Two Orphans, Three Studios, Four Films (Remakes and the Early Days of Film, 3)

 

Two Orphans, Three Studios, Four Films: A Brief History of The Two Orphans

From the time it was translated into English in 1874, “The Two Orphans” was a successful, well-known play in the United States. The story of orphaned sisters Henriette and Louise, and their separation, tribulations, and eventual reunion on the streets of France became common knowledge, and Kate Claxton’s portrayal of the blind Louise won her accolades and immortality in the annals of American theater. It wasn’t surprising then, when film pioneers began to adapt it for this new medium.

orphans ad for original 1907

Ad for the now lost 1907 Original Version of Two Orphans

In late 1907, Colonel William Selig created the first American adaptation of the film. Unfortunately, the film is lost, leaving the cast and crew mostly a mystery. We do know, however, that it was staged in six acts, and was touted for its realistic presentation of the interior of a prison. In the years immediately following the film’s debut, film technology and artistry grew by leaps and bounds, so “The Two Orphans” would undoubtedly be considered crude by even the standards of the 1910s. It was these advances that inspired Selig to give “The Two Orphans” another shot four years later.

Two orphans ,1911,  behind the scenesBuilding the set for Selig’s 1911 remake of Two Orphans

So, in 1911, Selig staged “The Two Orphans” again, this time with favorites Kathlyn Williams and Winifred Greenwood as Henriette and Louise. It also featured Myrtle Stedman, Lillian Leighton and Adrienne Kroell. The film was praised for its elaborate costumes as well as the impressive variety and magnitude of the sets. While Moving Picture World lamented that the three-reeler was shown in an elaborate screening (one reel was screened per night over the course of three nights), it praised the production highly, calling it, “a triumph for the Selig Polyscope Co. and [it] will go down in moving picture history as one of the big successes scored by the silent drama. It illustrates in a remarkable manner how the moving picture can convey the story and plot of a drama, the motives governing the various characters — their loves and hatreds, their crimes and follies — all so convincingly that the spectator’s mind is held in thrall.” The movie was such an achievement that it stood unchallenged for another four years as the definitive film version of the play, until William Fox and his star vamp Theda Bara entered the picture.

Two orphans ,1915, Theda Bara

Theda Bara stars against type in the 1915 remake of Two Orphans

The role of the heroic and innocent Henriette was a welcome change for Bara, who had risen to fame while portraying vamps and exotic, dangerous women. In previous films, she had ruined marriages and brought shame to families, here, she was a lost girl just trying to survive the rough streets of France and protect her sister, played by Jean Sothern. No expense was spared in the production of the film. The budget was $300,000 and allowed them to construct a facade of the Notre Dame cathedral. The sets were top of the line, with $10,000 spent on the prison at La Salpetriere alone. This five-reel production outlasted and outshone the previous adaptations, but Selig was determined to bring his adaptation back into the limelight.

In June 1916, while buzz still surrounded Fox’s version of “The Two Orphans,” Selig re-issued his 1911 three-reeler. Because of the time that had elapsed, and the work the players had done since the film, it could now be billed as featuring an all-star cast. Critics and audiences, however, could no longer praise it as they once did. Moving Picture World, who just the year before stated it would go down in moving picture history, now said the acting was too hurried, lacked technical advancements such as close-ups, had imperfect lighting and inferior photography. This film that they praised five years earlier could now simply be credited with its ability to “recall a bygone era.”

For years, while the industry grew and evolved, and the small pioneering studios were closed or acquired by the larger mogul-driver studios, the story remained untouched. Then, in 1922, it was once again adapted…this time by D.W. Griffith. The story was rather tame by Griffith’s standards, however, so to turn it into a true film spectacle, he set it against the backdrop of the French Revolution. With his favorite ingenues Lillian and Dorothy Gish starring as Henriette and Louise, a hefty budget, a new setting and the addition of a race to the rescue (a Griffith staple), Griffith had a classic on his hands. The name was changed to “Orphans of the Storm” to avoid confusion with other productions, and though the popular reception was cooler than it had been for Griffith’s past works, the critical reception remained positive. William Fox reportedly attempted to re-issue his 1916 version in order to capitalize on the fame of “Orphans of the Storm,” but he ultimately rejected the idea, knowing that it would draw many unfair comparisons.

wo orphans with Lillian and Dorothy GishLillian and Dorothy Gish star in D.W Griffiths 1922 remake of The Two Orphans called Orphans of the Storm

In the span of 15 years, the American film industry saw the production of four different versions of “The Two Orphans,” yet the only one that survives is Griffith’s. While Selig and Fox’s efforts would seem inferior, mostly due to their lack of technology and refined technique, it would be very interesting to see the differences that each incarnation brought to the table. Perhaps prints of these versions will be found one day, until then, we can only try to piece them together through reviews and photos.

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Janelle Vreeland for Classic Movie Hub

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“Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” Book Giveaway Twitter Contest (December 15 – January 2)

Book Giveaway: “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” by Peter Ackroyd

Well, we had six lucky winners so far, so that means we still have THREE MORE BOOKS to give away via our Twitter contest. That said, we’re going to try something a little different this time… Rather then have three separate contests over the next three weeks, we’re going to run one contest during that three-week period (12/15-1/2) and give away one book each Friday within that time frame… so all you need to do is enter once and you’re ‘in’ for the remainder of the contest!

In order to qualify for to win a copy of Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life via this contest giveaway, you must complete the following task by Friday, January 2, 2015 at 7PM EST (i.e. any time between now and January 2, 2015 at 7PM EST). However, the sooner you enter, the better chances you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on three different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as follows:

  • Friday, December 19: One Winner
  • Friday, December 26: One Winner
  • Friday, January 2, 2015: One Winner

The winner(s) will be selected via random drawing and announced on Twitter the following day.

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts):

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post 

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @doubledaypub
BY Friday, January 2, 2015, 7PM EST

THE QUESTION:
Who is your favorite Charlie Chaplin co-star? 

AND — I am happy to say that Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canadian entrants are eligible to enter. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above) and/or Canada.

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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“Tyrone Power: Man, Myth and Movie Idol” Exhibit at The Hollywood Museum – Another Giveaway

Win Tickets to see “Tyrone Power: Man, Myth and Movie Idol”
at The Hollywood Museum

I am happy to say that we have TWO MORE PAIRs of tickets to give away for the fabulous Tyrone Power Exhibit at The Hollywood Museum in Hollywood.

This time we’re trying something a little different:  The first TWO entrants will AUTOMATICALLY win a pair of tickets to the Exhibit!  To enter, all you need to do is answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post:

What is your favorite Tyrone Power movie?

The winning tickets will be good for entry through December 31, so be sure to enter soon!

If you can’t wait to win tickets, click here to print our exclusive $5 off coupon.

Tyrone Power Exhibit at The Hollywood Museum

The Exhibit runs from November 14, 2014 through January 11, 2015 at The Hollywood Museum, 1660 Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California. The Winning Tickets are good for admission through December 31, 2014.

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Tyrone Power Jr at the Tyrone Power Exhibit at the Hollywood Museum

Tyrone Power Jr. ‘looking up’ at his father at the Opening Night Exhibit Gala

“Tyrone Power: Man, Myth & Movie Idol” is the nation’s largest exhibit of authentic memorabilia honoring Power, and was curated in collaboration with his son, actor Tyrone Power, Jr.  The Exhibit includes never-before-displayed costumes, personal mementos and many more items culled from family, friends, private collectors and The Hollywood Museum archives.

Visit thehollywoodmuseum.com or follow on Twitter @HollywoodMuseum or Hollywood Museum Facebook.

See contest rules here.  

Hollywood Museum

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PLEASE NOTE for all prizing: The Tyrone Power Exhibit runs November 14, 2014 through January 11, 2015 at The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California, 90028. Winners will be responsible for their own transportation to the Exhibit.

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

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“The Original Christmas Classics” DVD Giveaway Twitter Contest (Week of December 9)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you’ll go down in history…
“The Original Christmas Classics” DVD Giveaway!

A big week for giveaways… There’s been a change of plans! In order to ensure winners receive their prizes before Christmas, we’ve moved up the contest! So instead of giving away one copy of the DVD each of the following weeks through Dec 31, we’ve decided to give away all FOUR remaining copies THIS WEEK!

THAT SAID THERE WILL BE FOUR LUCKY WINNERS THIS WEEK!

In order to qualify for this week’s Original Christmas Classics DVD Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Saturday, December 13 at 7PM EST (i.e. any time between now and December 13 at 7PM EST). We will pick FOUR winners via random drawing and announce on Twitter the next day (Sunday).

The Original Christmas Classics DVD Set includes seven holiday favorites: Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerSanta Claus is Coming To TownFrosty the SnowmanFrosty ReturnsMr. Magoo’s Christmas CarolThe Little Drummer Boy, and Cricket on the Hearth!

The Original Christmas Classics DVD Set

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts):

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post 

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win “The Original Christmas Classics” DVD courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub 
BY Saturday, December 13 at 7PM EST

THE QUESTION:
We all know “the most famous reindeer of all” but can you name one of the other eight reindeers on Santa’s team?

AND — I am happy to say that Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canadian entrants are eligible to enter. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above) and/or Canada.

And if you can’t wait to win this fabulous and fun DVD Set, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 23 Comments

“Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” Book Giveaway Twitter Contest (Week of December 8)

Book Giveaway: “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” by Peter Ackroyd

Well, we had two lucky winners last week and two more winners the week before, but we’ve still got lots more books to giveaway! That said, we’re giving away TWO more BOOKs this week too! Here’s what you need to do to enter this week’s Twitter giveaway contest…

In order to qualify for this week’s Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Friday, December 12 at 7PM EST (i.e. any time between now and December 12 at 7PM EST). The winner and/or winners will be selected via random drawing and announced on Twitter the following day.

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts):

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post 

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @doubledaypub
BY Friday, December 12, 7PM EST

THE QUESTION:
What is one of your favorite Charlie Chaplin scene from one of his movies? 

AND — I am happy to say that Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canadian entrants are eligible to enter. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above) and/or Canada.

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Classic Movie Batman Villains: Mr. Freeze

The Three Faces of Mr. Freeze…

I must admit, I’ve been wanting to do a Batman blog series for quite some time… I’ve just always had such a soft spot for the colorful cast of campy ‘classic movie’ villains that appeared on the show — and now, with the release of the classic Batman TV series on DVD (and Blu-ray), well, I just couldn’t resist any longer…

So, without further adieu, and in honor of the freezing cold of winter, I am starting with rogue scientist Dr. Shivel, better known to Batman fans as the diabolical Mr. Freeze…

1966 Batman Title Card

Backstory (for the TV show, not necessarily the comic books which vary a bit): During an attempted arrest by Batman, criminal scientist Dr. Shivel is accidentally exposed to an instant freeze solution which alters his molecular structure, making him a being of pure cold. He must now wear a refrigerated suit to survive, and seeks revenge on Batman who he blames for his sub-zero condition.

And now the three actors that played Mr. Freeze in order of their appearance…

George Sanders as Mr. Freeze in Batman TV Series

George Sanders starred as Mister Freeze in two back-to-back 1966 episodes: Instant Freeze (Feb 2) and Rats Like Cheese (Feb 3).

Sanders is wearing the classic cryogenic cooling suit. :)

Incidentally, George Sanders was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor (from 1949-1954) who played villainess Minerva on the series as well.

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Otto Preminger as Mr. Freeze in Batman TV Series

Otto Preminger starred as Mr. Freeze in two back-to-back 1966 episodes: Green Ice (Nov 9) and Deep Freeze (Nov 10)

Instead of the classic cooling suit, Preminger is donning a freeze collar.

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Eli Wallach as Mr. Freeze in Batman TV Series

Eli Wallach starred as Mr. Freeze in two back-to-back 1967 episodes: Ice Spy (Mar 29) and The Duo Defy (Mar 30)

Wallach, like Preminger, prefers the freeze collar. :)

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So, if you’re now in the mood to watch the Caped Crusaders battle their arch villains — or perhaps just need a quick refresher course in onomatopoeia —  you can purchase the complete TV series here:

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Batman Classic Movie Villains, Posts by Annmarie Gatti, TV Roles, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nevermore! Eclair and Essanay Pursue ‘The Raven’ (Remakes and the Early Days of Film, 2)

 

Nevermore! Eclair and Essanay Pursue ‘The Raven’

As recent as 2012, Edgar Allan Poe has been portrayed in a medium which he never lived to see. His works and his life have provided ample material for film. In fact, his work has inspired two notable studios in the early days of film: Eclair and Essanay.

Eclair Raven adAd for Eclair’s version of The Raven

Just after the turn of the century, George Cochrane Hazelton penned the play “The Raven: The Love Story of Edgar Allan Poe.” This renewed interest in Poe and his work pushed the American branch of Eclair to produce their own film adaptation of “The Raven.” Released in May of 1912, it starred Guy Oliver as Poe and Muriel Ostriche as Lenore. During that time, films didn’t go over two reels in length (20-25 minutes depending on projection speed), and “The Raven” used every bit of its two reels to create as complete a story as possible. Shot in and around his homestead, the film consisted mostly of highlights of Poe’s life. The first reel depicts events leading up to the writing of “The Raven.” Poe is shown working as a scrivener, trying to provide for himself and his invalid wife. His love for her and his despair are also emphasized.

The second reel of the film follows the writing of “The Raven,” even depicting Poe’s mental state. This is also where the latest innovations of the day enter into the otherwise straightforward drama. Double exposure is used to depict Poe’s feverish visions of past poems and stories, and flashback-like techniques are used to jump from Poe’s handwritten verses to the raven and Poe.

Eclair RavenPoe as he writes at his desk.

Eclair’s version was lauded by critics, but in just three short years, the film industry saw many technical advances that, unintentionally, cast previous efforts in a negative light. Essanay was able to use these advancements to remake “The Raven,” with Henry B. Walthall as Poe.

Essanay Raven adEssanay ad for The Raven

Like Eclair, Essanay sought accuracy. Although they couldn’t use Poe’s homestead as Eclair did, the sets erected were as realistic as possible, including the Poe home and the blacksmith shop. They also used the general acceptance of feature-length films to their advantage, telling as much of the story as they could in six reels, instead of the very limiting two. While the last two reels focused around “The Raven,” the first four were used to take a closer look at Poe’s personal history, including the death of his mother, his adoption, his student life and his expulsion from the Allan home. Director Charles Brabin also used the latest advancements to create convincing dream sequences, much to the critics’ delight. While Warda Howard, Helen Whitmar and Ernest Maupain all gave excellent supporting performances, Walthall’s performance was amazing enough to prompt viewers to call him the reincarnation of Poe.

Essanay Raven 2Henry B. Walthall as Poe in the Essanay remake

How do the two compare today? It’s hard to say. While Essanay’s version survives, Eclair’s is believed to have been lost during a fire. The technical advantages the Essanay cast had would have to be taken into consideration, but the beautiful stills that survive from Eclair’s effort certainly show that a great deal of thought and creativity were put into the film, even if it had to work within the confines of just two reels.

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Janelle Vreeland for Classic Movie Hub

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Reboots and Reels: Remakes and the Early Days of Film (1)

 

Reboots and Reels: Remakes and the Early Days of Film

Remakes, reboots, and reimaginings seem to have flooded the film industry in recent years. Superhero and comic book-based films seem to be most susceptible to most reimaginings and reboots, but everything from dramas to horror films have been remade. Although most remakes are categorized as easy cash grabs, there are a variety of reasons why a filmmaker or studio might explore a reboot. Perhaps the casting choices were poor the first time around, or a director simply didn’t share the same vision as the producers. Maybe a major leap forward in film technology was introduced after the initial release, technology that would have served the film well. Whatever the reason, remakes have become commonplace, but they aren’t as new as you may think.

In reality, silent film pioneers, and even filmmakers well into the golden age of Hollywood, didn’t think twice about remaking their own or others works, and were often eager to do so. Colonel William N. Selig was quick to embrace them, remaking his adaptation of “The Cowboy Millionaire” four years after his first version was released in 1908. The trades and audiences recognized it as a remake, but it didn’t dampen their excitement for it.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a closer look at some films that found their origins in the early days of film only to be again (and again) remade as new tech, writers and studios came into fashion.

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Janelle Vreeland for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Guest Posts, Posts by Janelle Vreeland | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

“The Original Christmas Classics” DVD Giveaway Twitter Contest (Week of December 2)

Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?
“The Original Christmas Classics” DVD Giveaway!

Here we go with our next “Original Christmas Classics” DVD Giveaway…

In order to qualify for this week’s Original Christmas Classics DVD Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Saturday, December 6 at 7PM EST (i.e. any time between now and December 6 at 7PM EST). We will pick a winner via random drawing and announce on Twitter the next day (Sunday).

The Original Christmas Classics DVD Set includes seven holiday favorites: Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerSanta Claus is Coming To TownFrosty the SnowmanFrosty ReturnsMr. Magoo’s Christmas CarolThe Little Drummer Boy, and Cricket on the Hearth!

The Original Christmas Classics DVD Set

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts):

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post 

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win “The Original Christmas Classics” DVD courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub 
BY Saturday, December 6 at 7PM EST

THE QUESTION:
What was one of the best and/or most surprising gifts you ever received from ‘Santa’ when you were a kid? Or, if you didn’t celebrate Christmas, what was one of the most memorable presents you received during the winter holiday season?

AND — I am happy to say that Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canadian entrants are eligible to enter. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above) and/or Canada.

And if you can’t wait to win this fabulous and fun DVD Set, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 29 Comments

“Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” Book Giveaway Twitter Contest (Week of December 1)

Book Giveaway: “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” by Peter Ackroyd
We’re giving away two more books this week via Twitter!

Well, we had two lucky winners last week, but we’ve still got lots more books to giveaway! That said, we’re giving away TWO more BOOKs this week too! Here’s what you need to do to enter this week’s Twitter giveaway contest…

In order to qualify for this week’s Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life Giveaway on Twitter, you must complete the following task by Friday, December 5 at 7PM EST (i.e. any time between now and December 5 at 7PM EST). The winner and/or winners will be selected via random drawing and announced on Twitter the following day.

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts):

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post 

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win “Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life” courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @doubledaypub
BY Friday, December 5, 7PM EST

THE QUESTION:
How did you first ‘discover’ Charlie Chaplin? 

AND — I am happy to say that Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) AND Canadian entrants are eligible to enter. (see contest rules for further information)

BlogHub members ARE also eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above) and/or Canada.

If you have any questions, please feel free to DM me on Twitter @classicmoviehub.

And if you can’t wait to win the book, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 20 Comments