Trilby and Little Billee (1896)

Experimental | September 1896

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HISTORY

The Biograph catalog described this film as follows: “This is the studio scene from [George] Du Maurier’s celebrated novel Trilby, in which Trilby is introduced sitting on a table, munching a cake and talking to Little Billee, who is seated near by, his elbow resting on the table. Smoking, kissing and laughing make a lively scene.”
       The scene was a studio re-enactment of the play Trilby, which ran at the Garden Center Theater in New York City 15-20 Apr 1895. “Trilby O’Ferrall” was portrayed by Virginia Harned and “William ‘Little Billee’ Bagot” was played by Alfred Hickman in the play, and the two most likely reproduced their roles here, although other sources have suggested that Burr Mcintosh or Leo Ditrichstein, who had other roles, stood in as Billee. The play’s most famous character, “Svengali,” is not portrayed here. The play Trilby was filmed twice under that title in 1915 and 1923 (see entries); later, two sound versions were filmed in 1931 and 1955 as Svengali (see entries). John Barrymore portrayed the above-the-title role of “Svengali” in the 1931 version.
       Trilby and Billee was filmed at American Mutoscope’s studio on the roof of 841 Broadway in New York City.
       In Beginnings of the Biograph (1964), Gordon Hendricks wrote that Trilby and Little Billee, Stable on Fire (1896, see entry), and one of Joseph Jefferson's “Rip Van Winkle” performances (either Rip's Toast or Rip's Toast to Hudson, both 1896) were projected on a screen at the Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, on 14 Sep 1896. This event was apparently the ...

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The Biograph catalog described this film as follows: “This is the studio scene from [George] Du Maurier’s celebrated novel Trilby, in which Trilby is introduced sitting on a table, munching a cake and talking to Little Billee, who is seated near by, his elbow resting on the table. Smoking, kissing and laughing make a lively scene.”
       The scene was a studio re-enactment of the play Trilby, which ran at the Garden Center Theater in New York City 15-20 Apr 1895. “Trilby O’Ferrall” was portrayed by Virginia Harned and “William ‘Little Billee’ Bagot” was played by Alfred Hickman in the play, and the two most likely reproduced their roles here, although other sources have suggested that Burr Mcintosh or Leo Ditrichstein, who had other roles, stood in as Billee. The play’s most famous character, “Svengali,” is not portrayed here. The play Trilby was filmed twice under that title in 1915 and 1923 (see entries); later, two sound versions were filmed in 1931 and 1955 as Svengali (see entries). John Barrymore portrayed the above-the-title role of “Svengali” in the 1931 version.
       Trilby and Billee was filmed at American Mutoscope’s studio on the roof of 841 Broadway in New York City.
       In Beginnings of the Biograph (1964), Gordon Hendricks wrote that Trilby and Little Billee, Stable on Fire (1896, see entry), and one of Joseph Jefferson's “Rip Van Winkle” performances (either Rip's Toast or Rip's Toast to Hudson, both 1896) were projected on a screen at the Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, on 14 Sep 1896. This event was apparently the company’s first public screening.
       The American Mutoscope Company was co-founded in Dec 1895 by former Edison Manufacturing Company inventor William K. L. Dickson (who left Edison in Apr of that year), fellow inventors Herman Casler and Harry Marvin, and businessman Elias Koopman. Their Mutoscope, which originally made flip-card peep show movies, soon rivaled Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope (see Edison Kinetoscopic Records for 1893). In the summer of 1896, when Edison introduced the Vitascope 35mm projector, American Mutoscope immediately came out with its own 68mm projector that offered a superior image. In 1899, the company changed its name to the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, then shortened it nine years later to the Biograph Company.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
AMB Picture Catalogue
2 Nov
p. 9
Beginnings of the Biograph
p. 35, 40, 43, 48
BIOB1
p. 13-16, 18-9, 451
LCMP
p. 62, column 3
The Mutoscope
1897
p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on Harper's Monthly short story, novel, and play, Trilby, by George Du Maurier (London, 1894).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1896
Premiere Information:
14 Sep 1896 in Pittsburgh, PA
Production Date:

Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
American Mutoscope Co.
18 December 1896
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
27 , 150
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Filmed at American Mutoscope's rooftop studio in New York City, actors reenact a scene from George Du Maurier's celebrated novel and play, Trilby, in which Trilby, an aspiring model, is introduced as she sits on a table, munching a cake and talking to Little Billee. They smoke, kiss, and ...

More Less

Filmed at American Mutoscope's rooftop studio in New York City, actors reenact a scene from George Du Maurier's celebrated novel and play, Trilby, in which Trilby, an aspiring model, is introduced as she sits on a table, munching a cake and talking to Little Billee. They smoke, kiss, and laugh.

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GENRE
Genre:


Subject

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

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