the biography of Blackton by his daughter Marian, she states that the film was seized by a promoter to whom Blackton owed money, and that Blackton then put together a second version; because it lacked a soundtrack, he narrated it in person at "resorts, lodges, churches, women's clubs, and American Legion halls." According to an ad, the film was shown in San Diego in Mar 1935 and in Hollywood in Apr and May 1935, under the title March of the Movies , in a benefit for the Young Women's Christian Association. A print of the film at the Library of Congress, entitled March of the Movies , contains a copyright statement dated 1936, although the film is not listed in the copyright register under this or any other title. The Library of Congress print, which is subtitled, "A Complete and Authentic History of Motion Pictures," lists J. Stuart Blackton Productions, Inc. as the production company. It credits the R-C-A High Fidelity Sound System and contains a different soundtrack than the 1933 release.
       News items from Jan 1939 state that Blackton presented a ten-minute film in San Francisco, called variously Cavalcade of Motion Pictures and Stars That Live Forever . In Mar 1939, Blackton showed the film in an eighteen-minute version in Seattle under the latter title, according to Seattle newspapers. In an article in West Los Angeles Independent dated 29 Sep 1939, the film was called again March of the Movies . In 1940, another version, entitled The Movie Hit Parade , was shown in several states with Blackton narrating, according to his obituary in HCN in Aug 1941. Articles and ads from 1939 and 1940 note that in addition to the scenes listed in the plot summary above, the film at that time included shots of "Little Egypt," the dancing star of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair "at her snake-hippiest, although the number is out of the picture when it is shown for juvenile audiences"; Carmencita; the San Francisco earthquake; Nicholas II, the last czar of Russia; William S. Hart; Marie Dressler; Will Rogers; Wallace Reid; Tess of the Storm Country , with Mary Pickford (Famous Players Film Co., 1914); The Road to Ruin ; Mortgage on the Old Farm ; The Villain Still Pursued Her ; The Glorious Adventure (J. Stuart Blackton, 1922); Franklin Delano Roosevelt; William Powell; Hughie Mack; Walter Hiers; Thelma Todd; Bessie Love; Mae West; Agnes Ayres; Shirley Temple; Eleanor Powell; Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; Clark Gable; Myrna Loy; Robert Taylor; Jeanette MacDonald; U.S. naval battles; rodeo contests; air stunts; tropical scenes in color; and surfboard riding at Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. A 1940 biographical statement by Blackton, in his file at the AMPAS Library, states that he also had been delivering "Four Lectures (without picture)," entitled "The Inside Story of the Movies," "Stars That Live Forever," "Hollywood Hall of Fame," and "My 'Glorious Adventure' in England."
       According to DV , this film, under its original title The Film Parade and with a running time of 77 minutes, showed at the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Hollywood on 22 Aug 1957 before going into a regular run at the El Rey Theatre. That version was presented by Henry Sonnenshine through an arrangement with Blackton's widow, the former actress Evangeline Russell, who, according to a 1939 article, had assisted Blackton in the exhibition of the film. She since had married Blackton's former colleague, Vitagraph director William P. S. Earle.
       A 1963 HCN article on Earle credits him with making this film: "Blackton tried hard to make a comeback and Earle put a movie together to enable him to do so. It was The Film Parade ." Marian Blackton Trimble, in her biography of her father, states that Blackton approached Earle with the idea for the film and that Earle did the camera work. A modern source states that Earle, in an interview, said the idea for the film was his own. Trimble relates that she herself worked on the film, as did her brothers Charles S. Blackton and James Stuart Blackton, Jr., and that Paula Goldner was the editor. Trimble also states that she and Ben Hendricks, Jr. played in the re-creation of the early Vitagraph film His Sister's Beau and that her brother Charles played Leonardo da Vinci and a number of other roles. The footage in the film's beginning depicting ancient Egypt was taken from the 1923 The Dancer of the Nile , produced by William P. S. Earle Productions, directed by Earle and starring Carmel Myers and Malcolm McGregor. Modern sources state that Earle impersonated Fred Ott in the film's re-creation of the early short film Fred Ott's Sneeze and that Blackton himself impersonated Al Jolson in blackface during the segment devoted to the coming of sound.
       In a 1935 ad for the film, President Franklin Roosevelt is quoted, "You are doing a really great work and as an AMERICAN I congratulate you." Thomas Edison, to whom the film is dedicated, is also quoted in the ad as stating, "I am indeed proud of the very fine history of motion pictures compiled by my friend Blackton." Portions of this film have been used in a number of later compilations. According to a modern source, Bell and Howell released a twenty-minute version of the film, entitled Silver Shadows , in the 1940s. In Aug 1956, Blackton's widow enacted a damage suit for $500,000 against Cinerama Productions and a number of other defendants, charging that scenes from The Film Parade were used in Cinerama's film of the same title after the Independent Film Library, with whom she had placed the footage for rental purposes, turned it over to Cinerama without her permission and without compensating her. No information has been located concerning the outcome of the suit. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1957.
---
Film Daily
20 Feb 1933
p. 1, 3
Film Daily
20 Dec 1933
p. 9.
Hollywood Citizen-News
8 Jan 1940.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 Aug 1956.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 Feb 1963.
---
Hollywood Spectator
28 Oct 1933
p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1957.
---
San Francisco Chronicle
12 Jan 1939.
---
SFExam
12 Jan 1939.
---
Variety
26 Dec 1933
p. 11.
Variety
14 Aug 1956.
---
West Los Angeles Independent
29 Sep 1939.
---
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Cavalcade of Motion Pictures
Stars That Live Forever
The Movie Hit Parade
March of the Movies
Release Date:
12 January 1934
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles showing: Feb 1933; New York opening: 21 Dec 1933
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
55
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Commodore J. Stuart Blackton, a founder of the Vitagraph Co. of America, one of the first film companies, relates "the astounding story" of the history of the movies. Blackton begins with what he calls the first example of motion pictures: a temple built by Ramses in Egypt, in 1600 B.C., supported by pillars on which carvings of images of a goddess, in different poses, convey movement to Egyptians riding past them in chariots. Blackton then describes, and scenes portray, the following precursors to motion pictures: the Zoetrope, called an early Egyptian toy and the first mechanical device to produce lifelike motion; the invention of the camera obscura by Leonardo da Vinci in 1452 in Italy; in 1640 in Germany, the invention of the magic lantern by Athanasius Kircher; in 1804 in England, a demonstration of the principle of persistence of vision by Dr. Peter Mark Roget; in 1850 in France, the invention of the photographic wet plate by Louis Jacques Daguerre; in 1860 in the United States, the illustration of synthetic motion by Coleman Sellers and in 1861, the patent by Sellers of his "Kinematoscope"; in 1875 in California, the demonstration of action using instantaneous photographs by Edward Muybridge; in 1886 in New Jersey, the building of the first moving picture talking machine by Thomas Alva Edison; in 1889 in Rochester, New York, the invention of a flexible celluloid film base by George Eastman; in 1890 in East Orange, New Jersey, the demonstration of Edison's first "movie-talkie"; in 1893, the world's first motion picture studio, Edison's "Black Maria," where Fred Ott sneezing is filmed; on 14 April 1894, the showing of ... +


Commodore J. Stuart Blackton, a founder of the Vitagraph Co. of America, one of the first film companies, relates "the astounding story" of the history of the movies. Blackton begins with what he calls the first example of motion pictures: a temple built by Ramses in Egypt, in 1600 B.C., supported by pillars on which carvings of images of a goddess, in different poses, convey movement to Egyptians riding past them in chariots. Blackton then describes, and scenes portray, the following precursors to motion pictures: the Zoetrope, called an early Egyptian toy and the first mechanical device to produce lifelike motion; the invention of the camera obscura by Leonardo da Vinci in 1452 in Italy; in 1640 in Germany, the invention of the magic lantern by Athanasius Kircher; in 1804 in England, a demonstration of the principle of persistence of vision by Dr. Peter Mark Roget; in 1850 in France, the invention of the photographic wet plate by Louis Jacques Daguerre; in 1860 in the United States, the illustration of synthetic motion by Coleman Sellers and in 1861, the patent by Sellers of his "Kinematoscope"; in 1875 in California, the demonstration of action using instantaneous photographs by Edward Muybridge; in 1886 in New Jersey, the building of the first moving picture talking machine by Thomas Alva Edison; in 1889 in Rochester, New York, the invention of a flexible celluloid film base by George Eastman; in 1890 in East Orange, New Jersey, the demonstration of Edison's first "movie-talkie"; in 1893, the world's first motion picture studio, Edison's "Black Maria," where Fred Ott sneezing is filmed; on 14 April 1894, the showing of the first Kinetoscope pictures in New York City; and on 26 Apr 1894, the first public showing at Majestic Hall in New York. Blackton then relates his own meeting with Edison in 1896 when, as a New York World cartoonist, he sketched Edison at The Black Maria before a motion picture camera. He relates his subsequent entrance into the industry and the formation of Vitagraph, and shows one of the earliest current event films, the inauguration of President William McKinley in 1897 and what he calls the first war film, Stars and Stripes Forever , which consists of a hand tearing down the Spanish flag and raising the United States flag and which was shown in New York in April 1898 as troops were leaving to fight in Cuba. Next, Blackton, his friends and family members, and his former partner, Albert E. Smith, reenact the making of Vitagraph's 1898 film The Battle of Manila Bay in a canvas tank. Other Vitagraph films shown include the trick film A Visit to the Magician (1900); The Servant Girl Problem (1905); The 100 to 1 Shot or A Run of Luck! (1906); Monsieur Beaucaire (1905) with Paul Panzer and Blackton, at one full reel in length, Vitagraph's first "big" feature production; and the 1908 Princess Nicotine with Panzer and Gladys Hulette. The operation of the Mutoscope is shown, and a Mutoscope film showing a gathering in 1910 of the members of the Motion Picture Patents Company, including Blackton, Smith and Edison, is exhibited. Vitagraph stars shown include Florence Turner and Van Dyke Brooke in The Empty Sleeve (1909); Maurice Costello, Van Dyke Brooke and Ralph Ince in The Power of the Press (1909); and John Bunny, Flora Finch, Earle Williams, Jean Paige, Anita Stewart, Edith Storey and Harry Morey. Other stars of the period shown include Theda Bara, Blanche Sweet, Henry B. Walthall, Harry Carey, Mabel Normand and Mary Pickford. Footage is shown of the funeral of King Edward of England and of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, with William Howard Taft. Scenes are shown from The Misunderstood Boy (Biograph Co., 1913), with Lillian Gish, Robert Harron and Lionel Barrymore; an unidentified film with Mae Marsh; Love's Dream Shattered , with Herbert Rawlinson and Sylvia Breamer; Goodness Gracious; or, Movies As They Shouldn't Be (Vitagraph Co. of America, 1914), featuring Clara Kimball Young and Sidney Drew; and The Birth of a Nation (David W. Griffith Corp., 1915). Shots are shown of Charles Ray, John Miljan, Marie Prevost, Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino, Milton Sills, Viola Dana, Harold Lloyd, Tom Mix and Tony, the Wonder Horse, William V. Mong, Barbara La Marr, Wallace MacDonald, Ramon Navarro, Mary Pickford in Pollyanna (Mary Pickford Co., 1920), Broncho Billy Anderson, Marguerite Clayton, Francis X. Bushman, Ben Turpin, Gloria Swanson in a Mack Sennett comedy, Phyllis Haver, Mary Ferman, Bobby Vernon, Tom Kennedy, Bull Montana, Oliver Hardy, Larry Semon, Gary Cooper, Dolores Del Rio in Ramona (Inspiration Pictures, 1928), John Gilbert, Priscilla Dean, Bebe Daniels, Esther Ralston, Irene Rich, Norma Shearer, Dolores Costello, Louise Fazenda, Buster Keaton in The General (Buster Keaton Productions, 1925), Billy Dooley, Mae Murray, Charlie Chaplin in The Floorwalker (Lone Star Corp., 1916), Douglas Fairbanks, Robert McKim and Marguerite De La Motte in The Mark of Zorro (Douglas Fairbanks Picture Corp., 1920) and Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Universal Pictures, 1923). An excerpt from Microscopic Filming of the Eye of the Fly , one of a series of scientific films photographed by Louis N. Tolhurst is shown, as are scenes from The Big Parade (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, 1925) with John Gilbert and Renée Adorée and The Big Show (Miller Brothers Productions, 1926) with John Lowell and Evangeline Russell. Scenes are shown of Alan Hale, Corinne Griffith and Victor McLaglen, after which slow- and fast-motion is exhibited. The coming of sound is then documented by scenes of Al Jolson and a montage of sound clips. Portions of an animated starring Mickey Mouse, are shown. At the end, Blackton speculates that in the future, people may get control of the "ether wave" and be able to see and hear famous deceased people such as Jenny Lind, Enrico Caruso, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The film ends with a dedication to Edison. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.