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Archive which covers news, sport, social history and entertainment
from 1896 to 1970.
In this pioneering BBC4 documentary,
Matthew Sweet takes us on a journey through the first three decades
of British cinema, telling the story of one of the most creative,
extravagant, pleasurable and yet unknown periods of film history.
Of the thousands of films made in
Britain before the emergence of sound in 1929, only a fifth survive
- most of them preserved in the BFI National Archive. But they were
hugely popular in their time: Cecil Hepworth's
Rescued by Rover was so popular
that the original negative wore out with printing and had to be
re-shot, twice - while The Battle of The Somme released in 1916, was
watched by an estimated 20 million people.
Matthew Sweet visits the actual sites
where the very first pioneer filmmakers made their mark, in Leeds,
Trafalgar Square and Blackpool. He tracks down former studio
premises, in Hove, Muswell Hill and Walton-on-Thames and traces some
of the surviving cinemas from the period. Still visible as traces on
the buildings of London's film heartland in Soho is the legacy of a
vibrant centre of the Cinema business known as
LOST HEPWORTH FILMS APPEAL
Many of Hepworth's
films were lost, but people remain interested in them.
Here are a couple of messages from people wanting to trace lost
If you have any information, please contact them,
and contact us so we can add the
Contact us if you have your own film to
trace and we shall do our best to help.
email@example.com would like to trace more information
about a Hepworth film from 1913 called "The
Tango", starring Pete & Petita, or any further information about
it. She says: "Pete" was my great grandfather, which is why I am desperate
to find any information. I do have a photo of Pete & Petita from
Mander and Mitchinson Collection
which was from a 1913 Mayfair (a gossip-about-town magazine), which
has the photo on it, together with a small article about Pete &
LOST STARS APPEAL
Lornie McCormack Goodheart is interested in any information about
Gladys Sylvani, to whom she is related. Please contact us to be
placed in contact.
Kathryn Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
- would be very grateful if you could supply me with any
biographical information you may have on the film director
West, husband of Alma Taylor. [Webmaster
note: According to my research they were not in fact married]. He
happens to be my grandfather. My father was called Walter Leonard
Stanley, and he was the son of Walter West, though not by Alma
Taylor. His mother I understand was a young actress in Walter West's
early films, by the name of Madeleine Stanley. She died in, I
believe, 1918 during the flu epidemic. My father worked in the film
industry himself and apparently was in contact with his father,
Walter West as an adult, but my sister and I were never introduced
to our grandfather and have only gained information about him since
our own father's death. We would very much like to know more about
our illustrious grandfather. I hope you can help us.
were popular in many countries outside the UK.
Details of a few reported showings are below, if you know of others
please let us know.
On 15 December
1913 the Britannia Theatre, Wellington, NZ, opened across the street
& a few doors down from Perrett's corner. The first feature to be
Adrift on Life's Tide, a British film, starring Alma
Taylor, Flora Morris, Harry Royston, and Harry Gilbey.
The "City of
the Future" project by the Royal College of Art contains some fascinating
snippets of film which may not have been widely shown, including some of
Hepworth's personal collection from the turn of the century.
those who like their humour daft and thoroughly unsophisticated, this
silent short will be a delight. The titular Daisy enters a face-pulling
competition ('dial' - as in watch dial - is neglected slang for a face),
but on the big day she falls victim to toothache. When her husband
returns from the contest triumphant, the distinctly unladylike Daisy
vows revenge in the next competition. But her impromptu rehearsal on a
train causes chaos among her fellow passengers, and things only get
worse after she is arrested for disturbing the peace...
Director/lead actress Florence Turner
was an early Hollywood star, who briefly operated her own production
company in Britain in the mid-1910s. Back in Hollywood in the
late-1920s, she appeared alongside Buster Keaton in 'College' (1927),
before her star faded. (Mark Duguid)
was made by the Turner company and distributed by Hepworth.
Victorian women demonstrate their slalom cycling skills.
The precision of the women skilfully negotiating their way around a line
of bollards is quite remarkable. Though it's hard not to watch without
willing one of them to catch her long white skirt in the bicycle chain.
The film was made by Hepworth and Co and might
possibly be one of the items listed appealingly in their catalogue as
'Musical Ride by Ladies' or 'Musical Ride by Ladies - Wheeling'. (Robin
Nothing to do with
potties... Baby gets a good wash. In this charming Hepworth actuality
film a crisply uniformed, no-nonsense nurse bounces a baby girl on her
lap before submerging the unsuspecting infant into a tub of soapy water.
The baby is surprisingly content to be so vigorously sponged and rinsed
but somewhat less happy when extracted from the suds and deposited onto
a set of unwelcoming metal weighing scales. Once back on a familiar lap,
however, the baby delights in being dried, powdered and expertly
pampered. (Catherine McGahan)
Surrey Brass reprieved it in a live performance with new
music written by John Hughes. (The sound track on this film is not that
Produced by British film pioneer Cecil Hepworth,
around 20 of the popular series of 'Tilly' films were made between 1910
and 1915. Surviving episodes are brimming with a sense of anarchic fun
as they follow the adventures of naughty schoolgirls Tilly and Sally,
played by Chrissie White and Alma Taylor, who went on to become major
stars of '20s British cinema.
'Tilly, the Tomboy...' is available to view here in
a version re-edited to approximate the original cut (surviving archive
materials were out of sequence). The sheer energy and silliness of this
mischievous pair is infectious, further proof - if it were needed - of
women's contribution to the tradition of slapstick in British comedy.