Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Edison’

Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Via Dwight comes word of this year’s additions to the National Film Registry. In addition to a bunch of “Hey, that wasn’t in there already?” selections The Shawshank Redemption, Ghostbusters, etc.), there is the usual list of obscure early films, one of which is “Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend,” based on the Winsor McCay comic of the same name.

Naturally it’s on YouTube:

It features the sort of in-camera special effects Georges Méliès did better (and quicker). Welsh Rarebit, by the way, is a sort of cheese-on-toast dish (though given how quickly our fiend is quaffing potent potables, I don’t think the rarebit had that much to do with his dreams…).

Also included in this year’s selections: “Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze” from 1894, the earliest copyrighted motion picture footage in America, and which I now present to you in its entirety:

Edison’s Frankenstein

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Did you know that the first first filmed version of Frankenstein was not the James Whale movie, but a 1910 Edison studios film?

Though full of the hokey melodramatic tropes of early silent cinema, it actually follows the basic plot of the Mary Shelly novel more closely than the Whale movie, at least up until the happy (and vaguely slipstreamy) ending. The creation of the monster scene uses not one, but two special effects: running the film backwards and at high speed. I’m sure it blew people’s minds in 1910.

National Film Registry Adds 25 More Films

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

The National Film Registry has announced this year’s selection of 25 important films worthy of preservation, and there are a lot of gems on the list:

  1. Airplane! (1980)
  2. All the President’s Men (1976)
  3. The Bargain (1914)
  4. Cry of Jazz (1959)
  5. Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
  6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  7. The Exorcist (1973)
  8. The Front Page (1931)
  9. Grey Gardens (1976)
  10. I Am Joaquin (1969)
  11. It’s a Gift (1934)
  12. Let There Be Light (1946)
  13. Lonesome (1928)
  14. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
  15. Malcolm X (1992)
  16. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
  17. Newark Athlete (1891)
  18. Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)
  19. The Pink Panther (1964)
  20. Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)
  21. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  22. Study of a River (1996)
  23. Tarantella (1940)
  24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
  25. A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

Airplane!, The Exorcist, The Empire Strikes Back and The Pink Panther are all great films, arguably among the top 100 ever made. I believe it was K. W. Jeter who said that the student version of THX 1138 was much better than the theatrical release, so I’ve always been curious to see that. Strangely enough, I’m also curious about Saturday Night Fever, despite my loathing of disco, as many critics (the late Gene Siskel among them) consider it one of the great films of the 1970s, and National Review‘s John Derbyshire says it’s one of the best films about blue collar American life ever made. I also remember Dwight being impressed with Malcolm X, despite not having seen Malcolm I–IX.

Of course, a lot of these are notable only for being early examples of the form rather than gripping cinema, such as Newark Athlete:

Or A Trip Down Market Street:

Let There Be Light is John Huston’s pioneering documentary on the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following World War II:

And Our Lady of the Sphere is sort of like Terry Gilliam’s work on Monty Python, but not as interesting:

Then again, it was made in San Francisco in 1969, so there’s nothing about it that can’t be explained by the phrase “Dude, I was so high…”